In an industry where watered down, cookie cutter hits lead the masses down a path where the only thing quicker than your rise to fame, is how easily you get forgotten, a select few truly believe in music that will last longer than a fleeting moment when the beat drops. One such example, is Silk Music, a label that’s been pulling gems from the underground, and placing them exactly where they belong. On your favorite dance floor. We got to chat to Label Director Jacob Henry, to find out just exactly what makes him and Silk Music, such a force to be reckoned with.
TranceMag: First off, just have to mention once again, such a big fan of the label! Could you tell us a bit about how Dance music crossed your path, and how it became such a big part of what you do?
Jacob Henry: Thanks, Johan. Robert Miles’ “Children” was my first exposure to electronic music — a common story for fellow veteran fans of the genre. I was quite obsessed with the early Chicane and BT records as well. I’ve been zealously listening to electronic music ever since. In 2007, I quit my job as a high school Spanish teacher and enrolled in a music production school in NYC. In January 2008, just after Silk Music’s first release, I connected with Max Flyant, as well as a few other members of the crew in Moscow, including Alex “Mango” Golovanov, and they brought me on board, after realizing we shared nearly identical musical taste (and early influences).
TM: We can all draw our own conclusions, but always best to get it straight from the horse’s mouth, where and how did the name Silk come about?
JH: The original label slogan was the following: “No synthetics. Only Silk.” Max liked the idea of a name that reflected a smooth, high-quality sound.
TM: Since starting out, Silk has continuously evolved and adapted to stay relevant, yet never “sold its soul”, what is the selection process? What makes a track stand out for you and the label specifically?
JH: That’s quite kind of you. If we respond emotionally to a song, and it’s also technically well-produced, we’ll sign it, typically without caveat. We generally favor melodic and atmospheric music as well.
TM: You’re obviously a big fan of the origins of Trance music, with favorites including the early days of BT, Robert Miles, and Chicane. How do you feel about the current state of Trance music, its relevance to your label, and what do you see as the next step in the genre?
JH: I still love trance; I personally most enjoy the variety that (rhythmically) borrows from other genres, especially progressive house, as I tend to prefer music in the 122-128 BPM range. So, that said, I couldn’t be a bigger fan of Vintage & Morelli’s recent singles, for instance, which sort of straddle house and trance.
One of the things that I love most about trance (and progressive house, for that matter), is that there isn’t any obvious unifying thread connecting fans to that specific genre, beyond a shared emotional connection to the music. There’s an authenticity to the appreciation of trance that sort of subverts the mainstream response to the electronic music genre du jour; however, trance also suffers from this very lack of cohesive branding; its audience is diffuse and can’t be pigeonholed, from a marketing perspective. On the contrary, the deep house resurgence, for instance, seems to be really connecting with millennials, so, in turn, it’s a much easier genre to market.
TM: If you never found music on the level that you did, where could you imagine yourself carving out a different career path?
JH: I’m passionate about teaching — if not language, most likely history or psychology.
TM: Silk’s been responsible for the breakthrough and discovery of some amazing talents, do you have any new acts that people should be looking out for?
JH: Many of the young artists we’ve signed recently have found their niche in the deeper side of progressive — names like Movement Machina, Hexlogic, J.Weo, Elypsis, and Enviado Vida come to mind.
TM: What’s playing on your car radio/ iPod /smartphone right now?
JH: Most likely The Midnight, a synthwave duo that you’ll be hearing a lot from on our imprint in the months ahead.
TM: Is there anything about the Electronic Dance Music scene, you feel might have gotten lost, within its current incarnation, given how big it’s become commercially? Anything you feel needs to get more attention?
JH: Many hoped for a sort of “trickle-down” effect to occur with EDM, leading to the elevation of lesser-known subgenres of electronic music. However, I personally haven’t observed progressive house or trance reaping any obvious benefit from the EDM revolution. I’m concerned about the fact that there aren’t many renowned DJs under 30 who champion melodic progressive house or trance, and the ones over 30 who have stuck with it are fewer and farther between.
TM: Any guilty pleasures as far as Dance music goes? maybe a secret love for the Macarena?
JH: I alluded to this earlier, but I’m quite taken by the resurgence of the retro / synthwave sound — The Midnight and FM-84 have joined the likes of Lifelike and Michael Cassette in giving 80s soundtrack music — especially the melancholic and noir-tinged variety — new life.
TM: What does the immediate and distant future look like for Jacob Henry and Silk?
JH: We’ll be releasing a “Remixed” album of tracks originally by The Midnight this summer, featuring many of our label’s veteran leaders. This will be followed by the 6th edition of our Silk Music Showcase compilation series (formerly Silk Royal Showcase), once again mixed by Tom Fall and me. Later this year and in the early part of 2018, you can also expect album #2 from Vintage & Morelli, as well as the debut album from Aeron Aether.
A massive thank you to Jacob Henry, and Silk Music for such an insightful interview, if you want to know more about what’s happening in the world of Silk Music, or follow exactly what Jacob Henry’s up to, make sure to check the links below.
Press images and brand logos courtesy of Jacob Henry