The label Johnny Johnny - founded and run by Nico Mendez, was established in early 2017. It's a record label that releases digital & vinyl music while also hosts showcase nights & events in Glasgow, the UK and around Europe. Their catalogue advocates a brand of house and techno music that goes against the grain. It highlights raw forms & root fundamental under-the-radar grooves that aren't afraid to be rough around the edges or skirt around the outside of your more stereotypical four to the floor electronic music.
Johnny Johnny's ethos consists of a close-knit family of like-minded individuals who want to build a platform free of barriers and judgement.
We talked with labels owner and founder, Nico Mendez, to understand the principles behind this young imprint.
The first question was kind of obvious. Why Johnny Johnny?
Well, that's pretty much it. Why Johnny Johnny? Because it begs that exact question. Before it all started I knew straight away I wanted to stay clear of names that might sound obvious to the genre it represented. For us, Johnny Johnny is different, It isn't tied down, its neutral and you can't place it, which is perfect for us.
The inspiration for the name actually comes with an odd background. During the time I was searching for a suitable name, friends had come across this very creepy nursery rhyme on YouTube titled "Johnny Johnny Yes Papa". The narrative of the song is about a boy and various other animals that keep eating sugar and being questioned by his "Papa" to which they all lie about doing so. It goes on for quite some time and is uncomfortable to listen too, even the animations are creepy as hell! So for weeks after that, my friends and I walked around asking each other if we had been eating sugar and shouting "Yes Papa!" That's basically how the name was born.
The label was established roughly a year ago. What made you start it in the first place?
The label was started with a single idea that is now shared by a few close-knit like-minded individuals. My taste in music goes somewhat against the grain at times. The label was basically created as my own space to share and showcase music that highlights the more raw forms & under-the-radar grooves that are rough around the edges or skirt around the outside of your more stereotypical four to the floor electronic music. It was something that came almost naturally. It's like an extension of myself and my own personal interests in music.
Now a year as past and we have built a hub that not only releases music but hosts showcases and creates environments where all can join, let loose and truly be themselves. It's perfect, and it's only the beginning.
A lot of our readers aren’t really familiar with the whole process of starting an imprint. Can you take us through all the steps necessary to create the record label?
Well first off, before you even begin to get the ball rolling - I think you need to have a clear idea of what you want to do. Running a label blind in today's climate is definitely a huge mistake. In terms of the main aspects of your label that include the music, the artwork, mastering, marketing, and promotion you need to think about consistency. Things like that all need to be consistent, it's not just about the music. People lose interest quickly if you don't deliver your products at a high level every time.
Establish your brand and look, create an identity for your label, take time over your labels logo's, image and get it right as it's the first thing people see.
Once you have these things on lockdown, I think it's also important to decide what platforms you want to represent the label on, things like Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and FaceBook are all great. But I've learned that you can spread yourself thin if you try and tackle too many all at once. Focus on the platforms you have more notoriety with, and then grow from there.
You also need to think carefully about who you want getting their hands on your music, especially before the official release date.
It takes time, but it's very important to build a strong promo pool. You want people you know that are going be playing your release out in the clubs or on the radios. There is not much point in giving out your music to DJ's who just leave feedback, take the music for free and don't support the release properly.
What would you say is the most important things when running a label? Of course, you can’t run one without music, but what makes a certain imprint stand out from the crowd?
Of course, the music has a major role to play in defining your label. But for me, it's every other little detail that comes with it as well. Paying attention to all the nuances your label could potentially create are just as important as having great music.
The artwork is the main one, for example, I find labels that work to a template are a little boring. If you have something that is well thought out, visually pleasing and fresh to look at with each release then you are already offering more. I also think deciding on what format to release on can help you stand out. Some labels choose only to release on vinyl, making each release more exclusive and niche which can be cool.
Despite the fact that Johnny Johnny is a young label, you’ve already managed to organize a few showcases around Europe. How do you approach promotors and clubs that might be interested in hosting you?
We don't tend to approach clubs, promoters or venues that we feel we don't have anything to offer. I think working with venues and promoters that understand exactly what it is you are bringing to the table definitely makes the process a lot easier.
But the main thing for us is networking and building relations, having friends around the world helps a lot! We also go out to the event's often, so meeting people and showing support for others builds natural rapport.
So far you’ve only released digital music, but the rumour has it, that you’ll be soon starting to release stuff on 12” as well. Can you tell us the reasons behind this decision?
Releasing on vinyl has always been something we have wanted to do. We just wanted to wait until we were totally ready. For one, we had to have the right music. Releasing on vinyl format also opens up a new avenue to showcase our more exclusive collection of music, we want to keep that separate from our digital releases. Besides that, records are also cool.
What’s the future plan for Johnny Johnny? Do you already have some showcases lined up ahead?
Right now, our main focus is showcasing the label around the UK and Europe. We have a number of events lined up right through the rest of 2018. Our most recent showcases coming up are in Barcelona at Garage 442 on the 28th of July followed by a more intimate event on the 29th at Gourmet Ganja.
Then from August onwards we are set to appear around Glasgow and Edinburgh at The Club, Paisley, The Mash House and Broadcast alongside another great local event called Moonlight, plus many more events further down south that have yet to be announced.
Aside from our events, we plan to showcase a lot more great music on vinyl format & digital. Expect releases from the likes of Two Tail, Little by Little, Nico Mendez, Jacque Saravanté, Lauter & Modat and more.