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David Lawson of Drummer Street Records:
The Beat of a Different Drummer...      

"Somewhere 2000"       

NAJM Dance Culture
dot_clear.gif (43 bytes)David Lawson, founder of Drummer Street Records, is poised to launch next Springs big Euro-hit "Somewhere" featuring the #1 European Dance star Vicki Shepard! David took a few moments out of his daily grind to speak with NAJM regarding his new project. Vicki joins us next to chat about her latest hit "All I Ask of You" and her upcoming "Somewhere 2000".
NAJM: I want to ask you if you can give me a little bit of information about yourself, who you are, where you came from, and what your background is in music?  

 

Audio Sample of "Somewhere" coming in 2000! DL:  I grew up in Mississippi and got a job working in TV. I took a job out in Wyoming for a while. That didn’t work out so I went to Denver, Colorado. I tried to stay in the TV field there and just couldn’t get anything going so I thought, “well, the only other thing that I like a lot is music", so I started going to the clubs to try to get a job. One of the clubs in Denver called David’s knew of a bar in Colorado Springs that was looking for a full-time DJ. They sent me down there. I auditioned for the job and I got it. That started my music career and that was in 1981. I DJ'd at that club 4 – 5 nights a week for about 5 years. Overall I've DJ'd for 13 years..
dot_clear.gif (43 bytes) NAJM:  So you would primarily call yourself a DJ? Or would you call yourself a remixer, producer or both?
DL:  I do everything. From Colorado I went to Chicago for about 3 years and then my partner was  transferred here to Dayton and that’s how I got here.
Need RealAudio? NAJM:  What is your idea or concept for Drummer Street Records?
Download Free Real Audio Player DL:  I want to put out the best music that I possibly can do. Our primary focus is still going to be toward Hi-NRG, Euro, and progressive Euro style music. But I won’t be opposed to putting out other styles of music, either. I know House is very big still, Drum and Bass even though I haven’t heard any but I have heard people talk about it. So, I’m not going to be closed minded to the Euro sound, but that is going to be my main focus.
NAJM:  And you’re looking to produce primarily Hi-NRG, Euro, the stuff that’s coming out of the UK?
DL:  Yes, I think that there is still a good enough market for it. I know that we have gotten a lot of feedback and good hype for the upcoming release of  “Somewhere”. It seems like people are really anticipating it.  There are house tunes that I like to. I’m not stuck in a rut which is pure NRG. I run the gambit. When I’m here by myself on Saturday I play everything. That is my favorite though.
NAJM:  What’s playing in your stereo right now?
DL:  A tape that I made last weekend. Well actually it is something that I recorded from my keyboard then I think it went from there into Billie Ray Martin's Honey.
NAJM:  What a fantastic artist.  She is great. Her debut was phenomenal.
DL:  Yes, she is. So I went from one of my tunes to her and from there to some Almighty (Records) kind of stuff.

Somewhere 2000

NAJM:  So your debut project is a dance version of the classic song "Somewhere" and you're going to have Vicki Shepard sing it. When do you think it will be ready for release?
DL:  We’re hoping February.
NAJM:  And it’s actually a re-work of a previous single that she had done?
DL:  Right. I was also the original producer of the earlier release as well.
NAJM:  Tell us a little bit about her, how you know her, how you hooked up. I know you said you go a way back...
DL:  Well, I met Vicki while I was working at a club in Colorado Springs called the “Hide & Seek”. It was the only gay dance club in Colorado Springs but it was the forerunner of dance music in the area. Lots of straight people came simply because of the music. Vicki would come there and perform on several occasions. Later on I opened my own nightclub and by that time we had already become friends. So she came and did my grand opening at my club in Colorado Springs. In the meantime she had moved to San Francisco. We were sitting there on night and I said, “You know Vicki, I really think that what would be a great dance record to do would be “Somewhere” and that’s how it all got started. We went to a recording studio in Denver and did it. The following year I moved to Chicago and that’s when it really started getting attention, you know as far as records labels, that sort of thing. I ran into some people up there that had some good connections in the industry and that’s how it all began!
NAJM:  Your new label, Drummer Street Records is a new label and in its infancy, correct?
DL:  Correct.
NAJM:  With the new single coming out do you have any sort of distribution in place?
DL:  Not at this time, but I have been talking with some people – I’ve been talking with a gentleman who is one of the owners of Red Zone which is the label that put out Vicki’s remix of “All I Ask of You” and he’s got some connections, so he’s heading me in that direction.
NAJM:  So are you looking to piggyback with another distributor who’s looking to move some units?
DL:  I’m definitely going to have to find someone to help with distribution. I’ve worked in record stores so I know some of the people out in New York, such as Watts Music. I made contact with them but we haven’t sat down and talked other than just via e-mail. So I think they will help me along, they did in ’89; it was on a label Let the Music Play which was in Atlanta. Then Loading Bay picked it up in the UK. So Watts Music played a big part in getting the distribution of it when it came out in ’89, so I would like to think that he would help me out this time too.
NAJM:  Any idea of what type of numbers you are looking at for sales?
DL:  No, it’s hard to say. I hope I can sell a million copies although that’s probably unrealistic. I would venture to say – take a wild guess and hope 2,000 – 5,000. I think that’s a pretty safe estimate?
NAJM:  Currently, are you developing any other artists?
DL:  No. To be honest I didn’t think about doing Drummer Street Records until about 2 months ago. Even though it’s been a big dream of mine to do this, I’ve just never been in position where I could get it going. Something was always going on in my life that prevented it. When I called Vicki up in March to pitch this idea to her about us doing the Millennium Remixes of “Somewhere” of course she was all for it. So I started working on it, made a couple of calls to labels in Europe, but then starting thinking later on down the road that why should I go through all the trouble and hassle of trying other labels to pick it up. That’s a long process.
NAJM:  Sure.
DL:  I went that round with “Somewhere” in ’89; we actually recorded the song in ’87.
NAJM:  And it took you 2 years to shop for a label that would pick it up?
DL:  Shopping. I really didn’t want to go through that again. I thought, “I think I can do this” so I called Vicki up and told her I was going to put the single out on my own label. At first she was like, “I don’t know are you prepared for that?” I said, “I think so”.  That’s how it came about. I just dreaded the thought of shopping and waiting and god knows when somebody would finally decide to pick it up and that’s how Drummer Street was born.

Constantly Changing Market...

NAJM:  In your opinion where is the dance music market headed?
DL:  The thing about the dance music market is that’s its constantly changing. So to give you an honest answer on that, I can’t. When I was in Chicago all of a sudden Techno was the craze and it lasted about a year, right now Drum and Bass is the craze from what I understand and I think in time it will move to something else it’s constantly moving. There are always particular mainstays that no matter what the craze is, those others seem to stay right along with it, and that’s pretty much your house, European, trance (progressive). They seem to just kind of stay right there even though they're not the most popular, particularly here in the United States, but they seem to have a staying power. Who knows what will be next? Someone will come along and think of something. Then after that everyone will be doing it for awhile then someone else will come along, on and on.
NAJM:  Sure.
DL: With Robert Miles and “Children”. He came out with that had a big hit and shortly after that there was a whole slew people doing that kind of sound.
NAJM:  Who do think has the largest influence in the dance music market? DJ’s, Artists, Labels, radio, MTV, media?
DL:  Because of the way dance music is these days it’s most likely the DJ’s. Simply because they are the one that are closest to it and can stay on top of it. The artists are by far an important factor; don’t get me wrong. Without the artist there would be no dance music. But it’s the DJ’s that play it and they are the ones who set the style, set the trends. Aside from that I think the big ones are the producers. They are the ones that come up with the sounds, ideas and so on.
NAJM:  What are some of your musical influences, David?
DL:  Actually, there are several. I like music to make sense first of all. I don’t like a bunch of noise. I like for it to be pretty. I like for it to have a good beat, good chord progressions, good everything. I guess some of my favorite remixers right now are the Space Brothers. I think they are just absolutely phenomenal with some of the things they have done in the last year or so. Another one that I like a lot is K-Klass; I think they’re great too.
NAJM:  They work a lot with Sunscreem.
DL: And Sunscreem is another one of my favorites.
NAJM:  They play a lot down here in Miami because Miami Beach is where their American label is located. So they do the South Beach circuit a lot.
DL: By far my favorite Sunscreem record is “Catch Me”.  That tune was just absolutely phenomenal to me. Those three influence me the most. I do like that K-Klass, that Club 69 sound and I do buy that. But I think the Space Brothers have just incredible ways of putting stuff together. They do things on the keyboards that I still cannot emulate and I wonder, how do they do that? I liked what Club 69 did to Cher’s “Believe”. I liked what they did to Cher's “Strong Enough”. Every remixer and producer is definitely going to do things that somebody doesn’t like. But they are also going to do things that people do like. I like for things to have a lot of punch behind them and “Strong Enough” and “Believe” do have a lot of punch. But it also has its pretty points to, there are some sections that are very pretty.
NAJM:  How do you feel about MP3’s being posted on the internet? Your music, you’re not getting the royalties for it, someone is downloading it for free.
DL: It’s wrong, just out and out wrong. I’ve probably cut my own throat by saying that, but it is. It costs money to do this. Already with “Somewhere” i’ve got about $4000 or so invested in it. The only way the artist can get any money back is through record sales. I guess I can understand people are going to do that. I just hope it doesn’t happen to me.
NAJM:  I would agree. I’m in the same boat. You are based in Dayton. You have lived in Chicago, Colorado Springs. Do you think in order to produce good dance music that you need to be in a city where there is a major dance scene going on?
DL:  No. The world is a small place through communication. I buy a tremendous amount of music that is not even produced in the United States. No, I don’t think you have to be a major city. I think you have to be connected to it somehow.
NAJM:  So you need to be connected to market it?
DL:  Connected to it as far as being able to keep up with it in a city like Chicago or Los Angeles. What I mean by that is you’ve got to buy the music, know what’s going on. Whatever your going to do is better than or at least as good as what’s already out there. That’s what I mean by staying connected, you’ve got to buy other people’s music and see what they’re doing and see why it’s such a good song. It’s a learning experience.
NAJM:  We’ve talked quite a bit in the last few minutes about the UK, its come up several times. You’ve dealt with labels in the UK and also labels here in the US. Do you think it’s more lucrative in the UK than you are in the US because of the type of music that the UK embraces?
DL:  I don’t want to belittle the US; it’s my home and love it. I would not trade it for the world. But I think the people in the UK have a totally different concept when it comes to music. It’s more of a culture for them more than anything. For us, it’s a pastime. For them it’s life. In that respect, yes, it is better in the UK but the United States has also produced some tremendous artists over the years in all aspects of music, not only dance but also rock, and country. We have created some of the biggest stars that ever lived when it comes to music. When it comes to dance, that’s a totally different thing. I just wish the US would broaden their minds about dance music and not stay geared to one thing.
NAJM:  I hate it when they pigeonhole!
DL:  Like I said, I play everything. I haven’t gotten into this Drum and Bass thing yet because I haven’t ordered any and no one has ever sent me any. But I play everything, Club 69, K-Klass, Anthony Stevens, Italian stuff. I have it all. I wish the club scene did that, just play everything.
NAJM:  Well put. Let’s talk a little bit about the future. The single is coming out in February/March timeframe, when can we get our hands on some real audio or a pre-release so we can review prior to it hitting the streets?
DL:  Not really 100% sure when that is going to happen. I’ve still got a lot of work to do on it. Vicki’s getting ready to put her vocal down on it within the next week or so. Then once I get it back there will be things to change. I’ve changed a lot even without her vocals. I’m waiting for the vocal to come back and I am hoping to have it to the printing company sometime mid-January.
NAJM:  I’ll be following up so we can post some real audio at least review the single. Have you decided on names for any of the mixes?
DL:  I’ll be able to do that sometime within the next three weeks or so. I’ve done about 3 mixes so far. There are only two that I’m really going to concentrate on. I really haven’t named the mixes yet, but I have decided to call one the “Detuned Anthem Mix”. The other one has a little more of a retro sound to it, classic energy, sort of an Almighty sound, but not quite. I’ve kind of toyed with “Classic Millennium Mix”.

The Future...

NAJM:  What does the future hold for you? After you get past the release of the single, what’s next on your plate?
DL:  We’re already talking about our next project. Vicki and I and we’re hoping to have it released it time for Gay Pride. It’s going to be something that I don’t think anyone has done; it’s going to be another cover. We really are thinking that this is going to be a major, major breakthrough. Not just for Drummer Street Records but also for Vicki. Because this is going to be something different.
NAJM:  Any hints?
DL:  Can’t tell you. It’s just something that came to mind. I had talked with Vicki a couple years ago about doing the old Associations, “Cherish” but it never came about. Then I hit her with this one about 2 months ago and she fell in love with the idea.
NAJM:  Best of luck.
DL:  We think this is going to be a very big summer anthem.
NAJM:  Additionally, we have an underground section on our site. If you’d like to send us some real audio files or some samples of your work we’ll be more than happy to rip them into RealAudio so people can listen to them. Well, that’s about it. Best of luck, I hope the single sells well. We wish you the best.
DL:  Thanks to you for taking the time to talk with me. I’d like to thank everyone for helping with the publicity I’ve received for the single thus far. The music matters…

 

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