Razor-N-Tape is one of Brooklyn’s finest and most respected independent record labels headed up by the DJ alias of co-owners JKriv and Aaron Dae. Brought together out of a mutual love of all things groovy, the pair founded their eponymous record label in 2012, building a nearly 100-release-deep catalog over the past 9 years that has helped shape the sound of modern NYC disco.
Originally launched as a home for unreleased reworks that had been mainstays of the duo’s DJ sets, Razor-N-Tape white label boasts releases from revered editors such as Dimitri from Brooklyn (aka Paris), Danny Krivit, Eli Escobar, Al Kent and many more, and has established the label as the gold standard for quality output in the edit game. RNT’s expansion to include their Razor-N-Tape Reserve and RNT45 imprints saw new forays into sampled house, downtempo, and global soul with offerings from The Juan MacLean, BOSQ, Black Science Orchestra, Kraak & Smaak, COEO, FOUK, Jungle Fire and many more.
With a milestone 10-year anniversary approaching, the focus has shifted primarily to original music and artist development. Stunning remix projects like the recent Midnight Magic “Beam Me Up Remixed,” BaianaSystem “Agua Remixes,” and Elia y Elizabeth “Remixes de Oro” releases have brought new depth to the catalog and remix contributions from Prins Thomas, Jimpster, Kim Ann Foxman. With all-original album and EP projects on the way from Felipe Gordon, Cody Currie and JKriv, Razor-N-Tape is poised to make their mark on the dance scene and beyond as purveyors of exceptional new original sounds.
JKriv and Aaron are both DJs in their own right, and together as Razor-N-Tape their approach is an effortless blend of old and new, sequenced and mixed with expertise and a signature feel-good style, whether in the club or broadcast. From Aaron’s deep roots in NYC’s club and rave scene of the 1990s, to JKriv’s musical foundation both as a producer and guitarist/bassist in the bands Escort and Tortured Soul, the pair amalgamates a huge breadth of musical knowledge, a shared sense of curation, and an abiding love of the party!
The latest release to RNT Features PRINS THOMAS, KIM ANN FOXMAN, & EACH OTHER REMIXES of Midnight Magic’s perennial disco anthem “Beam Me Up”, which announced itself as an instant classic from the moment of its release in 2010. At long last the fellow Brooklynite band has teamed up with the label for a 10-year-anniversary package (minus one lost year) that once again establishes the timeless quality of the song with a fresh and versatile package of new remixes.
Norwegian space-disco don Prins Thomas delivers a sprawling and elegant mix, grounding melodic and psychedelic elements over a bumping percussive disco rhythm treatment, stretching out over 8 minutes of blissful breakdowns, delays and driving bass lines. Kim Ann Foxman takes the song to a darker and dubbier place with her “Beam Me To The Basement Mix,” layering samples of singer Tiffany Roth’s vocal and insistent acid synths over a heavy and pulsing low end. Each Other, a new project by Max Pask and NYC club royalty Justin Strauss, crafts an extended peak-time stormer of a mix, with churning analog drum and synth production that is somehow ravey, New-Wavey and lush all at once.
These three mixes truly capture an entire club night in one record, each a beautifully unique interpretation that showcases the inimitable talent and creativity of the remixers, and is also a testament to the enduring perfection of the original. Grab this record immediately and beam yourself back to the dance floor!
JKriv & Aaron Dae in conversation with Mickey Duke
Welcoming Razor N Tape head honcho’s, JKriv and Aaron Dae to 1BTN.
How are you fella’s?
A: Hey, hey! Thanks so much.
J: Thanks for having us
My pleasure. Where are you at the moment, you in Brooklyn?
A: Yes, Sir!
J: Yes, we’re both in Brooklyn
I’m seeing adverts for parties over in New York, so I’m guessing restrictions are being lifted over there like they are over here?
J: Technically as of the 19th restaurants and bars were opened at full capacity, which seems a little crazy to me but that’s what they’re doing. We did a party a few weeks ago at The Sultan Room in Bushwick and it was really fun and then we did another one last Sunday and kicking off this Sunday I’m starting to do weekly Sunday parties, so yeh, it looks like it’s coming back and we are going to have a nice summer here in Brooklyn.
You guys individually have a rich heritage as Djs and producers going back to the 90’s, would you kindly give us a little info on your musical backgrounds
J: Go ahead, Aaron, kick it off.
A: Yeh, so I grew up kind of a 90’s kid here in Brooklyn and in the rave scene and the house and club scene here in New York and it kind of just evolved from there. I’ve been into dance music culture for quite some time now. Eventually I moved on to Djing and labels and stuff like that, so primarily house stuff but then finding a love for disco, so that’s where we are.
Great stuff, and yourself, Jason?
Yeh, I started playing music as an instrumentalist around 12 or 13 and started playing bass and guitar and I studied music through High school and studied jazz through college. I was always into groove oriented music, was not so much into dance music so much, or club music per se, I kind of found that after when I was in my early 20s. I played with a group called Tortured Soul, we were a live house group and we played all around and although Tortured Soul still exists I haven’t played with them for around 10 years. After Tortured Soul I started getting more into Djing and also started playing with Escort. Around that time Aaron and I hooked up around 2010, 2011. We started playing together and that’s around the time we started Razor N Tape.
I was going to ask at what point did you guys meet, was Jason on your radar as a musician at that point, Aaron?
A: He was on my peripheral radar, I was living in Chicago actually at the time and I was a fan of Tortured Soul but I was friends with the keyboard player, Ethan White, for some reason Jason and I never crossed paths really, even though we were right in the same hemisphere, we kind of connected through some mutual friends and the joys of early Soundcloud days and that was that, the rest is history.
Ok, so when did you guys join forces to start the excellent Razor N Tape imprint?
J: Yeh, so like Aaron said we kind of connected through Soundcloud and I had been releasing some edits and things that I had been doing on Soundcloud and you know there was like a little community of people at that time, which was nice, with people doing similar stuff and Aaron and I linked up through that. He had just moved back to New York, as he said. I has some silly Dj gig, I can’t remember what it was called, Gold Panda, or something like that? White Panda? I dunno
A: *laugh* Rose something?
J: Yeh, maybe you came to one of the rose nights. Anyway, we connected then and I had a bunch of these edits that I had done and wanted to release and Aaron had new stuff from different producers he had met at parties he had been doing, like stuff in Miami and in Chicago and people he had worked with like, Lovebirds and Ron Basejam and other folks, so we had this pile of edits and we wanted to get them out into the World, so we decided to start a label and that’s where Razor N Tape was born.
Ok, then you have Razor N Tape reserve, which is the sister label that puts out predominantly original productions, right? Razor N Tape being the edits label
A: Yeh, historically it’s been more focused on the house sound of things and definitely leaning in the more original production side of things. The earlier releases had some more sample based stuff in there but yeh, the edits stuff on Razor N Tape, that stuff on Razor N Tape reserve and then we have a 7” imprint as well, Razor N Tape 45s.
J: Yeh, reserve is like anything that isn’t disco really and as Aaron said it started out never being strictly original music but it has grown into that and we have been taken in that direction and that’s kind of where we’ve been pushing the label over the past year and into the future.
Razor N Tape is a label that hit the ground running, I remember buying those early releases and it quickly became one of the most prominent and respected labels for quality edit releases. How did you guys negotiate the path between producing and releasing edits and not run the backlash from artists and record labels
J: Well, I think we have been fortunate in that we haven’t had much issue. We do make every effort that we can to get official licences, especially now, I mean when we first started it was just kind of like, small time and very underground. As the label has grown and the profile has grown it has behoved us to be more careful about some of this stuff and we want to – just from an ethical, musical perspective as well. We have been fortunate that anytime that there has been an issue it’s ended up becoming an opportunity, for example, my Bukom Mashie rework, which ended up coming out and then it turned out the master was owned by Soundway and the original artist, Oscar Sulley, who’s living in Ghana now and you know we ended up getting an official licence through Soundway and now Oscar gets paid for the sales of that record and that’s great. Most of the time that’s how it works out for us and for us approaching it from a musical perspective, we’re not out there trying to make a buck off this stuff, you know, we are out there trying to put out good music to the world, so I think from that end we have been able to work things out pretty well.
It’s nice to see an imprint that champion’s vinyl releases as much as the two labels do. I guess your history as Djs back before the digital revolution has influenced your decision to release such a rich catalogue on wax, is that about right?
A: Yeh, definitely, you know. I started out using Gemini and Numark turntables *laugh* and it was definitely treacherous trying to use some of that stuff but yeh, vinyl is definitely a big part of what we do and we feel it’s essential to the culture, obviously we’re not anti-digital but first and foremost we are a vinyl focused label and I think our catalogue shows that. We are close to a 100 or over a 100 separate vinyl releases put out at this point.
J: Yeh, you know, just to add to that. So much music gets released these days. I think that our distributor told us that 20,000 new songs gets uploaded to Spotify every single day and I think it’s important to, you know, as a label invest in the physical product and create a release that has a little more longevity that way and shows that we care. I think it’s important to have that, as it distinguishes our releases, you know, apart from those other 20,000 that come out every single day. Peoples musical memory is so short these days but if they have the physical record, if they have that thing then it stands up for longer.
A: Yeh and it definitely helps with the A&R aspect of things, you know, it’s a big commitment to put things to wax, so there’s a lot of thought and attention that goes into the releases from that aspect as well, as Jason says.
It’s crazy! 20,000 a day just to Spotify, is that right?
How do you see the digital marketplace and your place within that?
Well, as we enter a new phase of the label where we are focusing more on the artists and original music, the digital component is an important piece of that. We have been looking into a lot of new strategies for us, as far as getting our music placed in the right outlets for exposure digitally. It’s becoming much more of our plan around releases. We are doing more, you know, to think about how we get more plays on Spotify and other streaming DSB’s. How to do well on some of the more Dj oriented sites. It’s a big piece of what we do now. I think it’s important. It’s one thing if you are just putting out edits, like in a very underground, Dj culture kind of thing. It’s another thing if we are signing music from artists, who are making original music and it deserves to be heard by as many people as possible, so are employing new strategies to try and get it out there and heard by as many people as possible.
Going back to vinyl for a minute, I think the artwork plays a big part of any vinyl release and both your labels have their own distinct artwork, was the idea behind the art and coloured vinyl to make them a collectible series
A: Hmmm, you mean like the colours, or the branding? Cos, you know when you see the branding you know it’s a Razor N Tape record when you see it. I definitely think for Jason and I that was intentional. I had another record label years ago that was more house stuff that followed a similar format. It’s something that you can go to a record shop and look on the wall and you know it’s a record from us.
J: Yeh, it definitely helps people. It’s more of a Dj focused thing, you know, to see a record and think “that’s a Razor N Tape record” or “that’s a Razor N Tape reserve record”. The coloured vinyl thing, it was kind of a way to distinguish it. It also very practically – at the time, not now – we were able to get coloured vinyl out and pressed faster, so it gave us some flexibility in that way too. The original ones started with a hand stamped, white label kind of thing and we wanted to have the reserve thing as a more polished look. As you probably noticed we are also doing more custom artwork now for a lot of the releases that we do now, especially for the more artist and original music focused ones.
How do you find the process of getting your vinyl produced nowadays to what it was like back then
A: Yeh, it’s much more of an extensive lead-time, with Covid and pandemic stuff going on, it’s more of a wild card thing. You might think that you will able to get things produced in a couple weeks and then you might find out that it’s going to be 2-4 more weeks than what you expected. It makes trying to plan the release schedule more difficult; it’s a very moving thing. Now it seems the name of the game is to try and submit everything as early as you can, so that you don’t run into these issues.
J: Yeh, to give you an idea we were able to turn records around in about 6-8 weeks and we have a great partner in our distributor Prime Direct out of the UK but you know, we got off a call with them last week and we have to start delivering our records 3-4 Months ahead of time if we want to control when things actually come out. Like I said as we are doing more digital stuff and planning around that then the actual release date becomes very important with all the promotion that we are doing leading up to it, so it’s a different world now. As Aaron said it’s partly Covid but partly it’s the major labels getting into the game and taking up all of the plants time because vinyl has had this resurgence, you know.
Regarding the pre-pandemic, do you find the like of Record Store Day, for example, has become more of a hindrance to independent labels like yours?
J: Yeh, it has. We participated in Record Store Day a few times a few years ago but we haven’t the past few years for that reason.
A: It definitely jams up things, you know, leading up to that you want to make sure you get your stuff in way ahead of time because it’s just not a possibility at a certain point because the major’s are pressing up some version…
J: Some garbage! Some garbage that no one even cares about!
A: Top Gun picture disc records that nobody wants!…
A: It is what it is.
So, the latest release is a trio of great remixes for Midnight Magic’s ‘Beam Me Up’ a record that was already big back 10 years or so ago when it was released. Can you tell us about this came about?
J: Yeh, so Midnight Magic is a Brooklyn band and friends of ours, I’ve actually worked extensively with Morgan, who is the keyboard player and Andrew the bass player is a good friend of mine. They approached us and they wanted to do something special for the 10th anniversary of this song and we are sort of the obvious go-to local guys and friends, so we put together this package of remixes. I had just played in a festival in Brazil; the Mareh festival, with Prins Thomas. We had spent some time together, so I knew he was the perfect guy. Then the other ones are other local friends Justin Strauss and Max Pask and Andrew suggested Kym Anne, another Brooklyn Dj and producer. We worked on this project for a while; this went into the works well over a year ago, right, Aaron?
A: Yeh, yeh it was definitely one of our longer process ones but I think it came out really good. We are really happy with the record, the artwork, the remixes. Everything is looking and sounding great.
Ok, so future plans? Both labels got releases in the coming Months?
J: Yeh, so as I say we are focusing a little more in reserve right now and we are trying to develop some artist stuff. I guess immediately coming up we have a project called Sentimental Animals, which is something that myself and Dicky Trisco put together, it’s a track called ‘Love Vibration’ featuring the lead singer of Escort, Nikki B. We’ve got some other original music coming up from myself, Clive From Accounts; a really great new producer. We have an album project from Felipe Gordon on the way…Cody Currie’s new project…what am I forgetting?…then we are going to be dropping Razor N Tape white label stuff every now and then…
A: Kokoro Disco-San, also being released to Razor N Tape reserve…
J: Yeh, Spanish artists, Kokoro Disco-San, had a really cool release last year on Rocafort and this is a new one that’s dropping all original stuff. Yeh, it’s packed! I think we are already well into 2022 with our release schedule at this point.
Sounds great, doesn’t seem like Covid and the pandemic has seemed to hinder you guys too much!
J: I actually think it helped us, with our own personal focus on this stuff.
A: Yeh, most definitely, i think it allowed us to have some extra time to regroup, refocus, kind of strategise how we want to move forward, you know, we were able to bring on a new label manager; our buddy, Jared…
J: We have interns now! That’s how legit we are.
A: Yeh, interns! Shout out to Guthrie and Anna, holding things down. You know I think that when everything’s cooking and going along and there’s gigs every weekend and life is just so full of so many different things pulling your attention and this – if you want to call it a silver lining – has just allowed us to dig in and think about how we want to do things moving forward.
Great. Music was the winner In 2020! I think that’s fair to say
J: I agree
You have kindly put a mix together for us, so can you tell us a little about that?
A: Yeh, this mix is basically…well we obviously we have got some RnT stuff on there and just some other choice selections, which are some of our favourite disco tunes. There’s some stuff from Al Tone edits out of Chicago, a thing on BBE, another joint off our friend, Patrick ‘Twice’ Blend It! label…I think he does that with Enrico Neroli (Volcov) and yeh, just a blend of nice summery disco joints!
*laugh* Sounds like just what we need right now, Aaron. Love that. Gentlemen I just want to say thank you for giving me some of your time today. Props and respects for running the label for as long as you have and staying at the top of the tree. Razor N Tape has always been a go-to label for a lot of DJs and it’s great to see it still going strong. I wish the best of luck with everything going forward
A: Thanks so much man, really appreciate it.
J: Thanks man
Midnight Magic ‘Beam Me Up’ remixed is released to Razor N Tape Records on Fri 28th May.
Support the artists, support the label, buy your music! Listen and buy here – https://razor-n-tape.fanlink.to/AguaRemixes