Amid his daily airport wanderings and the ongoing pressures of managing the shifting tides of Electronic Dance Music, Mark Brown is a man seldom lost for words of eccentric positivity towards his supreme brand of House music. You must understand, where other labels have stumbled upon success only to bow to the pressures of continuity, Cr2 Records have either been incredibly lucky or far cleverer than their high-hitting head honcho will let on. From ‘Put Your Hands Up For Detroit’ to ‘Love Don’t Let Me Go’, their double-barrel club-to-chart endeavours have certainly left a little leeway for the label to not only raise the bar for independent labels, but also foster the next generation of international Electronic talent. Still live and relentlessly direct in their airwave fuelling escapades, Dan Carter and MYNC moniker master Mark Brown sat down to talk shop in the lead up to a calendar mark that artist and imprint alike have come to call their essential proving grounds.
Formed off the back of his major-label exploits at Credence, Mark Brown has channelled a significant amount of adoration into his formidable Cr2 Records. We can list their label attainments till the cows come home, but for Brown it is fair to say that survival following the mixed-blessings of his debut industry exploits have come at the sum of lessons learned through ploughing seeds into his industrious dreams. ‘For me it has always been really important to keep the label as current as possible and to move with the trends of the industry. My vision and passion for music has always been about quality, whether it be Electro House or Big Room and while the labels may have shifted over the years, the energy has remained as exciting as ever.’
Progressive House may have beckoned images of the British warehouse revolutionaries Sasha and John Digweed back in Brown’s youthful heyday, but Cr2 has become adamant in nurturing its musical output, however askew in terms of genre or underground credentials. Having attained the sizeable talents of Fedde Le Grand, Steve Angello and Chuckie along the way, the fresh blood pumped through the veins of this ever-expanding endeavour is certainly a fair jewel in the labels industrious crown. Dealing in the likes of Pierce Fulton and Paul Strive, their approachable façade and interactive A&R capabilities have suggested that the unknown is a currency that Brown and his peers have come to deal in with increased success. ‘Finding and breaking new artists is our ultimate talent and it continues to gives me the enthusiasm to extend the label. It is about making our scene stronger and making people feel like labels do care about their music. Taking time and giving feedback is a good route towards this.’
But from his label debut ‘The Rose’ to exclusive outing ‘Seven’ for CR2’s Miami compilation, it is fair to say that Mark Brown has been paying special attention to the formative Dutch producer turned universal House entity Nicky Romero. Positioned alongside Brown’s MYNC exploits for their seasonal instalment, Brown could not have chosen a better player to position his brand values alongside given the young stars extended universal capabilities. ‘ I have a lot of respect for Nicky. He has a really good attitude and where other youngsters have become so wound up in the hype, he has avoided acting like a superstar and focused on developing his raw talent.’
Like the conference to which their latest release nods, Cr2 are no strangers to the stateside industry skyline. Thus to say Mark Brown has seen the event progress in a way that few other professionals can boast of is no mean feat. From the days of pushing plastic to the digital revolution we now know as common practice, his experience and undying enthusiasm appear to have been an essential weapon along the way. ‘Ten years ago I would set off with a battery powered vinyl player and listen to 12’ promos we were given from distributors and labels. Now it is more about the DJ conference and the multitude of events. Its definitely shown how big Electronic Dance Music has grown with that market and the variation of genres to which the event caters for is incredible.’
In an aptly tailored ascent to the ranks of well-oiled raconteurs, 2012 promises to be one the labels biggest appearances to date. Joining Scottish peer Calvin Harris in a joint venture alongside his Fly Eye imprint at renowned Miami nightspot Mansion, a stellar line-up of Harris, Romero and a host of Cr2 favourites reigns testament to the positive hype the industry has come to associate with the label. Be it that infamous resurgence or something in the air, Brown is not one to deny, let alone celebrate, the incredible avenues that America’s enthusiasm has opened to labels as soundly positioned as his own. ‘It is amazing that it has taken a country that big so long to catch on to Electronic music,’ laughed Brown. ‘Since transitioning from predominantly urban music, those artists have integrated into the Electronic agenda and as a result House has pretty much replaced pop along the way. ‘
Proving the sour grapes of every transgressive rant centred on industry politics, Brown’s roster of fresh talent has not stopped him from tipping his hat to the undisputable innovators that however controversially poised have given the genre an extended shelf life across the globe. Whatever its underlying commercial values, Brown believes that there can be no immediate wrong in opening the world’s eyes to the EDM explosion.
Brown explained: ‘People like David Guetta have played a massive part in this and while people have their own opinions about this subject, having a chart-topping album with a house edge and quality productions is incredible. People would have never heard house without artists like him and I believe it is making our scene much healthier and stronger.’
In line with its solid resurgence, Cr2 has found fair ground to extend their stateside presence outside of the conference; an asset that Brown remains thrilled to have attained amid the labels rigorous development. He explained: ‘The American market will just keep on growing and it is exciting for us to see a surge in sales and thus a necessity to increase our presence out there.’
But now channelled across the globe through their popular ‘Live and Direct’ Radio show, Cr2 has seemingly cheated the system in its ability to continue to sell records in an age of undecided stability for the industry to which it has dutifully served. The agenda, however developmental, has invariably been one of persistent efforts and organic growth. Brown explained: ‘It definitely helped that we were one of the first labels on Beatport, so we have always remained organic in the digital era. I hear what people are saying about shit sales, but it is better to try new things and work for your business.
‘The industry wont stop evolving, it beckons constant change and as a result we are always up for the challenge.’
Facing the challenges and tribulations with little sign of selling themselves short, their product remains of ultimate value in spite of the aforementioned doom and gloom that has sealed the collapse of so many positive movements in music – a scenario that Mark has not only learned from, but triumphed over as a result. ‘Working within the digital era has been a challenge, but it has taught us all to stay on our feet and adapt in short spaces of time. When I started my job was to sell a physical product – Vinyl and eventually CDs. Now the vast majority of our output is digital and while I hear what people are saying about the sales, we have remained enthusiastic in our proven ability to sell our music whatever the format.’
Set to drop a host of new MYNC singles and a star studded full-length album for Dutch chart-stomper Chuckie this summer, the challenges overcome by this positive British imprint set an increasingly impressive standard to their industrious peers. To Mark’s mind, a little love and a whole lot of enthusiasm has been the winning combination for Cr2 amid their universal endeavours. He explained: ‘The people we attract are involved because they love Dance music. Be that the staff, the artists or the fans, everyone is on the same wavelength. You can’t fake our passion and that is as healthy as it gets to my mind.’
Nicky Romero ‘Se7en’ is out now on Cr2 Records via Beatport.
Flye Eye & Cr2 Records unite @ Mansion on March 22. For more info click here.