1) Strut Records is one of the leading independent labels in the UK, going beyond the confines of borders and genres. How did you come to be at the label?
Thanks for that. I founded Strut after running a similar label called Harmless for Demon Music. At Harmless, we had started releasing compilations documenting the history of the underground side of dance music, funk, jazz and African rare grooves and I could see that the interest in this area was really growing. So, I took the plunge to start Strut as a new label in 1999.
2) What has been your most satisfying achievement during your time at the label?
Probably the first ‘Nigeria 70’ album. It was the first internationally released compilation of original Nigerian Afrobeat, jazz and Afro funk and we went to Lagos to interview many of the original musicians, producers and industry figures of the time for an accompanying documentary. I think it still stands up as a really strong collection and many of the artists we talked to have since passed away so I am especially glad that we could record their stories at that stage.
3) Strut has been prolific over its existence but particularly in the last two years, which has seen the release of new music by Sierra Leone/US collaboration, Kondi Band and Idris Ackamoor & the Pyramids, alongside re-releases by the late giant, Sun Ra and a compilation on the Maloya scene on Réunion Island. What is the process involved in acquiring the rights to music archives from another country?
It really depends – sometimes, the original labels are still active and you can licence directly from them but there are times when rights are not 100% clear and contracts no longer exist. You end up using your best judgement as to who has a claim on a track – it could be the label, producer, the artist or the artist's estate. Sometimes, we end up having to pay more than one person to ensure that there are no disputes.
4) In what direction would you like Strut to head?
I’d like it to continue to stay fresh, cover a wide variety of music and keep unearthing all kinds of lost, unexpected sounds on the reissue side but also make the most of the living older generation artists while they still have their health and can record and tour. That has always been an important side to the label’s work.
5) What new releases can we expect for the rest of 2017?
We have new albums coming by The Souljazz Orchestra and Congolese legends Orchestre Les Mangelepa and a great compilation of DIY German post punk curated by Optimo.
#9: Quinton Scott
Head of Strut Records