hero image

Label Mix Interview - Fixed Rhythms

Nina Label Mix

DIY techno-not-techno out of Oklahoma City.

By editorial


The Oklahoma City-based label Fixed Rhythms’ motto is “electronic music curated by intuition and love,” which is one way to make it clear that it is not a by-the-books techno imprint. The label, which Taylor McKenzie and Stewart Whitmarsh started in 2018, is a thoughtful collection of electronic music that spans multiple styles. And Fixed Rhythms uses their middle American location as an asset, not a liability—from their OKC perch, they can make moves that sidestep (or not) big city conversations around genre conventions in underground music. 

“We don’t focus on any one style, but I think there are a lot of throughlines running between the different styles,” McKenzie told us, of the mix he assembled for Nina. “And I think the variety makes for creative mixing opportunities.” For sure, the mix is an accurate representation of the label’s ethos. Fixed Rhythms is at once varied and cohesive, and it retains a decidedly DIY edge. “It’s all electronic music, but we don’t have a specific focus,” McKenzie said of the label. “It is all based on intuition and the steps we have taken thus far.”

Listen to the mix, collect it for free, and check out our interview with McKenzie, below.

Where are you based?

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Can you describe your label mix?

I knew I wanted to start out with Alien D “Party Glitters,” and I knew I wanted to play some forthcoming, unreleased material. I also wanted to let the tracks really shine and give them some space. Looking back, there are a lot of b-sides in this mix. We don’t have a specific subgenre focus (other than electronic music). We’re not a techno label, but we put out lots of techno. I wanted to mix the music how I hear the disparate subgenres working together. Running a label, you become so intimate with the music you release. As mentioned, we don’t focus on any one style, but I think there are a lot of throughlines running between the different styles. And I think the variety makes for creative mixing opportunities. There’s some breaks, electro, house, techno, breakbeat, and it ends a bit more experimental. But the main concept of the mix is to display the range of the label and highlight the serious artistry that I am honored to be entrusted with releasing. 

What inspired you to start a label?

My friend Trey Millward (Hypervigilance) was making some great ambient electronic music. I watched an interview with Ron Morelli, and I don’t want to misphrase, but my interpretation of what he was saying was, only start a label if you know people making cool music that nobody is listening to. I felt like that applied to me, and so I put out a tape of Trey’s work in 2018. From there, I expanded who I reached out to, always keeping intuition as the guiding principle. 

Does your label have a sound or a mission?

It’s all electronic music, but we don’t have a specific focus. It is all based on intuition and the steps we have taken thus far. What fits as the next puzzle piece? Taking that as it comes and letting the publishing process be a creative process in and of itself, with how the releases are arranged and what sounds we’re pushing at certain times…those are all things that are exciting to me about labels. But embracing the present moment and trucking away and not concerning yourself too much with “is this going to fit with what people expect?” or “will this make any money?” but rather, making bold statements and contributing to tastemaking on a worldwide music scene level…playing your part within the deep and pleasurable wormhole of the underground dance community….

We like releasing records by artists who have never released on vinyl, but we don’t exclusively work with artists who fit that description.

Tell us about your scene(s).

Our label artwork designer and I both live in Oklahoma City. We run a monthly party called Critical Mess at a bar called the 51st Street Speakeasy. There was a huge rave scene here in the 90s, like many flyover cities back then. Underground Resistance even came down and did a massive rave in the 90s. But now it doesn’t have that illegal warehouse flair anymore. We do our monthly party and then occasionally throw parties at a venue called The Sanctuary. Those are all-ages, which I cherish. I come from the DIY punk, metal, noise, etc. scene, and I try to keep that ethos and approach when working with artists, DJing, throwing events, etc. Of course, it is hard to keep things all ages, but I do love having The Sanctuary as a place for younger people to get tapped in. It’s always been strange to me how much raving is such an adult thing here in the US. I mean, staying up all night and dancing is as childlike as it gets! 

What's your A&R process?

When we get sent releases, I listen to the demos and take notes in a google doc. I color code them with highlighters in the google doc–red being not going to work, blue being maybe, and green being hell yeah. Then I write notes about why the green and blues could work, like “could make for an introspective B2” or “sick A1 slammer.” Then over a few listens, I piece together the tracklist I’m hearing. Then I send that to the artist and see if they hear it the same way. Sometimes there’s a missing puzzle piece, and I may ask the artist for another track to fit a certain slot. I like to have a phone chat with the artist if we’re not already friends, to make it not feel transactional. It’s good to connect…that’s what dance music is all about…sonic and psychic connections, real human stuff. 

That’s if we’re being sent demos. I may also reach out to an artist and ask them if we want to do a record together. Then we go from there. Usually it’s a similar process with a demo pack and uncovering the EP that lurks below the surface. 

What labels do you look up to?

Contemporaries: Sorry Records, Bliss Point, Kindergarten, Interdimensional Transmissions, Kajunga, 3024, 1432r, Mister Saturday Night, Mahogani Music, Is/Was, PPRZ, Eto Ano, Codec, L.I.E.S., Fokus Global, Limited Network, Future Times, DKA, Junted, Voitax, Portage Garage Sounds, Haus of Altr, Sweat Equity, I’m sure I’m forgetting more–electronic music labels operating in the US always inspire me (not all of these are US labels).

Other massive inspirations: Dischord, Underground Resistance, Crass Records

Nina is an independent music ecosystem.

Join over 5000 artists, labels, and listeners using Nina to share their music, build their context and directly support artists.


Now Playing