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Label Mix Interview - Kudatah

Nina Label Mix

Boundary-pushing music, from Edmonton, Canada to the world.

By editorial


Edmonton, Alberta, Canada is known for subzero temperatures and the biggest indoor shopping mall in North America, but it is not as known for its electronic music scene. That’s what makes Kudatah so special. The label was started in 2016 and has since existed as a vehicle for artists from Edmonton to get their tunes out to the world. 

In that time, Kudatah has released a nice variety of boundary-pushing electronic music, and their session for Nina reflects that history—it features jungle, footwork, club, and beyond. The mix also features music from all three label heads under various monikers. Brandon Smith makes music as Text Chunk, Carter Booth as Hard K, and Sven Shappka as Sven K. We sent over some questions to Booth and Smith; listen to the mix and read their answers below.

Kudatah - Nina Label Mix 033
Kudatah - Nina Label Mix 033Nina Label Mix

Where are you based?

Carter: We’re based in Edmonton, Alberta, North America's most northern major city, often referred to as an isolated frozen tundra. Edmonton is a huge, sprawling city with lots of forests and highway roads, and everything is extremely spread out. It’s below freezing eight to nine months out of the year, making it incredibly challenging for people in the arts and music scene to do much of anything event-wise. Great environment for locking in. It’s not all gloomy, though. The summers in Edmonton are pretty great. We have a vibrant river valley and long days filled with sunlight. The Canadian Rockies are also pretty close. All in all, it’s a unique environment to live in and create art.

Can you describe your label mix?

Brandon: Our label mix features music that us three have either made, or had a hand in creating/producing, or it comes directly from the label's catalog, as well as a few cheeky unreleased and forthcoming bits. We aim for people listening to this mix to break free from the shackles of algorithm-core music. Everything here is homemade, fresh out of the oven, hot off the grill, and right out of a cooler full of ice.

What inspired you to start a label?

Brandon: Since 2016, the local music scene in Edmonton has been virtually non-existent for us. There were and still are really no platforms or opportunities locally available, and our work went largely unnoticed in our isolated tundra. We quickly recognized the need to create our own opportunities and the lack of local support, so we founded Kudatah and focused solely on creating a significant online presence. Since then, we’ve established a platform for our creative endeavors and solidified Kudatah as a significant force in the global music scene. Our innovative approach and commitment to pushing boundaries have gained us recognition and respect worldwide. Embracing the digital landscape early on allowed us to transcend the limitations of our location and reach a much wider audience, which has been instrumental in our growth and success as a label.

Does your label have a sound or a mission?

Carter: Our mission is to push the boundaries of electronic sound and stay in business. We use a special ice-powered server to store all our label’s music. In winter, this is no issue, but it costs us a fortune in the summer. So we need to make enough money to keep our ice maker working... 

Brandon: In all seriousness, our focus is on fostering a sense of community and creativity, collaborating with a wide network of artists we think are influential and prolific in some way. The sound of the label is extremely broad, so it’s difficult to give it a singular label.

Tell us about your scene(s).

Brandon: Edmonton doesn’t have much of a music scene. The city is sprawling, and the arts are often overlooked, making it challenging for musicians and artists to thrive. While there are pockets of activity, most people and groups here struggle to gain sustainable support. Online is another story, but even then, breaking through the noise of algorithms in recent years makes it difficult to establish a presence. Despite these obstacles, we remain active and engaged, working on various projects and collaborations that keep us well-connected overall.

What's your A&R process?

Carter: We play NHL hockey highlights and hit shuffle on SoundCloud. If the song goes well with someone getting cross-checked, we send the artist an offer for a 360 deal. This hasn’t been the most effective method, and we’re considering changing our process. But we really enjoy watching hockey highlights. Let’s go Oilers!

What labels do you look up to?

Carter: UMG, Sony, anything involving Lyor Cohen, Alamo Records.

Brandon: Ilian Tape, Dream Catalogue, Dance Mania, MAW Records, XL, Top Billin, Goon Club Allstars, Night Slugs, The Null Corporation, Juke Trax, and many, many others.

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