Oh So Coy Recordings
Founded by South African born, Cape Town based producer Matt Prehn releasing soulful, chunky and deep house music digitally and in physical format since 2010. Artists like BiG AL, Moodymanc, Studioheist, Jude Brown, Demarkus Lewis, Silver Ivanov and more.
How did the label come to be - what’s the story of how why you created it?
The label was really just another outlet that came at a time when my main music focus - Bang Bang (live act) imploded. Nevermind the music we wrote as a band (the output was substantial) I was always writing a lot of my own music throughout and felt it would be nice to release it. I was releasing on other labels overseas but wanted to something with less strict music policy. Oh So Coy started purely as an extra outlet for my own productions but has now grown into something far bigger. It’s been great adding friends to the label and other producers I may never have known :)
Why the name, Oh So Coy?
It just kinda happened - no crazy thought behind it but rather around the time I remember myself and mates joking about something or other being coy. It kinda just formed itself a bit tongue in cheek and I loved the fact it was pretty much an untouched name - definitely made it easier to show up on Google and the likes.
What were the biggest challenges you had to get to release one?
It actually happened fairly effortlessly. I dabble in design and managed to put together a pretty rough logo. Had an idea for the art direction and already had the music. So once distro was found it all moved pretty smooth.
What was the best piece of advice anyone gave you?
Don’t release music you wouldn’t play yourself. I think in the beginning I didn’t stick to that policy as much but now definitely do - when I play it’s only my own and my labels productions really.
What makes the label unique?
We don’t sound like a lot of the cliched stuff that is being put out there. I think there is a definite sound of the label but this ventures quite far outside the current trendy lines. Definitely try to be a more adventurous with a less strict music conformity - not everything has to sound the same and we’re happy to move from soulful through to harder tech..
What’s your musical policy - what do you look for?
It’s really hard to say - I normally know in a few seconds of hearing something whether I’ll sign it or not. I like stuff that has some musicality and soul for sure. I also need to be able to imagine playing or vibing to it on a dancefloor. The tracks need to have their own voice and I love producers with an original own sound.
Too many copycats around these days whose music has no personality.
What producers have you had on the label that sum up the style you want best?
A mixture between myself, DuBeats, Toni Young, Deeper System, Nicolas Bassi, Sex on Decks, Micronoise, Silver Ivanov, Zuckre & Michael Oberling - their stuff always tends to resonate with me but to be fair I love all the guys on the label.
The label has been based in London and now Cape Town - is there any differences in operating in two cities like those?
Nope not really. In SA a lot of people look at “international” labels and hold them in this higher regard - at the end of the day unless you have premises pretty much everything is done on a laptop so it doesn’t matter where you’re based as long as you got internet. I work with artists from around the globe and consider myself (and the label) more a citizen of than strictly tied to one place.
What unique challenges do you face being a South African label?
I think the currency is our biggest challenge as converting into Dollars, Euros or Pounds (the main dance currencies) we take a beating. It’s harder to pay for certain services when you have to almost bankrupt the label. Pressing vinyl for example is not that difficult if you earn in Pounds - but try converting to Rands and it becomes a serious investment. Piracy happens everywhere so not a huge issue.
The other big thing in SA is the masses and their perception of dance music - a lot of guys here have this thing with tempo - like it ain’t deep house if it’s faster than 118bpm ARG. I think a lot of people get very closed into sounds and genres and what they think they should be and sound like. At least I realised overseas that is not a good way to view things - like your scene is the only and most definitive.
How do you go through demos, how do you like people to send them, what’s your process?
I listen whenever I have a few accummulated and some spare time. I like Soundcloud streaming links in mp3 format to start. Sent to the label Facebook page or emailed to email@example.com - No process except for whether is grabs me or not.
How long do you plan between signing a track and release?
I’m pretty bad at this - always hated having detailed release schedules and tend to let things ebb and flow to their own time. Sometimes remixers might take longer than anticipated or over time you think a track needs something else. Sometimes it can be a month and sometimes 6 - depends on the sound of the release and how many I have to get out.
How do you go about creating the artwork?
I do the art myself. Have tried to come up with something eye catching and that translates well when thumbnail is small on the stores. Also something quick to do so I don’t have to charge artists an arm and a leg for art like some labels I have worked with. These days 50/70USD for a digital cover seems pretty unrealistic to me. I am actually speaking to some local design artists and might try something different in the future if we can get the price right.
Do you work with artists to help them develop their brand/audience?
Yeah definitely however more to hone their sound. I do give tips on ways to do things to try and establish better online prescence but to me the actual songwriting is far more important as well as the way they do business.
What’s your view on artist albums?
In dance I’m not the hugest fan. Seems like a trend now for a lot of the local cats to be knocking out artist albums or extended EP’s almost with no back catalogue to draw on. Unless it’s going in a different format to digital or has a really special release plan seems like a bit of a waste of music these days. People have short attention spans so why give away 10 tracks which will be forgotten in the same time as if you just released 3. Rather capitalise and put out more seperate new releases imo. But I suppose for some artists they have this need to create that - for me perosnally as an artist I have no desire to do that. Unless a label wants to pay a nice advance and really work on a concept.
What’s been the most successful release to date and your personal favourite?
Most successful was one of WillowMan’s eps - the title track was one of the top 100 best selling deep house tracks on Traxsource a couple years back.
Personal fave is a very tough one to answer but one of my favourite tracks is Toni Young’s remix of Moshun that came out earlier this year.
What do you do around a release - promotion etc?
I have a list of DJ’s I’ve built up over the years so send out a release a few weeks prior to the music going online to buy at download stores. I’ll get social banners in place and maybe a vid or some clips on soundcloud. Try and notify the relevant people what is coming out and occasionally try for a premiere on a bigger blog. Then it’s just social posts during release, some DJ charts and anything else that can help.
Do you have merchandise?
Yeah we do - we often do limted t-shirt runs which have done well for us. We’ve done CD’s and some other cool limited pieces. Vinyl if you can consider that merch. Stickers we did awhile ago to pop into the record sleeves and will definitely be looking into more idea down the line. It was a lot easier doing it overseas so now it’s trying to find good companies to work with at affordable rates. A lot of local guys are banging a logo onto a shirt and charging 300-400 bucks which to me is just a rip-off. I like to make things accessible and will rather not do it if we can’t make it work.
Do you run events or label nights in support of the label?
We have done a couple when in London some years back. We had Steve Mill play for us and it was a lot of fun. Nowadays I am less keen on events - lot of risk and hard work for the reward. I’ve also just never been much of a promoter.
You have a couple of sub-labels right?
I have one main sub label called Rogue Decibels. Its had a bit of its own journey and h=is really coming into its own now. Run by Cya C Deep - he has taken over the A&R duties and is doing a great job. All local artists and the label has a great image - the brand is building some good hype down here.
Oh So Coy offers distro/promotion services for labels and we currently work with 2 local labels and we’d love to add more.
The Travelling Bear run by Brandon “The Grizz” is shaping up nicely. We have been helping with overall strategy and store placement as well as handling mastering and promotion. Very excited as they are bringing some fresh music to the fore.
We also work with Things We Make which is Erefaan Pearce’s baby - proper quality house done by a guy that has really shapped the SA scene over the years.
What’s the better revenue source for the label retail sales or streaming?
For us download sales are definitely the bigger income source at this point. We only had 1 crazy stream track some years ago that did really well otherwsie Traxsource and Beatport provide our main income makeup.
What’s the hardest thing you find with getting cut-through for releases?
Honestly speaking it is getting harder every week - there is just so much music flooding the market and yeah people’s attention span is getting less and less. The big artists/labels tend to get more store share which makes sense as at the end of the day everybody is trying to make money. But there are just so many smaller labels popping up that it often seems a bit ridiculous. Far too much music you will easily forget a year down the line.
Consistency and making sure the right people know about what is getting released helps us the most.
How often do you have a release?
Normally every 2 or 3 weeks. It seems like a lot but for the label to recoup expenses that’s a pretty common timeframe. Plus we have so much good music this is the only way to really get it all out there.
Do you use a promo list and what do you get out of it?
Yeah my own list - we have had a few physical licenses though that which is great, radio support and music being played in the right places.
Can people apply to get on the list?
Yeah but I am fairly strict as to who gets more free music lol
Do you use a PR company or the services for that a distributor sometimes offers?
No - another expense that eats away at label and artist royalties. If we had a huge release with some serious names I’d consider it but honestly to drop 100USD and have to recoup is just not worth it. Rather filter expenses down so the guys can get paid a bit. Also there are so many of these services I feela lot of the guys miss out on music because they have to filter through so much.
How important to the release is airplay, DJ support, artist self-promotion?
Very important. The more everyone gets behind the release the better. Having it on FM radio means a different audience will be exposed and you will have a lot more ears on a release. Artists need to do their but as well to make sure the music gets out there - it’s not all on the label.
How much work do you put into social media promotion or paid advertising on social media?
I try and not overload those channels but normally do some paid boosts in the first couple weeks of release.
What releases have you got lined up for near future?
Loads of great music from the regular stable as well as a bunch of new artists. Definitely trying to bring more local guys into the fold especially to mix with overseas artists. We’ll carry on pushing vinyl and will hopefully get Rogue Decibels on was soon too.
What do you think the big issues ahead are for labels?
Mass oversaturation which just means a bit less of the pie for everybody. Staying relevant in the fast changing times and holding onto artists. It seems far too many people think it’s super easy to just start up a label and make it happen - it’s not!
Where can people follow the label?