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Photo by Rob Low

Wolf + Lamb

Dazed meet New York's Gadi Mizrahi and Zev Eisenberg before the launch of their first album together...

A label in touch with their artists and intent on creating their own scene, New York's Wolf + Lamb have cultivated a universe of deep/tech house sounds playing with groove-filled funk and soul elements or re-working r'n'b samples after a move from more minimal techno. Preferring to break in new artists rather than signing established ones, their roster spans the likes of the ridiculously prolific Nicolas Jaar (son of artist/director Alfredo Jaar) fusing influences from Chilean folk music, hip hop or old French songs into tracks with techno elements, to Slow Hands and Paris' Le Loup. Artists like Boston's Soul Clap or Seth Troxler and his former Berlin flatmates Shaun Reeves, and Ryan Crosson have also graced their catalogue, whilst on the side they've even launched a Black Label for vinyl-only releases consisting of clever edits.

Taking a personal approach to their label management and A&R, they explain that their cover art is all old photographs personal to the artists, "We asked Seth [Troxler] for a press photo but he said he didn't have one, instead he wanted to use this photo with his grandfather who brought him up... It was very dear to him, and all the rest of the covers are baby pictures of the artists... No Regular Play have been friends since they were kids and that's them at nine or ten, hanging out"...

Dazed speak to the label owners Gadi Mizrahi and Zev Eisenberg about releasing their joint album 'Love Someone' with remixes from Dyed Soundorom out this June, and how it all came about...

Dazed Digital: So, why do you two work so well as a duo?
Gadi Mizrahi: Haha, for some reason when we produce, we work way more separately - if we sit down and do it we work well together, but it doesn't really happen, it's pretty rare.
Zev Eisenberg: So Wolf + Lamb is like us running around, throwing these parties, and the DJing and production duo is like taking a break over the last year - but we've managed to put this album together. It's not really an 'album' album, more a compilation.
Gadi Mizrahi: It wasn't like let's sit down and make an album. I like it 'cause it's all over the place, constantly hopping from genre to genre, influenced by all these things, like making a collage of what we're into.

DD: Do you see yourselves primarily as DJs or a producers or label owners?
Zev Eisenberg: Everything... I think DJs first, but it changes... last year Gadi's been more of a DJ I think, but me more of a producer.
Gadi Mizrahi: But it all switches, it's like moods, in and out of it... like depending on touring or having time to produce. Like we realised we had to produce to become touring DJs, you can't just DJ... So we learnt that lesson and had to rethink and we started producing, and when we did that we were like, so where are we gonna release it at?
Zev Eisenberg: We don't have this attitude of sending demos out so we started this label and threw our parties 'cause there was nowhere to play, and we don't like asking people to play.
Gadi Mizrahi: So we created the label out of necessity really as a home for ourselves. There was nothing out there to attach ourselves to. It's like a long road but now it's ours...

DD: How do you focus your productions to the label's 'sound'? How does your 'sound' differ when making music for other labels, such as the EP for Simple Records? Is that outside the Wolf + Lamb thing?
Gadi Mizrahi: I basically have a problem with programming, I use my own judgement for the artists on our label but had a hard time for myself where I hit the wall and had all this music outside it... so it was music I wanted for the label but it just felt too strange - like curating your own art show. So I just passed them onto the other labels like Spectral and they picked a few, it's not supposed to be different to Wolf + Lamb music... I was reading this book about the Wu Tang Clan and someone was saying like their five, six artists who wanted to bring more attention to them, but by associating to bigger labels and bring it back.
Gadi Mizrahi: Like with Nico and Circus Company approaching him, and I'm like of course you should do it...
Zev Eisenberg: We have our own audience and we put together a little clan, a fanbase, but we encourage our artists to put out on other labels as all it does is broaden the amount of people it reaches.
Gadi Mizrahi: We have a deep relationship with all these artists... there's no insecurity of them leaving and being part of another family, we're in contact all the time.

DD: And Nico, he has his own label anyway?
Gadi Mizrahi: It's like a weirdo digital label - he's like us, if we say like I don't think we can put this out on here...
Zev Eisenberg: He's like alright, I don't need you guys and puts it out himself. He's got a tremendous amount of output, it's a lot of stuff and he doesn't care about one genre, he just finds new music and every sub-genre he invents.

DD: What do you think are the connotations of being a digital label? Did you face difficulties? Why did you decide to make the change over the vinyl-only such as for the Black Label?
Zev Eisenberg: We also did one before the Black one - we totally reached a glass ceiling when we just started out on digital.
Gadi Mizrahi: We knew it was really amateur, we literally just started out - this wasn't ready for investing like $3000 in a record. We wanted a playground on Beatport - we didn't know anything about signing artists. This was amazing just to have a free outlet of thousands of people knowing about it - and before Beatport it was just a free site. It was a great learning tool on how to run your own label. And then Seth was like really pushing us, like your output is really good now, you should start pressing records and by the second record a year and a half ago - everything just magnified like crazy. By that time, we got label of the month on RA and they hadn't got one record from us.

DD: Whilst celebrating classic house sounds, how do you avoid the new tracks becoming generic? What keeps it fresh or exciting?
Zev Eisenberg:  I grapple with that all the time - old music that sounds like the new music...
Gadi Mizrahi: It's really interesting flipping through stuff and trying to guess when it's been made. It's a new take on an old sound is what we try to do.
Zev Eisenberg: Once in a while we'll have like 'Time For Us' (Nicolas Jaar) is just bizarre and out there and doesn't fit anywhere, but most are like a new take.
Gadi Mizrahi: The Black Label was taking old classics and just fitting them to be played in a modern set - it's taking sounds almost perfect the way they are, you don't even need to sample it and fuck with it, just the beat doesn't match with what a DJ would play now - that's the idea.

DD: Wolf + Lamb really blew up suddenly like, last year - what happened?
Gadi Mizrahi: It's like a year and a half now- it was a few things...
Zev Eisenberg: It was a big continuum for three years, more advertising, more parties - when Seth was like reaching the peak of his game he did a mix of all Wolf + Lamb's future stuff and that stuff was incredible - the quality had just been going up and up -
Gadi Mizrahi: We got comfortable with this disco deep house thing and it all kinda clicked at the same time, the industry was starting to like that sound - the UK really got into it, with a history of that disco stuff and it felt right away that New York and the UK had this thing... we'd never really been here before but now we saw these close similarities like Jamie Jones and Damian (Lazarus, former music editor of Dazed)...

DD: How do you find your artists? Like Jozif?
Zev Eisenberg: He's our account manager for RA! Just through friends - like demos and we usually ignore everybody. Also there's this mantra or motto like we wanted to build a community Stateside, New York is really important for everyone - for people to support their local scene and create a local scene and have your artists play all the time, like Soul Clap live like two hours away in Boston. It's flattering to have msuic sent from all over the world but it just doesn't make sense with what we're trying to do. Jozif is different, and Le Loup's a friend of Nico... Jozif we just really liked him a lot and he's in our London circle of friends.
Gadi Mizrahi: The other thing is we don't want someone really well known -
Zev Eisenberg: It's like when we check their Discogs and there's five, six labels they're out on.
Gadi Mizrahi: We've broken in all our artists - we were the first to put out No Regular Play, Nicolas Jaar, Deniz (Kurtel), bringing the artists up is exciting. It's not like they've already established their own sound with all the annoying hype. Everyone sends us demos saying 'this would fit great with your sound' - but we don't have this 'sound', it's constantly evolving - that's not how we are. We're organic, we meet, we hang out, we party - it's a growing process, it's not about signing music. It's communicative, it's so personal. It's a pretty intense relationship on this label.

Wolf + Lamb's new album 'Love Someone' is out 14th June 2010