Tell us a bit about the history of Dealmaker, how long has it been running?
We haven’t been running very long, because we’ve been building since October 2003, when we put out, well we didn’t really put out but gave loads of copies away of UK Duty Paid Volume 1; which was over 24 hiphop artists around Nottingham collaborating with each other to create the album. It wasn’t intended to be an album showcasing Nottingham’s hiphop, it was a part of the local hiphop scene, because there’s a lot more to the city than what people see and there’s a lot more to Nottingham hiphop than just the collective that comes with Dealmaker.
When you did that album was it with a view to set up a record label?
Ste: No, it was just to boost the scene because there wasn’t a hell of a lot of an outlet and there weren’t a hell of a lot of promoters. The scene wasn’t as healthy and as thriving as we feel it is growing to be, at the moment. So the compilation album was not meant to be anything more than just that. It was gonna be a burnt CD that we passed around for a fiver and then it turned into a bigger project.
I haven’t met everybody that’s involved with the label but from what I do know and what I’ve seen, you seem to have a lot of different people who all have specific skills and elements to bring to the label.
Yeah. We refer to them as Ninjas. The network itself is called The Hoods in the Woods (big up Abbott, Chris Barker, Dwyz, Rikki Marr, Jody and Sean ‘The Boss’). Each person has an individual skill set that they bring to the table, thus completing a network of people that can run the full 360 degrees of what it takes to produce something from scratch; be it a record, a t-shirt, putting on a show, marketing or PR.
Was that a conscious objective as you were building?
Ste: Yeah. It’s all about a game of cultivation. As well as cultivating artists and scenes, it’s also a cultivation of people to work behind the scenes of the music industry. Music and art are so important for cultural sakes, but they can’t escape that they need an industry to support them. So the people that work on the infrastructure of the label split themselves in that way.
Rikki: It’s a very loose collective but it’s a very tight unit at the same time.
Ste: The strange thing about the cultivation of the network is that I can’t go and find people, people can’t apply for it, there’s no job role or vacancy; it just happens, y’know?
So what are the ethics behind the label?
Ste: This is the thing: it would be a lot easier to do all this shit if we didn’t carry so many ethics while trying to stick to everything we’re trying to do. There’s one way around doing things where we could just release records and grab whatever we think is gonna do well, run with it and do well as a label. In essence, what could be determined as doing well as a label is making money. But we carry the cultivation ethic with our label and it’s so important to have that otherwise the scene runs dry and that’s not good for any of us.
Do you have a definite set aim or objective, or is Dealmaker more about the continual process of cultivation, inspiration and creation?
Ste: It all comes back down to your ideal versus the continual battle between money and time. Our aim is for our part of the industry to be self-sustainable and so that means that we don’t make money out of the music on a scale where seven of us, there are seven ‘core’ members of The Hoods in the Woods at present, could live comfortably.
Rikki: It’s basically we wanna give everybody what they wanna get, the artists included as well as the workers from Dealmaker. It’s about getting to the stage where we build something that we can all live off and nobody gets ripped off.Ste: And it becomes self-sustainable. Everything we do goes back into it.