Dec 23, 2019
Equus Recordings: Closing With A Bang!
We had the unique opportunity to interview Stephen Ortiz, label Owner and A&R for Equus Recordings, which is about to wrap things up after a successful three year run. The label is going out with a bang, and Stephen gives us some great insight into their special final release as well as many highlights from their three successful years.
Before we dive into the details about the label’s latest release, why don’t you give us a quick background about Equus Recordings.
Equus Recordings is an independent label from the USA that releases all genres of dance music and even some things that venture outside of that realm at times. We have always been focused on pushing talented artists both unknown and established to the forefront by giving them chances when other labels wouldn’t. While we are a small label in the overall spectrum, we have found success in our lane and used it to provide as much exposure and opportunity to our artists as possible. I founded the label in 2016 when I was given the chance to start and manage a sub-label of what was formerly Appointed Music Group. I had just finished up a 10 month A&R internship with Brooklyn Fire Records when I started working with Appointed. In 2019 I made the leap to full label owner when I bought out the label and took Equus independent. In our three years we have been fortunate enough to work with artists all around the world and garner many highlights along the way.
For your next release, it’s an album and the final release of the label, correct?
Yes. The time has come for Equus Recordings to come to a close and for both the artists and me to move onto new things. The decision was one that I pondered for about six months when I found that I was unable to give the same time commitment and dedication to the label that I had been able to in previous years. Knowing that my work was not up to the level that I had come to expect to deliver for our artists led me to make a tough call and end the label as to not operate with poor standards. I didn’t want the label to end randomly, so I asked everyone who we remain in close working order with about some final projects, the finale being an album of all new music. That album is called SCION and I am so proud of how much work everyone put into it to give us some amazing music, with many artists delivering multiple tracks.
What are some key sounds and artists we should be looking for on SCION?
SCION is a full 20 tracks with plenty of gems, and if we start with some of our American artists you should check out any of the music from Mayhem In Action, Forti, NoizeKomplaint (a debut project of the 2 previously listed artists), Mind Cntrl/Billy Seabreeze, Dembowyz, and Killsign Kilo. All of these artists I have met over the years through different work and labels and they are underrated, to say the least. Mind Cntrl should be a name known from the house game and Mayhem In Action continue to have regular support from GTA and many other artists. “Twerk” by Mayhem In Action X Youth is the leadoff track on the album, and for a reason – it is hype from start to finish.
On the international side of things, I really want to put focus on Bashment YC and Prion Heart (also known as the duo Pilament) from South Korea. These guys sought us out and started hammering us with demos in 2018 and it’s been a great relationship since. Over the summer they sent us three EPs, one for each solo artist and one Pilament EP as a series called Kill-The-Muzik and the goal was to get all three releases charting high on Beatport. They blew everyone out of the water with all three going #1! These guys played EDC Korea this year and are onto big things. On the album, check out “Undercover” and “Rebirth” to hear these guys go at it.
For those who may not know much about Equus, can you shed some light on the highlights of your 3-year tenure?
If you haven’t heard it, “Rite Bacc” is a track that comes to mind as a major highlight for us. Dembowyz and Lil Thicc Bihh made such a dancefloor classic that flew under the radar until Flosstradamus dropped it at HARD Summer in 2018 and from there it just kept having a life of its own. Just recently Wuki played it out of nowhere too and now and then we hear of it being dropped at random places. Besides that we have been fortunate enough to make numerous DMC Buzz Charts over the years including their ADE and WMC specials and of course our consistent Beatport chartings is that something we cherish. I mentioned earlier that we did well in our lane and while we had some nice moments on Spotify etc., Beatport ended up being our place. Maybe it was because that is what I knew best coming up the past 10 years, but regardless, once we got about five releases in we were almost always charting our singles and grabbing top tens and number ones for EPs as much as we could. I will always be proud of that and how it led us to finding more artists who became very close to us. Be sure to check out our album OMEGA that we released prior to this that is a compilation of our greatest releases over the past three years.
With Equus coming to an end, do you have any thoughts or thank you notes you would like to voice?
Absolutely. It has been such a pleasure to work with our artists and release their music to the world and I am so proud of all that we have accomplished together. I am so thankful to have been given the opportunity to handle their art and be trusted to do it right. Even as someone who is not a known name at all, we made it work and did some amazing things. I am sure I will forget someone but just off the top of my head, I want to thank CJ Swift, Branden, Dave, Forti, Mike Bradley, Ian and Max, Melanie, Will Seagrist, Cranston, Bashment and Prion, Madlow, David Alexander, Rodry and Lunali, Cris Miranda, Kali Blanco, Arkiteuthis, Brett Stokes, Luke Pickering, everyone at Label Engine and of course Patrick Rachel for giving me this opportunity.
What is next for you and the artists of Equus Recordings?
I know all of these artists will continue to release music under these names or other projects they are a part of and I have no doubt that you will hear great things from them. Mayhem In Action and Forti are primed to have a big 2020, both solo and as NoizeKomplaint, and I know Bashment YC and Prion Heart will continue to grow and make waves over in South Korea. I know Ian of Dembowyz will go on to do many amazing things as he has before under other names like INH/Zendex and in other projects (if you know, you know). As for myself, I plan to help some of our artists distribute their projects independently. I will be helping Mike Bradley (Killsign Kilo) on the tech side of Killzero Studios and plan to help manage Mayhem In Action and co. from an advising role. Outside of that, I plan on enjoying being a music fan and seeing what comes next!
You can buy or stream SCION on your platform of choice today! https://fanlink.to/
short link 1001.tl/wz0dt2