Utopia Music's first release was back in 2009. Since then, label owner Mako has been working hard, establishing an imprint built on a solid foundation of good vibes and a strictly no-cheese music policy.
We got hold of the incredibly humble bossman to find out more about what we can expect to hear from the Utopia Music camp and how he feels about the label's progress over the last four years.
First off, can you introduce yourself and give us a bit of background on how you started producing as well as the inception of Utopia Music?Hello, my name is Stephen Mako, I am the owner and label manager of Utopia Music. I currently write music for Metalheadz, Symmetry, Warm Communications, Dispatch, Horizons and my own label.
Utopia was born out of a need for the family to have their own imprint and for other artists who have a similar style and approach, not just to music, but life ethics in general. I started making music when I realised that it would help the label a lot more if I could actually write music by myself and use other labels as promotional tools for gigs and vibes.
Utopia has been running for a good few years now and you're part of what is arguably one of the more exciting collectives in Drum & Bass at the moment. Do you feel like you've managed to carve out your own niche in the scene? Has it been difficult setting yourself apart from the crowd?
I don't really feel like that - but I don't 'not' feel like that if you get me. I haven't really given it much thought. My 'thinking energy' tends to go on the making of music and the operation management side of the label. Have we set ourselves apart from the crowd? I don't know. All I know is that I love the music. I will gratefully let others decide the rest.
You have a few releases upcoming in the next couple of weeks as well as more from Utopia. Can you tell us a bit about what we can expect to hear?Well there is the Andyskopes jungle 12" which is out now, the new Fields 12" is coming at the end of September and then we have a DLR 12" coming in November time. After that we have a Break 12" and then a Villem 12" and then a Hydro, War, Habstrakt, Mateba and Sam KDC 12". Then we have more from Mikal, Survival and myself.
So many of your collaborative tracks often read like a who's who of modern underground Drum & Bass. You've been working with names like DLR, Hydro and Linden to mention a few, as well as the Utopia crew. Do you find it easier working together with so many heads? How does it work?
When I was first writing tunes I was lucky enough to work with some talented producers from the start like Fields and Villem. Then Break came along and taught me some really important vibes. It was hard in the beginning to write with them as I felt really nervous most of the time and would feel most comfortable if they left the room when I was working on the track! Now I don't feel like that and am a lot more confident and relaxed, so its a far more enjoyable process for me….and the others! For a lot of my recent improvements I have to thank DLR as he instilled control and confidence in my tunes by helping my compression techniques and general vibes. As for how it works, its all rather simple, people come to the studio, sometimes music is made and then they leave. We tend not to put much pressure on ourselves, make sure our diet is good and we exercise regularly. Its all part of the studio ethic. A great deal of sarcastic banter is also part of the system, as is co-op Fifa and Trials Evolution.
Last year was a big year for the Drum & Bass LP. Any future plans for a Mako and/or a Utopia artist album?
The ubiquitous current Top 5 tunes question!1. Break - The Way Things Are (dub)
2. DLR & Mako - Your Mind (Metalheadz forthcoming)
3. Fields - Colours (Utopia Music forthcoming)
4. Degrees of Freedom - Children of the Sun (dub)
5. Mako & DLR - Meditation Vibes (Metalheadz forthcoming)
Any shouts or final thoughts you'd like to add?As always, big ups to all the family. I am eternally grateful for everyone's vibes and music. Its a privilege to be here and be surrounded by the most talented yet non cheesy members of the drum and bass community. Also shouts to Ant TC1, Heath at Warm Communications for showing a brother love and encouragement, Neil at Horizons, James my amazing press dude who works at Example Media and Alex at the Bassic agency. Shouts to T Dog and Ethel kitten and my little but big brother Robbie. Also shouts to the universe for being full of flavours.