Jacob Henry is a man of many talents. Renowned in the industry as the manager of Silk Royal Records and the co-owner of Silk Music, host of his own Silk Royal Showcase radio show, member of EDM act Civil Servants AND DJ/producer, he’s one of progressive house’s most prolific and respected label managers and artists.
And with his own release ‘Serengeti‘ – a collaboration with Coastal featuring the mighty Noel Sanger on remix duty – out now on Silk Royal, I wanted to find out more about Jacob’s own productions, how he started out in the music industry, his inspirations, his tips for up and coming artists to look out for and of course, how he and the Silk family are planning to top their already incredible list of achievements in 2012 and beyond!
How did you first get involved with Silk Music and how did you get to your position at the label today?
In 2007, there was an amazing movement in progressive stemming from Eastern Europe, especially Budapest and Moscow. I had heard the music of Russian artists Mango and Arthur Deep through one of my favourite radio shows at the time, Yvel & Tristan’s “Foundation Hours,” and was quickly enamoured of it. I ended up contacting (Silk co-owner) Max Flyant after Silk’s very first release. Through this initial contact, we quickly established a wonderful friendship, based in part on common professional aspirations and a nearly identical taste in EDM. Our professional relationship began with me hosting one of Silk’s very first radio shows, “Silk Valleys,” in 2007. In 2008, I started become more involved in the day-to-day operations of the label, and ultimately, in 2009, I became a co-owner of Silk Music Publishing (along with Max and initial founders Mike Alexeev and Anton Vorobiev), as well as label manager of Silk Royal Records.
Who are your inspirations in the industry? Who in terms of other labels/DJs/producers do you admire?
It may sound like a “convenient” answer, but my primary inspirations are the core contributors to our various divisions of Silk: I mentioned Mango and Arthur before, and I certainly would also include Aeron Aether, Gorm Sorensen, and my Silk Royal Showcase radio show co-hosts (past and present) in the shortlist. I could very easily name dozens of other Silk artists who inspire me. From other labels, I would add names like Above & Beyond, James Grant, and Jaytech from the Anjuna camp. In terms of all-time inspirations, Chicane truly stands alone as the original spark for my interest in melodic electronic music, and I would still consider him my favourite EDM artist of all time (with BT, A&B and Robert Miles close behind.)
How do you go about scouting and selecting new talent for the label?
It really comes naturally to the Silk team, as we all remain huge EDM nerds (!) – we love listening to new demos and discovering new artists through the various social networks and promotional outlets available these days. The selection process for demos is always a team decision: whenever one of us hears a great new demo, we share it amongst the team, and then we all comment and vote on it.
What up and coming producers should we be looking out for?
On Silk Royal, I would definitely keep an eye out for Nigel Good and Airdraw (each of whom have already released one EP with us), as well as Johan Vilborg, who will have quite a few Silk Royal releases in the months ahead.
Who would be your ultimate dream signing to Silk and why?
Chicane immediately comes to mind. His emotional, atmospheric and melodic style really best represents our vision with Silk. BT is a close second, as his technical gift for production is second to none. It would also be a dream to involve Above & Beyond in some capacity, as well as their frequent vocalists Justine Suissa and Zoe Johnston.
Both Silk Royal and the whole Silk family are going from strength to strength – so what does the future hold for you all?
That’s very kind of you to say. Although it seems harder than ever to cultivate a truly independent label these days, we will continue to attempt to push Silk forward in the years to come, with more ambitious releases and compilations, a revamped main website (literally years in development) and other fan-based projects.
How and when did you start out producing your own music and DJing? How would you describe the Jacob Henry sound?
I actually attended a music production school in 2007 (Dubspot, NYC) and have spent the last four years working to develop my skills and overall sound. Although some of my earlier productions actually have a techy influence, my sound is best described as melodic progressive house. As far as DJing goes, I started nearly 15 years ago; nonetheless, I enjoy DJing and making mixes as much today as I did when I was a teenager.
Tell us more about Serengeti, your own current release on Silk Royal. What was the inspiration for the track, your creative process when producing it and how did you get Noel Sanger on board for remix duty?
The entire composition process of this track occurred over a single weekend in Philadelphia, when my collaborator Coastal, came here for a gig and spent time at my home studio. I’m not at liberty to reveal his main alias, but he’s an exceptional artist who orchestrated some of the more technical elements in the track. The creative spark and sort of general mood of “Serengeti” is a sample of a relatively obscure African song (which can be heard most prominently in the breakdown). Noel Sanger is one of the few American progressive artists who has managed to sustain a production/DJ career for decades, so I made a point of meeting him when he DJed in Philadelphia a few years ago. Lucky for me, he was actually playing a Silk Royal promo when I arrived at the club (Ad Brown’s “No Other Love” bootleg), which made for a nice segue into our conversation. I have a huge respect for Noel on both a professional and personal level, so I’m especially proud to have his involvement on the label.
What’s coming up next for you in terms of your own music?
I just signed an original to Silk Digital entitled “Hopeful Romantic”; it looks like Arthur Deep and Johan Vilborg will remix. I also have a track in development with Schodt (a vocal track that I co-wrote with fellow Philadelphia-based artist Karen Gross, under our “Civil Servants” alias). In January, I will be traveling to Melbourne to work with my friend and frequent collaborator Approaching Black on a few tracks. Also, in early 2012, Tom Fall and I will be launching the second instalment of the double-disc “Silk Royal Showcase” compilation, inspired by our radio show of the same name.
What do you hope to have achieved in your musical career – both as an artist and a label manager – by the time you look back at 2011 in 5 years’ time?
Like most artists, I hope to DJ more regularly throughout the USA and beyond over the next five years. There are very few opportunities to DJ the Silk variety of EDM in the Philadelphia area, so it would be a dream come true to play in front of larger, more appreciative crowds in other corners of the world.
Thanks Jacob and I hope that dream comes true!