“How would you describe the music on the label?” “House”. Ivaylo Kolev likes to leave his responses open like that, avoiding anything that might define Bogota Records within the strict parameters of a subjective opinion. I’ve spent many Saturday afternoons, listening to the veteran Bulgarian-cum-Oslo dj wax lyrical on all aspects of music in a similar way; his earnest grin forgiving his immediate critical impulses. “I’m just trying not to get so lost in the things behind the music.“ It’s the reason he won’t define the sound of the label as anything other than House, especially when sub-genres become so conflated that they completely erase the lines between each other. Ivaylo is only ever able to offer the word ‘deep’ when I ask what particular focus there is behind the sound of the label. “The word deep has been misused often. They use it too easily. For me it’s about a deeper understanding. It’s all about the love, when we talk about deepness. I’m the real deep soldier, because we start talking about a state of mind.”
Since Bogota Records’ inception last year, the label has developed that deep understanding around a core group of artists who Ivaylo affectionately refers to as “brothers & sisters” when we sit down for a chat and a coffee at Bare Jazz. During the course of our Interview, Ivalyo will often use the pronoun ‘we’, when talking about the label even though the label very much centres on one individual, Ivaylo. “We build the picture together,” he insists when I pick up on the habit. “It’s always been about the community. This is the biggest love. This is what keeps me going.” People like Tom Gilleron, Renate, Slammer, Jay Tripwire and Johnny Fiasco make up the community of artists that Ivaylo has collected as friends over the last twenty years of his career, sharing the label boss’ vision of music that digs deep without going dark. Although he loves nothing more than “a spoon of darkness to see the light”, Ivaylo very rarely associates deep with the sombre disposition of the artistic mind it is often associated. “If you look at the last ten years, the producers became so sad, they became so serious. These days you rarely see a producer or DJ smiling.” It’s this particular nature in deep music that Ivaylo looks to change with Bogota Records, a label that forges ahead in the deep end without falling into the darkness. For Ivaylo, Bogota Records will always be about the party and there is no place on the dance floor for melancholia. “You are going to a party, not going to explore some guy’s depression. I wouldn’t love it if I went to a club, stayed there for five hours, and got really angry when I got home.” That type of artists is not “ready for the love” that Ivaylo and Bogota Records want to give to the world through their music. “70% of other people that go to the club, don’t really know music, they feel it. When you play music out it’s a super big responsibility. That’s why I’m very concerned as an owner of a label about what tools we are giving these people. How they touch the soul of the person on the dance floor.”
It’s Ivaylo’s 20 odd years of experience in music as a dj and producer that has applied him with this unique perspective of club land and what he expects from the music. 17 of those years were spent in Oslo promoting the sound of Deep House, a sound Ivaylo traces back close to the origins of House, when “something happened to the machines” and the sounds became very “organic” with chords and synths going into deeper territory on both the physical – and metaphysical plane of the keyboard. “The reason it became different is because new sounds came around.” In those sounds Ivaylo found an affinity with the music and brought it to Oslo with somewhat mixed results. ”I remember growing up with deep house, and we were only like a thousand people. We kept meeting in places like Miami, at the music conference. Everybody was into hard house during those days. Everybody thought deep house was boring, and that was the general consensus only ten years ago. I was running around Oslo trying to promote deep house and everybody thought it was too loungy.” In only a decade, the picture is a drastically different one, with the sub-genre finding international acclaim in every situation, but Ivaylo hesitates to affiliate himself with the success of the sound, preferring still his own interpretation of the word deep, in favour of the popular connotations that the word might hold in the context of music today.
For Ivaylo and Bogota Records the sound is all about colour, vibrancy and the party, an idea that is expressed in the label’s name, but rooted in the dj’s perspective from the booth. “What happens with music is that we find sounds and combine them in a bigger way. I would love to hear the world like Nicholas Tesla saw it. He saw colours in the sky and light everywhere. Everything is music. When I play a set, I see the music. It’s a picture. If I go deeper than that, I see colours.” Colour is something that one can certainly discern from his dj sets on Saturday afternoons when the DJ dons his recognisable fedora, puts on his sunglasses and goes deep into the music through very progressive sets as part of the weekly Te Dans event. The tracks, often Ivaylo’s own edits, form an organic single entity as he ties ‘sounds’ together to form an amiable atmosphere for passive listeners. “As a producer or DJ I try to accommodate the audience with regards to sound, but my main goal is the message. Which explains my understanding of deep house or deep music.” This understanding filters through to the many artists involved in the label and is not always confined to the DJs perspective. “Tom Gilleron’s never considered himself a DJ. It’s all about ‘sounds’” and combining them for Tom through a live set. DJs. “Tom runs one of the biggest studios in Brixton, London. He masters many big names. So we are super pleased and happy to get him out of the studio for a very rare live set during the label showcase.”
Combining sounds in a bigger picture takes on a different meaning in the sprit of collaboration that often happens on Bogota Records, and which can take on many different forms; from straight forward remixes to Ivaylo’s long-time professional relationship with his engineer, Slammer. One of the more successful collaborations on Bogota has been between Ivaylo and Renate with their track Guide Line. ”I met her when she was recording an album at the age of seventeen. Her voice was amazing, and I asked her if she wanted to try House music. I had to sneak her into the club, because she was under age. She didn’t really understand the reaction of the people, but she loved the flow.“ The track features a extended introduction, before the beat kicks in, an oddity not often witnessed from the dance floor, but works incredibly well with Renate’s voice serenading the listener before the functional dance element of the track kicks in. It creates a very distinct mood, with Ivaylo’s focus on the deep end of emotive expression coming through in evocative chords and the subtle production.
He hopes to bring some of this feeling to his first label showcase this Saturday, but at the same time he intends to “open the door to more than just releases. “When you play you are really showing your personality, your feeling. When you produce something, you only give a piece of what you are.” The showcase promises to bring this intension with a mix of moods that go from the afternoon to the evening, bringing old and new artists from London and Barcelona to Jæger’s bakgården. “Usmev (Xavi Altés) is a new breed of artist out of Barcelona. Xavi studied at the conservatory in Barcelona.” As one of the newer artists on the label, Usmev also marks the organic progression Ivalyo imagines for Bogota records in the future. “The family will grow. I’m super excited. There are people out there who don’t even know I’m watching them.” More than that Ivalyo looks for a sound in the label that will adapt over time and embody his personality, doing away with the strict confines of a genre or sub genre. “For me its very simple. Music will grow up in five years time, people will not go for labels they will be going for a sound. “That sound for Bogota is House rooted deep in the visceral experience of music with the intent of bringing light and colour to the dance floor, wherever it might be.
* Bogota Records’ label showcase will take place in Jaeger’s Bakgården on the 22nd of August.
Text: Mischa Mathys