For our first FVRTHERMORE Exclusive interview we spoke with Liquid Beat Records owner and CEO Matt Nelkin up his inspirations, upcoming projects, the current state of music, Portland record stores, and much more. Liquid Beat recently released the amazingly thorough project from MC Libretto and Producer Buscrates titled Eternal Ridin’ and is now shipping the Limited Edition 2LP Vinyl available through their own Bandcamp!
Q: Almost every release we've seen from Liquid Beats is accompanied by a Vinyl LP, can you talk about the importance of including Limited Edition Records with each project you drop?
My understanding of DJing, Hip-Hop, and my general connection to music is so intertwined with records and record stores that it is hard for me to really imagine a release being fully realized until it is on vinyl. I absolutely try and be thoughtful about what projects make the most sense to invest in for vinyl, as it is a very expensive endeavor. But, as much as we can, we try and have the music pressed to wax. Additionally, one of the beautiful aspects of running a label is, you're perpetually curating the catalog. And while that is usually focused on the immediacy of a new release, you can always revisit that catalog and mine it for tracks that were never presented in certain formats. There are remixes and digital only releases that we have done that I hope to someday repackage and get pressed to vinyl.
Q: What age did you first start collecting records?
I believe I was 15, so around 1994. I have a pretty distinct memory of picking up Common *Sense's second album on vinyl and it came out at that time. But, it was releases like the import 12"s of Pharcyde singles that had exclusive remixes (some of which still haven't been put on any subsequent compilations), and Source of Labor's "Sureshotsingles" 12" [R.I.P Wordsayer] that really made me fall in love with records. These are songs that literally didn't get released in any other way. As a Hip-Hop fan, I wanted to hear and experience as much as I could, and my man John Jackson from the original Liquid Beat Radio crew on KLCC showed me that there was a whole world of music I was missing out on if I wasn't buying 12" rap singles.
Q: If you had a dream collab album to release on Liquid Beat Records who would it be?
I don't have a vision for what this would actually look like, but I would love to somehow work with Grooveman Spot, and DJ Mitsu on something for the label. I love Jazzy Sport and have been a fan of the label, and those two guys in particular for a long time. I really respect their musical and artistic aesthetic and how they easily and soulfully move between genres. Plus, I love the idea of utilizing music & culture to connect with people of different countries and backgrounds.
Q: Can you talk a little bit about the DJ scene and digging culture in Portland?
When I moved to Portland from Eugene around 2003, I am really grateful to have gotten connected to DJ Kez via his record store 360 Vinyl and his radio show, "The Movement" on KBOO. He introduced me to his network of friends and DJs like HOT16 (f/k/a Dundiggy), Roane Namuh, Rev. Shines, Ohmega Watts, Deena B, King Tim 33 1/3 and more. At that time I was much more focused on Hip-Hop, with some R&B mixed in. I say that to say, I really credit the Portland DJ scene for expanding my music horizons and pushing me to appreciate a much wider variety of DJ related and beat based music. Especially more uptempo stuff.
In terms of digging, there are a some cats with really exceptional and expansive collections. And there was a time when I felt a little competitive in that regard. But, my only goal now is to try and stay up on, and have a collection of great modern records that hopefully in 25 years diggers will be looking for.
Q: I know that you frequent many shops in Portland, can you give us your top 3 Record Stores?
In no particular order I would say Clinton Street Records, Future Shock, Speck's (all of which stock Liquid Beat Releases). Those 3 stock titles for some releases that I would probably have to otherwise order online, so I'm appreciative when I'm able to grab those records locally.
Q: What other Record Labels have you looked at as a model or inspiration for Liquid Beat Records?
I would say the aforementioned Jazzy Sport from Japan, Fresh Selects, Bastard Jazz, Record Breakin', and of course Stones Throw. I think the common thread with all of those is how wide of a spectrum of styles and sounds they present, while in my mind, maintaining a common thread. There is a reason and connection that runs between all the releases, and a trust in the curation of the catalog.
Q: How did you first connect with Buscrates?
First and foremost I was fan of his work and had been following his career. One way that we try and connect with musicians outside of our immediate circle is via remixes. When we were putting a plan together for "Tease", the collaborative album from singer Blossom and producer HOT16, we wanted to do a lead single on 7" with an exclusive remix for the b-side so we reached out to Buscrates. He was awesome to work with and needless to say, delivered an amazing remix! From there, we just continued to build and are really fortunate to partner with him in additional releases. He is a great guy, incredibly talented, and has a similar passion for music & records that me and crew naturally relate to.
Q: What are your thoughts on the current state of streaming in music?
It isn't how I personally learn about or listen to music so there is somewhat of an inherent disconnect for me. But, I understand its importance and attempt to do my best to promote our releases in that sphere. When an artist entrusts us enough to partner with us in releasing their art, I want to do everything in my power to make sure that it is heard, and that every revenue stream is exhausted. They deserve that. There really is something beautiful to having your music be so accessible to anyone at any time. Additionally, when someone purchases one of our releases, that is a one time transaction. With streaming, that potentially is a perpetual money stream. In those aspects, there are a lot of positives associated with it.
Q: Any upcoming project on Liquid Beat Records we should look forward to?
We have an upcoming single with Proh Mic that I am really excited about. Some great remixes coming down the line from the Libretto & Buscrates album. We have a producer EP with Roane Namuh, and a still in works producer album from HOT16. Both of those producer driven projects have some A+ vocal collaborations on them that we are all really excited about. Plus some more hidden gems that will hopefully see the light of day at some point.