Brooklyn’s Sorry Records has been a bright spot for new electronic music in these wild-ass times we’re living in, serving up everything from tender break-beat groovers to full throttle giddy-up, let’s rave bangers & beyond.
Press play & sink into the chat ▶️
Chris B: Nick, thanks so much for linking up to do this mix, chat, etc! I feel like you wear a lot of different ‘hats’. For the uninitiated, can you walk us through who you are and what you do?
Nick B: No worries Chris — thanks for inviting me to do the show and all your hospitality!
I’m from Winston-Salem, North Carolina originally — moved to New York when I was eighteen or so for school and have been just generally doing as much music stuff as I can since. I run Sorry Records, interview NYC artists for the great Love Injection fanzine, write about music every now and then for places like Crack and Bolting Bits, DJ, and run two radio shows on The Lot Radio and Newtown Radio here in Brooklyn. I used to go out dancing a lot too! I try to approach all the stuff I do with that mindset.
How have you been hanging in there this past crazy year? What a time to be alive, right? Any new Covid hobbies ? How have you been coping and getting through this all?
Not quite sure how well I’ve been hanging in but I’m still here! It’s been just an insane sludge of a year — finding it difficult to find any consistency between bright highs and new lows. Outside of a weekend or two, I’ve been in New York non stop since this whole thing started. I’ve been very lucky to have held onto my pre-pandemic day job which wasn’t the case for so many folks so I really can’t complain though. Besides long aimless walks through Brooklyn and combing through the David Morales remix catalog, I’ve been coping by throwing myself into running Sorry. We’ve probably “signed” 10 records in the last year and significantly ramped up the frequency of our releases. That first month of pandemic I think I commissioned like six remixes.
What is the ethos behind Sorry Records? Why did you start the label & where were you when you started it? Was this like a back of the napkin kind of thing or had been premeditated for a while or … ?
Definitely wasn’t premeditated. We’ve grown and changed a lot since our first records in 2015. Sorry started back when I was living with Tony G and Nick Dalessio (Figur fka Stick Figure) in college. They started a band and made an indie rock record with our friend Noah Engel from ART DLR on vocals and Drummy on drums. The label was initially started to promote that record but I’d wanted to start a label since I was in high school.Those early releases were all over the place, predominately music from my close friends, and genre wise everything from Dalessio’s experimental IDM leaning breaks stuff to the aforementioned indie rock and pop punk stuff from our friends Trash Boy in Philadelphia.
Our original ethos was completely open format — really just any music I liked of any genre period. As time moved on and I myself got heavy into disco and subsequently house, techno, going out raving, the Sorry Records as it exists today cemented as a label primarily focused on the diverse sound of the dance floor and dance music history as a whole. I’ve always been in love with dance music as a curatorial genre developed via DJs who pieced together music from all sorts of genres and eras in their own new vision. I feel like all you really need to know was pretty much laid down by David Mancuso before Disco even had a name, you know? Lead with love, community, and play whatever feels right for you and the dancers.
Must admit I’ve had a lingering frustration with what I perceive to be a loss of that spirit from current DJs and dance labels. From house to techno, there’s tons of labels out there putting out record after record with the same tone, same sound, same artwork… You hear stories about folks like Anthony Parosole ending a set at Berghain with Frank Sinatra and people being legitimately mad! That mindset sounds like hell to me.
Sorry Records is also super influenced by the diversity of the New York dance music sound and we definitely want to champion our community where you can go to Bossa on like a Wednesday night and hear ballroom mixed into gabber into Detroit techno into reggaeton. I want to turn the techno kids onto house and vise versa. Would love to help people my age be more familiar with the history of this music and community within our city and the rest of America. I also want to make music that is fun to dance to. As far as ethos goes, these things are always in mind when I approach our label.
What are some of your favorite labels & why? Maybe include a favorite label growing up, an all-time favorite and some contemporary labels you’re feeling…
I could go on and on so this will be an incomplete smattering but I’d be remiss to not mention a trio of labels that actively and directly inspired me to start Sorry.
I’ve been a humongous fan of Jeff Rosenstock and his community-oriented/anti-capitalist DIY approach to his collective Bomb the Music industry! and Quote Unquote Records was hugely influential on just about everything I do. He made so many decisions that completely shifted my understanding of what was possible for a musician and record label. Every record he’s put out since 2005 is available for free download online even since he’s signed to larger labels like Polyvinyl. Almost every Bomb show was all ages, under $10, and instead of selling merch you’d just bring a blank t-shirt to the show and Jeff would spray paint a stencil on it for you in the parking lot. To me I guess Jeff proved that idealism and honest commitment to DIY ethics was not only possible but fun. I’ve strayed pretty far from the punk world since but his words and approach are always in mind — “So write some songs with lots of hooks / Remember why you wrote songs in the first place / Let’s start a band / This is all that you can do.”
Another label that inspired a similar realization of “wow I can do this” was my old friend Nathan Romano’s cassette label Personal Records based out of Greensboro, NC. I met Nathan when I was 16 at a summer filmmaking program and he is an insanely creative person who spent high school releasing dozens of folk/experimental/rock type records via this cassette label he ran out of his bedroom. Nathan was the first person I knew personally that ran a record label, booked shows, built his own world via DIY… He pushed me way more than I think he realizes.
Lastly I just generally wouldn’t be running a label if it weren’t for A. G. Cook and PC Music. What they did with that label especially between 2013 and 2016 just bowled me over. They created their own world and changed the world at large in turn — legitimately the most thrilling and impressive record label in my lifetime, you know? PC Music taught me so much about intentionality, curation, presentation, and the overall possibilities of what you can do with a record label especially as it relates to digital media.
In interest of brevity, here’s some other labels I adore divided between past and present:
Strictly Rhythm are HUGE for me and everyone. Salsoul, Fania, Ze Records, West End, Philadelphia International, Prelude, Nice ’N’ Ripe; MOTOWN, Sleeping Bag, Emotive, Movin Records, everything Power Music especially Sex Trax, Nu Groove, Nervous, Easy Street, King Street Sounds, T.K. Disco, Suburban Base, Dance Mania, Teklife, Warriors Dance…
Sweat Equity, Haus Of Altr, Moveltraxx, Naive, Juke Bounce Werk, Future Times, ONE PUF, Sneaker Social Club, Kiwi Records, Allergy Season, EAT DIS, Mood Hut, Incensio, Timedance, The Bunker NY, Knightwerk, Scuffed Recordings, Most Excellent Unlimited, TWIN, Super Rhythm Trax, N.A.A.F.I., BFDM, Mister Saturday Night, TraTraTrax, Frendzone, ROOM, Off Me Nut, Local Action, Dark Entries, Balkan Recordings, Fixed Rhythms, T4T LUV NRG, Intedimensional Transmissions, Loveless Records, Planet Euphorique, Swing Ting, Kindergarten Records, Super Tuff, Twin, Hooversound, Illegal Afters, Honey Soundsystem, Loveless, Local Action…
If you had to give someone advice for starting a label today, what would it be?
My advice would be if you’re thinking about starting one, just start one. Work with your friends at first, really think about what you can do for the artists you work with that they can’t do by themselves, and never prioritize money ever. Also just email me — I don’t have enough friends who run labels and would love to help any way I can.
What’s one thing you love and one thing you don’t love about electronic music right now ? (not being able to do parties aside)
Octo Octa said “good DJs make dance music still feel like a secret.” That’s my favorite part about electronic music.
Something I don’t love? The fact that not a single publication or platform is even coming close to properly covering even 10% of the beautiful stuff going on right now.
What’s in the pipeline for you, Sorry Records, and beyond?
We’ve got a ton of projects in the works for the next year or so on Sorry Records. Records and remixes from Escaflowne, C Powers, PlayPlay, Bored Lord, John Barera, Brian Abelson, WTCHCRFT, Amal, X-Coast, Xhosa, UNIIQU3, Interplanetary Criminal, Chrissy & Maria Amor, Bianca Oblivion, Alien D, Tony G, DJ Girl, Sonia Calico, Drummy, zorenLo, Nick Leon, Figur, Loraine James, They Hate Change, NIGELTHREETIMES, Olive T, Martyn Bootyspoon, Overland…
Our next record is from Miami bass duo Basside and produced by the late genius SOPHIE
We’ll get around to our first vinyl release sometime as well. Besides that I’m just going to continue to try to do as much radio, DJing, music writing as I can while I can.
What’s one thing you found out about yourself through this crazy period?
I’m addicted to YouTube and TikTok in a profound and concerning way.
What’s your favorite post-rave meal / snack ? (For whenever that happens again….)
Whatever’s available but I do have a fond memory of walking home from a DJ Harvey all nighter years ago and passing Bergen Bagels on Flatbush Ave just as they were opening and getting a plain bagel w/ lox and cream cheese. In a dream world my favorite post-rave meal would a BBQ tray w/ red slaw from whatever they call the original Little Richards in Winston-Salem, NC. That or a Cookout tray — burger cheddar style, fries & a corn dog, with a Cheerwine float.
We’ll all be in the dance rocking it to awesome peeps like Sorry Records soon enough! Be well & spread love y’all <3