Picture London, Soho, the early 90s. Vinyl record stores were still the go-to hot spot to pick up your essential sounds. Soho was littered with record shops, each with their own identity, each standing out with their very own characters. Berwick Street, Poland Street, D’Arblay Street, all a stone’s throw from each other and DJs would spend hours flipping through vinyl and checking out the latest imports. Occasionally there would be in-stores where artists would spend a few hours meeting fans and signing records.
To name a few alongside The Orchard’s our very own Wyld Pytch Rekords/51 Lex was Catch-A-Groove, Reckless Records, Groove Records, Record Shack, Unity and Black Market Records. All vinyl specialists and London was seriously thriving with the most passionate music enthusiasts in the world.
After closing the doors at 51 Lexington Street, Wyld Pytch owner and businessman Digger Elias took his passion and expertise into another space, another sphere to consume music…
So Digger, tell us a bit about how Wyld Pytch/51 Lex came about. 51 Lex, what’s the London connection?
Wyld Pytch Rekords (51 Lexington St, W1) was set up in 1992 on Lexington Street in Soho. We specialised in Hip Hop, R&B, Dance, Funk and Electronic Music. We sold t-shirts then moved into marketing, promotions and A&R Consultancy. We then set up 51 Lex Rekords as a traditional label which acts more as a one-stop shop. i.e. Distribution, Publishing and Label Services. We currently distribute over 250K tracks and 20K music videos through The Orchard.
Zorra overseas all operations which means he spends all day watching re-runs of his favourite team, “Barcelona” :). Zorra is my brother from another mother and a crucial entity within the business. He ensures all projects are on tracks and keeps an eagle eye on the cashflow…..let it rain, let it rain!!
What’s the most exciting thing about running your own label and being in control of your own business?
Independence is the best feeling ever. It’s hard work but I wouldn’t want it any other way. The freedom to run with an idea and watch it come to life is the most rewarding feeling in business. There’s no guarantee it will work, but experience is a fantastic teacher when the going gets tough!
Name a tool or an asset you can’t possibly live without.
My mobile phone and Zorra. It’s a true representation of traditional business in the modern age.
Can you share your experience of how you find your labels, new business clients and content and in what part of the world?
New music is everywhere and we have a great team who constantly hunts for new projects and new content. Most of our clients are recommended by existing clients. We manage clients’ affairs and expectations. Our main territories are Europe, West and East Africa. It’s all about customer service.
Tell us about an album that you put out that taught you the most about running a record label.
Asa’s album The Captivator, released under Questionmark Entertainement was an amazing project. A young female singer/songwriter from Nigeria who was produced by an even more incredible blind producer called Cobhams. Go check it out. Musically, it’s 100% on point. That’s what the album reinforced. It’s still all about the music.
What are your must listens for 2016?
Moelogo, Maya Blu, NBOC, Paul Johnson, Prince and Bayoz Muzik
What piece of professional advice would you give other label owners?
Get to know and understand the digital business model and adapt accordingly; it moves quickly and you have to keep up.
Where do you see the industry headed?
Stormy days ahead but I see a bright future. The industry has been slow to react over the years to a rapidly changing environment. However, it’s slowly beginning to understand the positive and negative impact of technology. More innovation from within is required and we already see this happening.
Good stuff, Digger. Thanks for your time!