We Talked To… Smelly Feet Records
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade, they say. When Soundcloud gives you an excellent mix from an upcoming label with a funky name, include it in your Best of the Week round up, we say. Then find out everything you can about said label and write a post about it.
A couple of months ago we stumbled across a mix by Tooli for the then unknown to us Smelly Feet Records and, through the magical power of the internet, ended up getting more than a banging set by a favourite DJ. We made a connection.
Over the next few weeks we got to know the minds behind Smelly Feet Records – Boofy NYC and Juba Kartel – and, well, we made some delicious lemonade. Boofy and Juba turned out to be not only extremely passionate and devoted to bringing the world some really fucking good music but also ridiculously hilarious and the kind of like minded friends that Nevy and I know a thing or two about.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves and start from the beginning.
In the beginning, there was Berlin.
‘Prior to me living in Berlin, I was searching the internet through various message boards to get some information about the city,’ says Boofy. ‘I reached out to about ten people but only one responded.’
‘I’m sitting in front of my computer,’ says Juba, telling the other side of the story and adding more colourful details to it. ‘I check my spam box for no reason and there’s a message. I click to see what’s up and the profile picture is of some guy sitting in his shorts on the side of a curb, chewing on a pigs foot, hands all greasy, fucking nasty freeze of attitude on his face, like he just heard bass on a Funktion 1 sound system for the first time in his life. His message? “When are you gonna be in Berlin?” My reply? “June. And I won’t sell you my kidney.” Met the guy outside of a train station a few months later. Turned out to be a Boofy. From then on…it’s just been history. We keep writing the rest as we live on.’
If you think the Boofy-Juba meeting story is a fun one, wait til you hear the rest. Interviewing the guys is like watching a sketch comedy show and the best part about it is that you get two amusing perspectives of the same crazy sounding events with different highlights but the same positive energy.
The first steps towards creating a jug of Smelly Feet Records lemonade may have been made online but the rest of it was created the way many brilliant ideas have come about since the dawn of time – after a long weekend at a good club.
‘The name Smelly Feet came to me after another long weekend at Sisyphos club,’ says Boofy.’I crashed Juba’s apartment because I had nowhere to go after the club closed. He gave me some fresh clothes and a sandwich, and said it would be cool to stay the night. Later on, I took a walk and found myself alone in a park, shoes off, smoking some weed, when I realized a stench coming from my sneakers. Suddenly, it hit me. I’m starting a label, I’m getting Juba involved, and we’re gonna call it Smelly Feet Records. The pitch to Juba in my head was perfect, but it didn’t work out exactly the way I thought.’
And how does Juba remember that night?
‘Guy shows up at my door, buzzing for 15 minutes. Finally I stick my head out the window and it’s Boofy – no shirt on, plastic bag in one hand and shoes in the other. He comes up to the apartment, tells me he needs a place to crash, gets sand and dirt fucking everywhere on the floor and just starts talking about how dope his weekend was.’
‘Later on that night, guy takes a walk, comes back, starts talking about how he wants to start a label, and all this type of shit. I look at him, no sleep at all for days, and I tell him, “How the fuck are you gonna start a label when you don’t own any socks?” He says to me, “We’re gonna call it Smelly Feet Records.” I thought he was crazy. Told him to prove it by building a website and it’s good to go.’
Building a website was the first step but, as you might imagine, it takes a whole other level of bonding in order to create and establish a label from scratch – namely, making damn sure that your heads are on the same page. The fact that Boofy and Juba answered that question as one – as Smelly Feet Records rather than distinguishing between each other, like with some of their other stories – only goes to show that they are, indeed, a team.
‘The first thing we ever did after the website was built was what we spend most of our time doing – we took a walk. We walked for hours, we talked about all the labels we like, the types of music we wanted to represent, the clubs, the scene, the cities, the life, and we figured out how we would approach this at an angle that most don’t take. We figured we would start out by connecting with DJs and producers that we admired and followed, and request them to make a very special exclusive mix for our website.’
For Boofy, some of the examples worth learning from were labels such as Kraftek, Hot Creations, Drumcode, DirtyBird – ‘labels that have developed their own sound, stuck with it, and made it pop.’
‘These labels do more than just release tracks,’ says Boofy, ’they really push the limits to what a music label does. They do this by throwing events, selling merchandise, act as a booking agency, and are consistent in what they do. There also is a good flow of quality and a smart business sense that these labels have conquered.’
Juba quotes labels such as Supdub,Defected, Ostgut Ton, Tresor Berlin, Unison Wax, Relief Records as inspiration, ‘and so many more independent labels, artists and producers who spend their hours making music and do it for the love of sound.’
At the end of the day it’s similarities that bring people together and prompt them to create something new as a team regardless of the obstacles it may present. ‘It was a grind but from the beginning we knew the sound we wanted to go after,’ say the guys. ‘We have very similar tastes in music, and starting a label together just seemed like the right thing to do.’
The journey towards getting the particular sound Smelly Feet Records was after started with the resident DJ of Sisyphos – Leon Licht.
‘The influences we experienced together in Berlin led us towards our first pick. Not really expecting much in return, we ended up getting more than what we could have asked for – an exclusive mix with the extremely versatile resident DJ of Sisyphos, Leon Licht. It was a perfect way to start everything. He gave us a lot of insight about building our website, our goals, and what we could accomplish by starting a label.’
But with Smelly Feet Records, Boofy and Juba aim to go beyond the music by providing a spotlight that highlights the personal achievements and career paths of each and every DJ that contributes to Smelly Feet’s quality playlist. ‘We set out with a goal to make sure that we would present the artist most importantly as a person, by taking time to research and put together real and sincere questions that would allow them to describe their career and their lives.’
Other aspects of Smelly Feet’s principles include not making the mixes available for download. ‘Everything is downloadable these days,’ say Juba and Boofy. ‘We wanted to do something special and create an atmosphere where the artists could express themselves fully in the type of sounds they play, while keeping it exclusive to the people who care.’
‘In the near future, we plan on organizing events with the artists we have worked with so far, which we believe will create a very unique vibe for the night. We also plan on releasing original productions, re-works, and developing a strong following around the world. The be all, end all goal is to one day open up a club of our own.’
And so, naturally, the conversation turns to the future of Smelly Feet Records. For all of the funny stories they have to share, Boofy and Juba are damn serious about what they do and want to achieve with the label.
‘The name itself may sometimes give off the impression that we are not serious but that just gives us the advantage in always accepting a challenge to move forward. What we do is very real. We are in constant communication, no matter what part of the world we are in. We discuss everything – from which artists we want to book, to the way we are going to approach them, to constructing each and every interview question for our page.’
‘We do our best to organize our thoughts, support each other’s ideas, all the while keeping it very realistic. Our mutual understanding and ability to see eye to eye on many aspects of this endeavor has given us the competence to work smart, motivate ourselves, and enjoy every moment as it comes.’
Listening to the growing list of mixes on their SoundCloud page and going through the spotlight archives on their website provide solid proof for the guys’ serious and thoughtful approach to everything they do as Smelly Feet Records. So it’s no wonder that the response has been overwhelmingly positive.
‘It has only been half a year since we started this trip and the response has been amazing,’ say Juba and Boofy. ‘We have linked and networked with characters from all over the world and we only intend to keep doing what we’re doing. We want to give a special thank you to all those who have taken the time to work with us so far: Leon Licht, Ale Castro, Steven Beyer, ICS, Monkey Coops, Mary Jane, Nox, Maus, Tooli, Jay Baptiste, Dema, Stefano Infusino and Dakini9. We would also like to give a very special shoutout to Dominique Bloink.’
What’s left for you now is to make sure you follow Smelly Feet’s doings for there’s no doubt that Juba and Boofy will continue to add more quality artists – and their feet! – to the label’s roster.
It took one chance Soundcloud suggestion for us to become instant fans and getting to know the guys has only contributed to our newly formed trust in Smelly Feet Records. We have no doubts that you’ll feel the same.
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