Photo: Press (Shield)
The name Rebirth will make any House head’s bell ring in an instant. With contributions from Chicago legends like Robert Owens or Larry Heard, the Italy-based label takes its cues from a rich tradition which is constantly renewed through Rebirth’s output: With Blond:ish, Motor City Drum Ensemble, Butch, or Jozef K, younger generations join the old guard under a unifying groove. Rebirth is a product of the vision of one man, Daniele Contrini alias Shield. Apart from celebrating the ten year anniversary with an extensive 2CD set mixed by Larry Heard, Shield himself also stepped up to the decks to deliver a vocal-heavy mix comprising his very own secret weapons from Rebirth’s back catalogue. Listen to Shield’s Groove mix below our interview with him!
You recorded your mix in celebration of the ten year anniversary of Rebirth. How did you pick the tracks?
I selected and mixed some of my personal secret weapons of the label, tracks released on Rebirth in the first ten years and re-edited by myself for the occasion, and some unreleased tracks that will probably see the light of the day in the next few months.
You started out as the A&R of Oxyd before you moved on to found Rebirth. What was your motivation to start a whole new label from scratch?
I launched Rebirth Records 10 years ago in 2006 but it’s in 1998 when I got closer to the electronic music world, thanks to the extraordinary Fabio Bacci I learned some important aspects and started to work in a recording studio, producing remixes for the historical American label Easy Street. In 2001, I started working as a promoter and A&R at Oxyd and Time Records here in Brescia. I was scouting and looking for new artists, creating contacts and strategies. What was a passion finally turned into a proper job. It was a period full of satisfactions and I gained a good credibility in the industry. The label was on everyone’s lips thanks to its distinctive style, the records played everywhere, from the underground to the commercial success in the Uk, reaching the Top 5 of the single sales chart. The success, however, was trying to move me away from what I was looking for, and in me was emerging the need to create something totally mine, to follow my inspirations without any compromise. It was 2006 when I decided to create Rebirth and it was a shining moment for me.
Rebirth’s back catalogue brings together House legends with fresh new talents. What is important to you in terms of curating the label?
The philosophy behind Rebirth finds its roots from the past, building an ideal link between the soul of a song and the warmth of a melody combining them with a contemporary sound. I have been always looking for something that catch me instantly or something timeless, that I can imagine to still listening to in 20 or 40 years time. Ten years have gone since the first release and much has changed, from the production to the sale side, from the promotion strategies to the use of different music medias. What remains intact though is the passion, the spirit of research, the desire to feel excited hearing a piece of music: these have always been the strongest motivations to keep going on. I take a lot of time in selecting our music releases, and i work to have the best quality i can achieve, sometimes maybe with too much perfectionism. In a world where everything has become so fast and consumed very quickly, i still believe that electronic music is a serious thing that has to make us feel better, and giving us emotions. Real artists and talented producers are recognizable, to those i’m trying to give space.
You have also helped launch the careers of several artists, including Deetron or Motor City Drum Ensemble, which most likely owes to your experience in A&R. Through the progressive digitalisation of the music industry, how has the A&R job recently and what is important today to be a successful A&R?
Today is definitely easier and less risky to start a label, what is much more difficult is to create a long path, your own identity and make it grow over the time. The A&R has to do a good selection and planning of the music releases, but also a good promotion. A&R skills are important for a good selection and discovering artists before the others, but also, and even more important today, is doing a good promotion, get to the DJs who can play the music, and also to the public. Web marketing strategies have become essentials. And I have to admit that Rebirth still has work to do in this last area to reach a wider audience.
While you are first and foremost known for your work with Rebirth, you have also released several – most of them collaborations with other artists. Why do you frequently seek out those collaborations?
This is because I have a deep respect for the true artists, and I think that a great voice can complete and make sense to a musical production. Collaborations also mean cultural exchange and musical enrichment for me. Meeting and working with artists like Shara Nelson, Tracey Thorn, Ben Onono, Robert Owens and recently Antena have been essential moments for me.
Last but not least: Where will we be able to see you behind the decks in the near future and what are your plans with Rebirth in the long run?
We have just released Rebirth 10, a very special compilation, spread over 2 CDs, selected and mixed by the legendary Larry Heard Aka Mr. Fingers, and our 100th release, a vinyl-only EP produced by me and Robytek in collaboration with two music pioneers of the early 80’s such as Antena and Liquid Liquid’s Sal P & Dennis Young. On 10th October the new amazing Psycho Radio single remixed by the italian Cosmic innovator Daniele Baldelli and Marco Dionigi. It’s an end of the summer anthem. In December we will release ‘Rebirth 10 Remixed’, a double vinyl that includes brand new remixes of some of our favourite classics of the label, by names like Ron Trent, Red Axes, Roy Davis Jr, Borrowed Identity, Palms Trax, Fouk, Rampa and Ewan Jansen. In the pipeline we also have brand new music from Butch & C.Vogt, Blue Mondays, Easy To Remember, ILO, Tears Of Change, CRS + BRG. We are also working to do a weekly Rebirth Radio Show and a Label Night for 2017.
Stream: Shield – Groove Podcast 77
01. Ruby – Anna (Shield Re-Edit)
02. Shield, Robytek & Antena – The Pyramids (Beats)
03. Menik – Detail (Instrumental Mix)
04. Daze Deten – All Right (Shield Re-Edit)
05. UND – Fox In The Box (Skylark Dub)
06. Ajello – Dolphy (In Flagranti Remix)
07. Villanova – On The Loose (Larry Heard Trybalambient Beats)
08. Nufrequency feat. Shara Nelson – Go That Deep (Version Mix)
09. Silky Sunday – Friend (Ripperton & Alex Attias Remix) + Acapella
10. Pirupa Feat Bajka – Trust (Gregorythme Remix)
11. Akra – Pure (Rising Sun Beats)
12. And If – Finest Dream (Reprise)
14. Butch & Vogt – Bliss
15. C.Vogt – After All Its You (Beats)
16. Tevo Howard Ffeat. Tracey Thorn – Without Me (Ron Trent’s Music and Power Reprise)