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Coyote Records: Label brings new sounds to Sheffield

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Sheffield is full of events celebrating the unusual, but none are as unexpected as Coyote's recent presence in the city. We had a chat with founder Tom Fraser.

How did Coyote Records come about?

I started Coyote back in April 2012 with a debut record from Mella Dee, which featured remixes from Mr. Mitch, DJ MA1, Baobinga (now Sam Binga) and Grievous Angel. We release grime-inflected club music - some of it straight up 140bpm, some more exploratory and widescreen - but I've worked hard to make sure all the artists and music sitting on the label gel and ultimately make sense.

What came first, the label or the events?

The label first. I threw my first label event in March 2013. We launched Walter Ego's Wavey / Military Mind at a terrible pub venue in Hoxton. It was locked off before midnight.

You've had established names like Last Japan and now J. Sparrow. Do artists need to have a buzz for you to take notice?

Not at all. Often it'll be something that just catches my ear, a certain melody or structure, or even a collection of tracks that move me in some way. Obviously having producers like Last Japan and J. Sparrow be a part of it is great too, because it gives me a lot of confidence to know that artists of that ilk trust me to release their work.

Physical formats [...] will always be a cornerstone of what I do

Utah?'s Bronze EP and J. Sparrow's Single Time / VHS might be your grimiest releases yet. Are you conscious of the stylistic direction Coyote takes?

I'd like to think Coyote has fine-tuned a certain sound and visual aesthetic over the last three or four years, and a lot of that comes down to picking out releases that, although thematically and functionally different, draw inspiration from similar places.

I've also made sure that artists on the label share tracks and build relationships, which are often boosted by the club nights we put on too. I think that has been important in focusing what I choose to invest in.

You deal with quite niche areas of music. What keeps you going and what challenges have you faced?

It gets me up in the morning to be honest. Even seven and a half years in it's still a buzz. There's been loads of challenges along the way, but the biggest at the moment is streaming.

People's consumption habits have totally changed over the last few years, which has made it harder for niche instrumental club music to make an impact on the wider streaming landscape, especially when so much of that is dominated by aggressive marketing and impossible algorithms. It's made me refocus on physical formats more than ever, which although expensive to manufacture will always be a cornerstone of what I do with the label.

What are your plans for nights in Sheffield?

To come back if the kind people at DINA let us! I like building communities outside London and Sheffield is such a welcoming city. The space and vibe is perfect for how I programme events. Fingers crossed.

What's next?

A debut EP by Shayu, who's another new signing to Coyote. She's based in Switzerland and makes fascinating, hi-def beats that immediately made me sit up. She draws a lot of inspiration from grime vocals too, which I found really interesting.

In 2020, expect new records from Last Japan and Utah? and hopefully some new music from Tom E. Vercetti and Chemist.

What unreleased records or dubs do you wish you could release?

Anything Jon E. Cash and, beyond that, Gundam's 'Pulse Wedding'. What a dub.

Akeem Balogun

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