When Satoshi Tomiie and Hector Romero launched their New York City label Saw Recordings in 2001, they had simple aims. "The idea was to make an imprint so I could release my original productions, plus introduce new music from up and coming producers," explains Satoshi. "Ultimately, we wanted it to become a home for quality dance music regardless of genre."
In a scene that moves as swiftly as electronic music, it's impressive that a decade on Saw Recordings is exactly what its founders hoped it would be. With a relatively compact discography of 78 releases, the imprint epitomises the mantra, somewhat lost in today's digital music universe, that quality not quantity matters.
As such, Saw has become a champion for new dance music talent. Many of today's most respected underground producers started out on Saw, including Jim Rivers, Guy Gerber, Audiofly’s Anthony Middleton, and Luca Bacchetti.
Even though the label has seen some major changes, including the rise of digital and the fall of vinyl, it has always remained true to its aims. "When we started out 10 years ago, we were pretty much a vinyl label," says Saw's co-founder Hector Romero. "Nowadays we're a digital only label and like everyone else, we've had to change with the times, but we're still about promoting great music and new artists, and building a brand. For us, it was never just about selling music."
Saw co-founder Hector Romero
Saw Recordings' 10th anniversary release 'Edizione' is a perfect example of the label's continued commitment to new talent. With seven quality club cuts from new and experienced Saw artists, the extended EP is like a gallery for underrated electronic music heroes.
"Many of the producers featured on 'Edizione' are new, and all of them are really hungry to grow and gain exposure," says Hector Romero. "They are Saw's most important artists, and all of them are proper talent with good futures ahead of them."
Saw's Satoshi Tomiie
Satoshi Tomiie came up with the EP's title during a dinner in Rome, as he explains, "We had a great bottle of wine called Edizione, which someone explained, was a mixture of all these various grapes, that when combined, tasted amazing. We had been searching for a title for the 10th anniversary EP, and it just made sense."
Romero oversees A&R duties at Saw and was tasked with finding the tracks for 'Edizione', a process that took about six months. "A&R is what I love to do," he says. "I love sitting at my computer and going through tons of promos and listening to the links that people send me. A&R is about finding that needle in a haystack, and when you do find that needle, it feels great.
"The haystack is so huge these days of course, but it has to be done. When Satoshi is cooped up in his studio working on music, I spend my time listening to all the promos that we get sent, and I try to respond to every producer who sends us their stuff."
Part of the concept of 'Edizione' was freedom, as Satoshi explains: "Once we had found the producers that we wanted for the EP, we tried to be as open and free as possible. We didn't want to restrict them by giving them a certain sound or feeling to reach in the studio, instead we gave them the freedom to do whatever they wanted for the release."
The resulting record is a melting pot of uncompromising, underground club music. There are moments of techno awe (Toby Tobias), raw house grooves (Mabaan Soul), a punchy progressive/techno hybrid (Doomwork), blissful deep house (Matt Masters), hynotic, acid-infused melodic techno (Matthias Heilbronn and Joeski), and proper, four-to-the-floor NYC house (Mes and Mabaan Soul).
'Edizione' sums up the label's approach in 2011 perfectly. In fact, it encapsulates Saw Recordings' attitude towards music in general. And as cheesy as it sounds, it is heart warming to know that a decade on it is the label's passion for quality dance music - above all else - that drives it into the future.
'Edizione': Track By Track
Saw Recordings' Hector Romero guides us through the label's 10th anniversary release.
Toby Tobias '5AM'
This track was actually produced about three or four years ago. We had always really liked it, but were never sure about when to release it. We got in touch with Toby Tobias to ask it it was still available, and he did a special re-edit which we loved.
It's one of those nice deep tracks that works just as well at an afterhours as it does early on in a set. I knew we had to have it, because there have been multiple times in the past when the track has come on on my iPod, and it was so good, I stopped what I was doing to find out its title.
Matthias Heilbronn, Joeski 'My Fix'
Joeski and Matthias have been around in NYC for a few years now. They're both great DJs, and Matthias is a great house producer. They recently started collaborating on some great music, and 'My Fix' is very old skool Chicago style with spoken words and a very trippy feel.
I fell in love with the track right away. We released this as a single in January, and it did very well so we felt it deserved to be in 'Edizione' too.
Mes 'Back To Basics' (Mabaan Soul Remix)
Mabaan Soul were always really into this track, which was originally produced by Satoshi under his Mes alias. They asked if they could have the parts, and their remix turned out really chunky, with a great shuffle groove.
It fitted perfectly with 'Edizione'. Their remix works well on the floor, and Satoshi always gets a big reaction when he plays it out. It went down big time in Guendalina club in Southern Italy last year.
Luca Bear 'Sierra Leone
Luca Bear is starting to make some big noise, and he's becoming a big Saw artist. He has had stuff out on Viva and other cool underground labels. He's a great DJ too.
He lives in Northern Italy. I really like this mix. It's definitely at forefront of cutting edge house. He just gave us two new tunes too, which we're definitely going to sign.
Mabaan Soul 'Yo'
Mabaan Soul are a duo from Italy who are young and have a bright future ahead of them. They've had a few releases out on Saw, and they have a very unique sound.
Their music is chunky and raw, with lots of drums and heavy beats, and they sound almost like how Todd Terry used to sound back in the day. This track 'Yo' is very in-your-face, it goes bang, like yo!
Doomwork 'My Crooner
This track has been sitting around for a couple of years with us. It has a little bit of a progressive house and tech house feeling. It's very well produced and quite clean. It's one of my favourite tracks on the release actually.
Doomwork are definitely on the up. We've had them warm up for us at gigs in Italy, and again, they're important artists to Saw. They always let us hear their new stuff first, so we get first pickings on all of their releases.
Matt Masters 'It's Always Delayed'
Matt Masters is one of my favourite producers from London, that's for sure. Matt is a talented guy, and his music is really deep.
His track for 'Edizione' is very well produced. The groove is tech house, and because it's deep, it's suitable for afterhours or starting a DJ set. It's got these lush pad sounds in it, which are perfect for setting the mood of a party.