A few years ago, he reached out to the guys at Night Slugs, hitting it off with Bok Bok, who later introduced him to the forces behind their American sister label Fade to Mind, Kingdom and Prince William. The relationships snowballed into the release on Night Slugs and gigs performing as part of the Fade to Mind stable. “I know how much of a long-shot it all was, me in Kansas, just reaching out to these international stewards of dance music,” he says. “I feel very lucky.”
But while his connections with Night Slugs and Fade to Mind have been beneficial, his personal goals don’t always line-up with those of the labels. That’s why he has decided to launch his own label, Bear Club Music Group, as a way to put forth his “personal stamp” but also support like-minded artists, starting with his Team Bear Club cohort. “I wanted to create a space where artists like us could operate and strike up this conversation with our audience, and we’re all speaking the same dialect.”
Along with setting up digital distribution, Bear Club Music Group has signed a worldwide vinyl distribution deal with Crosstalk International. “They understood what I was trying to do,” he says. “I didn’t just want to be a digi label. I wanted people to be able to thumb through Thomas Bangalter records and Theo Parrish records and find Morri$; all of a sudden we’re part of the same lineage.”
The label’s first release is Morri$’s ‘Ladyboy,’ a romantic orchestration that follows the template of his recent work: syrupy ambience, top-notch melodies, and walloping hip-hop percussion. Vocal samples waft in and out like crossfaded radio singles, and the song develops in sweeping movements. It’s exactly what Morri$ is aiming for: a contemporary sound that isn’t disposable.
Likewise, the same irony-free approach that defines the music defines the visual. “We wanted to get a desensitized generation of people to feel something, and evoke longing and sadness and a sense of escapism.” Rashad helmed the project, weaving together at least four videos into a seamless “Frankenstein.” For now, the label is approaching video as if sampling records, repurposing found footage like so many R&B acapellas.
Apart from launching the label, 2013 will see Canty explore new sonic frontiers. He’s moving from sampling to working with orchestral and symphonic elements, crafting a “melting pot” of live and synthetic material that he says is “completely seamless.” Friend and songwriter Mocky (who has collaborated with Feist and Jamie Lidell) has helped him bridge the two worlds. “It’s really self-indulgent in a way, but I think it resonates,” he admits. “We’re getting back to the roots, back to when melodies and progressions drove the music.” He’s excited for the new music to trickle out. “People will see my world become more three-dimensional.”