Label Showcase 19: Roundabout Sounds
In 2010, Joe Babylon put together Roundabout Sounds with a consistent schedule and attractive lineup of artists such as Rick Wilhite, Baaz, Mike Huckaby, Soulphiction, Theo Parrish, XDB, Rondenion, Aaron-Carl, Orlando Voorn, Rick Wade and John Tejada.
Originally, Joe started off as mobile DJ, doing house parties in Los Angeles, CA. After gravitating more heavily towards house/techno music, he took a leap of faith along with his good friend and DJ partner Allen Avanessian in 1994 when they bought some recording gear and started Plug Research up at the loft at Allen’s house. Soon after launching the label, they both became more involved with the underground scene in LA by putting together warehouse parties and other events while hiring Detroit artists such as Juan Atkins, Derrick May, Carl Craig, Underground Resistance, Claude Young, Rob Hood and Kenny Larkin to perform as an attempt to bring more awareness of techno’s roots to southern California.
In 998, Joe handed Plug Research over to Allen who picked up the ball and ran with it big time by making Plug Research one of the most respected independent record labels in the electronic scene. Meanwhile, Joe never stopped shopping for records and continued sharpening his music skills and by 2016 Roundabout Sounds is currently under production on it’s 17th release.
So, with that, we continue our series highlighting our favourite labels from around the world. Today, we thought we would catch up with Roundabout Sounds boss, Joe Babylon to get the scoop on all things Roundabout Sounds. Also, at the end of this article you will find an exclusive full length mix from Joe giving an idea of how Roundabout Sounds is meant to be heard.
“When it comes to the soulfulness I’m looking for, you kind of either “have it” or “you don’t”
What does Roundabout Sounds add to the dance music spectrum?
An option towards raw, sample-based house grooves
When did you first think about launching Roundabout Sounds
I started my first label (Plug Research) in 1994 and handed it over to my label partner in 1998. Fast-forward 12 years later, I caught the bug after listening to a 6 hour “Detroit Beatdown” DJ mix which reminded me that I missed putting out records so I wanted to do it again.
When did Roundabout Sounds actually launch?
September 2010 with the “Debut EP”. We’re currently on the 16th release.
Story behind the Roundabout Sounds name?
I actually saw a roundabout sign and went home to grab the image online and distorted the arrows. I liked the word “Roundabout” and added the “Sounds” since I thought it had a ring to it.
What was the most difficult aspect of launching the label?
I was fortunate enough to have some good relationships for guidance based on when I would hire Detroit artists to play in Los Angeles during the mid 90’s so I leaned on some of them for advice and launch tips so I didn’t have much difficulty to be honest. I was able to immediately enter into a P&D relationship with a Berlin distributor (Diamonds & Pearls)
What qualities do you look for in a Roundabout Sounds artist?
I prefer ones that are proficient with the MPC. When it comes to the soulfulness I’m looking for, you kind of either “have it” or you don’t ;)