Meet the German label supporting new talent, pushing forward-thinking music and doing their bit for the planet
For over 10 years T3K Recordings has been releasing music, but at the beginning of this year they reached a turning point. In 2009 they started as a home for drum & bass, but at the start of 2023 they became more than that. The label saw that it is not only music that’s bringing people together, but also the environment, the world around us. They feel that something has to change. “Every action counts, no matter how small,” they say.
We all know that music has the power to generate positive energy, and T3K Recordings want to use music to take some positive action. The label’s recent output, released under the series named PROT3KT, focuses on the crisis in the natural world by highlighting some of the world’s coolest creatures, many of which sadly face extinction because of humans ruining this planet.
Artists involved in the series so far include Disprove, Dunk, IAMDOOMED, C:Crtiz,Grim Hellhound and L0G1N to name but a few. Financial contributions from their releases go to support specific charities and the animals they’ve highlighted aren’t always the ones you’d expect. Over the last few months T3K have raised awareness about snowy owls, bats, vultures, octopi, flamingos, martens and many other beautiful creatures.
The label is also not afraid to hit hard with messages about irrepairable damage humans have done to animals. Brain‘s EP, for example, comes with a story of the Tasmanian tiger, or thylacine to be precice, an animal that was hunted to extinction in the 1800 and 1900s. The last ever one died in 1936.
As lovers of music and animals, we linked up with Kaiza, T3K Recording’s label manager and owner, and talked about the story behind all of this.
Hi Kaiza, what a cool concept. How did you come up with this idea?
Kaiza: When the Russia-Ukraine war started, we had a Ukrainian couple at our house for several months. We live a pretty good life, and sometimes we forget how good it is and that we should help others who do not have it like that. The whole situation sparked something within me. They decided to move back to their home country, which got me thinking “What can I do now?”. I wanted to extend my own efforts on environmental issues.
The conversations with my wife reassured me: if we destroy the earth, our kids and future generations are fucked. The earth is the core element. So helping environmental charities is one of the possibilities I have to make our world a better place.
And what was your plan of action exactly?
Kaiza: The whole plan was to sign music and release it, and donate the proceeds to selected environmental organizations. I decided to do this at a pretty high frequency so that it has some sort of impact. I run a small label with a very limited reach. So the one thing to solve this is to release loads. Then it’s more likely people see it and support the idea. My goal this first year was to collect 1,000 euros, which seems pretty low, but for a small label that’s a significant amount. We already collected this money in the first half of the year, and that’s amazing to see. That tells me that this is the right direction to take this label to.
What I like about doing this, is that it’s not only about the drum & bass, about signing music and releasing it. It’s also about helping people, working towards a better planet, and doing something meaningful. Environmental aspects are important for a lot of people, yet not all have time to do something for it in their everyday lives.
For example, the younger drum & bass generation is hedonistic and maybe they care about other stuff like going to clubs and enjoying life. But I am sure that while having fun, we can also do something good. So, I wanted to make it easier for everybody to support charities. Buy our music and I’ll make sure that the money is used to support a good cause.
Do you think it’s important to educate people about this?
Kaiza: That’s one of the many questions I asked myself before starting this project. If I run this label, and the PROT3KT series, I don’t want to point fingers. That does not help. But maybe I kind of set a good example with this particular action. For me it makes sense to combine my musical endeavor with environmental awareness and maybe I can motivate others as well…
How do you pick the charities you want to give money to?
Kaiza: I do a little bit of research. I want the organization to somehow match with the animal that is on the artwork (and corresponding status, habitat, conditions). And I want people to get a serious image of the project, and maybe identify with the charity.
A friend of mine, Mimbelbi, painted these beautiful watercolor paintings. And for every release, we use one of those, sometimes it’s an endangered species and sometimes it stands for to some kind of environmental problem. The paintings are absolutely important. They link the music with the idea behind it and create the PROT3KT feel. The release text also gives some background info about it as well. So at the end you buy more than just good music. It comes with a beautiful artwork and some facts why we give your money to a certain organization.
How do you pick the artists to work with?
Kaiza: I go to them. It’s a mix of people I worked with in the past and new names to the label. I pick mainly because I like the music.I always have some artists in mind who I want to work with, i approach them, have little talk to them, and then go from there. Nonetheless, I am aware of the fact that I need to sign more known names to get people talking about the label and climb the ladder. The more known the artist, the more known the project. I get pretty positive feedback, but still, it’s hard because drum & bass has some significant business face nowadays and projects like PROT3KT are challenging for artists in some ways.
The one with IAMDOOMED did really well. What did that do for T3K?
Kaiza: Yeah, this one was important. It helped spread the idea a lot. The IAMDOOMED single went pretty easy actually, because I have known Dominik for quite a while. So when I asked him if he wanted to work with me, he didn’t need much convincing. I’m very thankful to him for that because he’s at a point in his career where he has to be a bit careful where to release his music. Small labels are always a bit of a risk, but he did it anyway. It is a good example of the fact that I need to work with ambassadors: artists who produce quality tracks AND understand the core of the project and help me to reach out to more and more people. I am very glad I worked with quite a few artists of this kind: the Disprove EP was very important for the label as well. The releases by Dunk and Brain each massively helped to reach people in North and South America, for example. I signed more sick tracks by very interesting artists for the rest of the year and beyond.
And let me also say a big THANK YOU to 1 More Thing’s Dave Columbo as well. He was someone who noticed the label and supported it very early. Somehow we managed to get through the fog and caught his attention, which got us featured at Vision Radio, which I’m very thankful for. He also always tells a little bit more about every song he plays, and that’s something that’s really important for this project. I love that he gives a bit more context about our songs, so people can get to know PROT3KT. With that, he’s really helping the project.
Great. Tell me more about the latest release, which is a ‘pay what you want’ one by CRSV and TS. Why did you go that route?
Kaiza: The fact that most free downloads are not really free annoys me. You always have to pay in some kind of ‘like’ or ‘follow’ or whatever. If you don’t, you can’t download the track. And to offer it as a “Pay what you want” leaves the decision to the listener instead of forcing him to do a certain action. Additionally, CRSV & TS are more known for liquid drum & bass and you can see this release as a precursor for what we have planned for the label.
Where do you see PROT3KT going?
Kaiza: My main goal would be to manage to be closer to the people. No matter if it is people who buy music or people who go to parties and club events. Concerning the music listeners and DJs it’s important to open up the label and not only release a certain style of music. This also corresponds with my own musical development. I am not only listening to one or two types of drum & bass, I like the whole spectrum. Therefore I will open up the label, too. A new subseries will feature the more musical kinds of drum & bass and bring new aspects to the whole label project.
But how can I get in touch with club goers and those who attend the nightlife for their dose of drum & bass? That’s difficult for me, because I’m not going out as much. I think the next step for the label is to have more collaborations with promoters, big or small and somehow make PROT3KT more visible in clubs and at parties. There are a lot of options I have in mind. Hit me up in case you want to speak about collabs, and maybe we can make the project grow together.
Ok, great, thanks for the insights and the nice chat. All the best for you and the PROT3KT releases.
Thank you for your time. Enjoyed talking with you. Also I want to say a big thank you to all those who support the project by buying the releases. There are also quite a number of people who gave way more money than we asked for. Really amazing to see this. Big ups… You know who you are!