In it for the marathon, not the sprint: founder R.U.M tells us where he's at
At a time when we can access, publish or push something at the touch of a button with no delay, effort or second thought whatsoever, the wise stand firm and take their time.
No rushing. No immediate reactionary behaviour. Just deep thought, thorough planning and staying true to your vision.
A good example is new label Outline Audio. Run by Leeds-based artist R.U.M, or Tom as he likes to be known, the label launched in December 2022 but was in the incubation, planning and curation stages for a good year before he pressed the button and presented it to the world.
Rather than hurtle out heaps of releases instantly, Outline Audio has only dropped two EPs so far. Operating on a less-is-more, quality-over-quantity mindset, Tom’s vision is to celebrate each release and put as much as value into the music as possible. With a view to strictly putting out tracks that stand the test of time and don’t flex on bandwagon hype or trends, in his own words Tom explains how each release belongs to the artist and the label is merely a vehicle to bring the music into the world.
So far the vehicle is purring with sleek efficiency. The first release dropped December last year. A VA EP featuring Objectiv, Nooch, Resslek and R.U.M himself, it mapped out the parameters of the label’s deep, dark, minimal methods in style. Giving the EP space to breathe, last week saw Outline update the discog with their second release, this time focusing on one artist: Illament.
Last spotted on 1 More Thing with his killer track Eyes Closed (and this awesome multi-genre mix) Illament once again delivers premium goods across three tracks. Gritty grooves cut with clarity, his Cold Guys EP adds to Outline Audio’s weight and momentum as the label slowly but surely puts down firm roots for the long game.
For a flavour of sounds to come from the label R.U.M has laid down this mix comprising multiple unreleased jams from the label plus a hefty wedge of summer persies to fit the season. Press play, read on, get to know:
What are you up to right now?
I’m working on the artwork for the next EP, it’s by Headroom. He’s into graffiti so we’re getting it designed then painted onto a wall and using that for promo.
Cool concept. I love that attention to detail and how you’re reflecting the artist’s interests in the artwork…
Well I see it like this… It’s not my release, you know? It’s my record label, but it’s their music, their art and that should be respected. It’s the same with the promo schedule. I fit it around them and the other commitments they have on. I think that’s important.
Yeah! You like to work in advance don’t you? You’re clearly a marathon man, not a sprint man.
Totally. The music will speak for itself. I could put a release out every month but if the quality isn’t consistently high then I think that devalues everything. Less is always more in that way. Take your time over things.
It gives you more time to promo and really think about who’s playing the music and how it’s being received. I can speak to the DJs who are supporting it, not just fire them promos without any dialogue. I can talk in detail about tracks, I don’t have to rush.
Big up Illament too!
He’s a lovely man. Musically he’s so talented and his sound and style is a perfect match for the vision of the label. But personally too, he’s very down to earth and a father like me. We met through Objectiv, we’d been speaking on and off online but we met for the first time at New Years. It was a pre drinks before the Black Swan. We ended up chatting the whole night. He’s well sound.
Didn’t you have this release planned prior to that?
There was something planned much later down the line. I actually had a VA planned but finding a date that works for all the artists involved has been impossible because everyone has got commitments. So Tristan’s release has been brought forward.
A lot of moving parts with VAs!
Yeah that’s advice I’ve had off a lot of labels; a VA is the hardest release because everyone’s got to agree on the artwork and agree on the release date. It’s hard work getting everything in place.
Yeah I bet. What have you learnt so far since launching Outline Audio?
I’ve learnt about applying myself to what I actually need to do at that moment in time. Not sitting there thinking about the next release or the release after that but instead focusing on what I need to focus on at that moment in time. Rather than do too much all at once and cause myself stress, I’ve learnt to take a step back and look at what I need to do.
Focussing on one job! Learning how to block everything else out is the best advice with life the way it is and so many distractions constantly popping up
My dad gave me the best advice ever when I learnt I was going to be a dad and began to panic. He said ‘only worry about the things you can control, let go of everything else.’ Live by that and you’ll be less stressed.
Wise words! So you launched the label over six months ago, I know you were planning it for some time before then. Have the sound and style of the label changed at all during this stage of development?
I’m a bit better at social media and marketing now and learning fast, having had experience from running a label previously, I’m much more focused – and hopefully successful – at getting the timing and space right around promotion and letting the music breathe. I also realised that the artwork was all on me and that’s now changed to more of an artist’s perspective. The sound and my vision of what I want it to be is still very much the same – deep, dark, minimal. I’m leaning more and more towards other styles as well as D&B. Leeds has a lot of multi-genre nights and that’s been inspiring. Why tie yourself to one genre?
I’m sticking to D&B for these first few releases but sometime early 2024 will see us broadening out into other territories. I’m good friends with Harker who makes footwork. He played me something which really blew my mind. It’s got the same aesthetic and energy of minimal D&B just different tempo and drums. The vibe is the same. So I’m keeping an open mind.
Plus I’m inspired by the labels and nights that I was really into when I first got into this. Shogun Audio with guys like Pola & Bryson, Joe Ford, GLXY. It was a really vibrant range of sounds and that’s an energy I want to reflect with Outline.
Sick. So what advice would you give to anyone thinking of running a label?
Planning! Planning takes all the stress out of it. Have an organised plan and stick to it as much as you can and it’ll make it fun and enjoyable. If you’re chasing your arse around all the time then it’s a very stressful existence. Plan plan plan!
Love that! What’s next on the plan?
Headroom’s EP is next. He’s got a track with Freddy B.
Loving Freddy on Nymfo’s recent release Kindred Spirits
He’s amazing. His bars are solid too. Very sharp lyciricst and writer and a super nice guy. And yeah, he’s part of a great EP from Headroom that’s been getting a lot of support from DJs and is scheduled for the end of the summer. Watch this space!