Interview with Robert Luis, Label Boss and A&R, Winter 2006.
OK, let’s start with the obvious question – why is the label called Tru Thoughts?
I knew I wanted to have ‘Thoughts’ as part of the label name and just before I needed a name to release our first tune I saw Pete Rock’s ‘Tru Master’ 12” and that was it. It was also a name that fitted with the way I had decided I want to run a record label with putting priority on music and making the business work around the music (rather than the other way round).
What is your musical background?
I wanted to learn how to play the drums from about the age of 8 but we lived in a flat and my Mum couldn’t afford lessons let alone drums. To be honest I’m not sure I’d have been that good anyway but I think that led me to getting really into hip hop in the 80’s…Run DMC ‘Sucker MC’s’ changed my life! I was a massive hip hop fan and when a mate told me to check early Gilles Peterson and Norman Jay radio shows for the original samples it opened my mind musically to a lot of other music.
What do you look for in the music you choose to release on Tru Thoughts? (other artist’s music, not yours!)
Originality, soul, creativity, trying to push music forward and good hooks!
What have you learned from running a record label?
It’s hard work but fulfilling. The old saying that the music business is 99% business 1%music can sometimes be frustrating but I can deal with it now. I think at Tru Thoughts we’ve changed those percentages a bit too.
What is the state of independents nowadays?
I think we are in a good position compared to the majors. The feedback I get is people are happy to buy our records and download the majors as more people have an understanding that supporting independent artists means you are helping them pay the rent and make more music rather than buy jewellery or other “successories”. We are also able to be a bit more creative. We can release an album that sells 3000 copies and not lose any money. A major needs to probably sell 50,000 plus just to break even.
What are your long term aims for the label?
At the moment I think we have gone passed the first stage of being an indie and people now know the label and what we are about and check our music. I hope we can continue to win more fans for the artists on Tru Thoughts and ideally I would like the label to be able to continue signing and developing new artists and establishing artists. I hope the likes of Quantic, Alice Russell, TM Juke and the rest of the roster will be the future Quincy Jones, Chaka Khan’s and Herbie Hancocks. I would love to sign Immortal Technique too.
Source: Tru Thoughts