After more than a decade pushing house music to far-off countries and local heads alike, local DJ, promoter and label-owner Luke McKeehan and his team at Nordic Trax are facing tough times—and new prospects—due to recent changes in the industry.
Having celebrated its 10-year anniversary in 2007, the label’s legacy has evolved in many ways, though it kept its sound deep and classic—a challenge in a genre with a notoriously short attention span.
“Despite the fact that it’s a niche, dance music isn’t going anywhere. A lot of people would like you to think otherwise and tend to dismiss it as ‘computer-music,’ or whatever. I never got into House because I wanted to be trendy. In any scene there will always be those who come and go based on how popular something is, [but] I try to ignore the bandwagon-jumpers. Nordic Trax is and has always been about quality and connecting with other like-minded individuals, and this is what keeps me hustling.” —Luke McKeehan
That said, just two short years after the celebration, Nordic Trax faced developments that threatened to permanently derail the business. Changes in the industry and the economy hit the independent label hard. Some major distributors went bankrupt, the “physical” side of the business declined, and staff suffered from “growing pains.”
But despite these challenges, Luke pointed to highlights like a residency night in the Spanish town of Santiago de Compostela (the end of the Camino de Santiago medieval pilgrimage route), music conferences in France and ongoing support from the Vancouver scene. A couple of singles—most notably Alexander East’s “Believe En Me”—helped keep the business afloat. And the increasing popularity of social networking websites like Facebook and Twitter has introduced new audiences to the label’s work.
“With the absolute deluge of information, threads, streams, social networking sites, blah blah blah, the role of the tastemaker is more valued than ever. The average person doesn’t want to wade through a million new release emails, party invites, blogs, trendspotters, etc—if it’s music they simply want to know “is it good?” And if it’s a party they want to know if their friends are going to be there, and if it’s going to be packed. So as a record label and as event promoters, we have an obligation to keep sifting through all this stuff.” —Luke McKeehan