EXCLUSIVE: Philos Records Head Jordan Wengler Reflects On The Label’s Past, Present, & Future On Its 6th Anniversary

first_imgThink about the first word you think of when you hear the phrase, “Electronic music”. What’s the one that comes to mind? It probably wasn’t “soul,” but it should be. It was in the 1950s that electronic music and soul music began to breathe life in the global music scene. Soul music erupted and achieved its peak in popularity in the 1960s & 70s, giving birth to countless dance floor classics rich in rhythm and emotion. Electronic music didn’t catch on quite as fast, yet it managed to grow into the worldwide sensation that almost all are familiar with today.Today, electronic music has been broken into countless subgenres, highlighting different sounds and evoking emotions ranging across the map. Of these sub-genres, Electro-Soul has always paid homage to the rich and often emotional roots of soul music while maintaining the modern and progressive sounds of electronic music. At this nexus, we find a St. Louis music label that exists for the preservation and progression of good, soulful music: Philos Records.Ever since its inception in 2013, Philos Records has recruited artists from across the world that make electronic music full of soul. There are international acts from Paris and Canada on the Philos label as well as the home-grown acts from all corners of the U.S. Several members of the Philos family have collaborated or performed alongside some of the biggest names in the Electro-Soul world including GRiZ, Pretty Lights, and Gramatik. In fact, two Philos label mates—Daily Bread and Artifakts—threw the official Pretty Lights Red Rocks 10th Anniversary shows to a sold-out crowd at Cervantes in Denver, CO in August of 2018 for a night of break-your-neck type funk.In celebration of Philos Records’ 6th anniversary, we got in touch with the owner of Philos, Jordan Wengler, to talk about his role in maintaining and advancing the culture his label continues to cater towards.L4LM: What do you think of when you hear the terms soul music and electronic music? And what is it about these genres, in your opinion, that allow them to co-exist better than most people might think?Wengler: Much love & thanks to the L4LM crew for checking in! I think, in broad terms, “soul music” reminds me of the music I grew up listening to with my parents, for the most part. We’d play a lot of the classic Motown stuff along with Chicago, The Rascals, The Allman Brothers, etc. while hanging outside BBQing by the pool, or staying up late listening to a lot of those old records. I guess life felt a little bit slower back then, and those are great memories that always come back for me while listening to soul music.On the other hand, I see electronic music as more of a projection of how our generation experiences the world in that we’re always hyper-connected and things are way more fast-paced than they probably were for our parents’ generation. Electronic music, in general, encapsulates a lot of that. The intersecting of both electronic and soul music has been interesting to experience—the stuff that Philos often has a part in matches more of the energy and speed I generally appreciate in music, but also has those themes/characteristics that I can relate to on a pretty deep level that remind me to slow down and admire life a bit more. I can really only speak for myself on that front, but I think a lot of people share that feeling.L4LM: Tell me how a man out of St. Louis got started with Philos Records, the origins…Wengler: Music has always been a pretty significant part of my life in some capacity, and it’s often a central part of the memories that I formed with family and friends while growing up. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to listen to “Saturday In The Park” by Chicago without thinking of BBQ ribs, or the Allman Brothers without remembering sitting in a warm, dark room in the winter, or the Red Hot Chili Peppers without remembering my dad holding me up so I could see at my first concert [laughs]. Looking back, those memories and lots of others are linked strongly with music and I have an intense desire to create and share those feelings with other people.I started Philos while in college in March 2013. I’d become interested in the fast-emerging electronic hip-hop/beat music scene at that time but had a limited audience to share it with in the middle of Missouri, as you can probably imagine. I started the label primarily as an outlet to more widely share music I connected with that ultimately didn’t have another avenue. People often ask me what genres Philos represents, which I still have a hard time answering oddly enough… We’ve released projects ranging from bass-heavy electronic stuff to lo-fi beat tapes with artists from several different countries to date. In each case, I’d just really enjoyed listening to and making a connection with the artist’s music and had a strong desire to share it with others.[The name] “Philos” is rooted in the ancient Greek lexicon and basically alludes to both brotherly/friendly love and intense passion for what an individual finds meaningful in life. The term was inspired by an organization that played a large role in my life in my college years, but “Philos” has proven to be probably the most apropos name I could’ve given the project. People that follow along with Philos Records recognize that we are a tight crew and I feel extremely fortunate that these guys I work with are my good friends foremost, who I also happen to do music stuff with. Philos has expanded beyond the music that we make together and that’s something I cherish most about what we’ve become.L4LM: With that in mind, I think that the name Philos Records suits the label you’ve created perfectly. Thanks for sharing that good music. The music on your label has a real presence to it, you can feel the passion that goes into it. How do you go about finding talent that fits along the theme of your label?Wengler: The first thing I look at when considering working with a new artist essentially just boils down to how their music resonates with me – is it something I can connect with? Is it something genuine that has substance behind it? That’s a common thread among everything that we try to release. I pay attention to the moments that make me restart a particular track, or get up and walk around from excitement. The simplest answer is that it’s just music that I really like listening to personally and I feel lucky that I’m able to help release and promote some of my favorite music via the label. This past Saturday morning, I threw on the Electric Playground vinyl that we worked on with RECESS on just because that’s ideal Saturday morning music for me.Second to that is how an artist presents themselves, their technical skill, etc. Image/branding and technical know-how can be learned, so that’s of secondary priority for me (though definitely still important), but it’s more about how something feels overall. I think using that as a guiding principle over the years has given Philos its theme and sound.Outside of ensuring our projects meet a quality threshold sonically and offering advice or input where needed, my job is to assist and shepherd a project through design, manufacturing, and eventual release. I work with some of the sharpest dudes in our scene and I trust their vision and intentions for both their own careers and what they put into the label. Philos is a team effort—we work together as a crew to succeed as a crew.L4LM: What has it been like starting this project simply just to spread the word about music you resonated with to seeing some of the artists open and collaborate with some of the biggest names in the electronic scene? Was there ever a “we made it” moment for you?Wengler: It’s been really gratifying and sometimes surreal seeing some of the guys collaborate together and work with other artists in our scene. I’ve always tried to keep focused on our work and moving the label forward so I don’t often take a lot of time to think about the things we’ve done, but there are definitely some crew highlights—Red Rocks, selling out our first show in Atlanta, packing out an after party in St. Louis this past fall, so many others. There hasn’t been a specific “we made it” moment for me necessarily, but there have been some extremely cool moments. The past 6 years have been a steady whirlwind and I feel thankful every time I can get on a plane to go do music stuff with the crew.One of my favorite crew moments occurred this past November in Denver for Late Night Radio‘s Sunday release party. We’d had what amounted to probably the biggest crew assembly thus far at Cervantes’—Artifakts, Daily Bread, Derlee, RECESS, the Late Night Radio squad, and so many other friends. I remember Alex (LNR) coming up early during the show and telling us that it’d been sold out, and that was a really special moment for me, and it kind of hit me right then. I had some of my closest friends together in one of our favorite venues, celebrating a bunch of good, new music. It’s a blessing to be able to do things like that together and I don’t take those times for granted. L4LM: Well it sounds like you guys are all having the time of your life and all working on your passions. Not a bad full-time gig if you ask me. What does the future of Philos Records look like?Wengler: Thanks! The future of Philos will basically be a continuation of what we’ve done so far—releasing good music regardless of what genre it necessarily fits into, though I’d be interested in expanding our genre footprint a bit over the coming years also. We’ll continue to release vinyl in different formats and experiment with some other physical media. I envision taking a label showcase on the road in the near future. I’m working on building a sister company to Philos that will serve as a publishing company for artists as well, so I’m excited for the opportunities that will bring. There are always lots of things in motion for the crew, and I’m looking forward to what’s coming next. It’ll be a fun ride.For fans of good music that pushes the envelope, Philos Records should not be slept on. Head over to their website and check out some of the good music they have been creating and keep up with the new updates as they continue to expand.last_img