Watership Get-Down: The Owsla label, co-owned by Skrillex, just dropped its first release: Porter Robinson’s “Spitfire” E.P.
Ever wonder how a 19-year old DJ/producer from North Carolina could reach the top of Beatport’s Electro-House charts, land a spot on Tiesto’s College Invasion tour and score partnerships with Skullcandy, Future Sonics and Magma Bags? It all starts with Skrillex’s new label, OWSLA. It doesn’t hurt having your new record be the first release on Skrillex’s OWSLA label, just ask Porter Robinson.
The term “owsla” comes from “Watership Down,” Richard Adams’ classic fantasy novel about a small group of rabbits that tries to avoid the grasp of an elite rabbit army called Owsla. American DJ/Producer Sonny Moore, a.k.a Skrillex, Spin Magazine’s proclaimed “leader of the new rave generation,” named his new label after the story, his favorite.
Tim Smith, Skrillex’s manager and owner of Blood Company (a management agency), and Skrillex had been throwing around the idea for a few months prior to bringing on Kathryn Frazier, owner of the publicity firm Biz 3 and Biz 3 publicist Clayton Blaha onto the project.
The Owsla Elite Rabbit Army: (From left:) Tim Smith, Skrillex, Kathryn Frazier and Calyton Blaha.
“I was immediately enthusiastic about the idea because I had already meshed so well, with the Skrillex team,” Blaha told Billboard.biz this summer, “OWSLA came together really quickly, the whole thing was very bromantic.”
An original member of the OWSLA crew, Porter Robinson told Billboard.biz that “OWSLA is sick because of its attitude and approach to its artists. It’s less overtly formal. It’s like the label just exists amongst friends. I think a lot of labels end up having an adversarial relationship with their artists because their interests aren’t always aligned, and OWSLA isn’t like that.”
The label is set for more releases this fall, but say they will not necessarily come from the same branch of electronic music. “My vision is to not have any limitations as far as genre, or other types of artistic endeavors,” Skrillex told Billboard.biz earlier this summer. “I want it to grow day by day but in the bigger picture do whatever we want artistically and sharie it with other people. There’s so much music out there, I’m happy to fight for artists that I think deserve more attention.”
It makes sense then that Porter Robinson’s “Spitfire” EP would be OWSLA’s first release since its launch on August 17. Robinson’s first single “Say My Name,” released on Glamara Records/Massive 808s and Big Fish Recordings in 2010, reached No. 1 on the Beatport Electro-House charts. Nearly a year later, the musician now has 58,000 likes on Facebook, 25,000 followers on Twitter and a spot with Tiesto on his country wide tour, Porter Robinson is rapidly climbing the EDM echelon. In fact, in less than two weeks, the 19-year old DJ/producer from North Carolina has sold a total of 27,115 tracks from his new E.P. “Spitfire” on Beatport.
When asked to what he would attribute the success of his E.P., Robinson rather abashedly answers, “C’mon – it’s hard to talk about why your own work is resonating with people without coming off as a jerk. I’ll try anyway, though: I think the E.P. is pretty diverse in terms of style; for this one, I didn’t just recreate my biggest hit six times. I wanted to do something fresh, something energetic and detailed but slightly less glitchy and random compared to my old material. And the fact that the remixers completely delivered didn’t hurt the release either.”
Released on September 13, the “Spitfire” EP – which includes remixes by Kill the Noise, Knife Party and Skism- has more first-week album sales on Beatport than any artist since Skrillex’s 2010 “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites” EP. “I had always wanted to do an E.P. because it allows an artist to explore styles that his or her fans might otherwise reject,” explains the young producer.
After he’s done touring with Tiesto, the North Carolina native will embark on his own tour in support of the new EP with dates throughout North America. And today (October 4), OWSLA is releasing its second record: a new single by electro-house German DJ/Producer, Zedd called “Shave It.”