Toronto-based duo the Art Department (aka Kenny Glasgow and Jonny White) have, for the past few years, been in the habit of creating rather compelling and forward-thinking deep-house tracks for labels like Crosstown Rebels, Get Physical, and White’s own No.19 Music. Now they’ve finally released their first-ever compilation, Social Experiment 003, and it features their original music alongside tracks from a highly impressive roster of artists including Jamie Jones and Carl Craig. To boot, they’ve also assembled a special Beatport Mixes version of the compilation.
Before they hit the mayhem that is Miami Music Week for their Social Experiment party on March 22 (along with Ultra Music Festival performances March 17 and 24), we caught up with White to ask him a few questions.
Social Experiment is your first ever collection. What was the rationale to finally put an Art Department compilation together?
We have always released mixes very sparingly since we started this project. There seemed to be an outlet for us at reasonable intervals since we began AD, like invitations for an Essential mix or an RA podcast. I would have liked to have done one last year, but I thought that it would be too obvious to use AD’s success—being that it’s my own project—to do the first Social Experiment comp on my label, and we were fortunate enough to have Soul Clap’s contribution [as the first]. We knew we wanted our first mix CD on No.19 and it made sense to do it now.
How did you decide on the title Social Experiment?
I think it really describes our vision and our vibe. The events we do are just that—you put all these people in a room and expose them to new artists, new music, and a unique experience that comes only from grouping these particular artists together and it becomes that. The whole night becomes a variable.
You have some pretty big names contributing. How did you go about getting exclusives from the likes of Jonathan Lee, Tale of Us, and Jamie Jones?
Well, we knew what sound we were going for with this. We were 100% set on putting together a mix that really captures the vibe and energy of the events, rather than making a deeper mix that’s designed for listening at home or in the car, which is usually more our strategy. So we reached out to artists and friends we work with who we thought would submit material that fit with the vision. We were really fortunate to receive so much amazing music from everyone who contributed.
Did you set out knowing who you wanted to ask to be a part of the compilation, or did it just sort of fall into place?
Yeah, like I said, we had a game plan. It’s a bit of a tricky one, because it’s not as if you send out an email blast and get 100 songs from people and then cherry-pick. We’re asking for music from some very established artists, as well as some of our newer artists signed to No.19, so while you’re lucky to get material from these guys who are busy working on their own projects, you have to be pretty calculated about who you’re going to ask. It all fell into place because we put a lot of thought into what we thought we might get out of each artist we approached.
How did you decide to put the compilation out on No. 19 Music?
No brainer. It’s my record label, we weren’t even considering anywhere else for our first mix.
Can you tell us a little bit more about the label and the sort of music you’re hoping to promote with it overall?
That has become a tough question to answer for us as of late. Four years ago, we could have quite simply just said “deep house” because for the most part that’s what we were doing. As we’ve built trust with our listeners over time it’s allowed us to branch out, getting closer to a place where we can release music without having to consider genre. That’s always been the goal since day one for me. I want to have a great catalog of music. I’m not too concerned with what type of music it is as long as it’s a quality record. Of course, house music is still our main focus, and will remain so. It’s what we’re essentially known for and what we love, but as far as what we’re trying to promote—it’s new artists doing something that’s their own.
Do you have any plans to put out another compilation on No. 19 Music?
Yeah, we’ve done several. There was a concept compilation we did early on called I Live In where we would gather several artists from a particular city—for example, “I Live In Toronto”—and release a comp of singles from native artists. I think we’ll pick that one up again in the future. We have a comp coming out in time for WMC made up of singles from our core artists including Tone Of Arc, Louie Fresco, Clayton Steele, Jonathan lee, Jakkin Rabbit, Nitin, Teeloo, Cameo Culture, My Favorite Robot, Kenny, and myself. And then the Social Experiment series is an annual compilation so you’ll see another installment drop around the same time next year.
Do you have any releases coming up in 2013 that you’re looking forward to and can tell us about?
Yeah, in my eyes this is going to be the biggest year we’ve had to date. We’re looking at a year focused on releasing full-length artist albums, which means most singles and remix packages will be centered around those albums. We’ve got Tone Of Arc, My Favorite Robot, Clayton Steele, Cameo Culture, and Louie Fresco lined up for 2014 with some really unbelievable music from each. We’ll be releasing singles as well in between from the likes of Kate Simko, who’s done a really amazing record for us, Jakkin Rabbit, who we’ve just signed on for an album in 2014, Jonathan Lee, an old friend from Toronto who’s making some really unique house and techno as of late, and Eric Volta, another brand-new signing who I’m really excited about. That’s just the tip of the iceberg.
What’s the deal with your fall album? Any idea if you’ll have collaborations and what the vibe of the album will be?
That’s under wraps for now. We’re currently off the road writing music for that project but I don’t want to give anything away just yet.
Lastly, any plans for WMC that you can let the world know about?
Yes, of course. We’ll be doing our Social Experiment showcase at Cafeina Wynwood on Friday March 22 with the crew—Sneak, Deniz Kurtel, Juan MacLean, Tone Of Arc, Nitin, My Favorite Robot, Droog, Clayton Steele, Jakkin Rabbit, Shaun Reeves, Art Department, and some very special guests.