After first establishing 'Roska Kicks & Snares' (RKS) as purely an outlet to release his own music back in 2008, 2010 brought about a shift in focus that has led RKS to be one of this year's most notable independent success stories. Boasting a discography featuring releases from the likes of J:Kenzo, MA1 and Champion, not to mention RKS club nights at London's Fabric, Roska admits 2011 has been a 'good year' - that's not to say anything's going to change looking to the future though, with Funky remaining very much at the heart of the label.
"Anything that I do that isn't Funky is always gonna be a side project for now really", he explains. "All the stuff I've worked on for other labels, even the 'Hotflush' bits, are generally just me experimenting and exploring other sounds that I like - while I quite enjoy doing it individually, I won't be doing it with the label."
Despite those who have argued for the last year or so that 'Funky is dead' and balked at suggestions there remains a demand for the music, Roska is adamant that Funky never really went away. "We're just showing that there is still a market for it really, keep if funky you know what I mean? It's colourful and you can enjoy it, it's great to dance too and most importantly it gets girls on the dancefloor. A room full of guys ain't gonna do anyone any favours." He makes a good point.
Whilst first taking on DJ Naughty, J:Kenzo and Jamie George back in 2010, this year has seen the likes of MA1, Champion and Tickles release on RKS, a move that has certainly raised the profile of the imprint, especially considering the all-conquering year Champion has had to date. "130 isn't gonna go anywhere, it fits in with a lot of sets and the fact is a lot of people support the music we've released. There's definitely a market for it and that's what I wanna do - I want to help people that are doing the same thing and ultimately push the sound."
From afar, the wait for the release of music, both physically and digitally, can often seem no more than a minor inconvenience but for independent labels, each release can mean the culmination of 3 months hard work. "Admin, mailouts, release schedules, mastering, selecting the tracks, artwork...honestly it's mad. I'm just starting work on MA1's next release and that's not out until February so that gives you an idea! I generally give myself 2 to 3 months per release - it gives the artist the right amount of time to prepare the track and it gives me time to push it, not forgetting the distributors either. It's a really long process."
With so much work riding on one release, there is huge pressure on label owners to ensure that tracks selected for release are going to be 'good enough' to excite consumers, although Roska explains it soon becomes second nature: "It's like wrestling really - they've all got their finishers, they've all got that signature sound that I can hear in every track but some more than others." Whilst wrestling is probably a pretty good analogy to use when describing the differences between individual sounds, Roska also sees colours. "Take Champion for example, whenever I hear his stuff I see orange for some reason - it's kinda mad but it reminds me what it is I'm looking for in a track. To be honest, all the guys who've released on RKS fit the vibe I want to push; MA1 has that soulful vibe and stabby keys, Naughty's got the skippy brand of electro/funky going on and Champion's got that deep bass - they're all different, but it works."
2011 has seen a number of top independent labels branch out in an attempt to keep consumers happy but Roska insists that whilst some collaboration work is in the offing, RKS is intent on pushing a consistent sound. "We had a good year this year so I'm definitely not looking to do anything different or random but I haven't really ventured out too much yet. I've actually looked at a lot of demos but they're not fitting what I want to do at all. People are still on that pitch-bending, airy spacey vibe and it ain't my thing." Props to that.
From looking at RKS as a label, it would appear that consistency is at the heart of everything Roska does and despite the competitive nature of the independent market, it has had an excellent 2011 by all accounts. Forthcoming releases suggest the label will continue to prosper in 2012 too but for all his efforts, recognition isn't something Roska is looking for. "All I know is that people are interested in our music and that's good enough for me." And that says it all really.
You can check out (and buy) the full RKS discography here: http://www.discogs.com/digital?label=Roska+Kicks+%26+Snares
Uncle Albert's top 3 RKS releases:
1) Champion - Rainforest EP (December 2011)
2) J Kenzo - Ruckus (November 2010) - Martin Kemp Remix
3) DJ Naughty - Firepower EP (May 2010) - Roska Remix
Roska on Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/mrroska