Interview: Kartel Records

Founded in 2006, Kartel Records decided that 2010 was the year to take over and with tracks from heavyweights like Joe Flizzow, Altimet, DJ Cza and Thaitanium, as well as up and coming artists like Richard Jansen, SonaOne and Micbandits, Made Men is sure to do it. We’re pretty stoked for the new album, so we went straight to the source for all the details.  David Tee, executive director of Kartel, gives us the lowdown on the upcoming album and what’s next in 2011 for Kartel.

Why the name Made Men?
Made Men is serves as an induction into the Kartel family. We spent most of 2009 searching for individuals/groups that matched Kartel’s musical philosophy. Made Men is the start of our musical journey together as a new family.

Tell us about the Made Men compilation? What kind of sound can we expect?
The Made Men compilation focuses on ‘original sound’. By original sound we mean what the artists sounded like during the period of time the tracks were recorded. This is especially significant for the younger artists like Richard Jansen, SonaOne and Micbandits who are at the start of their music careers. We wanted for them to have something to look back on years from now and remember where it all began.

Kartel Records went through many exciting changes in the past 12 months. From moving to a new office to signing new acts. The album was actually completed in December 2009. But we took it back to the drawing board and revamped the entire album from scratch to better reflect the talent of the individuals/groups involved in the project.

Can we expect new music videos from the compilation?
Yes indeed. We shot the video for the first single “Who Do It Better” which features Altimet, Joe Flizzow & SonaOne whilst we were in Singapore. The good folks at Esplanade Singapore flew the whole crew down to perform at their Youth Festival 2010. Since everyone is from different countries, it was a rare opportunity for us to gather together and shoot the video. We’ve also got other videos which we are looking to reintroduce into the Malaysian music scene such as Thaitanium’s “Duck Walk”, DJ Cza & Dandee’s “Da What” and Micbandits’ “Cantik Rupamu”.

Any particular tracks to watch out for? With artists from Brunei , Singapore and KL as well as DJs, MCs, rappers and even an indie band – Kartel Records is quite eclectic – what’s they tie that binds all the artists together?
All the tracks are noteworthy. Being a compilation, every track represents a different artist who has his/their own individual sound/style. What ties everyone together is a common goal to make good music and achieve good-standing amongst their peers.

What are the upcoming plans for each artists?
Altimet has just released his brand new single “Kotarayaku” which features Noh Salleh from Hujan (check it out at We’ve also got brand new mixtapes from Micbandits and SonaOne dropping within the next few weeks. Sakti, Richard Jansen and Ila Damiaa are releasing their debut albums very soon as well. DJ Cza is fast making a name for himself as a video/film director through his new venture, ‘CzakutFilms’. As for Joe Flizzow, he’s about to take it up a notch, both sonically and visually, with a new single and studio album in the works.

You guys swept up the Shout Awards nominations – excited for it?
It’s always nice for artists when they get nominated for an award. Even better if they win. They have all worked very hard all year long, making better songs and reaching out to all their fans. Regardless, taking a look at the nominees for the Flava Award, everyone is a deserving candidate and we wish them all the best. Due credit and appreciation has to be given to 8tv and their entire production team who are one of the few industry peeps who truly believe in new talent and actually put in the effort to provide a platform for good honest music, tv, film, radio and talent to shine.

Underneath the hip hop image, there must be a heart of gold from you guys, so tell us about the Kartel Records foundation?
This was initially founded by Joe Flizzow as a way for him to personally give back to society in his capacity as an artist. After setting up Kartel Records, the Foundation was adopted by the company and thus the Kartel Foundation came into existence. Every year we allocate a certain amount of shows/appearances/work on a pro-bono basis for initiatives linked to education, charities and social awareness among others. Apart from Joe’s personal work with various orphanages, this year we are supporting The Fight Against Cervical Cancer in Style BFF Campaign which aims to raise funds for the NCSM Cancer Fund while creating awareness and educating women about cervical cancer. We are also providing assistance to a group of students pursuing their tertiary education in various fields such as Motion Graphics & Design Broadcast from Nanyang Polytechnic Singapore and a student from the University of the Philippines – Diliman pursuing her Masters in Communications Research. Admittedly we are not doing as much as we feel we can at the moment, but we are hoping to do much more in the near future.

Besides the Made Men compilation – what can we expect from Kartel in 2011?
You can expect new studio albums, singles and music videos from each of our artists. Better live performances and hopefully a greater regional outreach and presence. In short, we plan to continue releasing fresher music and cutting-edge videos and just see how far an indie music label can go in this digital age.

Can we expect a Made Men Tour perhaps?
We have no plans for a Made Men Tour at the moment. But we are always open to working with potential promoters to make this happen. If the situation is right for all parties, then we’d definitely really love to go out on the road and perform for our fans.

Find out more about Kartel’s class of ’10 or head over to their official website for more. Don’t forget to keep it locked on JUICEonline for Made Men this Wednesday!