[Interview] Local Love Conquers All for Southern Exposure Music
If you pay attention to Atlanta’s house and techno scene, chances are that you already know the individual members of Southern Exposure, a new artist collective, promoter, and label. As they race to carve out their spot in the local scene, they have become an outlet for music by regional producers and now host Merge, a gathering of several teams and crews in a non-competitive celebration of music. We got to know the team via email and found out more about how the group formed, and what we can expect to see from them in 2018.
You guys have been building this label and brand for a while, but some folks in Atlanta still might not know who’s behind it. Can you all just briefly introduce yourselves to start?
We are a family of artists and creators that love the techno, house and trance scene here in the Southeast. There are six key members of the group: Ronnie (Raskal), Chris (Reiche), Brendon and Jason (Ralph & Louie), Corey Von Waters (CVW), and Brianne (DJ Bri). We all serve the community as Southern Exposure Music. This is our record label, which also throws events and produces music for the techno and house scene.
Ronnie and Chris serve as the owners of the label. Brendon, Corey, Bri, and Jason all serve as A/R and help coordinate the events. We all release as artists and contribute in any way necessary. After only seven months, we’ve were chosen as Creative Loafing’s Best of ATL Studio of the Year and we are very grateful to the people of Atlanta.
How did you all start working together as a single team?
Brendon, Jason, and Corey all knew each other for years. They had all become friends in the scene. When Bri and Ronnie started going out again, on the first night they saw Ralph and Louie at the Soul Kitchen. They instantly became huge fans. They were introduced to Brendon and Jason a few months later and then Corey after that. We just all instantly clicked and became like family to each other. Chris Reiche was living in New York at the time and was introduced to Raskal through a mutual friend. We all worked with a different group for a few years but things just didn’t work out. Since then we have created the record label, started Merge, have found great success with charting releases, and have huge plans for the future.
What’s the biggest thing you see Southern Exposure contributing to either the local scene or just music culture at large?
One of the biggest goals we have as a group is to bring crews together and to show mutual respect to the Atlanta dance music community. That’s where the idea for Merge began. There is so much talent in Atlanta and The Southeast. It is ridiculous that we don’t all work together more often. We wanted to throw an event that not only showcases that talent but also brings Atlanta together instead of undercutting each other - which has kept Atlanta’s EDM scene from growing larger than it has for the last 15 years. Merge is this: All the crews and groups come together once a quarter to do something awesome. This event brings people from different groups together and they leave as fans of everyone. Atlanta shines as a city and as a hub for dance music. We also create opportunities for artists in the area to release with the label. Each release has been charting in the Beatport Top 100 chart for its particular genre. We want to push the music of this region to the world. We continue to search for the amazing sounds coming from the artists here and drive them forward.
As a team, you produce events, online streams, podcasts, and release music as a label. Can you talk about how you balance the priorities of each type of work, and how you manage to pull all those things together into a single focus?
In all honesty, we just all work really well together as a team. We are all blessed with each having nearly 20 years of experience each to draw from. We delegate well and we hold each other accountable. We have a great respect and admiration for one another and we don’t compete with each other for position or power. We do our best to keep good communication and we try to all get together for some face time once a month outside the noise of the club and after-hours scene. So, when good ideas pop up, we are able to implement them immediately. At the end of the day we love being with each other and working together, so it’s just fun. It’s like working with family. This is the vibe we like to spread through the scene as well. Family.
What events or releases do you have coming up in the near future?
Of course, Merge on December 1st at The Music Room. We are planning to keep it going into 2018 and work with more crews and venues. We’ve started to bring in international talent such as our dear friend Thayana Valle from Brazil. We will be releasing an up and coming artist from Europe very soon as well as another dear friend, Noel Sanger, who a few of us have known personally for many years. Even though we are bringing in international talent, we are still focusing on local producers by having them on a remix for those releases. We encourage local artists to come meet us at one of our events because showcasing our locals is something we are very passionate about. In fact, this Friday we are holding an industry meetup right before Merge. All DJs and producers are welcome to bring demos and mixes and meet with the Atlanta industry record labels, production companies, and tastemakers starting at 8:00 PM at BoneLick BBQ. Also, Brendon, Corey, and Ronnie are launching Subtle Events along with Josh Millard. This new multi-media event production company will be doing larger scale events focusing on techno and the dirtier side of house. They will be launching next year. Also, www.atlantatechno.com is on the horizon. This will be a multimedia aggregator and social network covering the global techno scene and the local Atlanta techno community. We plan to continue to take our work very seriously while not ever taking ourselves too seriously. Ego is the death of collaboration and true success.
Tickets for Merge, Dec. 1 at Music Room are available here.