ABACUS with LUPO , SAIDA BABA TALIBAH , ROBERT STRAUSS , CURTIS SMITH , JASON ULRICH and more at Andy Poolhall (489 College), Saturday (April 15). $5. 416-923-5300. Rating: NNNNN
Why has Austin Bascom (aka Abacus and A:xus) decided to relaunch his Re:think label?
He originally founded Re:think back in 2001, on the heels of the release of Soundtrack For Life, his successful full-length album as A:xus. At that point it seemed like perfect timing. He was known all over the world, and the video for Baghdad Cafe (Callin' U) had enjoyed considerable airplay.
Instead, he only put out one record and spent the next five years sitting back and watching the dance music industry go into crisis mode as distributors went under and vinyl sales dwindled across the board.
Many in the industry are still pessimistic about the prospects of running an independent dance label. So what gives?
"I have the energy for it now, first of all. To go out and DJ internationally and run a label, to connect up-and-coming producers with singers, it takes a certain kind of energy, an energy that I feel that I have again."
"There's so much going on in Toronto right now. I'm hearing tracks every week that are really exciting, even stuff that are only raw demos. The only thing that's really missing is avenues for the music to come out."
Bascom's already locked down the first eight releases, and also plans to put out a full-length album of his own as well as a "quirky jazz" excursion by Saida Baba Talibah (Salome Bey's daughter).
When asked to describe the direction the label will take, Bascom struggles to pin it down.
"I'm not really going for the across-the-board kind of thing. To me, it's all electronic music. Whether it's a downtempo or uptempo song, as long as there's some synth or a sequence, it's electronic music. I've been moved by drum 'n' bass, but I've also been moved by acid house."
Most of the world knows Bascom for melodic soulful house, but his back catalogue has often straddled genres, from Detroit-influenced techno to mellow downtempo breaks. Likewise, the upcoming releases move from Afrobeat-tinged house to deep techno to soul -- a diversity that would have been much harder to market a decade ago when his first releases came out, but that seems quite natural now, especially in a city as multifaceted as Toronto.