By Jen Boyles
A-Trak sets it up to be quite a scene—one of bombastic brainstorming last December when he and his girlfriend Melisa Young (that’s rapper Kid Sister to ya’ll) went on a mind-assaulting mission to come up with a name for a new record label venture he was embarking on with Fader editor/fellow vinyl-splicer Nick Catchdubs: “One evening we just went on a blitz, coming up with as many ideas as we could. I was pulling out old records, looking through track names; opening the dictionary at random pages, you name it.”
‘Trak (nee Alain Macklovitch), who backs Kanye West on stage as his DJ, is slow to admit it, but eventually, his girl—who would go on to become the label’s biggest draw—came up with the winning designation for the fledgling imprint. It came upon—of all things—recalling a Missouri family vacation whereby she and brother Josh (DJ J2K of Flosstradamus fame) panned for “gold.”
“Make no mistake about it, I came up with that name,” she says with a warning tone. “I have a rolodex of random shit in my head like that. Josh and I were talking just a few days before this name search and we were talking about how many white-trash family vacations we took. It was so bogus—why would you take an interracial family to the Ozarks?”
“I thought I got it from the Stone Roses song,” laughs Macklovitch. “The funny thing is, my brother [Dave One from Chromeo] tried to veto the name—he didn’t know the expression and just wasn’t into it. But then I texted Kanye and he loved it. That was a pivotal moment right there. So my brother lifted his veto and Nick and I went for it.”
And with a quick glance at upcoming releases—which include Kid Sister, Cool Kids and Kavinsky—they’re about to be really happy they did.
When did you guys decide Fool’s Gold would be a viable option and you’d push the idea into practice?
NC: We both realized that [North America’s] DJ/party scene was making a huge impact in clubs around the globe, but there weren’t enough legit releases documenting it, and certainly not enough original music building on the momentum. You would have the odd track pop up on MySpace or a blog, but nothing official—we knew there was a place for us, and a niche to be filled.
AT: Nick and I had been talking about working together on a label, and Kid Sister’s music is basically what made us really go for it. When she recorded “Control,” and we already had “Damn Girl,” I really wanted to release that as a single. So we started the label and as soon as we did, Nick and I came up with so many ideas of what we could be putting out that I knew the label would be a big deal.
What does an artist have to embody talent-wise to get on FG?
AT: Nick and I really like artists who are at the fine point of their field without simply making weird shit. There’s a lot of new sounds coming out in both rap and electro and we like artists who have a good ear for melody.
NC: And a good aesthetic will go a long way, but you have to have the songs to back it up. At this point we’ve only worked with our friends and people we know. Yet there’s still a connection between, say, Kid Sister and Kid Cudi. And not just because they both have Kid in their name. Kid ‘n Play, holler at us, we’ll put y’all out, too. “Ain’t Gonna Hurt Nobody 2K8!” Make it happen!
What do you hope the future holds for the label in the next five years?
NC: Harder, better, faster, stronger. I want to bring on both new and old artists—it would be great to not only influence the new music that’s being made, but reissue slept-on club classics that might otherwise have been lost.
AT: I hope that within five years, we have a big office on top of a tower with fancy nameplates and an Italian espresso machine.
Anything you wanna tell Chicago ?
AT: Chicago somehow became a central point for our label even though Nick and I aren’t from there. We work with Kid Sister, Flosstradamus, the Cool Kids, GLC, Kanye and Lupe. So I feel like this show might just be the crunkest of the tour. Last time I played the Empty Bottle when I toured with The Rub two years ago was one of my favorite shows of that tour. So I can’t wait to tear it down again!
NC: I wanna have a beer with John Paxson!
The Fools Gold Tour 2007 featuring A-Trak & DJ Mehdi, Kid Sister (live), Kavinsky, Cool Kids (live) and Nick Catchdubs at Empty Bottle, 1035 North Western, (773)276-3600, on October 21, at 9pm. $16-$18.