HigherFrequency  DJ Interview


Phil Cheeseman Interview

After four years of silence Strictly Rhythm Records, the label that quite possibly got you into dance music in the first place, will be opening the vault and releasing their classics digitally for the first time ever. To kick things off 20 releases will be available from defected.com as of the 29th of January with 10 more releases dropping every week for the following three months. So not long now and you can be rocking to the vintage sounds of Armand van Helden, Josh Wink, Erick 'More' Morillo, Robbie Rivera and many more.

Despite the looming re-launch date HigherFrequency was lucky enough to wrangle label manager Phil Cheeseman away from his work for enough time to answer some of our questions, ponderings and queries. For those not fully up to speed with the Strictly Rhythm’s history, Phil is the music journo turned label manager who lead Strictly’s successful European invasion during the heady 90’s so we think he is more than qualified to give us the low down on the latest movements at camp Strictly Rhythm.

> Interview & Introduction : Nick Lawrence(HigherFrequency)


HigherFrequency (HRFQ) : Why have you chosen this timing to re-launch the label?

Phil Cheeseman : We didn’t really choose the timing, it chose us, but we’re happy with it because there’s a lot of interest in dance music classics right now. We got the news that the catalogues were back in September last year and have been working on re-launching the label since then.

HRFQ : Strictly Rhythm was one of the most influential house labels during the 90’s. Is there a lot of pressure for you to re-create the same success now?

Phil Cheeseman : A lot of people want Strictly to be big again because of what the label means to them and what it represents musically in dance music culture, so yes there is a bit of pressure. But we’re ready for the challenge.

HRFQ : Will you be approaching things differently compared to back then or will the label’s main values remain unchanged?

Phil Cheeseman : The business of music has changed radically in the last few years and as an innovator in the past – Strictly established the practice of using white labels as promos, for instance – we’ll always look for ways to stay ahead of the game. But as far as the music goes, it’s the same philosophy - the best club music we can find.

HRFQ : What about Strictly Rhythm’s stance on vinyl releases? Because, you’ll be re-releasing a lot of classic tracks as mp3 downloads

Phil Cheeseman : Our stance on vinyl is that as long as people want to buy it, we’ll give them the choice - forty or more of the classic titles have been digitally re-mastered (in some cases the difference is incredible) and they’ll be released on heavyweight vinyl. Equally, if people want to buy them as downloads they’ll have that choice too. In the end it’s the music that counts, although vinyl will always have that special tactile element.

HRFQ : This re-launch sees the New York history of Strictly Rhythm combine with the British house giants Defected. Any clash of ideas or cultures at all?

Phil Cheeseman : We’re working with Defected because they’re a great fit for Strictly Rhythm. Simon Dunmore understands the music and Defected is known around the world as a label that deals in quality house music.

HRFQ : What has it been like getting artists onboard for the re-launch of Strictly Rhthym? Any difficulties at all?

Phil Cheeseman : It’s true that a lot of producers have their own labels now, but we’ve already heard from a lot of people that want to work with us, so clearly the old Strictly magic is still there! We’re confident that we’ll find some of the best that dance music has.

End of the interview

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