Talking labels and fabric takeovers with Demi Riquísimo...

Demi Riquísimo is nothing if not an eclectic individual. Already supported by a colourful cast of DJs (everyone from Skream to Optimo to Tom Trago have supported his productions), he’s also quickly gaining favour as a DJ, playing at the likes of Glastonbury, Latitude, Wilderness and Gottwood. As prolific a remixer as he is a producer, he’s also lent his own deft touch to originals by UNKLE, Elder Island, TSHA and Chromeo to name but a few. 

Most recently, the Semi Delicious label boss hosted a sold-out label takeover at London’s fabric, and is about to launch his new label, A Lifetime on the Hips. With a lot going on, we felt it a good time to tap up Demi for a chat…

Hey Demi! How has your year been so far? And where are you answering these questions from today? On a personal level, what’s next for you that you’re really excited about?  

Hey! My year has been great so far thanks, it started on NDY at DC10 for Circoloco and then onto our first Semi Delicious takeover at fabric which amazingly sold out. I’m currently answering these questions on the plane to Manila where I play this weekend. I’m just starting a two month tour which I’m really excited about.  

You were born in Detroit but live in London. Where do you feel more at home? And what do you like and dislike about both? 

I was actually born in the UK but grew up in Detroit as my Dad worked in the car industry. I returned to the UK when I was about 12 so I was too young to absorb the music scene that was happening there in the 90’s. I lived in Bristol for 6 years from the age of 18 so that’s where I got a lot of my musical influences from for sure. I was very heavily into jungle music and started to run nights at venues like Dojos, Thekla and Motion. The manager of Motion at the time was Ross Patel who’s now my manager! I also studied at Access To Music where I learned to produce. 

You’re well-known for your label, Semi Delicious. What motivated you to start it? And has it really worked as a launchpad for your own success do you think?

It really started as I was in between aliases and I was making music I loved but wasn’t confident it would get signed. I did end up sending the music to artists and labels I admired but they all declined it. So I started the label initially to get those tracks out. It then turned out the same DJs I originally sent to were supporting and playing them out. I do feel the label has helped stamp an identity for myself too, I’d like to think it’s helped with some of the other artists releasing too. 

Looking back on things since you started, what would you say are your proudest moments to date? 

I think doing my first tour outside of Europe in NZ & Aus in 2020 was a real turning point and made me feel that what I was doing was real. Also my first set at Glastonbury in Shangrila in 2019 was unreal. 

As an artist, how do you define success? And what does success mean to you? 

For me success is defined by happiness. I’m always at my happiest when I’m producing new music, travelling while doing shows and meeting new people along the way. The more I get to do that, the more successful I become. 

A diverse range of DJs have played your tracks over the last few years. Was there one DJ in particular whose support really meant a lot to you? 

I would say Erol Alkan supporting and playing the music over the years has meant a lot. I used to see him play most weekends at fabric from around 2007 and have always considered him an inspiration. 

How difficult do you think it is to establish your own aesthetic and sound in the modern scene? And similarly, how important do you think it is? 

It's one of the most important aspects of the scene. Whether it’s a sound or a vision; original identity with authentic intentions are what people connect with. It’s of course hard to achieve this, I’ve been developing my sound for years and it’s still not there yet. 

Your new label’s entitled ‘A Lifetime on the Hips’. What’s in a name? And how will the output here differ to what’s on Semi Delicious, for example? 

Semi Delicious over the years has always been musically diverse, especially our VA’s. There’s always something for someone. A Lifetime on The Hips is a label designed just for the club, all killer, no filler. 

HIPS001 will feature tracks from a diverse range of artists, as you;’ll be joined by the likes of Abdul Raeva, Aldonna, Donald’s House and Inner Zone. Can you tell me a bit about the music on offer and how you came to sign it?

Inner zone have released on the label before and I absolutely love their productions so I was so keen to get them back involved. I’ve also been a huge fan of Donald's House over the years and their new music has been a bit tougher which I’ve loved and when James sent me the demo I needed it. Then I’d also been following Aldonna. Her productions are great and I’ve always thought she’d work well on Semi Delicious. And then a few months ago Lulah who works for the label put me onto Abdul Raeva. I suddenly had a load of hard hitting club weapons that really felt right to be on an EP. I’d also been working on the tougher house bits so as a collective I knew this was going to be a strong EP, but with a slightly different identity. That’s how HIPS001 was born. 

What do you generally look for when signing music? And is it important you’ve a personal connection with the people you work with here?

Semi Delicious will always be in the dance spectrum but will never be defined by a genre. I look for individuality, originality and integrity when signing music to the label. I have no interest in signing well produced music that sounds like someone else. I would much rather receive an amazingly executed idea which was a badly produced track than the other way around. I also love cross pollinated influences. Initially it’s not important for me to have a close connection with the artists as most of them I’m meeting via online. But once we sign music I’m always constantly in contact with the artists so we can bounce ideas around. I always try to offer our artists shows where possible which cements the personal connection.

You’re also dedicated to a vinyl-only approach. With vinyl pressing plants suffering from long delays and vinyl often cutting off your music to non-vinyl collectors, do you ever worry that you’re limiting the accessibility of your art?

Not at all. The music has always been accessible to the masses via DSP’s allowing anyone to be able to stream and hear the music. Vinyl pressing plants were suffering long delays in Covid times but it’s not really a thing at the moment. Actually the main issue with pressing vinyls for most labels is the cost which has been rising over the years. Factors like one of the main pressing plants in Europe burning down has counted to this. Also the lacquers are made from nickel and 80% of the world's nickel comes from Russia which now has sanctions. If anything the rising cost of vinyl pressing has sadly priced out smaller labels, bringing lead times down. We also have a extensive but tight promo pool which means some

DJs do have access to the digital files if they don’t play out wax. 

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