Since its conception in 2016 VII has gone from strength to strength. With their enviable line up of producers / DJs and an ever growing fan ‘crew’ we wanted to catch up with label owner John Askew to discuss the labels rise to fame and about their eagerly anticipated VII event in Manchester on the 2nd February.
Hey John, thanks for speaking to Liz from On The Sesh, so for people who may not be so familiar with VII can you tell us what the label is all about?
The concept of VII was to create a label and brand that focused on the music of a small number of friends who I believe are the best in their respective areas of trance. Before creating and launching VII I’d run labels for other people – working with Discover, Perfecto and Armada – so I was keen to go it alone in order to focus exclusively on the music I loved and not have to make compromises to please other parties.
Why did you opt for the name VII?
Seven is my fave number and I had seven artists that I wanted involved.
You have a Latin Slogan around your logo, what does it translate as?
It’s a proverb that literally translates as “Add a little to a little and you have a lot”. The original use was from a military context of adding many small regional armies together to make a massive force that can’t be stopped. Essentially I saw seven as being the mega transformer that formed when all the robots joined together to form one machine, one being.
Did you know what DJ’s you wanted to work with straight away?
The original line up that we concocted was slightly different but we fine tuned it to meet both Simon and my tastes pre-launch.
What’s the reasoning behind the VII members being known as shadows?
I’m a big martial arts movie fan and I love the old moves like Seven Samurai. I love the mysticism that comes with those older films and I liked the idea of trying to incorporate a bit of that mystery and story in what we were doing. So it originated from a late night discussion about Ninjas…..that’s where the shadows thing came from.
The label is split into different chapters with different mini concepts behind them – We are coming out of the Fluorescent Chapter at the moment, can you give us a sneak peak of what’s coming next?
Actually – he’s an exclusive bit of news for you. We’ve decided to stay Fluorescent for the rest of 2019. We have so much kick ass material that falls into that category that we’ve decided to keep the colours flowing for the time being.
The explanation of the four chapters goes like this….
Black – original material of VII artists only
White – original material of VII artists only
Red – remixes of VII back catalogue (from either VII artists or 3rd party friends)
Fluorescent – kind of anything goes – originals, remixes, collaborations – the only rule is that the original artist has to include one or more VII artist.
You’ve recently added Orkidea as the new shadow Number 4, what qualities did you look for when deciding who to approach to take over from Freedom Fighters?
I think it’s wrong to view this as someone taking over from Freedom Fighters. Shahaf is an absolute dude – but in the end his sound evolved into something that didn’t really fit VII any more and there were some other compatibility issues that we struggled to overcome – but we parted as friends with zero animosity. VII is a group of seven artists – but like a football team if someone doesn’t sit right within that team we evolve and make changes to the line up. But we will never be six and we will never be eight. When we decided to make the changes we have just announced (Freedom Fighters and Astrix leaving and Orkidea and Avalon joining) we discussed many different options but we absolutely knew we needed an opening DJ who could properly set the tone at our shows. We’d done EDC and Tomorrowland and at both gigs is was evident that we didn’t have an opener – so that was something I had in the back of my mind for last few years and when the time came Orkidea was someone we felt was ideal for the job and whose image / music / style and vibe fitted who we are perfectly. Avalon is one of the biggest headliners in Psy and a great friend who we have played with a few times on big Open Up shows in London and Los Angeles, so we were keen to bring him into the fold if such an opportunity arose.
VII Crew United Kingdom did a poll this week on Facebook where Will Atkinsons track Seventh Heaven was voted favourite track of last year. As label boss it’s probably super difficult to have favourites but which track on VII really did it for you last year?
Astrix & Freedom Fighters – Burning Stones. Look I’m a huge fan of all the tracks we’ve released but this for me was the best psy record released last year and when I first heard it – it literally took my breath away. It’s timeless, it’s classy and it’s just perfect in every single way. Ironic therefore that both those Avi and Shahaf are no longer in VII – but like I said – there’s no point in having a star striker if he spends more time on the bench than on the pitch. Watch this space for the debut VII single from Avalon…..holy shit….
At every event, whether a VII member is playing there or not there are always clubbers wearing your VII Merch, has it surprised you how strong your fan base is?
It has overwhelmed me. Music is such a wonderful force when you talk about people from opposite sides of the planet connecting…. I’m just thrilled and excited to be a part of this global family that keeps growing and growing at a phenomenal rate. I have friends who met though VII who are now boyfriend and girlfriend, I see familiar faces at gigs all over the world and now that we repost “Crew” pics continuously on our Socials I feel we’re able to introduce each member of the family to everyone else so that they can reach out, say hi and start dialogues that hopefully turn into friendships. That shit makes me very very happy.
In less than 2 weeks we get to witness the first VII event which is happening in Manchester at the Cotton Sheds. Is this something you’ve been wanting to do since VII’s inception?
Damn right. We’ve done two awesome shows at EDC and Tomorrowland – but as you know I’m a dark room man. Festivals are great but I prefer to loose my shit at night.
Why did you pick to do the first show in Manchester?
I’ve got a strong thing going with Manchester. The sold out OTC I played there last year was probably my fave gig ever in Europe – if not then certainly the UK. So yes it made sense to do it there – in the original home of Warehouse clubbing, acid house, The Hacienda etc. And of course partnering with our mates at Rong who are from Manchester was just the icing on the cake. Love working with James, Barry and their team. Great, enthusiastic guys who are music fans ahead of anything else.
You have fans coming from all over the world for the show, can you tell us a little about what we are going to experience on the night?
No I can’t. It’s a surprise. But what I can say is that you need to be in there as close to 9.30pm as you possibly can.
Is the VII show something you are going to do on a regular basis in different locations?
We are looking into ideas for shows in the US, NL, London, Australia and Asia at the moment but I can’t really say much more than that.
Looking forward what else is in store for VII in 2019?
We have a new compilation series starting called Solo. Simon Patterson is mixing the first volume and that will be released in the first week of April. We also will be releasing the second volume of last years VII 4 x CD compilation series in September. Will Atkinson has started work on a debut artists album – but I’m guessing that will more than likely be 2020 for release. We have singles coming up in the next few months from Simon Patterson & Sam Jones, Avalon, Will Atkinson, Orkidea and myself. We have new merch designs launching continuously and we are soon launching our new range for the ladies – which is longer overdue. Very excited about that, and then as mentioned above we are working hard to try and find the right venues, the right dates, the right promoters to host more VII events. I’d like to get to the stage where we do four or five events a year. We’ll see. And then, although not strictly VII related Simon, Will and I are launching a new label in March that will exclusively release vocal records – so keep an eye out for that. First release is a new monster from Simon Patterson and Lucy Pullin called Blink. Amazing stuff. :0)
Thanks to John for taking the time to speak to Liz @ OTS. We can’t wait for the VII show on the 2nd and to see what else is in store for 2019 and beyond!
Tickets for VII’s Show in Manchester are available on Skiddle here – Nearly 90% sold out so grab yours now to avoid missing out.
VII Merch Store is here where they are currently selling a Limited Edition Manchester T-Shirt that will never be restocked!