A symphony of truth: Djena’s musical odyssey and the genesis of Layers Of Truth Recordings

A symphony of truth: Djena’s musical odyssey and the genesis of Layers Of Truth Recordings

In this exclusive interview, we had the pleasure of sitting down with Djena, a talented DJ, producer, and founder of Layers Of Truth Recordings.

Djena shares her journey in the music industry, the inspiration behind launching her own label, and her vision for the future of electronic music. She discusses the initial reception of Layers Of Truth, the significance of vinyl releases, and the impact of social media on the evolving landscape of the music industry.

Join us as we dive into the world of Djena and explore the passion and creativity that drive her musical endeavors.

EG: Hi, Djena! Welcome to EG. It’s a pleasure to have you here with us. How have you been? Where are you right now?

Djena: Hi there! Thank you for having me. It’s always a pleasure. I’ve been doing quite well, keeping extremely busy with my personal project—my side project called Som.1, which I’m sure you’re familiar with. Also, I’m thrilled to discuss the launch of my label today!

EG: Well, on that note, congratulations on the launch of your brand-new imprint, Layers Of Truth Recordings! You must be really excited to share this project with everyone. What has the initial reception been like?

Djena: Thank you for the congratulations! Indeed, I’m very excited. The initial reception has been quite positive. I’ve received numerous messages of support and inquiries about the first release, which I’m thrilled to see. It’s only been a few days since the first release, so I’m anticipating more feedback in the near future.

EG: So, how is Layers Of Truth conceived? Was this an idea you had in mind for a long time now?

Djena: Layers Of Truth was born out of an intricate blend of contemplation, personal experiences as a DJ and producer, and numerous encounters within the music industry. As I delved into the realm of collaborating with other DJs and producers, releasing tracks on various labels, and performing in diverse countries, a desire took root within me—to establish my own musical universe through the creation of a label.

This initiative wasn’t solely about fulfilling my dream of having a personal label. It was an awakening to the prevalent practice of limiting genres within labels but also the repetition of nearly identical tracks across multiple releases. I found it paradoxical. Music, at its core, is an embodiment of freedom of expression, a space for experimentation, and a platform to present something distinct from the usual soundscapes.

For producers, the pressure to align precisely with a label’s artistic direction often leads to rejection, even if the music is exceptional but slightly divergent. With LOT, I will try to adhere to a more open-minded approach and provide opportunities for producers to exhibit their unique creations, encouraging diverse offerings with each release.

“Music, at its core, is an embodiment of freedom of expression, a space for experimentation, and a platform to present something distinct from the usual soundscapes.”

EG: What can you tell us about the purpose of Layers Of Truth? What can we expect musically from the brand moving forward?

Djena: With Layers Of Truth, my aim is to embody my unique musical vision. The artistic direction is crystal clear—it’s all about house music. I steer clear of sterile debates about genres and subgenres. Quality is the sole criterion; whether it’s UK garage, rominimal, classic house, or any other, what matters most is the excellence of the music. I’m dedicated to highlighting both well-established talents and newcomers. Backgrounds and origins don’t define who we promote; the focus remains on talent and quality.

Another essential objective is to bridge the gap between well-established artists and emerging talents. I view music as a means of passing on traditions, and that’s precisely what I aimed to achieve with LOT 001, featuring Quenum and a remix by Lucio Agustin. This release not only maintains consistent quality throughout but also serves the noble purpose of presenting music from a respected artist like Quenum while shedding light on the deserving talent of artists like Lucio.

Looking ahead, I aspire to expand the label’s reach by organizing label nights. I’ve previously collaborated successfully in London with the Paravibes and Bien Aimer collectives in June, and my goal is to host more such events in the future.

EG: And, right now, you’re behind the label’s second release, ‘Primavera Cabriolet’ EP by Fibonacci. What can we expect to find on this one?

Djena: Indeed, our second release comes from Fibonacci, an Italian artist I stumbled upon on social media. After listening to his tracks, I knew he deserved a spotlight!

Our ethos revolves around giving exposure to deserving artists, and Fibonacci is a prime example. His ‘Primavera Cabriolet’  EP features four powerful tracks that immediately caught my attention. They are absolute dancefloor bangers; I tested them, and the crowd’s response was phenomenal! Rest assured, these tracks are crafted for an electrifying experience. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.

While I strive to blend the old and new generations in our releases, the tracks in this EP were so outstanding that I made the decision to feature four original tracks without any remixes. Each track holds its own unique essence, making them all stand out in their own right.

EG: One of the distinct properties of Layers Of Truth is that you release on vinyl. Is this a viable market right now? What is the process of releasing music on vinyl like?

Djena: Interest in the vinyl format has been steadily growing. Buying vinyl offers a unique way to experience music; it’s more about the sentiment and the physical object. There’s a collectible aspect that adds a special touch to the music compared to digital-only releases. I strongly believe the market for vinyl will continue to expand. You only need to inquire at the pressing factories to see how fully booked they are!

The process of producing vinyl is lengthy, mainly due to the high demand surpassing production capacities. To give you an idea, it takes about three months to produce a series of 300 vinyl records, and that’s just the production aspect. This timeline doesn’t include the media plan, cover creation, video clips, and the overall communication strategy. So, patience and determination are key if you aim to achieve your end goal.

Nevertheless, I firmly believe it’s our responsibility as label owners and artists to uphold the tradition of vinyl, especially in the electronic music industry. For me, it’s not just about playing them; it’s about curating a collection of both digital and physical gems. You let them sit in your library until one day, while prepping for a gig, hosting friends, or on some special occasion, you stumble upon a forgotten gem. Playing that special find in front of a crowd holds immense significance. This feeling is everything to me and embodies the essence of curating a record collection, both in vinyl and digital formats.

“This shift isn’t about a deep love and understanding of the music but about projecting an image, creating an illusion of expertise.”

EG: Stepping outside of the studio for a bit…How do you feel about the way social media has impacted the chances of an artist “making it”? Does it feel like we’re selling way more than just music by now?

Djena: Social media has indeed changed the game for artists, offering a platform to showcase their talents. Promote themselves without waiting for media to give them a chance to highlight their work, and be able to show the world what they are doing. It helps also to create a closer link to your audience and shows a bit of the “behind the scenes” daily life of the artist, which I found very cool!

However, this positive shift has brought along negative consequences that are slowly eroding the authenticity of our culture and the music industry… Influencers and others have hijacked the realm of underground electronic music, viewing being a DJ as a mere opportunity for self-promotion. This shift isn’t about a deep love and understanding of the music but about projecting an image, creating an illusion of expertise. In reality, many lack a fundamental understanding of the music’s roots and, consequently, fail to respect the other artists shaping this industry and even creating the tracks they are playing.

This unfortunately waters down what used to be a rich ‘culture’ into a superficial ‘trend.’ It’s a bit like soccer; while many know how to play, making it to the major leagues demands both hard work and talent while both of these qualities aren’t necessarily needed nowadays.

In this industry, success often hinges more on connections and projecting a fake image on social media than actual talent. It’s an environment where knowing the right people and fabricating your image weigh more than genuine skill. This reality is known to many but seldom openly discussed due to the risks it poses to careers…

EG: By the way, what do you think about the current trend that has seen these larger-than-life visuals take center stage? Are they overwhelming the musical aspect instead of just “enhancing” the musical experience? Does this also push labels into spending more time and money on the visual aspects of a release?

Djena: Large-scale visuals have undeniably become a captivating element in today’s scene. They’re impressive and beautiful, undoubtedly adding an immersive layer to the experience. However, let’s call it what it is—it’s an immersive visual experience, and that isn’t solely about the music. The music complements the performance, not the opposite.

As for whether this trend pushes labels to invest more in visuals, I’d say no. Underground events, managed by labels and promoters, primarily sell tickets based on the chosen headliners. People attend these events for the setting and, more significantly, for the DJs. This is distinct from other events where people come specifically for the visuals, placing the DJs as secondary. The consumer behavior and motivations behind attendance are different in these scenarios.

EG: What’s next for Djena and Layers Of Truth? What new milestones are you looking forward to now?

Djena: As for Layers Of Truth, I’m preparing the upcoming LOT 003, which will be an EP from myself featuring an amazing remixer. This EP will be released on vinyl, and I’m eagerly looking forward to its release!

On a personal note, I’ve been working for a few years on my side project called Som.1. Thus far, we’ve released tracks on R&S for their IOTD 4.0 compilation and on Laurent Garnier’s imprint called Cod3 QR this year, which is an achievement we are proud of.

We’ve also completed our live set, which we’ll be presenting in early 2024, and we have a huge number of tracks ready to be released in the same year. Exciting news is on the way.

EG: Thank you for your time, Djena! We’re excited to see what’s in store for you. Take care!

Djena: Appreciate the talk, guys. See you soon!

Quenum’s ‘Slam 1987’ is out now via Layers Of Truth. Stream and download here.

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