Tangram Records

Belgium's base for independent beats

Tangram Records is an independent record label from Belgium, founded and curated by Mophito and Up High Collective. Tangram mainly focuses on promoting talented, young bands. As one of the biggest players in the Belgium beat scene, we just had to have a good talk with Joris Vaes, one of the driving forces behind Tangram Records.
Tell us something about yourself, like who are you and what do you do for a living?

We are three 30-something music enthusiasts from Leuven. Koen and Renaldo are the producer-duo behind Up High Collective. Joris is an artist-manager, promotor and dj Mophito. All of us recently quit our day-jobs to focus entirely on the music and the label, with all its different aspects.

How did Tangram records start out?

It actually started out by accident. We never intended to found a record label. Three years ago Up High Collective asked me (Joris) to take care of their management. One of the first things we decided to do was to press a vinyl with some of their new work, we wanted to create a cool demo. When we arrived at the vinyl-pressing-plant with our master-recording we found out we needed some sort of a ‘business’ in order to press the record legally. So that’s why we founded Tangram Records.

"When in 25 years we would look back on our catalog, be proud of it and see that all the artists we started working with now are all still musicians, happy doing what they love most."
— Joris Vaes
Do you have any particular goals you try to achieve with the label?

We aim to release and push upcoming talent. We want their releases to sound great, look cool and reach as many people as possible. We want those artists to find a home within Tangram, a place where they can find comfort and support. A safe-haven where they might return later in their careers.

If so, when would you achieve those goals?

When in 25 years we would look back on our catalog, be proud of it and see that all the artists we started working with now are all still musicians, happy doing what they love most.

How do you distinguish yourself in the internet era with 100s of new labels and producers starting everyday?

We try to build a very personal connection with all the acts we release. Often, early demo’s evolve into ‘finished’ ep’s after spending time together with Up High Collective in their studio. Our goal is to push the artists we release as much as possible so we’ll also try to get them some cool gigs. Next to that we also work together with some great graphic designers and photographer. Those guys who enable us to create artwork that is heavily influenced by the background of the producer, the personal story behind the release…

Up High Collective @ Tangram Records X-mas
STUKcafe, Leuven (21-12-2013) via Shourai Sessions

Can you tell us something about the artists you represent?

Until recently, all artists were from Belgium. But that changed with Day Fly, a 5-piece live band from Rotterdam. I’d have to say that hip hop is the common ground between all the artists. Add a profound love for beats, jazz, funk and electronics and I think all is covered. I like to think that everybody tries to push themselves and those around them as much as possible.

Your three-year milestone is coming up, what are the most memorable moments you had so far?

All ‘firsts’ tend to be quite memorable. From Up High Collective playing one of their first live shows abroad after Sohn in Vienna, to our first label night in Paris at Nouveau Casino where the whole team decides to come and a weekender in London with LTGL and Up High Collective where they each played two shows and a set on RinseFM.

If we’d have to pick two… LTGL’s show at Low End Theory (Los Angeles) this year with The Gaslamp Killer, Daedelus, Lefto, Daddy Kev and House Shoes in the crowd was definitely one to remember. And the first time we met Day Fly at a weird bar in Amsterdam was cool too. They arrived with a USB holding the finished versions of their first EP and casually handed those over after talking for about an hour. The smiles on everybody’s face when we played those tracks in the studio when we got home was one to remember too.

Fill us in on the beat scene in Belgium, any emerging artist we should keep in mind?

Keep an eye on STUFF. They’re a 4-piece jazz band from Gent, Belgium. They played a few shows in Holland earlier this summer and are back in 2016 with a couple club dates. Go see them live, you’re in for a treat. Pomrad, the keys-wizard, is definitely worth keeping an eye on. I think his debut album is finished and will be released next year. And definitely check out VLEK. A left-of-centre record label with the greatest artwork that pushes forward very interesting electronics.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Don’t lie. (Ni liegen.)

Name some of your favourite spots in Belgium.

Pass trough Liège/Luik for some ‘boulettes à la liégeoise’ (preferably at Café Lequet) and the sound-system (+ crazy crowd) of The Reflektor. On day 2 don’t miss our hometown Leuven. Take a stroll around town, get yourself cleaned up at ‘Old Rules Barber/Tattooshop’, send us an e-mail and come for a jam in the studio. Go for food and an aperitif at ‘Bar Stan’. Drinks and music will be had at Het Depot, the city’s best venue. Day 3 will have us go to Brussels for a quick lunch at ‘De Noordzee’ (at Sint Katelijne) before we continue our drive to Ghent. Spend the day outside and just soak in the history of this city. Go for a late dinner at ‘Martino’ and check what concerts ‘Democrazy’ has to offer.

Sum up Tangram Records in three YouTube videos:

Up High Collective – What?! (The first ever release on our label.)

LTGL – Female Dog (This guy…)

Day Fly – Hide Me (These guys…)

If you could do a party with an all-star line-up, which artists would be playing and why?
  • Room 1: Kendrick Lamar – Anderson Paak – Kamasi Washington – BadBadNotGood – Hiatus Kayote – STUFF
  • Room 2: Flying Lotus – Dorian Concept – Gaslamp Killer – Kutmah – Samiyam – Lefto
  • Room 3: Burial (yes) – Aphex Twin – Mark Pritchard.

Because they’re the shit.

What’s coming up in the future, any upcoming parties and releases to keep an eye on?

The 3 YRS TNGR-tour is coming to a close but we still have some dates coming up:

  • 12/12 – BAR – Rotterdam w/ Clap! Clap!, Dagger DX, LTGL, Le Motel and Up High Collective
    » more info + RSVP
  • 19/12 – ABclub – Brussels w/ Ivy Lab, Day Fly, Le Motel, LTGL and Up High Collective
    » more info + RSVP
  • 20/12 – SugarFactory – Amsterdam w/ Day Fly and Up High Collective
    » more info + RSVP

We’ve also lined-up the next release on Tangram. It will be the follow-up to Up High’s Kineticuts EP released in the beginning of this year. The worldwide of the ‘Up High Collective – Phonemica EP’ release is scheduled for December 18th…