In the commercial world of top 40 tracks and Billboard charts, much of the popular music is built on a static formula designed to produce the biggest financial return with the least amount of effort. With little room for creativity and innovation, the result is a landscape of music that all sounds the same.
There are musicians, however, who refuse to conform to the formula and instead remain true to their own creative vision. SectionZ Records is built upon this very philosophy, serving as a home for electronic artists who compose outside the box.
Josh Hernandez, known as “Z,” is the founder of SectionZ. He says that what they’re looking for is “not just the current sounds or the popular sounds or the fad of the time; we’re looking for the next sound.”
Josh Hernandez, a.k.a. “Z”, founder of Section Z Records
Their motto, “Excellence > Genre,” speaks to their desire to move beyond standard structures. While genre can be a helpful tool for labeling and classification, they can also be limiting for artists, and so SectionZ aims to avoid this by moving beyond genres altogether. Z explains,
“Innovation happens outside of the norm. It happens outside of the dubstep or the progressive house, it happens in an artist really being allowed to experiment with his sound or just convey his feelings and tell his story. It’s not about dubstep, it’s not about drumstep; it’s about being epic.”
SectionZ first originated as an online community for electronic artists. In the late 1990s, Z wanted to create the first internet band. He and his bandmates traded their working Fruity Loops (now called FL Studio) files online, and eventually other artists in the community joined in.
Responding to a rapidly increasing user interest, Z and his peers created a collaboration website for electronic musicians to share what they were working on and trade Fruity Loops tips. The community grew to include 15,000 participants, some of whom have since gone on to become extremely successful.
deadmau5 was one such contributor, who was also one of the first artists to be featured on the SectionZ label launched as part of the online community. With the help of then user and current label manager Shannon McGill, the online label quickly expanded. SectionZ focused on releasing records from the top members of the community, particularly from Savant, who is now the figurehead of and most prolific artist on the label.
Though the online community no longer exists, SectionZ Records is thriving thanks to their full roster of artists, who tend to gravitate toward an electro house or dubstep sound. Label superstar Savant just released his seventh release in 18 months, the genre-spanning Cult. At the end of this month, SectionZ plans to release a compilation album called “SectionZ Fresh,” which will feature some of their favorite demos that they’ve received and will introduce several promising new artists who surely live up to SectionZ’s passion for pushing boundaries.
“There’s a lot of work to do in the of acceptance of the actual art form and not the formula that a lot of EDM artists follow today. That to me is what SectionZ is all about, is finding those artists who want to work outside the lines.”