Posse In Effect
Where others saw adversity A-Trak and Barat saw opportunity. The two met DJ-ing a gig in New York City only three years prior in ’04, but became close friends quickly. Shared musical sensibilities, encyclopedic knowledge of hip-hop and an appreciation of all things irreverent had them IM-ing back and forth sharing music and ideas at all hours of the day. At that point, A-Trak was a world champion turntablist from Montreal turned party DJ and tour DJ for Kanye West (West hired him after seeing him do his thing at London record shop Deal Real). It was A-Trak, with his knowledge of international dance music, who put West on to Daft Punk sample that would become the skeleton of West’s mega-hit “Stronger.” Back then Catchdubs was a writer, blogger and an Associate Editor at progressive music magazine The Fader by day and a sought-after club DJ with eclectic taste by night. Through fellow DJ, J2K of the duo Flosstradamus, the two discovered Kid Sister whose music was a fun blend of juke, rap, pop and electro.
For Catchdubs and A-Trak, putting out Kid Sister’s music— which didn’t fit neatly into any major’s categories— became the impetus for starting their own label. “Fool’s Gold came into existence because Alain (A-Trak) and I needed a place to put out the music we’d been making together,” explains Kid Sister. “He’d produced and I’d written songs like ‘Damn Girl’ and ‘Pro Nails’ but it was so early on we didn’t have a label situation yet. Enter FG!”
What Catchdubs and A-Trak lacked in corporate backing they more than made up for in resourcefulness. They enlisted their friend artist Joshua “Dust La Rock” Prince as the Art Director for their new endeavor and put him in charge of all the visuals that accompanied their releases starting with Kid Sister’s singles. A-Trak played “Pro Nails” for Kanye West and who then decided to do a verse for the song. As West noted on his 2007 “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” mixtape his appearance on the song wasn’t a favor as much as it was an opportunity to rap on a song he really liked. (“A-Trak didn’t ask me to rap on this shit, it wasn’t no favor or none of that shit, I wanted to… This is my shit! “)
When it came time to film a video for the song, Catchdubs reached out to director Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland, and the Aziz Ansari-helmed comedy 30 Minutes Or Less) who had been doing lucrative commercial work at the time and hadn’t done a music video in years. Presented with the opportunity to shoot West and to incorporate finger-dancing into a video, albeit on a shoestring budget, Fleischer jumped at the chance. Before they knew it they were shooting in a Chicago nail shop with finger dancers recruited from Craigslist. The video debuted on MTV and before long it became clear that Fool’s Gold had something of a hit on their hands.
Unwittingly, Kid Sister had helped open the door for acts like dance music-rap hybrid acts like LMFAO and Ke$ha after her. “Just the fact that you had electronic music and rap together it was a big statement back then,” says A-Trak. “But then Ke$ha came out,” adds Catchdubs. “And then the sound of someone rapping over dance music is pop music [now], so it’s like you can’t beat that horse further.”
Rather than running that sound into the ground and being pegged “the dance rap label” Fool’s Gold diversified its roster, not only putting out dance and DJ/producer acts like Treasure Fingers, Jokers Of The Scene and Telephoned but also even harder to classify groups like Cubic Zirconia and Japanese band The Suzan. “It’s been interesting for us because when we did decided to put out a band it wasn’t a band making dance music, says Catchdubs. “In both The Suzan and Cubic Zirconia cases we were attracted to the fact that they weren’t an easy fit. It was like these guys are really original let’s rock with that.”
In the process Fool’s Gold has defined itself as the little label that could spawn international hits like Kid Cudi’s platinum “Day ‘N’ Nite” and Duck Sauce’s (A-Trak and dance music legend Armand Van Helden) Grammy-nominated “Barbra Steisand” while still being able to deliver critically-acclaimed projects like Detroit rapper Danny Brown’s XXX album. For 2012 they’ve already got albums on deck from singer-songwriter and MPC wizard Party Supplies, Duck Sauce, Danny Brown and EPs from Jokers of the Scene just to name a few.
According to Catchdubs the secret of their success is no secret at all. They just want to be the best. The attention to detail, the passion for their projects and their desire to not only be different but doper are all rooted in hip-hop. “That’s important to all of this stuff– we want to do better t-shirts than everybody, we want to have iller artwork … who can even say that they have a store? All of these things and our interviews are hotter!”