As the first inklings of dawn can be seen inching up from behind Bangkok’s towering skyline, five friends find themselves the last people at a party — again. Drawn together by a penchant for techno and an affinity for the after hours, they look at each and cry “neverest”. Frustrated with the state of Bangkok’s but determined to capture the sounds of Asia and move the bodies of the world, so incepted Neverest — a musical venture that draws on the spirit of Bangkok’s underground.
The genesis of Neverest Records began as a jovial mantra that united a community during a tumultuous time for Bangkok’s music scene and evolved into an ideology that birthed an independent music label. Today the imprint is credited with a catalogue of releases by artists from around the region that wanted to break through the boundaries and limitations set upon this side of the world for one reason or another. The Neverest council now represent a collective of artists that are often overlooked by the west but define the east. Not bound to any one genre, Neverest operates with only one goal: to ramify and proliferate the quantity and quality of underground music coming out of the continent while providing the world with an accessible window into Asia.
The party series that followed the label’s inauguration is gifted for creating emotion and evoking stamina amongst even the youngest electronic aficionado and provoking the average partygoer to unleash their inner party animal through a style and sound that is distinctly and powerfully Neverest. And they do this without big headliners. Instead, they place up-and-coming regional talent in the spotlight right next to scene stalwarts in perfect syncopated harmony.
This year Neverest looks west with their well-oiled electronic music machine. With one founding member now stationed in Berlin, and a new councilman in Bangkok — the label is readying itself for a new quest to the summit of Mount Neverest. Join them for the ascent and stand with them on the summit as dusk falls on yet another raucous night out in Bangkok.
Label Founders: Dan Buri, Dani Yard Young, Dylan Holtman, Taychin Dunn & Travis Meredith
All good stories have a great beginning. How did the Neverest label start?
Neverest came to fruition during a different era of Bangkok. Five years ago, the scene as we know it today barely existed. Back then, all we really had was Glow, and Mustache had just opened as a beer bar. The scene was mainly supported by the same small roster of DJs, and we wanted to do our part in giving it a fresh spin.
Dan Buri, a founding member, had regularly been spinning for years alongside some of the other OGs of the local scene. As he and the rest of the crew became good friends, it was inevitable for us to create a new project as an anchor for our creativity and all things electronica.
We wanted to help infuse the nightlife with a modern take on electronic dance music and combat the overloaded EDM scene the big beer brands were pushing. We started with events — including club nights and some iconic pop-ups, but moved into our core passion of producing and releasing music.
We are incredibly happy with how much the scene has continued to grow - all the new faces busting and hustling to spread the love and ethos of the underground sound.
What’s the inspiration behind the name and the aesthetics of the label?
The aesthetics came from our night expeditions and a play on words with Mt. Everest, that represents our climb to the peak. This was before the government fully cracked down on nightlife, and when some of the underground clubs were allowed to go until 6am. Unfortunately, even then, there was a 50/50 chance of getting shut down. We had a big crew that NEVER wanted the party to end, and hard times led us to form the group. Let the beat go on! We would have after-hour gatherings where these ideas came to life; one thing led to another, and Neverest was born.
After some REST ;) we put our thinking caps on, with a few emails and some elbow grease, we got onto Beatport and Neverest became an official label.
Neverest is more than a name. It’s a mantra. An ideology for navigating through life.
Never give up. Never stop. Neverest.
What’s the musical ethos under which Neverest operates?
The focus is on music that moves not only your body but your mind and soul as well. We believe in intelligent grooves and what they have to offer, not only to the general public but to the discerning ear as well.
For us, it’s about music that not only makes you feel a myriad of emotions, but it also invites you to appreciate the nuances of the underground and what exactly inspires the artists who pour their hearts and soul into the art itself.
We want you to FEEL and THINK. Not just party mindlessly.
With this in mind, we have decided to alter the previous trajectory which was centred more around easily accessible emotion with big room sounds, to a new one which represents what we feel speaks to us much more at this point than it had ever done before, in a much subtler and more nuanced way.
We don’t exactly want to label what we’re looking for, but just trust that we have something very exciting and surprising in store for 2020 and beyond.
Tell us one thing people might not know about Neverest?
The Neverest council comprises contributors from all corners of the globe with the common interest of educating and uplifting the local scene. All either born-in or long-time residents of Bangkok, we represent a mix of locals and expats who have a candid ear for experimental music.
Before Neverest, the individual team members had previously been involved with different labels, organizations, collectives or the art itself, all around the globe — from San Francisco to Berlin, Barcelona, London, Valencia, Ibiza, Belgium, Singapore and South Africa.
How do you go about discovering or selecting the artists that you feature on the label?
There’s more than one way to reach a peak, and what this means for us is that we purposefully go through many channels to find talent. Our main goal is to support new artists, and it always will be.
It’s challenging enough for most budding artists to get signed, even though their music might be incredible, and we are well aware of how daunting these challenges can be. So, we go to events (especially the more unknown ones), we network and we dig — or as we like to call it — we mine.
Of course, the simplest way of going about it is waiting for submissions through traditional online methods. Right now, we are open for new submissions for our projects in 2020. Send us your work at [email protected]. We do listen to every single submission! Honestly!
What have been your memorable moments with the label?
We have had the pleasure of helping launch many new venues over the years. We love being able to marry a new crowd to a new venue we believe in — ones built by fellow music lovers who look to grow the scene.
We have a tendency to set up shop and showdown in a moment’s notice. From pristine Phuket beaches to hidden concrete “temples of sound”, the most important characteristic for us is always providing a fresh atmosphere and guaranteeing a blizzard for our loyal patrons.
One example would be one of our first events when we converted a venue into a banging club night filled with awesome individuals. Four floors of magic, we named the party “Techno Barby”. We had a day-time barbecue and played techno deep into the night. It was a hugely memorable experience, particularly as it was one of our first big hit events that really brought the music family together.
Are there any extensions to the label beyond just releases?
Since inception, we also had been running a series of mixes on Soundcloud called Campcasts. We’ve also just started a new mix series that caters towards our new mission — Summitscapes, the first of which is by our new label partner and longtime companion Kuroten. We also just updated our Bandcamp with all our previous releases available at pocket-friendly prices.
Be on the lookout for some custom jewelry and new merch just around the corner.
What are some of the challenges that come from running an international label out of Asia?
As the scene has grown, the nightlife laws have remained largely strict. Of course, as this kind of thing persists, the after-hour type events are difficult to feed with an already thinly divided crowd, less than pleasing closing times, and a negative attitude towards what the general underground is trying to accomplish.
In spite of all this, the stalwarts within the scene have done what they can to provide plenty of options to the public still, and we will continue on that path until things change.
One could say that Southeast Asia, or at least Thailand in particular, is not an entirely well-known destination for this type of music. This has an obvious effect on what we and other Southeast Asian labels are able to do at this very moment, but there’s no doubt that the scene will continue to grow, and that we will absolutely be able to stand shoulder to shoulder with the rest of the world soon enough.
From this standpoint, we have decided to invest in ourselves and those who live here with the view to bridge the gap between Europe and SEA. This grassroots approach is our contribution to the region.
As a homegrown label, we tend to take our journey at our own pace. Along the way, our tastes have matured musically and taught us the importance of quality music, bringing people together — some of our deepest friendships derive from the label’s projects. Sure, the process can be a bit slow, but it’s about the passion for the scene, the love for the artists and, most importantly, a love for the music — so we do our best!
Are there any up and coming artists from around Asia that have your ears perked?
What’s next for team Neverest?
A new team member, a direction shift, and a defined path for the 2020s.
Pick by pick, track by track; we shall continue our everlasting march through the summits of Asia.