Hisa Ishioka talks 25 years of his iconic King Street Sounds | Soundspace

Hisa Ishioka talks 25 years of his iconic King Street Sounds

Hisa Ishioka talks 25 years of his iconic King Street Sounds

Since launching the King Street Sounds label back in 1993, New York based Hisa Ishioka has put out records from some of the worlds most seminal house producers, including Danny Tenaglia, Kerri Chandler, Dennis Ferrer and David Morales.

To mark the 25th anniversary of the label, Ishioka has put together a massive 35-track various artists album that highlights some of the most popular tracks from the past two and a half decades and Sasha, Solomun, Mat.Joe and Supernova have all made the tracklist.

We had a chat with the label boss about the earlier days of the label, what lessons he has learnt being behind the wheel, the biggest changes he has noticed in the industry and what’s to come from one of the most seasoned house imprints around.

Hey Hisa, how’s summer treating you so far? Been up to anything exciting?

It’s been a hot summer here in NYC so far! This year has been super exciting as we are celebrating our 25th anniversary and just released dual vinyl and special 35-track digital compilations of some of our most iconic music since the label’s inception in 1993. I’m also busy compiling the second edition 25-year compilation due out in September.

Your label, King Street Sounds. Why did you decide to start the label in the first place, what was the catalyst?

In ‘90, ‘91, ‘92 I was asked by some Japanese labels to do A&R. At the same time, I had friends who were giving me tracks produced by Japanese artists. After compiling these pieces of music and also handling remix coordination this project became the La Ronde EP.

I received some underground buzz through these projects and I wanted to contribute my knowledge gained through my experiences at the Garage and Choice, into the dance music market. Around ‘91-‘92 gospel or vocal house was not so successful compared to the popular sample-based house that was happening. Pal Joey and Todd Terry were two exceptional innovators to sample-based house at the time, however, I personally really wanted to release quality soulful vocal house like what I used to dance at the Garage.

Can you remember the first release, how it came to you, how long it took to get it out there, how you felt when it was finally in stores?

Before officially starting King Street, I compiled a VA comp album titled La Ronde, where the first official release on KSS, Beat Freak, was actually taken from. I had Blaze and Pal Joey remix this track, which ended up selling quite well even with my limited promotional experience at the time. The entire project took about six months to release and I remember feeling a tremendous amount of joy and accomplishment when seeing the release at record stores and hearing it for the first time at Club Shelter!

And what are the hardest lessons you have learnt in your time running the label?

The hardest thing I’ve endured since running the label was dealing with the closure of three distributors and also vinyl pressing plants within two years while I still had dealings with the companies. These closures then led the way to our switch to digital distribution instead of vinyl-only along with many other dance music labels at the time.

What is your fondest memory of running the label over the years, has it shaped your life in any way?

In 1996 I attended WMC when Danny Tenaglia played his remix of Kimara Lovelace’s iconic single Only You before release for 30 minutes at Club Groovejet. People ended up going wild and it became one of the biggest records in Miami that year. As a new arrival to NYC in 1985, I had no idea how much music would shape my life up until this current day!

You celebrate the 25th anniversary this year with a VA album, how did you go about choosing the tracklist?

I decided to showcase a variety of styles, sounds, and artists spanning our large 25-year discography. You’ll hear some of the classic sounds from artists such as Kerri Chandler, Blaze and Dennis Ferrer who helped launch the label’s success as well as newer material from artists such as Wolf Story, Joe Red and David Mayer who are helping to keep the label’s sound current while paying homage to our past.

25 years is pretty impressive for a label, what are the biggest changes you’ve noticed from then until now?

One of the hardest things with running a record label for 25 years is keeping up with industry standards. I’ve moved between vinyl, CD, digital, and now streaming formats and continue to roll with the punches to keep the label current and vital. Something that has become easier is getting the actual music to the listener. With the tremendous leaps in both listener and DJ technology through streaming and smartphones, we can get our music out much faster and more direct to the consumer.

And do you have any other plans to celebrate the anniversary?

As mentioned earlier in the interview, I’m currently compiling volume 2 of our 25 Years of Paradise compilation that will contain a new batch of both old and fresh music. We’re also releasing a brand new album from house music legend DJ Aakmael and a new Abstract Jazz Vibes VA compilation that will both be hits with our audience. We’re also looking to celebrate our silver anniversary with a special NYC party coming fall 2019!

King Street Sounds 25 Years Digital Compilation is out now.