Pantone Records – From Japan With Love

Pantone Records is the current based project of Gavin Smith, former Mr. and Disorient head and DJ extraordinaire


It is through Smith’s prolific DJing and travels to Japan that lead to the Pantone idea of focusing on Japan originated sounds. Smith signed his friends Yukihiro Fukutomi and Ryota Nozaki’s Jazztronik and is already four releases into the mix.

Isn’t it the same thing? Our intellect controls our emotions, which is motivated by music. That’s soul, we all have one

Hot on the heels of Jazztronik’s release, Fly’s Jeremy Balius goes behind the curtain of Pantone with Gavin Smith to discover the label’s philosophies, origins and destinations.
What is Pantone Records for?
Basically, to expose Japanese artists to the West and to work with artists, so a bit of a culture exchange!
How long had the idea for Pantone been with you before you acted on it?
It was at the back of mind for about a year and I was tied into other projects but at the same time missing out on a lot of things that I really wanted to do, so after 8 years I split with Mr Bongo took a well-earned rest and got the wheels turning on Pantone.
What are the reasons behind signing and releasing Japanese nu-jazz and broken beat artists?
There is not much of a reason but I have been traveling to Japan for some time now and have always been connected to the music scene and the producers behind it. There are a lot of people who are dear to my heart.
In what ways has Pantone allowed you more freedom with running a record label than Mr. Bongo’s did?
Basically, I can make decisions quickly myself and get things rolling, whereas with Mr Bongo there are other people involved.
How much are you still DJing and touring alongside running the label?
The last month has been crazy as it’s the summer party season. I have been in the US, Canada, Holland, and I go again tomorrow. But prior to that I have really slowed down on the traveling to focus on Pantone and to get all the various projects up and running. I still have a long way to go until I think we are on course. Also my True Spirit party in Brighton just moved to a new venue Union last month which was really exciting being in a new space with more capacity, new sound system, etc.
In your opinion, how should music be delineated between the emotional and the intellectual?
Isn’t it the same thing? Our intellect controls our emotions, which is motivated by music. That’s soul, we all have one.
Are you going to focus solely on releasing others’ material or are there Gav Smith productions in the works?
I have some demos which I started but never had the quality of time to complete but I plan to take some time out this winter to progress and just focus on them solidly with my good friend and collaborator Julian Bendall from Bah Samba.
In what ways is starting a new label daunting and difficult?
Yes, music is on hard times right now and it is a real struggle. I’m lucky that I have been doing this a long time and that I have that wealth of experience which means I don’t make too many mistakes and I’m working with pretty experienced people. But if I was new to this I probably wouldn’t touch it with a bargepole!
What were some obstacles to overcome?
Time is a real issue for me. I’m involved in everything, so I’m spreading myself quite thinly. Things don’t get done properly
or takes ages to complete.
Are you planning far ahead? Where would you like to see Pantone going in the future?
Sure, I have most of next year’s releases tied down and we need to step it up a gear in some areas like marketing. Basically, we have been really working on a grass roots approach. I never had a real strategy or master plan, just wanted to get the music out there.
Having accomplished so much, how has starting again reprioritized your goals and visions for yourself?
It was a totally new energy which is what I desperately needed. Things had been pretty stagnant for me for a while and I just really needed a change to revitalize myself and now I’m excited again and it feels good. With the industry changing so much we have to focus on all these new methods of presenting music.
What should everyone be aware of in regards to Pantone Records?
We release honest pure music produced from the heart! And it’s a really global affair.
Name some releases to look out for in the near future.
In my view, we have our best single to date, Jafrosax featuring Vikter Duplaix, coming out next month. Faze Action did a fantastic job remixing it under a new name Orto; they are reinventing themselves with a new more UK production sound and the full-length album drops in October. And we are working on a Jazztronik first live tour of in November/December.