Ralph Lawson Interview

What was the impetus for setting up 2020 Vision two decades ago?

I set up 2020 Vision in 1994 to put out our own music. We had just set up a studio in a farmhouse outside Leeds and early tracks were starting to come together. I had no grand plans about building a long-term record label – we just wanted an outlet for our own music.

What was the 2020 ethos back then? Does it still hold firm today?

I liked the name 2020 vision because it is when you have perfect sight. I wanted people to have a perfect vision of music; to stop thinking in terms of small, narrow minded genres. I wanted them to embrace music as a whole. I suppose we were kind of idealistic and, like everything else, 2020 vision was placed in its own genre. But I haven’t changed and the message is still the same.

How did it feel when things started to take off for the label?

It took a while for us to have a breakout single. We had a fairly big club hit with Soldiers of Twilight ‘Believe’ in 2001. But ‘Erotic Discourse’ was a huge track for us in 2006 from Paul Woolford. Long before those we had a good name in the underground and clubs.

What do you look for in the music you choose to release?

We don’t look for a specific style, which can sometimes be confusing for people. We are always looking for something just a little bit different. I am often sent what I call ‘flavour of the month’ music, which will probably sell really well, but is a real short-term prospect. I am always looking for those artists who have something to say; the ones who stand out from the pack; the ones who dare to be different. I always choose the artist first, then you can be sure the music will follow. As I get older I am also more fussy about who I work with. I can no longer be bothered working with people I don’t like.

Have you any advice on how to get noticed for the aspiring producers out there?

The best way for me is to go and get involved in the club or label you love. All the resident DJs that we took on at Back to Basics came to the club week in week out, sometimes for years. They patiently listened, experienced and absorbed until it was time for them to make their own mark. I am really proud that both the club and label have produced some of the best DJs on the planet right now and I’m not being big headed by saying that. It’s a fact.

Most people celebrate such an achievement by taking time to look back. Yet you’ve decided to release a compilation of exclusive new productions and remixes of classic tracks. Why is this?

The 20 year anniversary was the perfect opportunity for me to invite artists I dearly wanted represented on my imprint, but would not normally be able to get music from, because they have got too big or have the own labels or album projects. I also wanted exclusive new material rather than a rehash of the back catalogue.

What else have you got lined up to celebrate two decades in the game?

We are running a tour to celebrate both the album release and 20th anniversary called Content. We’ve also developed an awesome projection mapping Visual show to go alongside it. The show comes to Ibiza on July 5 when we take over The Zoo project.

What else is in store for 20/20 in the near future then? What about for the rest of the year?

The next album we’re working on is from Citizen. That one is shaping up really nicely. And, as always, we’ll be supplying high-quality electronic music…