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Rolling Stone India features 9122 Records

India-Based 9122 Records Brings in DJ Snake,

Singer Tara McDonald

U.K. singer-songwriter Tara McDonald makes it a point to mention that her name translates to “star” in Hindi. She adds ecstatically, “Although I’ve never been to India, I have always really felt a connection. I’m fascinated by the culture, passion and positive energy. I rented my first apartment when I was 19 in Brick Lane (East London) which has a massive Indian community. I soaked in this culture. I fell in love with the food first and then the people who were so kind.”

Her doorway to India is 9122 Records, a label launched by Mumbai-based Sunil D’sa (who’s spent more than two decades working at Universal Music) that aims to promote international artists in India. In March, the label started off their partnership with France’s hitmaker DJ Snake and his own imprint, Premiere Classe Records. D’sa says there’s a “360 approach” that the label gives when they work with independent labels and artists. “What was missing I feel was the focus that an independent artist or label should get in India, not just about being deployed, but also getting the push on the marketing,” he says.

Even in the age of streaming and self-made digital music stars, D’sa believes that you can’t replace a label. He says, “It’s not about just putting up your music, who’s going to do the work beyond that? You don’t want your song sitting amongst 30 million tracks and not getting any attention.”

On May 2nd, 9122 Records worked with McDonald on her scintillating new song about togetherness, called “Money Maker.” The song also featured reggaeton duo Zion & Lennox from Puerto Rico. The singer-songwriter – who’s featured on tracks with EDM biggies such as Axwell and David Guetta – agrees that the world is “wanting more urban and Latin music,” but adds that “Money Maker” was written two years ago. In addition to the Indian label, “Money Maker” is certainly a global collaboration – involving McDonald in the U.K., Zion & Lennox from the Caribbean (working in Miami), French-Algerian producer Mourad Saadi aka Moox and Tahiti-origin French songwriter Ugo Benferta. McDonald says, “The idea for ‘Money Maker’ was to make a record where cultures collide, we started with the hook and the song seemed to write itself. It’s probably the most fun I’ve ever had in a writing session. It was like a party.”

For artists such as McDonald, perhaps the advantage of working with labels on a project basis is the ability to retain control of your copyright. The singer-songwriter owns the master for “Money Maker” and is also her own publisher and has a management company. “I’m signed under license which has its pros and cons, but at this stage in my career it’s important I have artistic control over my music. Being under license also means a lot of personal financial investment. The money I earn goes back into my business, from remixes to costumes, it’s a constant juggle,” she says. Her contribution to Axwell’s “Feel The Vibe” in 2005, while well-received and leading on to more singing offers, left her feeling “completely ripped off.” She adds, “I didn’t have management or a music publisher, I was just hustling in a business I didn’t fully understand and I guess they saw me coming!” McDonald is now finishing her debut full-length album First, that has been two years in the making.

As for 9122 Records, D’sa is spacing out the releases and doesn’t rule out bringing down some of the artists he’s working with for tours or one-off shows. He hints at forthcoming releases from French hip-hop artists, Latino acts and New Zealand bands, but doesn’t go into details. D’sa says he’s also looking out for local talent to get on board. He adds, “I think there are labels doing great stuff for Indian artists here and there’s some absolutely great talent out there. But I want to notch it up a level and collaborate with local talent and international talent and see what happens there. There’s so much more to do.”

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