We were able to catch up with James Xander, founder of Vibe Collective Records, who created the platform in 2019. Vibe Collective Records prides itself in being a haven for artists from all different genres and offers signed artists the tools necessary to make a name for themselves in the music industry.
We wanted to find out a little bit more about the collective and what it stands for ahead of their Brixton Jamm debut at the Heatwave Brixton: Day & Night Terrace Party w/ Route 94 where they will be hosting Room 2 and the Terrace.
So, James, tell us a little bit about the background of ‘Vibe Collective’.
James: Vibe came about back in 2019 whilst I was trying to get a night booked in a local club in my hometown of Rugby. The night was going to be called ‘Vibe’ and would have showcased talent from around the UK (at this point, I had no idea how I would get anyone who wasn’t local as my networking was nonexistent). Flash forward to March 2020 when COVID hit. It was a huge kick in the teeth, I had just played a gig the night before the venues closed and the atmosphere was full of eery unrest – you could tell that something huge was about to go down.
I was then faced with an ultimatum – does Vibe wait and see what happens or does Vibe become something else entirely? Many questions arose around Vibe’s future. However, the concept of starting an Instagram page, which could then be used as our social hub, came about. We wanted to promote DJs like me, who had never really played outside of a 20 mile radius from their home and deserved the same social media presence that the greats have.
How did Vibe develop from there?
Vibe was transformed into an online page that had little identity but a lot of potential. At this point, it was time to gather fellow DJs that were on a similar wavelength in order to create something big. The idea of making vibe bigger than anything else like it was the dream, but only one that was achievable if we stuck to our guns and maintained our enthusiasm – and that’s just what we did. Vibe became a team. We had 5 resident DJs who helped out with the socials as well as a weekly resident mix that kept the motivation alive for those struggling to mix throughout the first lockdown period. Alongside the resident mix, we also had a guest mix series. What really put us ‘on the map’, however, was ‘GIRLSGIRLSGIRLS’ – a women’s DJs mix series that attracted over 50 guest mixes from DJs such as AmyElle, Jodie Weston and so many more amazing women.
The aim was to create fresh content, and doing guest mix series all the time wasn’t quite cutting it. We needed fresh visual content, such as Instagram lives showing DJs in random locations in the UK and other creative promotional ideas that could highlight DJs with little to no fan-base.
How was ‘Vibe Collective’ as we know it today established?
As the community at vibe started to grow and we began to gain a decent following from our Instagram, it felt as though we had a family behind us. Every post and interaction was met with a ton of love and respect for what we were doing for the industry. At this point, we were feeling more like a ‘Collective’ than an events brand, especially considering that we hadn’t actually been able to put on an event due to COVID. Consequently, we re-branded. We wanted a name and logo that was going to be professional whilst also looking cracking on a t-shirt, and so we gave birth to ‘VIBE COLLECTIVE’ – the social platform for upcoming DJs worldwide. From there, we established ourselves amongst the masses and everyone had ‘Vibe Collective’ on the tip of their tongue whenever upcoming DJs and events were being mentioned.
What does the future hold for ‘Vibe Collective’?
From founding the label at the beginning of 2021 to playing events across London, we really hit the ground running and don’t intend on stopping. Vibe has brought, and will always bring, new and creative ideas to the table to help upcoming DJs rise through the ranks and showcase the talent that deserves to be showcased.
What is your ethos?
Our ethos is, and always has been, ‘Good Vibes Only’, which, although it may be the most cliche mantra, fits our team perfectly. Before hand selecting the team behind Vibe, it was important to choose those who are on the same wavelength and have the same ‘vibe’ as each other in order to create an amazing atmosphere in whatever we do.
Has there been anyone or anything in particular that has inspired you during this journey?
I think initially the inspiration came completely from my own personal traits. Inside and outside of music, I am a super giving person and seeing people, like myself, struggling to get noticed within the industry made me realise that I wasn’t alone. It can cause a lot of havoc on your mental health as an upcoming DJ – whether it’s not getting booked for a gig for months (or at all) or watching others from your hometown shoot to success overnight, you start to think “why not me? What am I not doing?” It’s simple – it’s a case of the law of attraction. If you want something so badly, you get it. Vibe was born out of a complete passion to promote upcoming DJs and give them the platform that I didn’t have. If nobody was going to book me, I’ll just book myself!
Overtime, however, it is all of the amazing DJs that we have onboard who inspire me – the network of DJs we’ve created over the last 12 months has been incredible. Everyone is in the same boat – we’re all working towards the same goal of playing the top venues and I love seeing each and every single DJs successes.
The support from established DJs has also been huge! Sam Divine specifically has been a great inspiration to us – her aura, positivity and everything she represents has had a huge influence on Vibe when sourcing ideas and when we’re at our lowest points. The support she has provided has been incredible (so Sam, if you’re reading this, big up yourself!).
In what way do you think that you have changed the music scene?
I’m not sure if it’s big headed to say, but when we initially started we didn’t see much of the same. However, if you look on Instagram today, there are loads more events/brands that are doing exactly what Vibe did in the beginning. We’ve had several brands that we’ve supported or given ideas to in the last few months and that feels super good. This isn’t us saying that we’re “superior” but to be able to help out brands that are currently in the same position we were once in is such an incredible feeling – shout out to all those brands who are just starting out or are half way through the journey. I do think we were at the start of the trend of brands creating social platforms for upcoming DJs and it feels good to know we’ve supported DJs that have gone on to do great things.
Our virtual events ave also raised over £1,000 for mental health charities and highlighting the need for more women DJs on event lineups has helped massively. If there is one thing we’re really proud of, it is the network of women DJs that we’ve created. Hearing stories of women DJs meeting through sets they did for Vibe, or through watching and supporting each other’s streams is such a good feeling.
What makes you different?
This is a question I love because Vibe could be considered to be identical to many event brands out there. What people don’t see however, (until they’ve read this exact part of this specific interview) is that what makes Vibe different is what happens behind the scenes. Vibe is ran through love and passion for DJs by DJs. Not only this, but our transparency, our mantra and everything else in between really puts us into our own category. Some are out for money or fame, but so far – and I’m happy to put this out in the open – everything Vibe has done has been for free (pre-events). I’m sure a lot of people would think that I am crazy to have been doing this for so long and not have earned a penny from it. This is where the passion comes in – if you’re willing to work for it, money will come in time but it’s the passion that always comes first.
Vibe Collective will be hosting Room 2 and Terrace at our Heatwave Day & Night Party w/ Route 94 on Saturday 14th August – get your tickets now to watch him in action!