Interview with:

Renan Yildizdogan

Gypsy Soul Records

Tell us about Gypsy Soul Records and what made you decide to start it.

I got my start in the industry many moons ago as a musician. In 2009, my band Stone River signed a deal with a major indie shortly after our debut release. I found out very quickly that even the labels were as confused as the artists about the future of the record industry and how to make a buck. Physical sales were dropping, the streaming model was fairly new, the strategies around managing and marketing a release were evolving every day. I decided in order to succeed, I needed to have a basic understanding of everything that is “the music business”. I also didn’t want to rely on others to make the right decisions for my career.

I took a 2-year program in Music Business at Berklee College of Music which only increased my appetite to know more. At the time, I was working 3 jobs. I was a radio tracker 9:00-3:00, a booking agent 3:00-10:00, and a musician on the weekends. After a gruesome year working for others and making minimum wage, the connections I made as a musician and the knowledge I gained working in the industry allowed me to set up my own record label. Fast forward 7 years and I’m still learning new things every day and enjoying every minute of it. To me, the music industry is very much like the wild west and to persevere, you need a whole lot of faith in yourself and your artists as well as a genuine love and care for what you do. Everyone at the label is very passionate about what we do and I feel very lucky. What a time to be alive.

What would you say makes Gypsy Soul unique and what are you most proud of accomplishing with the label?

Gypsy Soul is actually a label run by artists. Being on both the business and artistic sides of the music industry provides us with a unique perspective, which helps us keep our ears close to the ground anchored by an in-depth knowledge of the current landscape. We love what we do…believe in working hard… and following both our instincts and our hearts. Throughout the years, we have run many college radio campaigns and charted countless releases on college radio charts. This year, our first soul release by “Samantha Martin & Delta Sugar” had 8 songs in the Top 30 Soul Blues Radio charts at one time. It was the result of countless hours of phone calls and emails over 3 months leading up to the release. We are very proud of the work we did and the results.

Tell us a bit about the career path that led to where you are now.

I think Robert Frost already summed it up for me when he wrote… “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled by.”

What job do you think you would you be doing if you weren’t running Gypsy Soul?

I can’t think of anything else that I’d be doing. I was never one for Plan Bs. In a parallel universe, I’d love to be a marine zoologist.

What band/artist outside the realm of college/indie music would people be surprised to hear you love?

I spent 13 years in Turkey and 4 years in Singapore. I love Turkish classical music. My guilty pleasure for a while was traditional Chinese folk.

What destination would you most like to visit and why?

Throughout my life, I have traveled quite a bit. I love the wild and experiencing different cultures. I’d love to visit Borneo and the Amazon one day.

You just won a million dollars. What are you going to do with it?

Buy into NACC then fly to Borneo for a month. 🙂

What is/are your current favorite TV obsession(s)?  What is the best movie you’ve seen so far this year?

To be honest, I have very little time for TV. I don’t even have cable at home. “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing” is the best movie I have seen so far this year.

When friends/family come to Toronto, what is your favorite restaurant you take them to?

Rodneys for seafood, Milagro for Mexican, La Payette or Le Select Bistro for French. Woodlot and Beast for Canadian Fusion.

You’re stranded on a desert island. What five well known people (dead or alive) would you like to have there with you?

I need to live. Biologist and night time story teller: David Attenborough, a doctor: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, someone who’s going to wrestle fierce creatures: Steve Irwin, someone smart: Albert Einstein, and I also need a shelter so I think I’ll have Frank Lloyd Wright build it.