Published May 01, 2005Headquarters: Toronto, ON
Date of Birth: 2002
Releases to Date: 13
Biggest Sellers: Afrodizz, Kif Kif; Keb Darge presents Funk for the 21st Century; Ivana Santilli "Breathe Inn (Moonstarr remix)" twelve-inch
Upcoming Releases: Ready Or Not: Deep Jazz Grooves From the CBC Radio Canada Archive 1967-1977; Feist "Gatekeeper" (Do Right! Remix)" seven-inch; Kaje "Nothing's Changing" twelve-inch
If you want something done right, you should do it yourself. This oft-repeated maxim is one that John Kong has taken to heart. As the sole person behind his label, Do Right!, Kong has been releasing a diverse array of music from Afrobeat to house to dance floor jazz to hip-hop. A veritable jack-of-all-trades, Kong is also a club promoter, remixer, producer, flyer designer and DJ in Toronto's Movement collective. It was spinning in clubs that led him to starting his own label, which evolved out of a club night also named Do Right! Unsurprisingly, the releases on the label strongly reflect Kong's own tastes and records he may play himself; his status as a top-notch selector is gaining his label a reputation for releasing quality music, whatever the genre, both at home and abroad.
With the label's releases featuring progressive electronic, broken beat, and bossa nova, Kong readily admits the label's underground appeal and is comfortable with this status. However, this music has a global network and appeal that Kong has tapped into. Indeed the first release on Do Right! was Keb Darge presents Funk for the 21st Century, a compilation by the world-renowned Scottish deep funk vinyl junkie. Benefiting from Darge's cachet, the album resonated in Japan, Europe and the UK, where Kong frequently travels to DJ and where the label has a distribution deal with Kudos Records. These territories have continued to prove to be the most successful for the label. "It was successful, it sold really well worldwide, except for Canada," Kong says.
The relative lack of domestic success and support has not deterred Kong. Indeed, Do Right! has released albums by Montreal Afrobeat band Afrodizz, Toronto hip-hop crew Circle Research and the Required Listening compilation, which featured artists exclusively from Toronto. Currently on deck is a volume of rare and obscure Canadian jazz culled and licensed from the CBC archives, as well a seven-inch remix of Feist's "Gatekeeper" that will also be available on clear vinyl in Canada through the label's new distribution relationship with Outside Music. "I'm optimistic," says Kong. "I guess the focus for me right now is not to try to be successful in any particular territory; I want to promote Canadian artists to a global market."
To the Left
With the label issuing seven-inch and twelve-inch vinyl as well as albums, Kong decided to start Left of the Dial, a subsidiary label that addresses the format and stylistic differences. "It's just a label that focuses more on electronic , house, techno and leftfield stuff," says Kong.
"Do Right! is left to some people, but for me that's not enough. I see Do Right! sort of becoming more like the album-based artist-based record label. With Left of the Dial it's pretty focused on more twelve-inch, DJ focused, groove-oriented, dance floor sound." Toronto-based Basic Soul Unit and Stephane Vera are the first artists that will emerge on
Despite the eclectic nature of the releases, there is a unifying ethos of quality over quantity that guides what is stamped with the Do Right! imprint. "Everything has to be right," says Kong. "I wouldn't go and remix somebody I wouldn't like. I wouldn't do something to sell records that I don't believe in. You have to convince yourself before you convince other people. And at this point when I've convinced myself that it's good and I put out what I think is good, hopefully people will agree with me." Kong is heavily involved with all the releases, however he does commission artists to design artwork to match the mood of the music, while he handles all the administrative work on contracts and accounting, and occasionally contributes his own remixes and production. "You should do what you love. This is what I love. I'll do anything to make it happen and if I have all these great artists that willing to work with me, how can I say no?"