Meet Alex Esser: Entrepreneur, DJ, HMWL Label Boss

House Music With Love - Alex Esser on Fluence

Alex is the co-founder of the electronic label and music blog HMWL, which is part of the VICE music blog network. His entrepreneurial background has intertwined closely with music and technology throughout. He’s now the Marketing Director in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark for the streaming music service Deezer.

Read our interview with Alex below to learn more about his passion for DJing and emerging artists, his advice for musicians, and his favorite artists right now.

You founded HMWL in 2008 – how did it all start?

Honestly, we were two students just goofing around. We run a club night during that time and started a simple music blog where we posted some of our favorite tracks, DJ-sets and would promote our events.

Latest HMWL Set

Over the years it turned into a much more serious music blog. Our main priority today is to write about up-and-coming electronic producers who deserve more attention. We also try to focus more on Nordic Electronic music, featuring nordic producers at least 30% of the times. The blog is quite niche for semi-underground electronica and deep house, on a busy week we get around 5,000 unique visitors on the site. We also get 30+ promo emails every day; we try to read them all.

In 2014 we started HMWL recordings. It came quite naturally as we kept receiving some fantastic demos once in a while among those 30 promos per day. So creating a label empowers us to release the music we believe in 110%. The first EP is approaching 600,000 streams on the streaming platforms and HMWL002 and HMWL003 are to be released in early 2015.

Daytime I’m the Deezer MD for Sweden, Denmark and Norway. Working with music both day and night is really like a dream come true. I think I’m the most happy guy in Sweden right now 🙂

Favorite artists right now?

I want to promote my fellow Swedes: Axel Boman, HNNY, Dorisburg and 1987 are the four main Swedish electronic music geniuses at the moment. Also make sure to keep an eye on these Swedes: Ascorbite aka Edgar Ariza, Gin & Gin, Manifest, MAAL, Rimbaudian, Somoah, Martin Emmes, Slätten, Gidge, Swim, Josefine Hellström HanssonWe Are Legends and last but not least Just.Pau aka Pauline Högberg. These are the next generation ready to blow up.

Advice for musicians and artists in the digital age?

Make quality music without compromise. Spend those 10,000 hours in the studio doing that. Then, make sure to invest either time or money (preferably both) in promoting your tracks. Either by yourself or find a good label / PR agency that can help you find your fans. Bad production won’t fly no matter how much you invest into promotion.

Great music still needs a bit of good PR to reach the right audience in the age of abundance.

Getting your music out on the blogs is a great, free and easy way to make it heard. Make sure to keep your emails short, clean and always include 1 press photo, Soundcloud previews and a short press-text about yourself.

What’s new and upcoming for yourself and HMWL?Alex Esser on Fluence

Currently I’m taking life very slow being on paternity leave with my 1-year old daughter until the end of february. It’s really nice to be focused on just one person. A bit like a detox from my otherwise multitasking lifestyle.

The HMWL002 by South Korean Rust & Dust and and HMWL003 by Swedish MAAL are hitting the stores in Q1 2015. We are preparing a few more releases and also starting a sub-label called Recordings With Love which will release a bit more “daytime electronica” rather than club tracks.

We have the pleasure of presenting you the newest pre-release Rust & Dust track soon to be available in January on HMWL. Listen to the contagious sneak preview of ‘Gaje‘ below to get a feel for what’s soon to come on HMWL.

You can find Alex’s Fluence profile here, and see more people we love on Fluence here.

DJs on Fluence | Music Tech Experts | Music Blogs on Fluence


Meet Bruno Natal


At Fluence we’re bringing all kinds of creators together with people who can help them with feedback and exposure, and we can’t wait to share one of the latest people to join!

Bruno Natal on Fluence

Bruno Natal is a documentary filmmaker, co-founder of We Demand, and music writer with contributions for Vice, Spin, Urbe, and XLR8R. He is a passionate advocate of crowdfunding and new technologies, and we’re excited to bring you an interview with his latest thoughts on journalism, tech, and filmmaking.

You co-founded the innovative platform We Demand – a place where fans can go to show their support for future live events from their favorite artists. What was the inspiration and story behind the idea?

The whole idea is to connect fans and artists and give complete control of this relationship to the artists. We want to help them communicate with all of their fans for free, whenever they want. We started this as fans, trying to get bands we liked to play in Rio, where we are originally from. Most of them were skipping Rio on their tours to Brazil simply because no promoter was willing to try it out. Rio can be a very tricky market, with the weather playing a huge role in determining if people will go out at night.

We Demand - Fluence Blog

We knew that there were enough fans that, like ourselves, were tired of having to travel elsewhere to watch these shows. We then decided to get all of these people to crowdfund the shows and it worked! 80+ shows after that first one, we expanded to the US and became a platform to help artists connect to their fans by simply asking fans where they want to see artists play. They can then use this channel to sell tickets, make announcements or even crowdfund concerts in certain markets.

You directed and produced the wildly successful documentary film ‘Dub Echoes‘ – what inspired you to trace the origins and influence of Jamaican dub on modern-day electronic and hip-hop music?

The love for dub music, period. Chico Dub, the doc’s researcher, and I are big dub heads, and we always felt outraged for how little recognition it has gotten for the important role it has played in contemporary music history. With that in mind we just picked up a camera and went on a journey to interview everyone we thought was relevant to tell this story with no budget or proper production.

We talked to almost everyone we aimed for. Turns out that mentioning the word “dub” and “Brazil” in the same sentence is some sort of magic key to open those heavy doors. The film made it into a lot of respected festivals and eventually got a DVD release by Soul Jazz Records (a label we love), which cemented the whole journey quite well. My dream is to have a director’s cut on its ten year anniversary, with all the archived BBC footage we couldn’t afford back then – to make it perfect.

As a contributor to high-profile magazines such as Vice, Spin, Urb, and XLR8R, what counsel would you give to up-and-coming writers and content curators looking to pursue their passions further?

As a journalist, above all, I have always written about things I care about. This is one of the perks of being a freelancer; you get to pick your stories (to a minimum degree, at least). Researching and writing about what you like can make for better stories and it eases out the hard work in a way.

After deciding what story you want to tell, the next step is finding which publications to pursue. This is very important, both to not waste anyone’s time (yours and the editor’s) and also to be able to come through with something you like without having to “re-shape” the story too much in order to fit somebody else’s needs. With that sorted out, you would be surprised how far a simple email can go. Pitching the right story to the right editor in the right publication takes the luck factor out of the equation – but most of the times, you will always need a bit of luck.

What are some of your favorite websites or resources for finding fresh music, ideas, and film?

I like reading blogs, hundreds of them. By going directly to them instead of using RSS feeds, I then dig deeper when I see something I like. Also, I love to use Soundcloud and Spotify to be kept in the know in terms of new releases. Bandcamp is another great source, but nothing beats getting that odd tip from someone you know. That’s when you get to find sounds that no algorithm would be able to suggest to you.

Do you have any exciting news for upcoming projects?

I’m totally focused on We Demand now, and things are starting to happen. It’s very exciting times for us!

We Demand - Fluence Blog

You can send your media to Bruno on Fluence here, and don’t forget to add it to the Fluence network here to kickstart your feedback and exposure with digital media experts and curators on Fluence.

Feedback and Exposure For Your Media