Interviews

Sports Records Celebrates Its Sixth Year the Only Way It Knows How

Sports Records isn't your average house music party.
Sports Records isn't your average house music party. Photo by Marco Coelho/Courtesy of Sarah Tonin
"6 Years, 9 Releases, 42 Parties, 75+ Artists, 100k+ Plays, Immeasurable Good Times," reads the caption for Sports Records' upcoming show at Floyd.

What's so special about an anniversary for a local record label? After all, the Magic City has a plethora of labels, most of which boast healthy résumés.

But what sets the vinyl-only label apart from the deluge of others is the chemistry shared between friends, a penchant for all things housegood house — and the ability to adapt through trial and error.

"Historically, our anniversary parties are our biggest," Sports cofounder Kyle Parker says. "We go over the top and curate something special from the artists to changing the decor of the room, and we've been shifting from quality over quantity recently."

On Saturday, July 23, attendees can expect a party among friends. Sports thrives on the many shades of house music: some old, some new, some fast, others slow. The event is a collaborative effort with party series and record label Sarah Tonin.

Parker and cofounder Jacob Friedland will warm up the room for the night's headliners, Los Angeles' Liquid Earth and Toronto's Ciel, who's making her Miami debut.

"We're super stoked. We had Liquid Earth play with us before at Floyd and the Electric Pickle," says Michael Bird, the label's other partner. "There is a good synergy between the two artists. Liquid Earth has a lot of good '90s house and breaks, and Ciel plays some trance [and] rave music. It's going to be a wide spectrum."

Sports Record started in 2016 when Bird, Friedland, and Parker, along with Will Cormier and Daniel Edenburg (AKA Brother Dan), met in school and through the city's dance music scene.

"We were all DJ'ing around different cities as well as Miami while also figuring out how to put out music and be productive," Bird explains.

After finding their footing in Miami, the group wanted to give a boost to the kind of house music they loved.
"We sat around the table figuring out how to release the music we've been making," Parker adds. "You're shooting in the dark by thinking you're going to get on your favorite label with a song you like if you're a nobody. We knew little about throwing the parties, let alone pressing vinyl or the releasing and distribution."

There were growing pains, but the collective pressed its first release in record time. The summer of 2016 saw Sports drop a four-track EP by Clyde Corley and Parker of house and ambient music.

All that was left to do was to spread the word about Sports Record.

"We should do a record-release party," Parker recalls about the group's mindset. "We were way over our heads, but six years later and now we've done over 40 parties, bookings around the world, and our core group is still intact with our own side projects."

As the label grew, it started working with Berlin's Off the Grid Records for distribution and Mother Tongue in Italy to press vinyl. From starting with around 300 pressings, Sports can now quickly sell out of 1,200 copies in record time.

"Whether it's a big name or a little name, if it's the right song and the music is good, we do it," Parker says. "But we've gotten a little more critical thinking about music and seeing what is good. I'm not saying anything we've put out has been bad, but the early releases felt rushed."

Parker sees each Sports release as a move forward in terms of quality.

"Everyone has gotten better and better with the parties," Friedland adds. "When we first started, there really weren't many promoters with our sound."

It took a while for Miami to catch up to the label, with Sports' early parties barely attracting crowds in the double digits — a far cry from last year's anniversary party, which saw ATV Records at capacity.

"One of the first parties we did was with DJ Masda in 2016," Bird remembers. "The owner ended up kicking off Masda so she could play. It was hilarious in hindsight, but we had to do what we could at that time. We learned so much."

For the team behind Sports Records, the anniversary party isn't about waxing nostalgic about the past six years. Instead, it's an opportunity to show how much the label has grown.

"I think the [label's] future [is to] just keep releasing on a continuing basis. The vinyl shortage is insane right now, which is something to take into consideration, but just keep being consistent," Parker says. "Bigger doesn't always mean better — just quality music and quality parties."

Liquid Earth and Ciel. With Jacob and Kyle. 11 p.m. Saturday, July 23, at Floyd, 40 NE 11th St., Miami; 305-608-2824; floydmiami.com. Tickets cost $14.80 via dice.fm.
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Grant Albert is a writer born and raised in Miami. He likes basset hounds, techno, and rock climbing — in that order.
Contact: Grant Albert