Fieldwerk Recordings

Label Q&A: Fieldwerk Recordings

Fieldwerk Recordings
Location: Chicago, IL
Year founded: 2009
Releases to date: 8

Maker & Joe Beats: Falcon by Design

Maker & Joe Beats: Falcon by Design (Fieldwerk, 5/24/11)

Joe Beats: “Spring”

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Maker: “Owner”

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David Humphries had only one goal in mind when he moved to Chicago from South Carolina: to start a record label. Specializing in instrumental hip hop, Fieldwerk Recordings was born in June of 2009 when Humphries (a.k.a. Crushcon7) produced his own tracks on the label. This connected him with other like-minded musicians with roots in Chicago, and now the modest label is celebrating its second anniversary.

Fieldwerk’s roster includes notable producers such as Joe Beats, Maker, Void Pedal, and Zavala, whose collaborative credits include Onry Ozzborn (Dark Time Sunshine/Grayskul), JFK (Grayskul), Qwel, and I Self Divine. Recently, the label has garnered attention in local publications such as the Chicago Reader, Centerstage Chicago, and even the Chicago Tribune, and the rest of the US is starting to catch up with what Fieldwerk has to offer. We spoke with Humphries to get the scoop on pending projects and the future of the label.

What was the impetus for launching Fieldwerk?

I’ve always been a beat-maker, and one of the things I’ve always wanted to do is start a record label. I moved [to Chicago on] January 1, 2003, and the whole time I was making beats. I worked on a project or two that never came out, and then eventually, I just to a point where I was ready to put some things out. I did a couple of songs and did a seven-inch, and that’s kind of how it started.

Several years before, I met Zavala, and we became really good friends and would go digging for records and stuff. Through Alex (Zavala), I met Void Pedal like a week later and started to build some really good relationships with those guys — good friendships. We’re all beat-makers, and we just kind of bounced ideas off of each other. At the time, Alex was working on a project with Sleep from Old Dominion, and Void Pedal was just workin’ on beats just like I was workin’ on beats, and we all just kind of came together. I was surrounded by a lot of talented guys. We’re all in it together; we’re a crew, and those guys motivate me a lot.

Qwel & Maker

The Groove Seeker: Qwel & Maker’s Owl

On a weekly basis, The Groove Seeker goes in search of killer grooves across rock, funk, hip hop, soul, electronic music, jazz, fusion, and more.

Qwel & Maker: OwlQwel & Maker: Owl (Galapagos4, 9/14/10)

Qwel & Maker: “Letting Life Pass By”


Although Chicago’s underground hip-hop scene has roads that point back separately to both MC Qwel and DJ Maker, their partnership has helped them reach audiences beyond the confines of the city’s gridded streets.

Qwel gained an underground following starting in Chicago’s south-side neighborhood of Hyde Park as a founding member of the Typical Cats in the late ’90s. Between periods of work on Typical Cats material, he has released several projects that enlist fellow artists at Galapagos4, the indie label that has put out nearly 20 Qwel releases since 2001.  That expansive list becomes larger with Qwel and Maker’s third record together, Owl.