A New York City-based entertainment company is celebrating ten years of business and growth with the launch of a compilation album.
Founded in 2011, True Groove is led by Tomás Doncker (Founder/CEO/Producer), Marla Mase (COO/Head of A&R) and James Dellatacoma (Chief Engineer/Producer). Doncker had been producing records on his own through Sony and had produced music for Mase in the past, and recommended that Mase work with Dellatacoma on her music.
It was also after the recommendation of Bill Laswell, bassist and record producer, that the sparks for True Groove started to come to fruition because Dellatacoma had worked with Laswell in the past as well. He put us together and started working.”
“Bill was ‘the guy’ in the industry that I admired and looked up to,” said Doncker. “Bill had a vision beyond what others could have imagined. He put us together
“When Bill mentioned James, Tomas moved over there. True Groove became more of bringing together artists,” said Mase.
The trio runs the company like a well-oiled machine. No one person makes a decision without running it by the other two, and they are all united in their goal to create meaningful, powerful art.
True Groove has a house band that plays on a number of the albums they produce, including vocalist/percussionist Mark Henry. What sets True Groove apart from other labels is how collaborative they are.
“We have the best band on the planet,” said Doncker. “These guys are just incredible, versatile, stellar. We want this like a modern-day motown.”
“Each person’s role makes the label function. We all play together on each other’s records and live. That’s how True Groove kind of functions,” said Dellatacoma. “That’s why we existed for 10 years, between the three of us, everybody contributes such good thought to how we do stuff. It’s not one person trying to run the label, which could cause a crash and burn. We rely on the intelligence of everyone. We look back at everything and it’s well produced, we surround ourselves with good people that help us understand our goal.”
“We lead in the culture you create. When you run a business, you have to create a culture that fits with who you are,” said Mase. “Having integrity and certain beliefs,and what it means to be an artist in this world, that we’re a family, it’s all very interlocked and connected while on a professional level.”
Fast forward a few years and True Groove has a bunch of records under its belt. That’s when Doncker made the realization that the company can go beyond the traditional scope of producing records.
“One night I woke up late, sometime after midnight, and had an epiphany. I called Marla and said ‘We are out of the music business!’” said Doncker. “She said, ‘What? You have my attention.’ I said ‘We are out of the music business. We are in the art and culture business!’ In this modern template, the principles in which we view music are generally not applied. Art and culture is forever. Streaming is a part of art and culture. We started shifting the lens of how we approached True Groove.”
As a result, True Groove started to shift into producing theater as well as live shows for Mase’s music and for SummerStage. The company has also produced NYC-based director Dylan Greenberg’s latest film.
“Without even thinking about it – we are always involved in something – the ten years went by so fast. It felt like we started this yesterday,” said Dellatacoma.
“We’re always on to the next thing, so it’s hard to stop for a second and take a pause and give yourself a pat on the back. We’re always thinking about the next thing, we just like to do work,” said Mase.
In celebration of their upcoming 10-year anniversary, True Groove is launching a compilation album “2020 Vision: A True Groove Compilation.” The album features songs by artists under True Groove’s label, including Mase herself.
The album features the following tracks:
- “Scam”-by Touchy Feely
- “Real Hip Hop”-by 1/2 Pint
- “Change” (The AMPlified Remix)by Tomás Doncker & Amp Fiddler
- “Zombies”-by Sam Huber
- “Rosy Colored Glasses”-by Kismet Lyles
- “Superhero”-by Marla Mase
- “Mr. Big Man”-by Regina Bonelli
- “Kings Of Everything”-by Kevin Jenkins
- “2020”-by Son Of Bazerk (Ft. Michael “Kidd Funkadelic” Hampton
“We decided because it was 10 years, we felt like we needed to put together a united “this is what we do, this is our artists” sort of album to show the diversity of it,” said Mase. “In some way we can show that it is positive, everything is so divisive these days.”
While the pandemic halted a lot of businesses this year, the artists at True Groove never stopped creating music or art.
“We were producing music during a pandemic. It slowed down to where we couldn’t work in the same room but people were still creating,” said Dellatacoma. “We were putting together what sounded like great music in a time with pandemic and political stuff. Our artists are creating and there’s no slowing down there. We’re still creating music, it’s still a good cap for the decade.”
This compilation album is the first of three that are slated to be released by the end of 2020. The second album will be all covers and will feature songs recorded by Doncker, Mase and Dellatacoma, as well as recordings from other artists on the label, while the third album will be dedicated to global soul.
“Back in the day, you put out the record, and that’s the record,” said Doncker. “To remarket it was a major undertaking so people shied away from it, it was more work than it was worth. Now you can shuffle the deck, use different artwork – it’s brand new there.”
So what does the future hold for True Groove? The team hopes that in the next 10 years True Groove can produce more theater (once it’s safe to do so again), get involved in long-form television and possibly collaborate with their favorite artists.
“The empire is expanding,” said Doncker.