Marvin "Seven" Bedard remembers digging on the massive record collection one of his best friends, producer Edgar Farinas (aka Push Button Objects), inherited from his uncle way back when. The vinyl haul—which included Throbbing Gristle, Detroit techno, Kraftwerk, PIL, and Factory Records releases—provided an early education for both Bedard and Farinas. "He was being influenced by that and mixing it with hip-hop," Bedard recalls. "We were into all of that stuff together."
Bedard, 34, is quick to drop the names of artists who motivated him early on. His reverence for British electro duo Autechre, which he describes as the "next level of the Miami bass subculture," is paired with a fixation on Aphex Twin and Rephlex Records. And though he doesn't want those early influences to solely define the aesthetic he established with Chocolate Industries, the respect is still palpable.
"It was the beats," he tells me. "The beats were serious."
Chocolate Industries was born in Miami, taking its name from an area of Miami dubbed "Chocolate City." It was the result of Bedard's early work with Isophlux and Schematic, a pair of pioneering North American IDM (intelligent dance music) labels that were established in the early to mid-90s. With Chocolate Industries, Bedard looked to further mutate electro, splicing it with hip-hop, rock, and soul in an attempt to cultivate the label's own sound.
"Isophlux was my launching point," Bedard tells me of the label he cofounded with Shad T. Smith. "But I felt it was important to have my own thumbprint."
During the label's short time in Miami, Bedard began his collaboration with Push Button Objects and put out a handful of releases. The label's move to Chicago wasn't a planned one—Bedard has no qualms about admitting he came here because of a girl—but he's glad it happened.
"There was just so much more in Chicago anyway," he says. "It's a blue-collar city, and work gets done here. Plus, you can actually get around on its transit system. There's one train line in Miami that goes north and south."
Chocolate Industries' catalog is now almost 80 releases deep—including albums by the Cool Kids, Lady Sovereign, Diverse, Ghislain Poirier, and a recent Electronic Soul comp—meaning it's done its most popular work since moving to the midwest. Bedard tells me things got a little hairy when he went full-time after getting fired from his day job, but by then Chocolate Industries' body of work was deep enough to keep the label afloat. It wasn't easy, though.
"A lot of times you put up so much money for a record that even if the money that it's making back triples, the artist is recouping and you're kind of living off a couple hundred dollars here and there," Bedard explains. "I worked hard enough in the beginning, so now I don't have to put out a record all the time anymore. I can let money come in and chill."
Don't expect glamour, though. And don't expect hit machines that go platinum.
"I feel like it's a journey I'm still on," he says. "I don't want to do this label forever, and I'm not going to do it forever. But it's never going to go anywhere, it's not being sold—it's my project that I started as a kid."