As head of one of the world’s longest running and most influential record labels, Simon Dunmore’s legacy is already assured. The man behind Defected has cultivated a unique position within the dance music industry, being one of very few who can lay claim to have spearheaded an independently run label that has a list of successes and achievements to rival most of the majors.
As a DJ his prowess and knowledge of house music is unsurpassed and he has maintained long-standing relationships with some of the dance scene’s biggest names including Dennis Ferrer, MK, Sandy Rivera, Masters At Work, Osunlade, Dimitri From Paris, Copyright, Mr. G, Roger Sanchez, Bob Sinclar and many more. Over the years he has signed hits like Bob Sinclar's 'Love Generation' and 'World, Hold On'; Kings of Tomorrow’s seminal ‘Finally’ as well as Dennis Ferrer's 'Hey Hey', the ubiquitous 'Coma Cat' by Tensnake and, more recently, MK’s huge remix of ‘Look Right Through’ by Storm Queen, which topped the UK charts, right through to Lee Walker’s crossover hit with DJ Deeon, ‘Freak Like Me’.
Established in 1999 (initially in partnership with Ministry of Sound), Defected Records’ success was immediate; their very first release – Soulsearcher’s ‘I Can’t Get Enough’ – reached No.8 in the UK singles charts, laying the foundation for the label's future successes and musical direction. Soon after came a No.1 single in the shape of Roger Sanchez's 'Another Chance', and the hits have continued to flow, placing Simon in a unique position of authority in the industry. In fact, his years of hard work were acknowledged at the International Music Summit (IMS) in Ibiza in 2012, when he picked up the Outstanding Achievement award.
Simon’s formula as head of Defected is simple and effective; adaptability, a keen eye for young talent, uncompromising standards and an unerring sense of loyalty to dance music’s history. These values have helped Defected to amass an avid following of diverse fans who love what the label stands for. This following also encompasses the sub-label DFTD, which supports the next generation of up-and-coming underground producers, and various other sub-labels.
“Young people are migrating from the commerciality of dance music, the more underground techno side can often be too serious, so there’s room in what you might call the discernable side of house, and that’s where we’re at” says Simon. The way in which electronic music has exploded and evolved in recent times has undoubtedly benefitted the label, but it’s Simon’s leadership that has kept Defected on top and continuously moving forward in the right direction.
In 1989, while working as a music journalist and record store employee, he was offered a position as a Promotions Manager at Cooltempo, the dance division of Chrysalis Records, before progressing into A&R, and eventually going on to run A&M’s dance imprint AM:PM. There he delivered many hits for the label, including monsters like ‘Free’ by Ultra Nate, ‘Give Me Love’ by Alcatraz and ‘Ultra Flava’ by Heller & Farley Project. By 1999 he’d become disillusioned with major labels and set about injecting all the knowledge he’d acquired into his own platform and so Defected was launched on January 1st, 1999.
In 2014 the label celebrated 15 years in the business with a huge global tour, commemorated with a cover feature in the world’s biggest dance music magazine, Mixmag, and a complete overhaul of the label’s branding, directed by renowned designer Trevor Jackson. The label tour took in a mind-boggling list of top festivals and club spaces including; Avalon (Los Angeles), Womb (Tokyo), Watergate (Berlin), Air (Amsterdam), Pacha (Sydney) and UK festivals Global Gathering and We Are FSTVL, plus many more.
Simon’s qualifications go beyond label owner, music curator and A&R. His dexterity, technical ability as a DJ and unprecedented knowledge of dance music informs all of his professional life, thanks to 25+ years behind the decks. He is clear in his admiration and respect for the art and psychology of DJing, becoming more and more passionate about passing on his experience to the next generation, as he believes education is key to the well-being of the dance scene. Recently Simon has joined forces with London’s Point Blank Music School to provide unique teaching opportunities for young people working towards a career in the music business.
Artist management is a key aspect of the industry that he is particularly keen on investing his time and energy into. The expertise and reach Defected offers will undoubtedly give any artist a huge boost, providing a solid platform for their careers to progress.
On top of all of this, Simon’s other venture, Glitterbox, will again play host this year to the legendary Terrace at Space Ibiza on Friday nights, for the last ever season of the iconic club. Along with an appearance at We Are FSTVL, Glitterbox will also host nights at Ministry of Sound, Motion (Bristol) and release its fourth Ibiza compilation, selected and mixed by Simon himself.
“We started Glitterbox because people regularly asked: ‘Where can we go? Everything’s either techno or super, super commercial and VIP’, and Ibiza seemed to have forgotten about what made Ibiza special in the early days, music being eclectic. We offer something, musically, alternative to what else is being offered on the island.”
So Simon and the label continue their forward motion, adapting, evolving and paving their own way in a business where few enterprises have lasted so long while maintaining their integrity. It’s an approach that continues to put Simon and his work a step ahead of the rest, resulting in 17 years of outstanding, inspired house music and momentous parties that never fail to outdo themselves year on year.