Defected Records is a British record label influenced by US house. It was established by Simon Dunmore (previously the manager of the old AM:PM label) and Janet Bell in 1999. Having released records from the likes of Ministers De-La Funk, Hatiras and Bob Sinclar, Defected has gained recognition the world over for it's dedication to the house and garage music industry.
It would be hard right now to imagine house music without Defected Records. From a small office in Soho, the label has become a key player -perhaps even the key player- on the international dance music scene, attracting some of the greatest talents working in the industry, regularly trumping the majors with crossover hits and media attention, and never far from the boxes of the world's best DJs. In seven short years, the independent label has gone some way to achieving label boss Simon Dunmore's vision of an imprint worthy to stand aside the labels that inspired him, from Motown and Philly in the soul era to Strictly Rhythm.
The Defected Records story started when A&R man Dunmore and promotions specialist Janet Bell found themselves at a crossroads in their careers. They'd made a great success of running AM:PM, the dance division of A&M Records, and when the latter was taken over and closed by a multinational corporation with little sentiment for music, they decided they'd '...come to the end of the road with majors,' says Simon, who had also had several years of A&R work at Cooltempo under his belt, 'and it felt like the right time to do something for ourselves.' In essence, they 'defected'.
The first release, Soulsearcher 'I Can't Get Enough' was launched on January 1st 1999 and augured well for the fledgling company's health, going to no.8 in the national charts, demonstrating Dunmore's astute judgement of the dance market, and subsequent releases consistently achieved respectable chart placings, with the early Defected discography reading like a roll call of club classics: Powerhouse feat. Duane Harden 'What You Need', MAW feat. India 'To Be In Love', Paul Johnson 'Get Get Down', Eddie Amador 'Rise', Bob Sinclar 'Feel For You', ATFC feat. Lisa Millett 'Bad Habit', Kings of Tomorrow 'Finally' and so on, culminating in a no.1 hit with Roger Sanchez 'Another Chance' in July 2001.
Whereas some labels may have started to rest on their laurels by now, this no.1 hit actually inspired some changes at Defected: 'We weren't able to celebrate that success as much as I would have liked,' says Simon, '...because Roger had so many other obligations. It was at this point that I realised that to really capitalise on a hit record you need to develop your artists "in-house". If you're there right at the beginning you've more chance of still being there when the artist makes it big.'
Subsequent signings like Banda Sonorra [who had the the irresistible 'Guitarra G' a non-chart record that's hardly ever stopped being played in the clubs] and DJ Chus would re-appear with remixes for other signings, while diverse artists/producers like Bob Sinclar, DJ Gregory, Junior Jack, Martin Solveig, Dubtribe Sound System and Sandy Rivera have all followed unforgettable singles with well-received albums, proving Dunmore to be a man of his word: 'Whenever I ask someone to sign with us, I always get them to consider all the other artists who have stuck with us for so long already. That doesn't happen if you treat people badly. In some cases, I'm still working with people I've had a professional relationship with now now for over ten years.' Sandy Rivera, aka Kings of Tomorrow, perhaps represents the logical extension of this policy of nurturing talent. Following the runaway success of 'Finally' he moved to England and is now esconced [professionally anyway] in Defected's basement!
The label recently reached the landmark 100th release, and Dunmore chose to honour his roots in soul music by choosing Blaze featuring Barbara Tucker 'Most Precious Love' for the occasion. 'It's so representative of what Defected is all about. Blaze are classic house producers who I've always admired but not had the opportunity to work with enough before. Barbara Tucker is a great house vocalist, and Dennis Ferrer who did the mix is the new kid on the block, keeping the label looking towards the future. I'm very proud of it.'
The same philosophy is also exemplified by Eivissa '06, the latest instalment of Defected's hugely successful 'In The House' series. Whereas other releases in the series have represented artists/producers/DJs and franchises with whom Defected has a strong and sympathetic relationship -Joey Negro, DJ Gregory, Soulfuric, Soul Heaven etc.- Eivissa '06 is Defected In The House, pure and simple. Mixed by Simon, Eivissa conjures the spirit of Defected's Tuesday nights at Pacha Ibiza, with a mixture of new signings and stone classics.
Defected club nights now tour the world with DJ/artists on the roster representing the label under the 'Defected In The House' banner. The flagship nights were initially at the Ministry of Sound for three consecutive years and later at Pacha in London for a further year in 2005. During the summer of 05 the aforementioned Tuesday nights at its sister club in Ibiza, arguably the best and most renowned club in the world. This newly-formed relationship represents a tremendous step for the label, as well as offering a strong, more soulful alternative for clubbers to the harder sounds that have come to dominate on the island. It's proved a wildly popular and successful venture with some record breaking attendances in 06.
A sub-label, Fluential born early in 2002 and puts out some of the tougher, trackier, more tribal-tinged house that comes Defected's way, with a new artist roster and release schedule due soon. The In The House label is another offshoot, showcasing some of the key new tracks from the compilations. Diverse producers and remixers of the calibre of Dimitri From Paris, Kenny Dope, Danny Krivit and Jazzy Jeff have all given a taste of their talents with exclusive mixes of selections from the compilation albums, and these singles as singles have been perorming well with sales in excess of 600,000 units so far. Also added to the label roster in 2005 was BlackWiz, Sandy Rivera's original record label, Code Red, DJ Spens Baltimore imprint and Copyright Recordings headed by Sam Holt and Gavin Mills.
Other compilation series on Defected proper include the popular Most Rated compilations, geared towards the crossover market and crammed with current dance hits, and the new Connected series designed to give a wider profile to Defected artists through compilation albums in their name. The latter launches with Copyright and Jay J, in-demand producer/remixes whose work has already had a huge impact on the specialist scene.
Defected's achievements have regularly been lauded in the press and by the dance music industry itself. Recent recognition has come with the awards of Best Label and Best International Event at the UK's House Music Awards, and Best Global Dance Label at the International House Music Awards. In 2005 Defected was again rewarded for Best Label for the second time, adding to best club night to the trophies sitting on the mantelpiece.
Defected now stands in an almost unique position for an independent dance label, with a globally recognized brand that's synonymous with quality for the discerning clubber, an unparalleled roster of production talent and an ongoing programme of artist development, and a pivotal role in shaping the tastes of the market. It looks like Defected will be in the house for some time to come!
|Cardopusher - New Cult Fear LP on Boyznoise Recordings
Words by By J Gamp
|Various Artists - Cocoon Compilation Q on Cocoon Recordings
Words by By Angel Keene
|xxxy - TTY025 EP on Ten Thousand Yen
Words by By J Gamp
|Nancy Noise – Azzizi’s Dance (Andrew Weatherall Remixes) on Beyond Paradise Recordings
Words by By J Morris