Label Focus: Defected - - Mixmag

Label Focus: Defected

How Defected became one of the most important house music labels of all time

  • Sean Griffiths
  • 17 January 2017

Back in the late 90s, Simon Dunmore was one of the most respected A&R men in the business. In his role at London label AM:PM, he’d been instrumental in breaking records such as ‘Free’ by Ultra Naté and ‘Give Me Luv’ by Alcatraz. But when the label was subject to a takeover by PolyGram and the axe of redundancy started swinging, Simon decided it was time to go it alone. Just one glance at Defected’s initial run of releases will tell you why he, along with label co-founder Janet Bell, was confident of success. Their first release was Soulsearcher’s ‘I Can’t Get Enough’, which went to No. 8 in the UK charts, with house classics by Masters At Work and Paul Johnson quickly following.

Since then, it’s become one of dance music’s most respected labels. In addition to releasing big tracks such as Roger Sanchez’s ‘Another Chance’ and ‘Finally’ by Kings Of Tomorrow, it’s built a huge following for its events, including a longstanding presence in Ibiza and a Ministry Of Sound residency, and helmed the successful Defected In The House mix series. Now, 20 years after its launch, the label is in a commercial and creative sweet spot thanks to huge releases by MK, FCL, Dennis Ferrer and Noir, its Glitterbox parties in Ibiza and the Defected Croatia festival.

Label boss: Simon Dunmore

What was the initial aim of the label?

Just to take quality, underground house music to a bigger platform or a bigger audience. A lot of great music exists without people knowing about it because it’s not promoted properly. Whether I was at AM:PM or Defected, I was always taking a record I loved and promoting it to a bigger audience.

How quickly did the company grow?

We started out with three people in an office directly opposite Black Market Records in London; we wanted DJs and tastemakers to come by and hear what we were working on when they were buying records. We now employ 25 people, which is a big operation – it works very differently to how it did in 1999.

What have been your proudest moments?

Having two No. 1 singles as an independent, with ‘Another Chance’ by Roger Sanchez and ’Storm Queen’ by MK. Our eight-year residency at Pacha and 13 years in Ibiza overall, in a very competitive marketplace. And signing iconic records such as ‘Finally’ by Kings Of Tomorrow, or Fish Go Deep’s ’The Cure And The Cause’.

What’s coming up next?

I think we constantly find new talent, introduce them to the world, and then often they go off and do their own things which means we have to reinvent ourselves. It stops us from getting complacent. Sam Divine has just had a No. 1 record on the iTunes Dance Chart; that’s an amazing accolade and shows how she’s grown. Sonny Fodera’s album has just come out and Dennis Ferrer has done our 500th release, which is a massive landmark. The fact we’re still working with artists such as MK, Roger Sanchez and Sandy Rivera shows our integrity. If we didn’t treat people right, they certainly wouldn’t be working with us all these years later!

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