Below is an exclusive interview with Simon Dunmore, head of Defected Records.


Question: What happened in your career before you started Defected Records?

Answer: I first started in the business as most people do Djing, working in a record store and putting on parties ect .I was working in a shop called record and disco centre first off. It was a very influential shop and I made some important contacts including a guy called Steve Wolf. It was through him that I got a job at cool tempo records in 1989. He left a couple months after and by default I got his job. I was completely out of my depth but worked all the hours under the sun to make it work.

I was at cool tempo for 5 years and worked with acts like Arrested Development, Gangster and Kenny Thomas and signed things like Juliet Roberts, River Oceans’ Love and Happiness and some cool club records. The balance was right between album acts, commercial acts and some underground credibility. In 1994 I was approached by A and M records to run the AM:PM dance department. There I was doing remixes for Janet Jackson, Sting and the Police, Ce Ce Peniston and Sounds Of Blackness, whilst signing Ultra Nate – Free, Mousse T – Horny, MJ Cole Sincere etc. Then in 1999 AM merged with Island Record. I was offered a position with Island but felt it was time to move on and actually felt confident enough to set up my own label and on January 1st 1999 Defected Records was started.

Question: What are the biggest records you’ve signed?

Answer: Over the years there have been numerous big releases that I’ve signed. At Cool Tempo we had Arrested Development - Everyday People and Kenny Thomas – Thinking About Your Love, both number 2 records that sold over 400,000 copies. At AM:PM there was Ultra Nate- ‘Free’ and Mousse T – ‘Horny’ both number 2 records that sold 500,000 copies. The biggest in terms of chart position was Roger Sanchez – ‘Another Chance’, which got to number 1 but due to declining sales only actually sold 300,000 records.

Question: Which ones can you single out? Geddit?!!!

Answer: The biggest are not necessarily your favourites though so my favourite records that I’ve signed are River Oceans’ ‘Love and Happiness’- a great tune that still gets played today and still makes the dancefloor go wild and still makes the hairs on the back off my neck stand up! And the other is KOT ‘Finally’. It has the most soul I’ve ever heard in a house record. After 5 years it still gets played and people sing it word for word and note for note. I’ll never get bored of it!

Question: Everybody wants to be a DJ or have their own label- what is the reality of being a label boss?

Answer: You have to have a business head. There’s no point in just having great ears if you have no business sense - your business will fail, which is why I employ someone to take care of the business aspects for me as far as Defected Records is concerned. If you’re lucky enough to have great business acumen and good ears then you’re off to a good start.

Answer: You can’t indulge yourselves too much. You have to strike a balance between tracks that are commercially viable and will keep your business afloat and tracks that have kudos and credibility, that sometimes can lose you money but are great to have on the label.

Question: Have you captured the spirit of house music in this compilation? Isn’t that a very ambitious task?

Answer: It’s always going to be difficult to capture the spirit of any genre in an album. Everyone has their own idea about what house music is to them. I feel that I have captured the spirit of house music as I see it. It represents my musical heritage and what Defected Records are about. All the tracks contain some jazz, some funk, some soul, so yeah I feel that I have represented it how I wanted to.

Question: Do you think that in order to move forward in house music you have to always look back?

Answer: I think it’s really important to look back at all genres of music that are key reference points to things that have inspired people. There is no stigma attached to taking new inspiration to great things that have happened in the past whatever genre of music.

Question: Ultimately we all know what goes on in Ibiza but what does it mean to you and why is it so important?

Answer: It’s very important to me because I was lucky enough to go out there pre acid house in 1988 with Nicky Holloways club ‘Special Branch’. Since then it’s evolved a lot and during a weeks period you can see almost any DJ you want. It’s become a Mecca for house music aficionados. It’s such a promotional and marketing opportunity for a label like Defected but also the island really is a magical place. It’s not a hippy island for no good reason; the amazing beaches, picturesque coves and the historical aspect is something people don’t talk about. So it’s a special place to me for many reasons.

Question: What’s the idea behind the compilation?

Answer: The idea behind any defected ITH compilation is to reflect the sound and the personality of what we’re about. It reflects the people we work with the records we put out on our label and our musical influences.

Question: Can you name some new producers that we should look out for on this compilation?

Answer: We have a guy from Istanbul called DJ Tekin and we’ve never signed a track from Turkey before. Its melodic, deep, it’s great. The fanatics have remixed KOT ‘Another day’, they are Aaron Ross and Andy Ward who have been on the scene for a while but have just started producing and their mix is great. Dennis Ferrer is someone who’s been working with us and he’s probably the most versatile producer in house music at the moment. The Stereo Mutants, two guys from Cornwall are making fantastic Latin house music and are definitely ones to watch for.

Question: As a promoter and a DJ how have you seen the Island change over the years?

Answer: It’s undoubtedly changed since I first started going. All the clubs used to be open air which made it more seem spiritual but EEC regulations started putting roofs on clubs which definitely changed things for me. It’s become a lot more commercial too; as soon as you get off the plane your hit with adverts and billboards and we’re part of that so it hard to say its spoilt the island.
Because it has become a clubbers Island though we are now starting to see a lot of today’s youngsters going to other holiday destinations and because of this the people who do return year after year are inevitably getting older. So there’s been a shift in the average age of people in the clubs these days. Also because it is actually quite costly to go to Ibiza these days the people who do want to go on holiday just to get laid or drunk are going to other places where they can do that cheaper i.e Faliraki, Mykonos etc. This has helped revert the island back to being a place for the discerning clubber, appealing to a more sophisticated clientele.

Question: Why did you choose you residents? Why not other DJs?

Answer: We choose our residents for all our club nights in association with what is happening on the production side at that moment in time.. So if Martin Solveig has a forthcoming release we’ll try and book several Martin Solveig dates and this gives him added profile around the release of that record. It’s totally organic and we hope that the feel good factor that people get when they they see him will extend to them going out and buying one of his records.

Question: Where do you see this album being played?

Answer: The great thing about the ITH comps is that we put a little bit more thought into what goes on it. We don’t make the mistake if trying to make a club album and replicating a set you might hear in the club. The two things are totally different.. When you put a compilation together it has to be listenable in all environments, in the bath, in the hair dressers etc. If you maker it too banging you’re not always going to be in the mood.

Question: Defected are known for exclusive tracks on their albums, which ones do we have on this mix?

Answer: Martin Solveig’s everybody is an exclusive because nobody else has it on a compilation. There’s a DJ Tekin record and a fanatics remix of KOT ‘Another day’. Also the two stereo mutants tracks on the album are exclusive.

Question: What’s in store for Defected Records in 2005?

Answer: 2005 is undoubtedly a big year. Sandy Rivera has his current album out and his new mixes of another day are forthcoming and were played a lot at the Miami WMC. Martin Solveig’s new single ‘Everbody’ is sure to smash Ibiza this year and I’m off to Brussels to hear Junior Jacks new album, so everything is coming together. The longevity of our relationships with our artists is the reason why I think we’ll be around and stay one step ahead of the game. I think loyalty is the key both from us and our artists.

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