Simon Dunmore is the legendary British independent label head who brought us some of the finest dance moments in the last decade. His records hit both the underground and the commercial arena with equal force. Now the guy behind KOT "Finally", Roger Sanchez "Another chance" and ATFC "Bad habit" tells us what he thinks were his defining moments. Defected Records is his baby and he has built it from scratch initially employing three people to its current status as one of the best known global house brands around. Here he tells us what the ride has been like and who to look out for in the future.
Question: What would you like punters to think when they hear the name Defected?
Answer: I think punters probably view Defected as I do. It's a collective of great DJs and producers. It's all the people we profile and promote really heavily, artists such as Bob Sinclar, the Shapeshifters, Junior Jack, Copyright and ATFC. Not forgetting all the records they have made for us, the records that punters know, like and dance to.
Question: And how about the parties?
Answer: Yes, well that is the culmination of everything we do. The parties are our end point for the music we make and promote. If people associate having a good time with Defected, that's great.
Question: Was it a big step to break away from a major label and start Defected?
Answer: When you are in a big corporation, you are employed, you are never in control of your own destiny. Even if you're the big cheese, there's a chance you can fall out of favour, someone might not like you or you might be earning too much money and be laid off to cut costs. There's a multitude of reasons why you may loose your job, which may be beyond your control. I figured, at some point that was going to happen to me. I set up Defected for security and to ensure I had a job by the end of it, and 10 years later, we're still here. I mean, we could still mess up and it could all end in 6 months time. We are in a very volatile economic climate, and you have to navigate your way through, you're always on your toes, though being on the edge can actually be quite good.
Question: Was Defected always meant to be a singles label?
Answer: I don't think it is a singles label, I think we put out more albums than almost any other dance label I know. We've put out albums by Bob Sinclar, Junior Jack, Copyright, Martin Solveig and I the list goes on. I think in dance it's easier to commit to a single, putting an album out can be a huge expense ahead of any kind of return. It's much easier and much more fluid from a business point of view to put out a single. Albums are a far more serious means of releasing music, the press give you more coverage and profile, so we like to give our artist this opportunity. We still do a lot of one off singles, but that is good for building the repertoire and makes good content for the compilations we release. I think nowadays, anyone that limits themselves to one thing will find themselves in trouble very quickly.
Question: What was it that attracted you to your original artists such as Solveig, Sinclar, ATFC etc?
Answer: There are so many average records made today, I seems people spend less and less time on making quality records, paying less attention to the drums they programme, the mastering etc. These are the intricacies which differentiate an average record from a great record. We are all so used to hearing average records, so the moment when something which is well crafted, well produced and has great musicality is put in front of you, it is very easy to spot. Usually if an artist spends a great deal of time and effort creating a record, they are more likely to do so in everything else they do, whether that be their persona, their appearance, the way they DJ etc. All of our artists are very particular about what they do and what they are involved in, they only put something out there if they feel it is just right.
Question: So how does it feel to finally get through 10 years?
Answer: Over the past decade I've never really paid it much attention. But to get to 10, in the industry we are in, with illegal downloads etc, coupled with the current economic crisis and other negative factors, I'm pretty pleased with myself. I think most of it's down to the great artist we work with and our passionate staff as well. I have to give thanks and appreciation to all of those people involved with the label, but yes, I'm super please to reach 10 years.
Question: What are the defining moments for you over the past 10 years?
Answer: Most defining moments would have to include the first single we put out, first top 10 record, No.1 record with Roger Sanchez "Another chance", our party at The National in Miami when we had Dimitri from Paris, Kenny Dope, Jazzy Jeff, Bob Sinclar, Martin Solveig and DJ Gregory playing. Also, winning 5 awards at the house music awards, 2 years running, and our residency at Pacha, Ibiza.
Question: How important are your events for the business?
Answer: Events are critical to everyone involved in music, anyone can download music online and I don't thing music has the value that it once had. One thing that you cannot download is a great night out, and I think everyone still wants that feel good factor in their lives. Putting music out is obviously important, but then actually presenting it to people on a Saturday night and seeing people having a good time is fulfilling for anyone who makes music, plays music or promotes music. If we didn't go out on the road to promote what we do it would be very hard for the market to know what we are all about.
Question: Why is it so important to celebrate the 10th anniversary?
Answer: I think it's very important to celebrate an achievement like a 10th anniversary, and we have never really done that before. We've waited until this really important milestone and we want to share it with everyone, and I hope I have a really bad head the next day.
Question: At your birthday celebrations, you are having a live music showcase. Why would it be great for the punters to check out the artists live?
Answer: I think it's important to show people that our artists are actual artists, and not just session musicians who sing on a track, never to be seen again. This showcase will be recorded and filmed and seen on the website and on Youtube etc. A lot of other dance music label put out records but never really get behind their artist. It's far more interesting for me to be involved in developing someone's career and watching them grow as an artist. Sometimes, people will not know who the artist is, for example "Finally", allot of the punters may be unaware it was Julie McKnight that sang that record, but when she gets on the stage and sings it, everyone will know who she is. That's dance music, people sometimes don't get the recognition for what they do and the affect they have on people.
Question: Which new artists should we be looking out for in the future?
Answer: As a label we're always looking out for new talent. A guy called David Penn from Spain has been doing some really great work for us lately. ATFC has had a fantastic year and is truly on form, he is sure to smash it in 2009. Also the Shapeshifters, who have just rebuilt their studio and come away from a major label, hopefully they will feel a little un-shackled and able to express themselves more freely on '09. We've also doing things with Strictly Rhythm label and working with The Martinez Brothers, and they are probably the hottest kiddies around.
Question: Will you still being doing this in another 10 years time?
Answer: No. I will be playing golf, fishing and watching my family grow up.
Question: In 10 years time will Defected still exist in the same way?
Answer: I don't know what the future holds, the music industry is in massive transition, technology is moving so fast it's impossible to keep up with its development. It blows my mind almost every week with the creation of new gadgets and inventions. This includes communication, the format of music etc. I have no idea how this business is going to work in 5 years time, when you think you understand it, something else will come along and you have to start again. I think the experience I have gained will lead me onto taking on a manager roll or giving guidance to new artists. I will always want to be involved, at the moment I enjoy it, but it's a lot of pressure and it's my family that suffer because I work so hard and travel so much. I'm not sure how it will pan out, it will be external factors such as technology and the market place that will dictate. But you know what, I said I didn't want to be DJing at 40 and I'm 46 now and busier than I've ever been so f*** knows.
Courtesy of Defected Records (Words: Toni Tambourine)