20:20 Vision - Run by UK house veterans Ralph Lawson and Carl Finlow, 20:20 Vision is a Leeds based imprint that's been dropping deep house and disco tinged bombs since the mid 90s. If a list of all time classic house was ever made, 20:20 Vision would feature several times over with all time classics such as Bobby Peru's "Erotic Discourse" and Jesper Dahlbacks' "Piano Madness" the pick of a plump back catalogue that also features DJ T, Nick Chacona, Kenny Hawkes and label veterans Crazy P. The 20:20 Soundsystem, which is essentially the all star 20:20 vision team, have also been responsible for closing proceedings at many a Saturday night at Sonar.
Anjunabeats - Anjunabeats is a UK trance imprint founded in 2000 by Above & Beyond types Jono Grant and Paavo Siljamäki that has helped popularise the uplifting big room sound. Arunjabeats' impressively prolific output and loyal following means the label is now regarded as one of the world's leading trance imprints. This popularity can be demonstrated by Above & Beyond's continual appearance near the top of the Best DJ charts in the annual dance media awards. Sub label Anjunadeep was set up in 2005 to help promote a more progressive sound.
Anjunadeep - Anjunadeep is the sub label of Anjunabeats and was set up in 2005 to focus on developing and promoting artists who deal in the more progressive trance sound. Anjunabeats is a UK trance imprint founded in 2000 by Above & Beyond types Jono Grant and Paavo Siljamäki that has helped popularise the uplifting big room sound. Arunjabeats' impressively prolific output and loyal following means the label is now regarded as one of the world's leading trance imprints. This popularity can be demonstrated by Above & Beyond's continual appearance near the top of the Best DJ charts in the annual dance media awards.
Armada Music Holland - Launched in 2003, Armada Music was founded by trance heavyweight Armin Van Buuren along with Maykel Piron and David Lewis, with the name crafted from the first three letters of each founding members forenames. Since then there have been 900 plus releases of trance and funky house which includes several releases from scene heavyweights like Agnelli & Nelson, Chicane, Markus Schulz and Van Buuren himself. Additionally the label has a strong line of Armada brand trance compilations.
Azuli - The now sadly defunct Azuli was one of the UK's premier house music imprints. Founded by NYC jock Dave Piccioni in 1990, the label very deliberately aped the US import 12"s being stocked in London vinyl emporiums with great success. The debut release on Azuli, Chocolate Fudge's "Inner Fantasy", become a crate mainstay for many a House DJ. Success came with David Morales' 1998 Ibiza smash "Needin U" and the Latin house standard "Pasilda" from Afro Medusa. Azuli also branched out into the compilation market with the massively successful Another Late Night/Late Night Tales series which saw the likes of Groove Armada, Lindstrom and Four Tet all contributing.
Bang Gang - A raucous Australian imprint run by the Bang Gang DJ collective, which consists of Ajax, Jaime Doom, Dangerous Dan, Gus da Hoodrat, DJ Damage and Double Nolan. Their sweaty club nights are now stuff of legend in Oz, and they bring this party hard ethos to the label. As well as attracting the cream of the Aussie electro crop (Kim, Bag Raiders, Muscles and Flight Facilities to name a few), the Bang Gangers have also released music from established international acts such as Golden Bug, Strip Steve, Munk and Shinichi Osawa. Now affiliated with fellow Aussie label Modular, the Bang Gang continue to provide thunder from down under.
Bangers - Bangers R Mashed have matched the likes of NiceUp and Jstar for quality reggae blends over the years which will nice up any dance. Over a series of 12 inch releases and compilation roundups, Bangers R Mashed have dropped a slew of quality mash ups crafted by experts Nuff Wish. Expect everything from Michael Jackson over a classic Joe Gibbs riddim, dancehall royalty over stadium rock and 80s funk classics and naturally many a timeless hip-hop track effortlessly blended with skanking dub.
BBE - BBE (short for Barely Breaking Even) founders Peter Adarkwah and Ben Jolly kick started the label in 1996, after having successfully promoted under the moniker for two years. Since then the imprint has grown and grown, enlisting respected DJs such as Keb Darge, DJ Spinna, Dmitri from Paris and Masters at Work to dig deep for their ever interesting compilations. Not only this, the label has a sterling list of original artist albums under it's belt such as the classic Beat Generation series from Pete Rock & J Dilla and artist retrospectives on house music royalty like Pépé Bradock.
Black Hole Holland - Famous for being co-owned by Dutch trance tycoon Tiësto (until 2009), Black Hole Recordings have been pumping out the big trance since 1997. When it was founded, Black Hole was purely a conduit for Tiësto productions and compilations, although this changed with the In Trance We Trust mix series (the first commercially available trance compilation). The label was also the first to release DJ mixes by trance icons like Ferry Corsten and Armin van Buuren. Black Hole have grown exponentially since 1997, with a surfeit of sub labels covering everything from house and techno to chillout currently active. Tiësto may have left in 2009, but the label remains as important as ever in the trance game.
Bomb Strikes - For the best in beats-orientated dancefloor heat, DJs across the world know they can always rely on Bomb Strikes. Lauded for their quality and consistency and above all floor destroying output, Bombstrikes is currently home to the mighty Beatvandals and Aussie duo Nick Thayer and Will Styles, and the imprint have also called on the talents of KW Griff, Featurecast and Fingerlickin's A Skillz. The more discerning shows on radio stations such as XFM and Kiss have playlisted Bomb Strikes releases and DJs like All Good Funk Alliance, Krafty Kuts and Ca$h Money regularly drop the Bomb Strikes bassline heavy boombap in their sets.
Bpitch Control Germany - Ellen Allien launched BPitch Control back in 1999, following a stint as a DJ at iconic Berlin techno nightspot Tresor. The label now forms the backbone of the Berlin house and techno scene, with over nigh on 150 releases during the first decade of its existence. The label's output includes dancefloor friendly 12"s from Berlin's finest, full length albums from the likes Modeselektor, Kiki and of course Allien, the Boogybytes mix series and even the odd film soundtrack (Paul Kalkbrenner's Berlin Calling). The relentless drive and enthusiasm of Allien will undoubtedly ensure BPitch remains a vitally important and prolific label for many years to come.
Break New Soil Belgium - Following the success of his Break New Soil EP for the Moon harbour imprint, German producer Gregor Treshor elected to found a label of the same name in 2009. The first release - Treshor's "The Heartbreak Orchestra" - perfectly encapsulates the Break New Soil ethos of releasing deeply melodic techno music, with a focus on helping to break some new European blood. Italians Luca Bear & Romano Alfieri sit next to the Dutch stylings of Juan Sanchez and the classy minimalist techno of German producers Karotte and Daniele Papini. The Break New Soil fan club includes everyone from Billy Nasty to Tim Sweeney.
Brownswood UK - Brownswood is the eclectic label run by the BBC's peddler of all things underground, Gilles Peterson. Through the medium of his radio show, Peterson gives a platform to all manner of leftfield artists operating on the periphery of the mainstream. The Brownswood imprint, founded by Gilles in 2006, gives further exposure to artists he believes are deserving of more attention (and he's usually right). Starting off as a broken beat fanatic, Peterson was one of the first to showcase dubstep in all its forms to a wider audience. Probably best known for its fantastic compilations, most notably the Brownswood Bubblers, the label has also released superb music from Jose James, Heritage Orchestra, Elan Mehler and Ben Westbeech and the Havana Cultura Band.
Bulabeats - Overseen by Johnny Pluse, Bulabeats is an impressively prolific Irish imprint with a music policy that sits in the grey zone between hip-hop, breaks, electro, drum and bass and dubstep. Most if not all of the Bulabeats back catalogue has some grounding in funk. Amongst the artists on the Bulabeats roster you will find DJ Obese, The Dirty Dubsteppers, Breakbeat Bandits and the distinct tones of MC Gerry Tully.
Circus - Brownswood is the eclectic label run by the BBC's peddler of all things underground, Gilles Peterson. Through the medium of his radio show, Peterson gives a platform to all manner of leftfield artists operating on the periphery of the mainstream. The Brownswood imprint, founded by Gilles in 2006, gives further exposure to artists he believes are deserving of more attention (and he's usually right). Starting off as a broken beat fanatic, Peterson was one of the first to showcase dubstep in all its forms to a wider audience. Probably best known for its fantastic compilations, most notably the Brownswood Bubblers, the label has also released superb music from Jose James, Heritage Orchestra, Elan Mehler and Ben Westbeech and the Havana Cultura Band.
Cocoon Germany - Cocoon Records, founded in 2000, is just one branch of the Cocoon behemoth overseen by iconic German trance/techno figure Sven Väth. Since it's inception, Väth has maintained a philosophy of assisting young producers in releasing their work without the constraints of major label politics and Cocoon has played host to a slew of producers who have gone on to become established acts amongst the techno cognoscenti; amongst them Dinky, Tiefschwarz, Minilogue and Timo Maas. Added to this is the label's strong arm of compilations and mix CDs released in conjunction with their infamous summer events on the White Isle, all of which makes Cocoon an imprint that is here to stay.
CR2 - The 50% of MYNC Project called Mark Brown formed CR2 Records in 2004, after several years of success bringing the likes of Dirty Vegas, Par T One, Green Velvet and Alan Braxe commercial attention whilst at Credence Records. This success continued at CR2 with huge releases from chart house icons such as "Put your Hands Up For Detroit" by Fedde Le Grand, "Walking Away" by The Egg, "Woz Not Woz" by Eric Prydz & Steve Angello and most recently "Let The Bass Kick In Miami Girl" by Chuckie & LMFAO all bothering the Top 40.
Critical Music - Established by A&R star Kasra Mowlavi in 2002, Critical Music has swiftly risen through the ranks to become one of the most highly respected and professionally run D&B labels in the business. Focusing on the more leftfield, deep, soulful and experimental side of D&B, Kasra has an enviable roster of artists releasing on the label: Rockwell, Sabre, Inside Info, Icicle, Silent Witness, Calibre, Break and Spectrasoul, to name but a few. Tight quality control is at the heart of the Critical ethos, and the label still places a great value in releasing on vinyl. 2007 saw the release of the All Sounds Electric compilation album, followed up by the second instalment in 2008 and Critical Sounds in 2009. Sabre's groundbreaking concept album A Wandering Journal in 2010 was another key addition to the Critical catalogue and spawned a great deal of attention from across the board.
Crosstown Rebels - East London boy Damian Lazarus re-launched Crosstown Rebels in 2008 and since then it has been in prolific form, releasing a slew of music from the likes of Phonique, Pier Bucci, Kiki, Seth Troxler, Jamie Jones and of course the boss himself. Lazarus has proved to be a sharp A&R man (he performed the role with aplomb at City Rockers) with an eye for releasing music from emerging talents ala Jamie Jones, Seth Troxler and Deniz Kurtel alongside legends of the scene like Laurent Garnier, each of whom have put their own slant on the label's aesthetic of deep house and techno.
Data - Data Records is the commercial house branch of clubbing behemoth Ministry Of Sound, one of the world's most famous and recognisable dance music brands. Adopting a blue print of scouring the underground for hits and turning them into massive commercial club monsters, Data has been responsible for bringing many a club track to the top of the pops. Everyone from Zombie Nation to Benny Benassi, via Eric Prydz and Kid Cudi have secured ubiquity thanks to Data.
Delusions Of Grandeur - A sub label of Jimpster's Freerange imprint, Delusions Of Grandeur specialises in those slow-to-mid tempo disco and house nuggets that adorn the set of many a discerning DJ. The label announced itself to the world with a superb EP in the shape of Craig Smith & The Revenge's The Soul Part II in April 2009, and has made no concessions in the quality stakes since then, with sterling releases from the 6th Borough Project (another Revenge moniker), Manolo, Session Victim, Trickski and Tornado Wallace.
DFA US - The all conquering label DFA will go down as one of the most important record labels of the nougthies, and maintains its allure today by releasing a steady stream of killer disco 12"s and eclectic albums. The label was launched in September 2001 by Mo' Wax co-founder Tim Goldsworthy (who has since left the fold), Jonathan Galkin and LCD Soundsystem man James Murphy. As well as hosting output from LCD Soundsystem, the label has also released a slew of disco 12"s from New York based artists like Still Going, Runaway, Juan Maclean and Shit Robot, while its Death From Aboard wing has looked after international acts including Hot Chip and Shocking Pinks. DFA is also responsible for a slew of impressive albums from like The Rapture, Black Dice, Hercules & Love Affair and Juan Maclean.
Digital Soundboy - Launched by jungle pioneer, scene stalwart and original nuttah Shy FX, the Digital Soundboy imprint has gone from strength to strength since it was first established in 2005. Originally more of an outlet for D&B productions, it has now become the go-to label for an all-encompassing melting pot of sounds - dubstep, breaks, dancehall and UK funky have all made their mark in at Digital Soundboy. Shy FX & T-Power's "Diary Of A Digital Soundboy", which was released in 2005, marked the first of a slew of hits for the label. Recent releases have included Redlight's "Stupid", Attaca Pesante's "Make It Funky For Me", Donae'o's - "Riot Music" and Rockwell's Stowaway EP. A special mention must go to Breakage's Foundations album, which was released in early 2010 - a stunning sophomore outing featuring guests Skream, Burial, Roots Manuva, David Rodigan and Newham Generals.
Diynamic Germany - Since its debut release from label founders Mladen Solumun and Adriano Trolio in 2006, Hamburg based imprint Diynamic has played host to a clutch of the most respected names within deep house and techno. Alongside music from Trolio and Solumun, Stimming and H.O.S.H. have remained mainstays of the label with over fifteen Diynamic releases between them. In addition, major European talent such as Spanish deity Isolee, German duo Kollectiv Turmstrasse and Scandinavian cheese obsessives OST & Kjex have graced the imprint.
Domino - From the financially humble beginnings of starting a label of the back of £40 a week enterprise allowance scheme, Domino has gone on to become one of the UK's most established independent labels with offices in New York and Berlin. The label is characterised by an uncanny ability to sign some zeitgeist defining artists - with the likes of Franz Ferdinand, Arctic Monkeys and Pavement amongst a plump roster. In terms of electronic music, Four Tet has a long established relationship with Domino, releasing all his albums via the imprint and more recently the label has been involved with niche acts like Bonde Do Role, Yo Majesty and Count and Sinden.
Dub Police - Caspa's highly prolific dubstep label, Dub Police exists alongside sister labels Sub Soldiers and Storming Productions, and has a reputation for catering to the more boisterous side of the 140bpm genre with dubbed and half stepped beats from Trolley Snatcha, Emalkay, The Others, Caspa, Rusko, Subscape and more. Aimed at providing a platform for up-and-coming artists, as well as the more established lynchpins of the scene, the Dub Police imprint has been steadily gathering force since it came into being in 2004. Part of this success can perhaps be attributed to the ever-popular, Dub Police club nights, which are held at fabric and remain one of the biggest dubstep parties in the scene, alongside the FWD vs Rinse events. Influential cuts from Dub Polics include Caspa - "Cockney Violin" (2006), the six-part "License To Thrill" series, released between 2007-2008, and the My Style compilation, mixed by Caspa in 2010.
Enormous Tunes - Enormous Tunes is the off shoot imprint of Unreleased Digital, overseen by Swiss prog house duo Chris Reece aka Christian Hirt & Roberto Pagliaro. Formed in 2008, Enormous Tunes has played host to not only a smattering of Chris Reece productions, but also music from Rino Cabrera (Helvetic Nerds) Dinka, K Skill and George F Zimmer. Additionally, Enormous Tunes have branched out into licensed compilations that line the CD wallets of many a DJ employed during the holiday season in the likes of Croatia and Greece.
Fabric - Fabric is more then a mere record label or nightclub: it's a London institution. Since opening in 1999, the Farringdon nightspot has had its share of ups and downs, but one thing that has remained constant is an unrelenting dedication to providing the public world class DJs and a world class soundsystem. Similarly, the record label wing of the Fabric Empire has built an equally exceptional reputation, with the Fabric and Fabriclive compilations being mixed by the crème de la crème of dance music, ever since Craig Richards kicked things off with Fabric 01. Since then the likes of Andrew Weatherall, Ricardo Villalobos, Carl Craig, Robert Hood and Martyn have all had their names etched into Fabric folklore.
Finger Lickin' - One of the most prominent labels in the nu skool breaks genre, Finger Lickin Records was set up in 1998. Overseen by production duo Soul Of Man, the imprint is renowned for its innovative style with a clearly defined visual aesthetic. Each release pushes the envelope on sound design and production but never loses sight of the dancefloor, with club bangers a plenty in their catalogue. From the funky hip-hop smashes of Krafty Kuts and A Skillz, to the brooding bleeps, squelches and intricate textures that cloth the Plumps DJs jackin breaks, the Finger Lickin output is diverse yet consistently popular with a worldwide fanbase.
Fools Gold US - Founded by US DJ superstar A Trak and design guru Nick Catchdubs, Fools Gold Records stride the line between the underground club music and more commercially successful tracks confidently. It was Fools Gold that put Kid Cudi and Crookers together with the instantly recognisable "Day n Nite" quickly becoming a global phenomenon. Yet it's also Fools Gold that has given credible major indie exposure to rising artists such as Kingdom, Nacho Lovers and Jokers of the Scene as well as giving overseas acts such as Alexander Robotnik, Kavinsky and Bag Raiders a US audience.
Freerange - Freerange is the incredibly consistent deep house label run by scene stalwart Jamie Odell, known to the discothèque as Jimpster. Launched in 1996, the label made waves with the release of Switch's early material (including "Get Ya Dub On" and "Get on Downz") in 2003/04, before both label and artist went in different directions. Since then Freerange has been in relentlessly prolific form, and now has well in excess of 150 releases under its belt from the likes of Manuel Tur, Milton Jackson, Stimming, Pezzner, Tony Lionni and of course the head honcho Jimpster.
Freestyle - Freestyle Records was founded by Adrian Gibson of legendary Camden venue The Jazz Café in 2003 and the sheer prolific nature of the label's output has seen it barge its way to the forefront of the beats/funk/jazz genres. Some heavyweight names have released on the imprint - Chaka Khan, Fred Wesley, Soulive, The Beatnuts, JTQ featuring Roy Ayers, Lewis Taylor, Michael Franti, Saul Williams and Ursula Rucker to name but a few. Home grown talent has also been nurtured with the likes of Sleeve, Flow Dynamics, Afrodizz and Richy Pitch releasing on the imprint. This emphasis has won fans as far afield as Kenny Dope, Gilles Peterson, Norman Jay, Mr Scruff, Danny Krivit, Jazzanova and DJ Spinna.
Gamm - In 2003 Red Astaire's "Follow Me" was the first release on the GAMM imprint and achieved widespread notoriety. A bossa nova hook-laden, crowd-pleasing mash-up built around the D'Angelo's acapella from "Left N Right", it went down a treat with DJs, tastemakers and partygoers the world over. This put GAMM on the map and subsequent releases from the likes of Marcus Enochson, Spiritual South and Todd Terje under aliases flew off the shelfs. GAMM's output touched on everything from Space Jazz freakout reworkings of Pharaoh Sanders to skanking edits of Jill Scott and delicate Detroit house rerubs of Curtis Mayfield.
Gigolo Germany - International Deejay Gigolos became synonymous with the electro clash era, releasing perhaps its defining moments in Fischerspooner's Emerge and Sunglasses At Night by Tiga & Zyntherius, but Helmut and company have been plugging away at releasing everything from overtly camp electro to the pounding techno of Zombie Nation and Jeff Mills since the late nineties. IDJG has seen resurgence thanks to releases from key acts such as Snuff Crew and Sei A alongside DJ Hell's superlative 2009 opus Teufelswerk, the long running IDJG compilation series and Hell's seemingly endless array of promotional endeavours.
Global Underground - Founded in 1996, Global Underground was one of the first labels to feed on the explosion of dance music across all continents during the Nineties by establishing a conceptual mix series which remains highly popular to this day. The label would take established DJs to play in parties at exotic locales across the world and then release the set across a 2CDs backed with extensive sleeve notes and classy photography. Everyone from James Lavelle to Sasha has been involved. This success has allowed the GU imprint to branch out into releasing original artist material from the likes of Trafik, UNKLE and Lostep.
Gomma Dance Tracks Germany - Gomma was started in 1999 as an outlet for the Munich based of Jonas Imbery and Mathias Modica passion of NY No Wave & Post Punk, with the spirit and sound of this era central to most of the imprint's subsequent releases from the duo as Munk, along with Headman and some impressive crate digging compilations. Having survived the electroclash era (no mean feat) Gomma has opened many an eye to the delights of WhomadeWho, Golden Bug. Le Le and The Phenomenal Handclap Band. A sub label, Gomma Dance Tracks, was launched two decades on in 2009 with a focus on the clubbier aesthetic and continues to grow.
Great Stuff Germany - Great Stuff is more than just a record label - in an admirable display of keeping ahead of the times the Munich based imprint has expanded its business to become a multi faceted media organization which deals in artist management and bookings, music production, films, commercials and music videos. Its musical output is respected for it tech house releases from the likes of Umek, Butch, Gregor Tresher, The Egg and GusGus. Its stable of sub labels includes Break New Soil, Craft Music, Kling Klong, Platform B Recordings and Swings Records.
Harmless - Harmless Recordings have rivalled BBE in the re-issue stakes over the past decade, working closely with a variety of established DJs in producing compilations that are richly researched, lovingly presented and have been a handy tool for many a budding DJ. Harmless have released countless compilations that touch on soul and funk; worked closely with Norman Jay in documenting Philly Disco; had a long running and highly successful breaks series in Pulp Fiction and dabbled in more contemporary sounds like acid house, dubstep and drum and bass.
Hed Kandi - With a distinctive design and a commercial outlook, Hed Kandi have become one of the biggest UK labels dealing in house music compilations and is now a fully fuctioning lifestyle brand. Founded in 1999, Hed Kandi primarily dealt in accessible commercial Ibiza house compilations via the Back To Love series. Since then the imprint has kept in tow with du jour trends and the back catalouge currently covers everything from chillout to electro house to disco. Showing their marketing nous, Hed Kandi now includes a clothing and fragrance franchise.
High Contrast Holland - The clue to the success of High Contrast is in the title; the Dutch label has adopted a fearless approach in releasing music from a wide range of genres; house, techno, trance and electro all get a look in, with a common focus on peak time fun. Some of the names to have adorned High Contrast releases include Paul van Dyk, Marcel Woods, Rank 1, Joop, Ronald van Gelderen and Nic Chagall.
Hospital - Initially started back in 1996 by long-term friends Chris Goss and Tony Colman, Hospital Records has gone on to become a force in the underground music scene, achieving a prestige that extends well beyond the realms of D&B. The jazzy, liquid funk sounds of their trademark uplifting, melodic productions - as represented by the likes of High Contrast, Nu:Tone, Logistics, London Elektricity, Danny Byrd, and more recently Netsky, Mistabishi and Lenzman - has really set Hospital apart from the rest. Going further afield with their publishing company Songs In The Key Of Knife, merchandising and minimal offshoot imprint, Med School, Hospital have reached out to a global audience. The unprecedented success of Hospitality club nights across the whole of the UK has seen Hospital become not just a label, but also a brand, a concept, an idea and, most importantly, a sound.
Hotflush Recordings - Scuba's Hotflush imprint has become increasingly influential as the dubstep movement continues to splinter and move in a myriad of directions. Now based in Berlin, Scuba's Sub:stance nights have played a big role in the blossoming between UK dubstep and German techno. Founded in 2003, the label has released material from respected artists including Shackleton, Loefah, and Martyn, alongside Scuba's own work. Hotflush etched its name into dubstep folkflore with the landmark "Hyph Mngo" by Joy Orbison, arguably the biggest track of 2009 in electronic music circles. It has also released a number of stellar albums, including Scuba's Antipathy (2008) and Triangulation (2010) as well as Mount Kimbie's breathtaking debut Crooks & Lovers (2010).
Hyperdub - Hyperdub has had an almost unparalleled influence on the UK bass music scene in recent times. The imprint was set up by Steve Goodman (aka Kode 9) in 2004 and is perhaps best known for putting out two genre defining albums from enigmatic producer Burial (2006's Burial and 2007's Untrue). Goodman's South London-based imprint has played an important role in nurturing talent whilst the nascent dubstep scene explored fertile new territory. The Hyperdub family continues to expand and diversify, releasing material from UK funky star Cooly G, Detroit prodigy Kyle Hall and Kevin Martin's Lover's Rock project King Midas Sound among many others.
In The House/Defected - Operating in more than 40 countries, Defected are the most internationally recognisable dance brand in the world with releases from the likes of Bob Sinclar, Junior Jack, ATFC and Sandy Rivera that have sold millions across the globe. Defected's sound has been deeply rooted in classic soul and disco, signing artists such as Âme (and their seminal track "Rej") and the chart topping "Another Chance" from Roger Sanchez. With the 'Defected In the House' series and the 'Playboy Mansion' compilations, Defected have initiated some of the most reliable brands in the market.
Innvision Austria - Innvision was founded in 2003 by Ed Royal with the imprint's second release, The Born To Funk EP causing ripples of excitement through the beats and breaks circuit to the point where the tracks were licensed for Ursula 1000's 18th St Lounge compilation. Working in tandem with DJ Enne, Royal has dropped a slew of EPs which have found favour with the likes of Malente, Fort Knox Five and the All Good Funk Alliance. File alongside the likes of Bastard Jazz, Jalapeno and Keep Up in the leftfield beats stakes.
Jalapeno - Beat centric London imprint Jalapeno Records has secured a reputation amongst the genre straying DJ fraternity for top drawer funk infused house and mid tempo business with an international roster. Big name acts like Dutch trio Kraak & Smaak and US B-Boy delights All Good Funk Alliance sit atop the label alongside veteran UK duo Skeewiff with all three being responsible for some killer releases over the years. In more recent times the label has added some big talent from the UK beat scene - Dr Rubberfunk and Boca 45 - as well as reigniting Max Sedgely's career.
Juno - Juno Records was launched in 2007 to celebrate a decade of business for the online record shop. The inaugural release, Faze Action's classic deep house number "In The Trees" was given a truly breathtaking remix from the legendary Detroit DJ Carl Craig and the subsequent releases have adopted this approach of revisiting classic electronic music across the genre spectrum and enlisting highly feted producers to give them a contemporary rerub. Witness Lindstrom and Dmitri from Paris tackling the classic 80s boogie of Imagination or the proto electro of Cybotron's "Clear" reappropriated as stripped back mutant techno by Cobblestone Jazz.
K7 - Berlin based imprint !K7 was founded in 1996 by Horst Weidenmüller. The label is most widely known for its ongoing DJ Kicks mix series, described by James Holden as "one of the few remaining mix CDs worth paying for", with previous alumni including Carl Craig, Thievery Corporation, Nightmares On Wax, Hot Chip, Kode9 and the aforementioned Border Community boss. !K7's current day stable includes artists as disparate as Detroit electro funkateer Jimmy Edgar, Belgian electro band Goose and live techno outfit Brandt Brauer Frick. Much like its Cologne based contemporary Kompakt, !K7 has also grown from a label into a distribution empire, and currently distributes music for the likes of Rush Hour, BBE, Skint and Environ. It also runs a number of sub-labels including the incredibly impressive Strut.
Knee Deep US - Following their early noughties success on labels like Fluential and Defected, it was almost inevitable that German funky house duo Knee Deep would launch their own imprint. Knee Deep Recordings finally appeared in 2003, initially as an outfit for their productions and those of like-minded producers. Initially, the label's sound was typical of the duo's own mid-noughties releases - chunky, soulful house bursting with thick lower end - but changes in the musical landscape have brought about a refreshing change in outlook. Via releases from the likes of Lovebirds (whose "Best Before 2008" is a highlight) and Florian Kruse, Knee Deep has successfully repositioned itself as a home for quality European and US deep house.
Kompakt Germany - Kompakt's role in shaping modern electronic music can't be understated. Since it was founded in 1998 by Wolfgang Voigt, Jürgen Paape and Michael Mayer, the label has been at the forefront of pushing minimal and melodic electronic music underpinned by a true appreciation of pop music, as seen on the long running Pop Ambient and Total compilation series. Legendary producers who have contributed to the label include Superpitcher, Michael Mayer and Justus Köhncke. In recent years Kompakt has been a platform for a new breed of electronic producers, with superlative albums from the likes of DJ Koze, Gui Boratto and Matias Aguayo.
Kontor Germany - Based out of Hamburg, Kontor Records is one of Germany's most successful electronic music imprints, having been in the game for over a decade. Kontor focus primarily on the commercial end of the dance music spectrum, having made their name via a succession of house and trance compilations and 12" releases. Kontor's success is thanks in no small part to the appearance of commercial icons such as ATB, Tiesto, Fedde Le Grand and The Freemasons in their release schedule.
Mad Decent US - The Mad Decent imprint will always be synonymous with founder Diplo. Having been responsible for unleashing the baile funkisms of Bonde de Role upon us in 2006, acclaimed genre bender Diplo has used the as a conduit for his passion of music. The Mad Decent Empire has grown exponentially since that first release, with Santigold fronted mixtapes, essential club tracks from the likes of L-Vis 1990, Boy 8 Bit and Blaqstarr and artist albums from Rusko. Affiliated charity schemes such as Heaps Decent and close ties with Diplo's hometown of Philadelphia give the label a real family feel.
Made To Play Germany - Since its inception in 2005, Made To Play has become one of the premiere imprints for the new sound emanating from Berlin. Europe's kindred spirit to San Fran's Dirtybird, Made To Play is overseen by Front Room boss Jesse Rose and deals in music that transcends the space between bass led house and techno. Over the years Made To Play has delivered some classic heat from the likes of Riva Starr, Zombie Disco Squad, Roundtable Knights and Oliver $. Regular play from premier league DJs such as Luciano, A Trak, DJ T and Claude Von Stroke makes Made To Play an imprint you always keep an eye out for.
Manmade - Manmade is one of those imprints that deal in cut n paste party rockers which continually prove to be popular at Juno HQ. Acts such as Basement Freaks, CMC & Silenta and Cut La Roc use classic vocals from hip-hop acts such as Q Tip, Beastie Boys and Public Enemy and rework them over uptempo breaks arrangements. These are contrasted with reflipped versions of classic block party funk, rock and soul. What the Manmade catalogue lacks in originality it more than makes up in dynamism and dancefloor energy.
Mau5trap - Due to the success of its proprietor, Mau5trap Recordings will always rest in his shadows. Run by the cartoon mouse head, wobble step DJ bothering, stadium filling Canadian known to familials as Joel Zimmerman, Mau5trap Recordings blueprint for success is simple: they make records; DJs play their records for people to listen to. Sometimes people dance to them, or play them in their cars, or on their high fidelity audio systems. That's all there is to it really! Alongside Zimmerman, the label is also home to Moguai and big beat revivalist Skrillex.
Milk & Sugar Germany - Originating in the mid 1990s disco house scene, Milk & Sugar Recordings has proved to have far greater longevity than many of their contemporaries. Much of that can be attributed to the attitude of label bosses Michael Kronenberger and Steffen Harning, perhaps better known as production duo Milk & Sugar. While house fashions have changed, they've steadfastly stuck to their guns, promoting a feel-good brand of deep, funky and soulful house that's a cut above the competition. Now, the label's releases hop between fun main room grooves and European electro house, catering for a new generation of DJs.
Ministry Of Sound - Two years after Ministry of Sound opened their South London doors an empire was spawned with the launch of Ministry of Sound: Sessions, a mix CD by legendary New Jersey garage jock Tony Humphries. Since that CD release in 1993, the Ministry of Sound brand has become one of the most instantly recognisable in club land. Currently in possession of a whole army of sub labels and off shoots, MOS has in its armoury a variety of popular commercial mix CDs such as The Annual, Trance Nation and the Euphoria series with the backing of name DJs such as Judge Jules, Pete Tong and DJ Hype.
Mobilee Germany - Launched in 2005, Mobilee has swiftly established itself as one of Berlin's most impressive house and techno imprints. Founded by Anja Schneider and Ralf Kollman, Mobilee is home to revered producers like Sebo K, Pan-Pot, Miss Jools, GummiHz, Dan Curtin, Marcin Czubala, Martin Landsky and Hector and live acts Exercise One, And.id and Russ Gabriel. Its releases reference vintage dancefloor aesthetics but also hint at new directions in the art of a grinding techno beat. More than a traditional record label, Mobilee has expanded into the realms of booking and publishing whilst retaining a central focus of utilizing new modes of promoting its artist roster.
New State - Amongst the superclub-branded mixes and TV advertised Hacienda collections, compilation specialists New State have actually released some great music. A flick through their vast back catalogue reveals such gems as Re-Animated, a must-have collection of weird and wonderful remixes from Erol Alkan and Richard Norris's Beyond The Wizard's Sleeve project. Equally as worthy is Township Funk, a Mujava-inspired trawl through South Africa's little known 'township house' scene. Outside of mixes and comps, they've also released a number of artist albums, most notably from Uwe Schmidt's Senor Coconut alias, BT and veteran US garage heads Blaze.
Ninja Tune - What else is there left to say about Matt Black and Jon More's fiercely independent Ninja Tune imprint? For over 20 years, the London-based label has consistently confounded expectations, flitting between sounds and genres almost at will. A cursory glance at their back catalogue will confirm their eclectic credentials; from hip-hop to house, jazz to electronica, dubstep to rock, Coldcut's Ninjas have released it all. Along the way, they've broken and nurtured countless acts, from Amon Tobin, Cinematic Orchestra and Roots Manuva to Floating Points Ensemble, Bonobo and the Heavy. Two decades on, they're still at the top of their game - as 2010's impeccable 'Ninja Cuts XX' compilations neatly prove.
Nukleuz UK - Founded in 1996 by industry impresario Peter Pritchard, Nukleuz has grown to become one of the UK's premiere imprints for commercial and harder dance styles. Whislt the early years focused on purely funky house from the likes of Andy Farley, Mauro Picotto and Mario Piu (remember "Communication"?) Nukleuz really hit paydirt with a move towards hard house around the turn of the century. Iconic names such as Lisa Pinup, Fergie and BK are some of the glossier names on this long running imprint. The decision to implement colour coded vinyl to differentiate between the various genres was also a smartly thought out, unique selling point
Om US - Established in 1995, Om Records has established itself as one of the USA's leading imprints in house, downtepo and nu jazz circles. Based out of San Francisco, Om's most famous son is Mark Farina - responsible for the label's long running and very popular Mushroom Jazz compilation series that documents current flavours of instrumental hip-hop and other downtempo excursions. Alongside Farina, Om have put out music such luminaries as Miguel Migs, DJ Sneak, Andy Caldwell, Derrick Carter, Greenskeepers and Radio Slave. More recently the label has been reaching out to the UK, taking on acts such as Hot Toddy, Underworld and Groove Armada.
Ostgut Ton Germany - Ostgut Ton is the label run by the (in)famous Berghain/Panoramabar nightclub in Berlin. Housed in the austere surroundings of a disused power station, the club has come to symbolize a new generation of European house and techno. Resident DJs such as Ben Klock, Marcel Dettmann, Norman Nodge, Steffi and Tama Sumo often release their solo material on Ostgut Ton, thus maintaining an in-house, family feel to the organisation. The ongoing Berghain and Panorama mix CDs have proved increasingly influential, with efforts from the likes of Tama Sumo, Marcel Dettmann and Ben Klock succeeding in both reflecting and shaping the sound of contemporary electronic music.
Ovum US - Founded by Josh Wink and King Britt back in the mid nineties, Ovum has become one of the USA's most established labels dealing in cutting edge house and techno sounds. In the space of fifteen years, the Philadelphia based label has put out literally thousands of tracks whilst establishing a roster of well respected artists and producers. Whilst King Britt is no longer involved, in recent times Ovum has put out releases by D'Julz, DJ Sneak and KiNK as well as having some classics in its armoury courtesy of Levon Vincent, Boo Williams and Aaron Carl.
Permanent Vacation Germany - Founded in 2006, Munich imprint Permanent Vacation has focused on contemporary house and disco sounds. Responsible for some sterling compilations, the imprint have a something of a knack for pairing up amazing producers with striking female voices with suitably excellent results - take the inspirational pairing of Kathy Diamond and Maurice Fulton for example. Permanent Vacation have also built a reputation for releasing some absolute belters for 12 inches with the early releases such as Dolle Jolle's "Balearic Incarnation" and "Goblin City" by Panthers matched by more recent EPs from Tensnake and Azari & III.
Planet Mu - Planet Mu was borne out of a working relationship between Virgin Records and avant garde electronic producer Mike Paradinas aka µ-Ziq. This was broken in 1998 as Paradinas took Mu independent and since then it has become synonymous with the more esoteric strands of electronica or IDM. Cult electronic producers such as Venetian Snares, Capitol K, and Luke Vibert have all had releases on the label and Paradinas has veered the imprint towards the rising sounds of 21st century clubland with acts such as Starkey, Falty DL and DJ Nate all being welcomed into the Planet Mu fold.
Poker Flat Germany - Poker Flat Recordings was founded in 1999 by Steve Bug and scored an international hit straight off the bat with Bug's own "Double Action". The label went on to explore and define the genre of minimal house in all its varieties. To this day the imprint has put out some sublime minimal house tracks from the likes of the Märtini Brös, Hakan Lidbo, DJ T, Guido Schneider and D'Julz. Legendary producer Trentemøller has also done his best work for the label - including his 2006 album The Last Resort - and Poker Flat can be proud of releasing the epic minimal booty house of Detroit Grand Pubah's "Galactic Ass Creatures From Uranus".
Prolific - UK garage imprint set up by "Don of the scene" MJ Cole in 1997, Prolific Recordings had instant success on the underground with tracks such as "Flava Fever" and "You're Mine". The label went on hiatus when MJ Cole signed to Talkin' Loud and gained critical and commercial success with the albums Sincere and Cut To The Chase. His departure from Talkin Loud allowed Cole to relaunch the imprint in 2004 and since then, Prolific has certainly lived up to it's name. The label now operates as a genuine production house, nurturing new artists such as Serocee and Laura Vane along with producers like Nero.
Ram - Propagating a big, dancefloor-driven, 'jump up' sound, RAM Records has been a leading light in the D&B scene since its inception in 1992. Headed up by legendary DJ, Andy C, aka 'The Executioner', and production engineer Ant Miles, RAM Records has been responsible for some of the biggest D&B acts to emerge in the past two decades. Chase & Status, Sub Focus, Culture Shock, Shimon, Red One, Noisia, Moving Fusion and Xample & Lomax have all contributed to the consistent quality of RAM's output. Key hits include the seminal Origin Unknown - "Valley Of The Shadows" (1993), Andy C & Shimon's "Body Rock" anthem (2002) plus albums More Than A Lot by Chase & Status, Sub Focus' self titled effort and the Nightlife compilation series. Alongside the label are the highly successful sell-out RAM club nights, now holding residency at fabric in London.
Rat - Rat Records is the long running Breaks imprint overseen by veteran scene DJ Dee Kline. Since it's inception in 1999, Rat Records has played host to releases from respected producers such as Ils, Si Begg, Freq Nasty and Rennie Pilgrem. Not content with remaining within the confines of the breaks scene, the label has also dipped its toes in similarly bass heavy waters via releases from Tittsworth and Jack Beats. A sly nod to their influences has always been present, as typified by collaborations with ghettotech icon DJ Assualt and jungle and reggae MC Top Cat.
Rising Music - Chris Lake is as good an A&R man as you'll find. When it comes to so-called big room dance music - be it electro house or that popular tech/prog/electro fusion so loved in Europe and the US - Lake knows his stuff. It's this nose for a tune that has made his label, Rising, so successful. He was releasing Deadmau5 records long before the mask-wearing producer became a household name, put out early material from Hardwell, and uncovered big tunes from Tom Neville, Rhythm Code and others. Then, of course, there's his material - either solo or with Marco Lys - which has always made up the bulk of Rising's bulging release schedule.
risque-recordings.com - The Risque-Recordings.com label launched in 2010 with a flurry of activity. Concentrating first on compilations, the digital only German imprint quickly began to pursue other avenues. Radio friendly funky house singles from Lou Bega and J'Unique were followed by House Essentials, a downloadable sample pack featuring a whopping 2500 loops and effects for budding house producers. Despite this innovation, their stock trade remains compilations, and it's here that they've excelled. Alongside Ibiza friendly disco house and electro house sets sits Ultimate Club Classics, an epic, 36-track tribute to Michael Jackson featuring dancefloor covers of his greatest hits.
Rush Hour Holland - It's safe to say Rush Hour has achieved the highest possible reputation among it peers in the contemporary electronic music scene. In recent times the Dutch label has maintained a tireless release schedule that includes new material, reissues and combinations of the two. For example the 2010 reissue of the seminal Virgo LP gave Eric Lewis and Merwyn Sanders some long overdue time in the spotlight, and was closely followed in the masterstroke stakes by the Space Dimension Controller and FaltyDL remixes of Detroit legend Anthony Shake Shakir. Straight up house and techno 12"s serve the role of Rush Hour's bread & butter, and with Kirk Degiorgio, KiNK & Neville Watson, Hunee, Marcello Napoletano and Nebraska among the contributors, bread and butter never tasted so good. The Tom Trago-curated Voyage Direct series continues to impress, as does its Direct Current counterpart. What began as a humble record store on Spuistraat in Amsterdam now stands as one of electronic music's proudest empires. Long may it continue.
Shogun Audio - Brighton based label Shogun Audio is the brainchild of The Assassin (DJ Friction) and partner in crime, K-Tee. Representing all the different flavours of the D&B spectrum - from tough and techy to sweet and soulful, dancefloor destroyers to the deep and minimal - diversity is at the heart of the label's ethos. Since it was launched in 2004, artists such as Spectrasoul, Alix Perez, Icicle, Rockwell, Jonny L, Klute, Subwave, Break and Spor have all released on the burgeoning imprint. 2009 saw two big album releases from the Shogun camp, in the form of Friction's Assassin Vol 1, followed up by Alix Perez's debut long player in the Autumn - the critically acclaimed 1984, as well as Break's Return To The Temple EP and Spor's Aztec. In 2010, Shogun Audio unveiled part one of their Evolution EP series, plus new material from Rockwell, Total Science & S.P.Y.
Skint - Skint Records was one of the leading imprints in the short lived Big Beat sound that spawned Norman Cook's stratospheric rise as Fatboy Slim. Run by 'nicest man in the music business' Damien Harris aka Midfield General, Skint put out a slew of big beat standards from the likes of Bentley Rhythm Ace, Freq Nasty and FC Kahuna. Later forays into housier sounds secured the label a massive hit courtesy of "Lazy" David Byrne's collaboration with X-Press 2, and the imprint has also put out material form rising producers such as Foamo and Detboi. Fatboy Slim continues to release material on the imprint to this day.
Songbird Holland - Black Hole Recordings subsidiary Songbird has long been regarded as one of the premier vocal and uplifting trance imprints. Its reputation stems not only from well loved early releases by Moontribe, Mistral and Massive, but also its association with the world's premier stadium DJ, Tiesto. Songbird was responsible for the trance megastar's big selling In Search of Sunrise mix series, the unmixed versions of which should be essential purchases for fans of quality trance. In recent times Songbird's focus has shifted back towards singles, but their ethos remains: as ever, it's about good quality trance.
Southern Fried - Southern Fried was set up by Norman Cook (aka Fatboy Slim) in 1994 to release club tracks that failed the commercial test at major labels. The label's roster has featured scene leaders such as Cook himself (often under his Mighty Dub Katz pseudonym, among others), as well as electro funk pioneer Kurtis Mantronik. The label has expanded its range of releases to include more album-based artists such as the Black Ghosts, Crookers and The BPA (AKA The Brighton Port Authority) as well as club tracks from a cross section of established producers like Armand Van Helden, Cagedbaby and Shinichi Osawa and underground talent such as Brodinski, NT89 and The 2 Bears.
Spinnin Holland - Independent dance labels don't come much bigger than Spinnin'. With over 200 releases to its name and a growing stable of sub-labels catering for deeper, harder and trancier sounds (Spinnin' Deep, Spinnin' Hard etc), it's undoubtedly one of European house music's greatest success stories. The formula has always been simple: high quality feel-good house music from a mixture of new and established artists - be it disco-house, electro house or tech-tinged main room bangers. It's an approach that's produced some huge hits, most notably from current big hitters Ian Carey, Nicky Romero and Abel Ramos.
Strictly Rhythm - Much like Motown is synonymous with soul music, when you think of house music you think of Strictly Rhythm. The long running New York imprint made its name with some quality deep house action from the likes of Todd Terry, Kenny Dope, Louie Vega and Roger Sanchez. Expansion into the European market, and the addition of acts like Armand Van Helden, Josh Wink and Reel 2 Reel brought further success. The ubiquity of Ultra Nate's "Free" demonstrates the ability of Strictly Rhythm to strut the line between commercial success and the underground perfectly. An ill fated partnership with Warner Music saw the imprint fold in 2002, but it re-emerged in 2006 with new material from Todd Terry among its first releases.
Strut - Strut Records originally ran from 1999 - 2003 with a mission statement to help document the sounds that inspired contemporary dance music. The imprint quickly gained a reputation for an exhaustive approach to presenting each release with journalists employed to provide extensive sleeve notes, original tapes used for mastering and rare photography used for artwork. K7! Records re-launched the imprint in 2009 with the same intent but developed the idea of bridging the gap between past and present further through the Inspiration Information project which brought together current artists and producers with their musical heroes.
Subliminal US - Since launching way back in 1997, Subliminal has always reflected the musical passions and DJ ethos of its founder, globe-trotting house jock Erick Morillo. In the early days, that meant showcasing a chunky, disco-flecked soulful house sound (think Harrison Crump, ATFC and Praise Cats). As time progressed and Morillo's tastes changed, the label began to release the sort of tougher cuts that fit the big rooms Morillo was now playing. In recent years, Sublimimal has reflected the wider shift towards electro house, via much-played releases by Morillo himself and such label stalwarts as Harry 'Choo Choo' Romero, Jose Nunez and Richard Grey.
Superstar Germany - Superstar Recordings is a German imprint based in the Hessen District that has forged a successful blueprint of licensing underground club hits for mainstream success - sort of like a mainland European Ministry of Sound. Founded in 1998, the imprint has garnered international chart success for tracks from a variety of genres, a policy which has seen Superstar win the German Dance Award in consecutive years. Acts disparate as Yolanda & Dcup, Panjabi MC, Timo Maas, Mylo Tocadisco and Axwell can all thank Superstar for chart topping appearances in Europe.
Tempa - Tempa has played a prominent role in the rise of dubstep - it is the label arm of Ammunition Promotions, the East London dubstep entity that also runs the digital radio station Rinse FM, and also run the massively important club night FWD. Skream, Benga, Loefah, Hatcha, Kode9 and Coki have all put out tracks on the Tempa imprint - it's basically the label for dubstep's debonair. They also had commercial success via the haunting sounds of Benga & Coki's "Night".
Tidy Trax - Set up in 1995 by hard house duo Tidy Boys as a means to release their own distinctive material, Tidy Trax has grown to become one of the UK's premiere hard house imprints, which now include sub labels Synapse, Tidy White and Tidy. Like all labels worth their salt, Tidy Trax has an established a line of compilations to complement singles from the likes of Lisa Lashes, Tony de Vit (RIP), Paul Maddox and Lee Haslam. The Tidy Trax Empire even stretches to bi-annual Tidy Weekeenders and label founder Andy Pickles has the distinction of being a former member of Jive Bunny.
Tirk - Originally a sub label on Nuphonic (RIP), Tirk now operates under the tutelage of indie giant MRC, and does a nice line in 12" nu disco and modern Balearic bombs that inevitably become record box mainstays. They also put out some cracking compilations for good measure. Kraut rockers Fugiya & Miyagi fist found fame on Tirk, and since then the imprint has helped nurture the career of New Young Pony Club, Architeq, Drrtyhaze and A Love Supreme. Disco veterans such as Greg Wilson and Chaz Jankel have also found a new audience via releases on Tirk, especially Wilson's Credit To The Edit series.
Tommy Boy US - No label represents the hip-hop boom of the 1980s better than Tommy Boy. The label, with its distinctive B Boy stance logo, released some stone cold classic 12 inches and LPs and their back catalogue reads like a who's who of rapping royalty. Alongside the seminal 3 Feet High & Rising from De La Soul, Tommy Boy was also responsible for gracing our ears with house party anthems from Naughty by Nature, House of Pain, Digital Underground and Stetsasonic. Special mention too for releasing perhaps the greatest hip-hop concept album of all time in "How's Your Girl?" from Handsome Boy Modelling School.
Toolroom - Toolroom Records was born in December 2002, with house jock Mark Knight declaring his intent to release "quality house music with a twist of funk" by new and well established artists and producers in the music industry. From its HQ in Maidstone, England, Toolroom Records have been home to big releases from the likes of Tom Neville, Deepgroove, Robbie Rivera, ATFC and Dirty Vegas. Toolroom's mixture of hand picking tracks from extablished producers and blooding new talent has seen the label become of the most respected breakthrough imprints in the past 18 months.
Trax US - Trax was a major catalyst in transforming the nascent Chicago house scene into a global phenomenon during the 1980s. Founded by Larry Sherman and "Screamin'" Rachael Cain, it was responsible for a slew of seminal records. The first Chiacgo house anthems - Principle and Knuckle's "Your Love", "No Way Back" by Adonis, Larry Heard's "Can You Feel It," and "Move Your Body" by Marshall Jefferson - were all released on Trax. The label slid into obscurity for a number of years in the mid 2000s before relaunching in 2009.
Tru Thoughts - Tru Thoughts was borne out of humble beginnings in 1999 (under the stairs of label boss Rob Luis' house) and has since demonstrated that it is possible to run a successful independent label. Labelling themselves as focusing on "jazzbreakshiphopsoulfunkbeatsounds", Tru Thoughts benefitted from the rich musical talent in the surrounding South Coast area with Bonobo, Alice Russell and Will Quantic Holland all achieving critical acclaim through releases on the imprint. Recently, the imprint has spread its wings releasing music from Brazilians Zero Db and Australian acts such as Kylie Audist and The Bamboos, and also runs successful sub labels in the form of Zebra Traffic and Unfold.
Turbo Canada - Turbo Recordings is a Montreal-based label run by Canadian crooner Tiga, founded in 1998. Despite the label boss being most noted for his electroclash output in the noughties, the label has also showcased his love of techno and acid, with releases from Hugg & Pepp, Jesper Dahlbäck and Jori Hulkkonen among others. It has also kept a finger in the contemporary electro pie thanks to the likes of Brodinski, Boys Noize and Proxy, as well as dabbling in the electro funk of fellow Canadians Chromeo and, most recently, the retro house jack of Azari & III. Turbo continues to host output from the label boss too, including his 2009 album Ciao! and its impressive remix package.
Ultra US - There are few dance labels with a back catalogue quite as vast as Ultra. Since launching in 1995, the New York-based independent giant has released a huge volume of material from a dizzying array of talent. From Paul Oakenfold, Tiesto and Basement Jaxx to Armin van Burren, Kraak & Smaak and Crystal Method, Ultra has worked with them all. Typically, this has meant tightly tracking mainstream dancefloor fashions, a move that has ensured Ultra stays ahead of its competitors. In terms of highlights, do a quick search for some of your favourite dancefloor classics - you can almost guarantee it will appear in the Ultra catalogue.
Under The Shade - Since launching in early 2009, boutique UK imprint Under The Shade has steadily built a reputation as a label with its finger firmly on the disco/house pulse. Thanks to a simple formula - pairing high quality original cuts from up-and-coming producers (Chamboche, Vakula) with interesting remixes from better-known talent (Runaway, Ray Mang, Mark E) - the JiscoMusic offshoot has rapidly become a 'must check' imprint. Whether releasing sparkly nu-disco or smoky deep house, Under The Shade rarely fails to impress.
Vendetta Spain - This Blanco Y Negro sublabel has been providing DJs with Ibiza hits since the late 1990s, releasing all manner of global dancefloor smashes. A quick glance at their discography confirms their success rate; in 2010 alone, they unleashed Duck Sauce's "Barbara Streisand", Martin Solveig's irresistibly catchy "Hello", big electro house remixes of Ian Carey's "Keep On Rising" and two 12" samplers featuring a raft of White Isle faves. Over the years, they've also re-released several classics with brand new remixes - "Higher State Of Consciousness", Riva Starr and Noze's "I was Drunk" etc - and have been responsible for a string of excellent compilation series, most notably the Pacha branded sets.
Viva Music - Viva Music is Steve Lawler's digital imprint which succeeds his massively successful Harlem Records and offshoots Electrics and Trax. Founded in 2006 as an outlet to distribute the music Lawler encountered on his travels, Viva has mutated into a label at the forefront of the tribal slant on tech house. The great and the good of tech house have featured on Viva since then, with the classic growl of Simon Baker's "Confused" an early hit and more recent successes from the likes of Tiefschwarz featuring amongst a growing back catalogue.
VP US - VP Records is an iconic imprint founded in 1979 by the late Vincent "Randy" Chin which spanned the full spectrum of Caribbean music. Based out of Queens, New York, VP Records has played a key role in the distribution of reggae, roots, dancehall and more. In 1993 it began operating as a music label with the likes of Shabba Ranks, Super Cat Beres Hammond, Luciano and Sizzla all releasing music via the imprint with VP's dancehall credentials signified by smash releases from Sean Paul and Beenie Man. A long term partnership with Atlantic Records allows VP Records to release over 60 albums a year via its offshoots that include the massively popular ragga/dancehall imprint Greensleeves.
Wack - Wack! Records take the best of funk, Motown, hip-hop, jazz and Northern Soul, throw it into the pot, add more than a dash of B Boy attitude with the results being seven inches and EPs charted by the likes of Z Trip, Ursula 1000 and Boca 45. Wack! have every ingredient for an impromptu bloc party - up tempo breaks bombs? Check! Cheeky mashups of The Cure and D'Angelo? Check! Bass heavy hip-hop relicks? Check! Home to veteran DJ/Producer SMOV, Wack! have also put out tracks by established producers such as Krash Slaughta, the Breakbeat Junkie and Pulp Fusion.
Warp - From humble beginnings as a record shop in Sheffield run by Steve Beckett and the late Rob Mitchell, Warp went on to define a generate of forward thinking British electronic music, releasing music by Squarepusher, Aphex Twin, Two Lone Swordsmen and Autechre among others. Despite its long history, the label maintains a vital importance in the contemporary music scene with diverse new acts like Flying Lotus, Hudson Mohawke and !!! joining the label's stalwarts. In recent times the label has branched out into film production, thus ensuring that the Warp empire continues to thrive.
Wichita - If Wichita can claim one thing then it's the honour of unleashing the spiked noise of Yeah Yeah Yeahs on an unsuspecting but wholly appreciative audience back in 2002. Annoyingly, there's so much more to celebrate about the East London imprint, which has recently surpassed a decade of putting out excellent music. Indie disco classics such as the distinct shuffle of Peter Bjorn and John's "Young Folks" sit next to the whimsical profferings of bands such as Bright Eyes and Sky Larkin, whilst the distinctive noise of bands like Les Savy Fav and Bloc Party are complemented by the classy electronics of Simian Mobile Disco.
XL - Formed at the height of acid house, XL Recordings have gone on to become the blueprint for British independent label success. During the nineties XL were responsible for releasing some seminal dance music via SL2 and The Prodigy, and since then the imprint has broadened its horizons and became responsible for releasing some genre defining, award wining music. Currently the XL roster includes everyone from big guns such as The White Stripes, MIA and Vampire Weekend to newer acts such as Titus Andronicus, The Golden Silvers and Giggs.
Z Records - Z Records is perhaps one of the longest running house labels with an equally distinctive logo to match. Founded in 1991 by British house institution Dave Lee aka Joey Negro, Z has become the home for his multitude of aliases from Agora to Z Factor with the innumerable knowingly silly aliases matched by the sheer output of music that retains a clear soulful and funky identity. Other house legends of note to have released tracks on the imprint include Seamus Haji and Marshall Jefferson. Dave Lee has also flexed his crate digging muscles of late with some impressive compilations on Z that chart British disco and boogie.