Defected Records has just celebrated its fifteenth year in the music industry. The British record label was created in partnership with the Ministry of Sound by Simon Dunmore and Janet Bell in 1999. From its inception, Defected releases have influenced not only house music, but the label is now considered the world’s authority within the entire soul, disco, garage, and house music genre. Their first release, 1999 Soulsearcher’s ‘I Can’t Get Enough’ was an immediate success, hit the top 10, and lay the foundations for a label whose future musical direction and consistency, exemplify quality productions, artist loyalty, and extreme customer satisfaction.
Dunmore’s Deejay and music history started in 1982 spinning soul, Salsoul, Motown, and even experimented with journalism. During the 1980’s he advanced his reputation at the Blues & Soul magazine and went to Ibiza in 1985. After stints with EMI, Cooltempo of Chrysalis Records until 1994, and Polygram from 1994 through 1998, when Ministry of Sound offered him a start-up fund.
In retrospect, Defected owes its thanks to a multinational corporation devoted to money and not to music that took over and closed A & M Records. Before they started with Defected, the artists and repertoire (A & R) man loaded with more than 25 years of experience as a Deejay, Simon Dunmore along with Janet Bell, promotions specialist, had successfully run A & M Record’s dance division. However, after A & M Records shut down, the pair decided to seek out new career paths but not with a major label. Hence they ‘defected’ and the label was born. Dunmore explains: “When you’re working at a major it’s all about having hit records and making money and there’s not much time for anything else” (Defected. 2013).
At first, Defected ran a small office in west London, employed four people, and the label signed and released just enough music to stay liquid. Critical to the label’s ongoing successes and its unique position in the industry is in part demonstrated by Dunmore’s keen ability to find and promote new talent instead of continually pushing out cookie cutter music. Dunmore believed that reinvention is opportunity.
After the success of ‘I Can’t Get Enough’ the hits continued. Releases like ‘What You Need, ‘To Be In Love’, ‘Rise’, ‘Bad Habit’ and ‘Finally’, placed respectably on the charts and Roger Sanchez’s ‘Another Chance’ was a No. 1 single in 2001. In 2005, Bob Sinclar’s hit single ‘Love Generation’ rose to No. 12 in the United Kingdom and sold more than one million copies worldwide. Records by Ministers De-La Funk and Hatiras and singles like Sinclar’s ‘World, Hold On’, ‘Hey Hey’ of Ferrer, Tensanake’s ‘Coma Cat’, and ‘Finally’ by Kings of Tomorrow, which was voted 31st best track of 2009-2010 by Resident Advisor. Many artists followed their singles with album successes.
Over the next few years the Defected label became a pivotal role model within international dance and house music and with this key position attracted many of the best talents, scoring them hit after hit and besting some of the major labels. Deejays around the world spun their records and their signings brought in world renowned contributors including Deejays Chus and Gregory, as well as artists and producers such as Banda Sonorra, Junior Jack, Martin Solveig, and Bob Sinclair. Moreover, some of Defected records have not only been chart successes but have inspired people around the world with songs such as Ame’s ‘Rej’, Dubtribe Soundsystem’s ‘Do It Now’, and Julien Jabre’s Swimming Places.
They have also reignited dormant record catalogues resulting in huge successes for their unique range of album series, Deejays, and progressive and unparalleled music talent. Defected’s roster encompasses the entire genre of electro-soul, dance, club-based, underground, and house music, and the label and its artists have numerous awards including Best Label, Best International Event, and Best Global Dance Label. Dunmore’s policy of rewarding his talent and relationships breeds loyalty: ‘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” (Defected. 2014)
There have been some growing pains, but Defected now employs almost thirty people and a number of consultants. Dunmore remains a Deejay at heart but relents to the trials of a tough market and to a new challenge; the transition to digital music while keeping the business profitable, and where Shazam and piracy are common place. Dunmore believes in opportunity, and new technology and social media offer new ways to explore compilations.
Last year, Dunmore’s undeniable successes and priceless contributions were publicized in The Guardian, Huffington Post, Metro, and Evening Standard and Defected acquiesced: “Dunmore is a long time music enthusiast who has been fortunate enough to make his passion his vocation. And fortunately for us, he continues to inject every ounce of that passion into Defected and everything the label stands for. Simon Dunmore is Defected; long may he continue to be so” (Defected. 2013).
The industry is all about adapting and finding the best, and as the authority, there is not a bar, club, disco, or house party in the world that does not spin at least one of Defected records. With new releases this year like the compilation, Defected In The House Ibiza 2014, the independent label continues to bring down music boundaries and now operates in more than forty countries and millions attend the label’s In the House events. Known for their quality in production and for artist development, Defected will continue to shape the house music genre and influence the global market well into the future.