People look at music labels as companies that simply dish out tracks from talented artists and earn a share of their buck. Some critics even think of them as money leaching and exploitative companies. There is a school of thought which believes that recording labels limit the creative liberty of artists, and force them to produce the kind of music that is suitable to the taste of the casual listener instead of the hardcore fan. Whether record labels dumb down the quality of music or not is still up for debate. However, one must not forget that each record label has a story behind it. Sometimes they seem to pop up from nowhere and make money instantly. At other times, an artist has to shed his blood, sweat and tears in establishing a record label in order to let his work, and the work of other aspiring artists shine. Sometimes, record labels are a little more than just a music producing company. A record label can at times be a haven for artists and their fans. Behind each successful record label, is a hardworking, dedicated and visionary artist who strives gift his fans with something truly extraordinary.
Mark Doyle and Fierce Angel
The story of Mark Doyle and Fierce Angel follows such a pattern. We cannot talk about Fierce Doyle without familiarizing ourselves with Mark Doyle and his endeavours. For those of you who are not aware, is a UK based record label that was set up by DJ Mark Doyle in the year 2006. Under this label you have a selection of some of the finest DJs who toil day and night to uphold the image of this fast rising record label. Other than producing music CDs, the Fierce Angel as a record label is known to endorse special club night events. Its style of marketing is quite different from the others. They believe in a lifestyle marketing approach, which so far has garnered attention of hundreds and thousands of people. The story of Fierce Angel is incomplete without the story of Mark Doyle. So let’s take a dive into the world of this DJ first before returning to Fierce Angel.
Rollercoaster Career at Hed Kandi
Before there was Fierce Angel in Mark Doyle’s life, there was Hed Kandi. This was created in the year 1997. Hed Kandi functioned as a House music label, and Mark Doyle’s unparallel creativity and selective taste made this label a standout among the rest. He had prior experience in running the jazzfm compilation label. At Hed Kandi, his goal was to produce something exclusive and exception for the listeners. He wanted to create music that people could relate to and would be drawn towards. The more sense his music made to the listeners, the more CDs they would eventually buy. In his view, an ideal album would have to have outstanding music, visually appealing packaging, and a one of a kind overall look. Mark paid great attention to artwork and detail. As a result, he contacted Jason Brooks to produce 50 artwork designs for his brand. He also made sure that Hed Kandi was properly publicized. This is why he created a radio show for the label. For the first 3 years of Hed Kandi’s operation, the radio show was went on air late/early morning on radio state JazzFM. All the presentation of the shows were done by Mark Doyle. He mixed funky House and chillout music with guest interviews. The show went really well, and it was duly rewarded with a prime time slot at 9 pm. For 6 straight years, Mark Doyle was in charge of presenting all the shows in the Hed Kandi radio.
While Mark was running things at Hed Kandi, he had the opportunity to liven up a number of parties with his music. To make sure that each event turned out to be a spectacle, Mark hired a group of highly talented artists. These events were starting to pick up speed and once Mark brought in El Divino to the crew, the parties became a blast. Keeping Hed Kandi at the centre of his career, Mark established a number of other labels that had their own flavour. As the success of Hed Kandi piled up, Mark decided to release two series that would go on to become the talk of the town. The first one was called the Acid Lounge series. All of it was compiled by Mark himself. Next up was the Sushi series. This was based on deep House and Soul music. It also had a Japanese theme. Under the banner of Hed Kandi, artists such as Afterlife, 45 Dip and Anthea drew mainstream attention. Their success channelled more acclaim towards Hed Kandi. The Stonebridge Album project in particular brought the label a lot of success. Other glittering names that Mark signed to Hed Kandi include Peyton, LNM Project, Late Night Alumni and Solo Feat Kimblee.
The Demise of Hed Kandi
The year 2005 was a turning point in the career of Mark Doyle. It was a year of controversy as the Jazzfm that he was working for was bought by GMG radio. Hed Kandi was also taken over as a part of this deal. To put it in simpler terms, Mark Doyle had lost his baby. The company that he had worked so hard to build was literally snatched away from his courtesy of this GMG radio deal. Many may say that Mark Doyle technically never owned Hed Kandi. However, when you consider the fact that he was the one behind radio show, the compilation of the albums, the marketing tactics and direction of art covers, you can’t help but feel that the man was robbed of his property. His last ever compilation for Hed Kandi was HEDK049 Beach House. Once that was complete, he packed his bags and departed from Hed Kandi for good in the year 2005. His goal was to redeem his career by creating an independent record label. He was lucky to have some of the original members of his team at Hed Kandi with him. He also had the services of Jason Brooks in hand. Together, they decided to release the Tokyo Project. Unfortunately, it was the wrong time to open up and sustain a new company. The company never got off to a good start thanks to a bunch of legal complications. In addition to that, the Tokyo Project had insufficient funding. The project didn’t seem to have a bright future and in February 2006 Mark Doyle decided to close down the newly formed label. This was yet another setback in the life and career of Doyle. However, he didn’t lose hope and he stayed true to his goals. Luckily for him, he was able to conceptualize the winning idea of Fierce Angel.
The Birth and Success of Fierce Angel
Fierce Angel was an entirely self funded project. It was launched in May of 2006 as Fierce Angel Records & Fierce Angel Events. He was able to acquire the services of Jason Brooks once again who provided him with the artwork for the initial releases. He was able to add some extra firepower to his team when his fiancée Katy Penny decided to lead the marketing and PR. In addition to that, he had help from Nadia Rifaat who took charge of the Fierce Angel Events. He also secured the services of Dave Armstrong who now produces the Fierce Angel Radio show.
The following are names of Fierce Angel releases. Tokyo Disco, Beach Angel, Es Vive, Fierce Angel, Angels Fall, Digital Angel and Fierce Disco. The label is also collaborating with several artists such as Peyton, The Bassmonkeys, Naomi Marsh, Robina, Belle Erskine, The Elek-Tro Junkies, Club 4 Life and Rita Campbell. The first release came in the form of the superb club hit “The Answer”. This reached number 2 in the club charts in 2007.
Fierce Angel has also attained residency positions at some of the best UK clubs. Mark is now working with a new team of DJ’s that comprise of several of his old buddies. Examples of names include, Eric Kupper, Mike Van Loon, Hatty Lovehearts, Matt Collins, Steve Simpson, Luis Madureira, Dave Armstrong, Iain Thomson, Ben Santiago, Justin Wilkes & Craig James.
In the year 2008, Fierce Angel came up with the release of 6 compilations along with a bunch of artists projects. The Fierce Angel Radio show has spread its operation to more than 20 countries and is now being broadcast in excess of 40 stations. In 2009, they merged with a team of young, upcoming and talented new DJs. These DJs will carry the flag of Fierce Angel in countries across the world. A Little Fierce III came out in February and this is to be followed by Fierce Disco III on the month of March.
In the worlds of Mark Doyle himself,
““It’s been an amazing ride so far and the bumps in the road have only made us stronger. I’m so pleased to have Jason Cook on board for the next exciting chapter in the story of Fierce Angel and would like to thank everyone for all their support over the last 10 years.”