A Package Deal: Where Beauty and Music go Hand in Hand
When Mark Doyle was three years old, he demanded his own record player from his parents so he could listen to their music. Eventually he had such a large record collection that he became his school’s Deejay. At nineteen, he and his brother started their own night club. After growing up on labels such as Streetsounds and Mastercuts that presented their music through the original 12” mixes, Mark felt there were few compilations targeting more mature and adult audiences and the market needed to adapt.
The Hed Kandi Label
While working for Jazz FM in 1997 and running their compilations, Mark was asked to create a label of his own in order to relate better to his listeners. The Hed Kandi label was launched in 1999 for the Jazz FM Radio Station Enterprise Division. Mark was also responsible for the album compilations, music presentation, marketing, and the cover’s art direction highlights that distinguished the brand from other labels using the illustrations of Jason Brooks, an artist he brought in from Faberge.
The style of Hed Kandi label is attributed in part to Mark Boyle’s unique approach to music production. The music had to be great, he wanted to produce something that he himself would want to buy, and the packaging had to be stunning. The original late night and early morning broadcast lasted for three years, with a mix of house music and numerous guest interviews. Mark continued to present all the shows for the next six years, which was picked up by Galaxy network and moved to prime time.
At the end of the decade, the label’s stability gained momentum through Jazz FM’s specialist radio show and as the Hed Kandi live events grew in popularity they earned a residency at Ibiza at el Divino and at Pacha in London in 2002. The mix of Hed Kandi house music at Ibiza became a magnificent experience through parties branded by the label at Rouge in London and then spread worldwide. With a reputation for some of best lavishly produced events in the UK, the popularity required additional Deejays, who were brought on in order to meet the demand including Matt Collins, Mike Van Loon, Eric Kupper, Stonebridge, Hatty Lovehearts, Andy Norman, John Jones, and Craig McGivern. Eventually the Hed Kandi label landed enough UK residencies that it began operations in Europe, Australia, South America, Asia, and North America.
Mark Doyle, who never actually owned any part of Hed Kandi, left the record company in 2005 to start his Tokyo Project after his last compilation, HEDK049 Beach House. In 2006, the entire Jazz FM company, along with the Hed Kandi label, was purchased by GMG Radio. Subsequently, there were some legal difficulties between June 2005 and February 2006 surrounding label rights and Jason Brooks cover art. Mark’s Tokyo Project was short lived and closed after only one year of production, but the Hed Kandi continued to thrive after it was purchased by Ministry of Sound in 2006.
A Music Empire
Today through the Ministry of Sound, the Hed Kandi Record label is a global phenomenon, one of the world’s most respected brands staging at least 500 annual events, and residencies not only in the United Kingdom, but also in the United States, Dubai, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, and Thailand. With a catalogue of more than one hundred albums and many Top 40 hits, the label has sold over five million compilation albums, inspired numerous artist projects, and three UK Top Ten singles. Now the Ministry’s most popular show through its 24/7 service, Kandi is in syndication on radio stations around the world, available on both the Ministry of Sound and Hed Kandi websites, and on Kiss FM’s weekly broadcasts. In addition, Kandi hosts events at world famous venues such as Nikki Beach in Miami, Es Paradis Ibiza, Pacha of London, and Amsterdam’s Muziekgebouw Concert Hall.
The main genre of Kandi music is a progressive, chic, sexy, and modern mix of Latin influenced dance and deep vocal house music but reflects the diversity of Japanese anime, chilling themes, beach, and disco, but there is so much more. Known for their comedy and flirtatious style they somehow manage to include light and fluttery summer sounds with soulful inflections.
Their exclusive Deejay team caters to the dance floor with reverberations that ignite each gig into a revelation of performances that is not just an audio exploration, but a visual explosion as well. Hed Kandi’s music is anything but dilute. Instead it combines performance with artistry and every crowd, whether contemporary, commercial, or underground is drawn in with percussionists, violinists, vocalists, and saxophonists.
Last, but certainly not least, are the formidable art works of Jason Brooks who was first brought in by Mark Boyle and rejoined the Ministry of Sound in 2007 after the demise of Mark’s Tokyo Project. Over the years, Hed Kandi album covers have been momentous and glorious pieces of art that contain not only the name and logo but also the infamous ‘Kandi Girl’ illustrations, another tip of the hat to the Kandi legacy.