Let’s not beat around the bush, we’ve said goodbye to a miserable 2020 and hello to an even bleaker 2021… Who knows what will happen next in this unpredictable world?
One thing we can guarantee is music will not go away. If 2020 taught us anything it is that music labels and artists worked harder than ever to keep us sane during a very eventless year. Big ups to all of you!
From new labels cropping up on the scene and surprising everyone, to established players doing their upmost to push their productivity into new lanes. Despite all of the Covid chaos, there is some precious positivity to be found in the wreckage of last year. Let’s face it, there’s not a lot of it going around right now…
It’s time we change that. We all need something to look forward to at the moment, so UKF hit up 21 labels and asked them to provide us with some positivity for 2021. What have they got planned for the year ahead? What good came of 2020 and how are they going to build on it?
Read on to find fresh insight, exclusives and far too much cryptic teasing… It’s a long read, but we guarantee you’ll feel more positive for it! It’s going to be a big year for bass music.
“2021 is going to be a hell of a year at Circus, and we’re getting stuck in right from the off. Flux Pavilion’s sophomore album .wav hit stores on Jan 21 and it’s going to turn some heads. He’s completely re-designed what a Flux is. Beyond that we’ve got album two coming from Conrank (also embracing his new style, guitars, his own vocals, lots of surprises), the debut LP from Jessica Audiffred, and (depending on how the pandemic pans out), we may have a big compilation with Four in the title…
“Over the last 3/4 years our fans will have noticed a transition away from our foundation, stepping outside our comfort zone in terms of the music we put out there. This year will take this even further… Flux’s album is a dynamic change in itself, but after that we’ve got lots of vocalist-led projects on the way too. You’ll be hearing music with a different edge from artists like Tik Tok phenomenon Cyran and talented UK singer Laura Greaves. We can’t wait for you to hear the tunes!” (Andrew Neill, General Manager)
“Somehow we managed to release more music last year than ever before, so I think we’re going to try to top that again this year. We’ve got heaps of new music from our Deadbeats family of artists, including some acts you haven’t heard from in a bit, a bunch of new artists to introduce folks to, new sounds, new styles, and of course lots of new Zeds Dead music. But most importantly, as soon as we’re able to we’ll be back out on the road with the Deadbeats tour, coming to your town ready to party down.” (Harrison Bennett, label manager)
“We’re building on a good year for us in terms of musical output and recognition. More people are learning of our label and more channels are starting to take notice. We’ve focused heavily on building a label community, and we have a very tight-knit bunch of artists on our label. I think that was a key factor in our 2020. Moving onto 2021, we’re very excited as it’s our most ambitious year yet. First up we’ve got a collaborative EP from Pyxis called Pyxis & Friends, which has collabs with Auris, Maverick Soul, SOFi MARi, Easy, and Mitekiss. That drops on Jan 29.
“We’ve also got a V/A album coming out in March, which is our biggest project yet. It’s a 13 track beast featuring various artists from the Goldfat camp (current and future). It’s really musically diverse and sums up the label’s sound nicely. We’re soulful, but we like edge. After that we have tunes from rising talent Athena, who recently joined the EQ50 mentorship program with Shogun Audio, and plenty more releases to see out the year. We have a solid bunch of artists from across the globe, and we’re really happy with our current output.” (Mitekiss)
“With 2020 being such a difficult year for everyone, our artists and team have been hard at work getting together a jam-packed schedule for 2021 that will provide a glimmer of hope to D&B fans worldwide. This will be our 25th year of Hospital Records, and to celebrate we have a special 25-track compilation bringing together the past, present and future of D&B. You can also expect a debut album from Unglued, a second edition of Degs’ much-loved Mixtape, a fresh four-part EP series called Future Symptoms bringing through the most exciting up-and-coming artists, and after a 6-year long wait, a brand new album from our A&R mastermind Nu:Tone, whose first single One Day At A Time ft Lalin St. Juste came out earlier in January.” (Nikki Ellis, label manager)
“So we have an incredible line-up in store for 2021… Shiken Hanzo due for March, Adread with an incredible album in April, then we have a remix EP for the seminal Earl Grey album Headwinds. Profane returns with an album featuring artwork from Mike Del Mundo (Marvel Comics), and Outrage touches down with an EP. Plus we also have the first Technicality compilation we’re working on for the return of the event…
“I want to shout out Persuasive Funk – the album that broke new ground for the fusion of jazz and funk in D&B. It’s a sublime collection of blistering music, which has been critically acclaimed by many… The title track tells you all you need to know.” (Chris Walton)
“Invicta Audio had its first release May 2020 and it has been a hell of a journey since… Last year we gained attention from inspirational artists, got nominated for Best Newcomer Label (Drum&BassArena) and Best Breakthrough Label (DJ Mag). We’ve just hit a milestone of 8,000 followers & 750,000 plays in a crazy 9 months, which has left us speechless. It just goes to show that even in such difficult times, unbelievable things can still be accomplished.
“In 2021, we’re looking to focus on providing our audience with the highest quality of music possible! Invicta has been based on the promotion of up-and-comers, and we want to continue giving these artists the platform to reach wide audiences. We’ve been working tirelessly behind the scenes to schedule weekly releases and have recently ventured into exclusive sample packs. We aspire to increase our following so that we’re able to run some huge events, which will hopefully venture across the UK and beyond. We’re also looking to launch a huge clothing range to expand our brand ready for when events are back on!” (Viatic UK)
“All I’ve wanted for Korsakov Music is to be known as a legitimate label pushing cutting edge dancefloor, and in 2020 I feel like the label firmly established itself. In 2021, we’re gonna take the world by storm. Running all the way into end of 2022 I’ve already signed eight albums, over 20 EPs and at least 10 singles. I have multiple new exclusive signings with the label too. As soon as it’s possible we will move ahead with a complete Korsakov Music world tour of club shows stretching across five continents. We have so much fire coming that I have trouble sleeping at night due to the excitement…
“The two biggest parts of Symbiosis Remixed are coming. Droptek, PRFCT Mandem, L3mmy Dubz and my new secret signing, who is currently an established name in basshouse (first release landing February 26), are all working on next level releases. I’ve also got my next two EPs in the works and March 19 will see a new album series born. On April 9 we’ll unleash the biggest ever EP on our label, too. It’s non-stop hurters for the next 18 months… Watch this space cuz we’re here to convert each and every one of you into a die-hard Korsakov Music fan – or we’ll die trying.” (AL/SO)
“Last year, we unfortunately had to cancel events in many cities, including Liquicity Festival. Despite the hit, there was an upside: loads of time to invest in new music and projects! 2020 became the year with our highest musical output to date – both on Liquicity and its soulful sister label Galacy.
“Some musical highlights you can expect on Liquicity in 2021 include singles and EPs by Lexurus & Dualistic (Continua!), Maduk, T&Sugah, Andromedik, Murdock, Dossa & Locuzzed, Feint, Polygon, Voicians, Sili and many more. This year will also mark the fifth instalment of our Escapism album series with features by artists such as Technimatic, Seba, Maduk, Nymfo, Edlan, Rameses B, Monrroe and others. Finally, there will be two new solo albums by Edlan and Maduk!”
“2021 at Metalheadz is, without doubt, going to be headlined by our long-awaited 25th anniversary celebrations. After a number of delays, partially caused by the obvious global situation, part one is out now featuring a crisp remaster of John B’s Up All Night alongside Data 3’s colossal remix. Part two has also just been unveiled with Kaotic Chemistry’s classic Drum Trip getting a number of remixes and rebuilds.
“As well as the 25 years project we have got an EP from Quartz in February, a Nookie single in March, the return of Razors Edge, alongside debut albums from Phase and Grey Code now signed off and in production. There’s so much happening behind the scenes and we can’t wait to share it.” (Tom Dagless, assistant label manager)
“Despite the many challenges our industry faced in 2020, we were fortunate enough to have an outstanding year at Monstercat – showcasing the hard work and passion of electronic music’s most impressive artists. This year you’ll see more of the familiar faces you know and love, but we’re putting an even greater emphasis on discovering new talent around the world. In our 10th year, fans can expect some big LPs, a dedication to increasing the diversity of our roster, and a drive to expand the range of genres that define Uncaged. Kicking off 2021, we welcomed Eptic back to Monstercat with his OG dubstep tune Stop Pretending. There’s plenty more from him on the way too.” (Chris Johnson, Lead A&R)
“2020 was a great year for Onyx. Like most people we stayed home, but we felt like we had to do a bit more for the community through Stay at Home Festival! We’re so proud of what we have achieved with Goat Shed, and hope everyone managed to crack a smile during the festivals. We plan to (hopefully) go out with one more bang this weekend.
“In 2021, we’re going to be continuing with the same momentum. You’re going to see a lot of new and old faces – one of which is an artist ending in 13… At the end of January we have a single from Jam Thieves, followed by releases from Muted Hue, Disrupta, Trex and many more. This year Onyx will also be signing our first exclusive act. But who? More than anything, we’re praying for events to come back in 2021. All being well, we’ll be throwing our first live event this year. It’s an area we can’t wait to develop! Expect more of the same but better from the Onyx camp.” (Chris Wickens)
“For 2021, we’re carrying on from where we left off in 2020. Last year was our best yet in terms of releasing music, and we intend to continue that by pushing ourselves to put out music from some of the most talented producers around. A big goal of ours this year is to release our first music on vinyl. Obviously like everyone in this scene we’re itching to get back in a live setting too. Those first few raves are going to be very special!” (Peter Piper)
“2021 is looking like a big year for the label – primarily due to the key releases we have coming up throughout the year. Despite 2020 being a difficult period, we used that time to work with our artists internally and pull together some great bodies of work. These include the second album from Killbox, as well as Skantia’s debut LP and the finale of Calyx & Teebee’s massive Plates series. There are even rumours of the head honcho getting some singles out in 2021… We’ll also be starting to package a colossal 30 years of Ram project, which will be launched into next year. It features some of our most ambitious work to date.
“Ram’s sister label also has another big album forthcoming, with new and old faces making up the track list. Our release schedule is looking busy across 2021 and we’re really excited to show you what we have coming up! And when events are back on, definitely watch this space.”
“We’re really excited by what’s in store for D&B in 2021. In terms of Shogun, you can expect to hear a new album from one of the label’s duos, new EPs from Monrroe, GLXY and Koherent, the return of our Point Of Origin compilation unearthing the scene’s brightest newcomer talent, a debut solo project on the label from an established London-based lyricist, plus music from GEST and Bert H & Hiraeth. Looking further ahead, you can expect to hear the first solo offerings on the label from two of the most revered artists in the scene, as well as the return of our flagship Various Artist compilation.
“Whilst there’s still uncertainty surrounding events, we hope to keep the positive vibes alive with a number of livestreams throughout the year – including one-off streams from around the UK and our regular Sessions streams across YouTube and Twitch. We promise we’ll be back on the dancefloor as soon as it’s safely possible though. Despite being a challenging year in many ways, Shogun are incredibly proud of the music we released in 2020, and for all the support our artists received. So in advance we’d like to thank everyone who helps to keep the scene alive in any capacity this year. Keep it Shogun.” (Peter van Dongen, label manager)
“After a challenging 2020, we’re ploughing forwards into the eighth year of the Soulvent story with even more great music planned for release. We’re expanding our ever-growing roster to work with some exciting talent exclusively, whilst continuing to offer a platform for new and emerging artists across the board. Expect more vinyl, more releases (and even a few artist albums) from some of the familiar favourites – as well as a breadth of newer producers, styles and sounds from right across the world! Keep your eyes peeled for those artist signing announcements, coming real soon.
“Whilst we’ve done a few livestream events in the current climate, we’re keen to grow our number of events – providing the pandemic will allow any to take place safely! Our merchandise range is set to grow steadily in the coming months too. We’re hosting stages at both Hospitality On The Beach and the Weekend In The Woods, and have a couple more irons in the fire to boot. While 2021 promises so much to many of us, you can count on the Soulvent camp to provide a sublime soundtrack, whatever the year has in store.” (Joe Goss, label manager)
“Despite being a tough year for DJs, 2020 gave us more time than ever to work on the label. We’ve started off 2021 with a new concept called Single Servings where we’re releasing four tracks from four individual producers within a week. We’ll be repeating this throughout the year alongside our regular monthly releases, various VIPs and remixes. We can’t give the game away yet, but there will be some new faces on the label – a mix of well-known names and new talent. We also have some artist albums in the works and more releases on vinyl. On the raving front, we have some socially distanced parties that’ll take place when we’re out of lockdown, and we’ll be ready with proper raves as soon as that’s possible. The throttle is definitely not letting up so keep your eyes (and cans) peeled.” (Benny V)
“2020 was a great year for Spearhead, but 2021 will be better. Last year we saw the release of mine and Charlotte Haining’s Life As We Know It, and there have been a selection of remixes doing the rounds. But I can reveal there are more on the way… At the moment we’re calling this project Life As We Knew It.
“2021 marks 20 years since my debut release as BCee came out, so I’ve asked a bunch of people to remix tracks from my back catalogue. This will contribute to a 20 years of BCee release later this year. Our new signing Terror has a batch of singles almost ready to follow up his recent Rivers EP too. While he may be a new name to the D&B world ,Terror (aka Tony Friend), was the producer half of Modestep for many years. We also have Sweetpea‘s debut EP dropping in March and it’s an absolute banger. Plus, music on the way from Seba, Villem, LSB, Air.K & Cephei, Walk:r, Emba, Missing, Benny V and many more…” (BCee)
The North Quarter
“Looking back, 2020 felt like a pivotal year for us. We managed to intensify the release schedule and spread releases more consistently over the year. We also broadened the sound of the label and expanded the camp. What was most satisfying though was how a few key releases made the synergy of growth between artists and label very clear.
“As for our 2021 plans: we have just announced an EP by US talent Echo Brown, due February 12th. Beyond that, anyone who follows us knows we keep our cards close to our chest… But we can reveal we have some ambitious projects coming from label regulars. We have one album that’s close to completion, and I’ll be returning to TNQ with a project for the first time since my 2017(!) EP Earth Tones. Overall, our schedule will be similar to 2020, whilst maintaining the ethos that got us here: a blank canvas for amazing artists to make music from the heart. Not to forget incredible artwork by Super Super Studios.” (Lenzman)
“Surprisingly, 2020 was a good year for V. We managed to push through with some amazing releases such as the Future album, but we’re definitely glad it’s over and are now looking forward to 2021. We’ve got some exciting releases such as Carlito & Addiction compiling the seventh edition of Club Sessions, and the debut album from Paul T & Edward Oberon. Trust me, this one is going to knock your socks off…
“Other highlights are a big project on Philly Blunt, the debut Beat Merchants album, more from the Legends series (twelves lined up from Dillinja, Roni Size, DJ Die and Krust), plus we’ll also be working closer with Sl8r moving forward. We’ve been working with him for a few years now and he continues to excite me with every tune he sends. We’ve got lots of other stuff cooking but I can’t reveal everything at once. Take my word for it, 2021 is going to be big.” (Bryan Gee)
“As always, the revolving door never stops at Viper HQ. We’re always looking for the next new act who has that something extra, as well as showcasing the established players we’ve built our reputation on! Introducing fresh faces and giving them a platform to be heard from is something we pride ourselves on. For 2021, we’ll be announcing a new signing who we believe will develop into a game-changing household act in the industry…
“Obviously, a lot of people would like to forget 2020, but we felt it was a year to learn from. With areas of the business (like events) having to be shelved, it allowed us to look into new revenue streams that could benefit our artists. We’re about to move into an exciting new era for Viper in the way we deliver our music to the masses. Artists felt the pinch more than anyone in 2020 and we have to give huge praise to every Viper act who never lost focus on the music. Curating the Viper annuals at the end of each year is a fantastic reflection tool that speaks volumes. 2020’s output blew me away and I can guarantee there will be no letting up with 2021’s levels. Hold tight.” (Futurebound)
“VISION changed a lot in 2020. We came into the year with big plans and saw a lot of those plans come to fruition. One of which was the simplification and streamlining of our platform after having three different labels (Vision, Division, Invisible) In 2020, everything was united under the VISION banner. Spearheading this change, the first MISSION compilation manifested itself – a literal mission statement for the label. We put out more music than ever before by Thys, a.o., Machinedrum, Amon Tobin, Mefjus, IMANU, Noisia, Phace and Mono/Poly. On top of that, we got nominated in the Best Label category during the DrumandBassArena Awards.
“But there are a lot more plans in motion for this year. 2021 is going to see multiple album projects, the arrival of MISSION 02, several V/A EP’s, and the first release from a brand new artist… The Noisia Patreon and Noisia Radio show have also been added to the VISION umbrella. Starting January 1, we got off to a great start. We’re continuing on the path that was set out and are really excited about all the things coming your way in the (near) future.” (Nik Roos, Creative Director, Head Of A&R)