Every single one of us experiences a little moment of joy we find out one of our favourite artists is starting a new label or when a new unknown label has launched with some fire forthcomings. Whatever you may think of 2016 in light of fairly catastrophic events including the departures of our most treasured musical figures, the year has had a seriously strong soundtrack – especially from exciting new labels and stables.
Whether it’s starting a label to push new sounds or just to get your own music out there, new labels are the essential condition of electronic music and vital to its progression. It’s the opportunity for the up-and-coming producer to release their new material, to catch attention and share their creativity. It has been and always will be.
From what we have seen throughout this year, the most established of artists are turning to label owners. The students have become the masters, sowing the seeds for the next generation. Here are 10 of the best who have help make 2016 a year to remember for all the right reasons.
The brainchild of Mr. Alix Perez and one that looks and sounds extremely exciting. 1985 or One Night Eight Five, focuses on music that is quintessentially Perez; forward thinking, destructive yet beautiful and always on point. With three releases from the curator himself, teaming up with Skeptical on one and another from his halftime alias Shades, 1985 is a timely project with its eyes fixed on the future. Its remit is ‘basing it’s roots in 170/85 BPM’ but with Perez at the helm, who knows where it could go, but we may need a DeLorean to keep up…
You can’t deny it hasn’t been Crucial’s year for low-end old school madness. The label has its sound deeply embedded into the fabric of dubstep and has smashed it this year with Sleeper, Oxossi, Eva808, Moondstones and Samba all sharing releases and each being as mad as each other. Manned at the helm by Sleeper, the label knows its direction and stays true to a sound that has proven timeless over and over and over again, and the releases this year are evidence of that.
With ridiculously heavy tracks like Rocket Guns Blazin and Transmission, The Prototypes have bull-charged this year in brutally beautiful fashion. Doing things on their own terms with their own sound and their own crew, Get Hype represents their attitude, energy and focus in full detail. It’s clear that the label isn’t a vanity vehicle for their own productions, either… It may only be in its infancy but Get Hype is already showing strong foundations as a trustworthy HQ for next gen talent – within two releases they started championing brand new talent in the form of Glitch City and Consouls. It’s clear working with labels such as Shogun and Viper has given the Brighton due some sharp label craft tools. We can’t wait to see what they have in store for 2017.
Set up to release only Hybrid Minds material, for now, Hybrid Music has had three rather stunning releases this year. The Touch, Skeletons and Phoenix EPs all feature a range of soothing vocals and liquid styles that these two guys have become synonymous with. A very strong year for Hybrid Minds and their Music and when your discography looks that stylish already, we know we’ve got big things in store!
SpectraSoul’s brand new Ish Chat, a label that shares the name of the track from their 2012 Delay No More LP, was launched this year and has already seen two hefty EPs already from deadly duo so far… And there’s a third lurking in the precipice of 2017 that levels up the label once again. The project was started to present their own varied and dynamic style and boy does it do that… Both releases, the Stock Sound and Only You EPs are bursting with Spectra’s soulful vibe, whilst delving into those rough and raw depths. All killer: check this Ish quick time.
To put it simply, the mighty Methlab have mopped the floor with 2016. The management agency set up their ‘stripped-down, but sharp-edged’ BNKR series at the end of last year and if it took off then, it was travelling interstellar this year. Two EPs from Allied and War early in the year were expert pieces of experimental, stripped back D&B. The third instalment of BNKR featured Hydro and Villem who pitted their sharp-edged wits against BNKR’s bleak backdrop and did so in sublime fashion. What else?
Oh yeah, not to mention a massive 15-track Audeka LP as well, the 9-track Revanant compilation of Methlab artists. Oh and the 6-track Monoleth compilation that’s been two years in the making. Game, set and match. They didn’t win Best Newcomer Label at the Drum&BassArena Awards 2016 for nothing.
The North Quarter
With some of the biggest names in D&B launching new musical ventures this year, it only seemed appropriate that someone like Lenzman would be involved. Much the same as Ish Chat and 1985, since its inception The North Quarter has only seen a release from its founder. But with plans for ‘like minded individuals’ to join on the horizon, the future looks bright for Lenzman’s imprint.
But the message of The North Quarter goes fathoms deeper; ‘music with imperfections, born in heartache and pain, joy and laughter; a human celebration’ as Lenzman explained to us earlier this year. Something slightly more than just drum and bass, Lenzman’s soulful directions will provide for those more thoughtful times, so keep your mind’s eye on this one.
We tipped Rua Sound as an essential new label many moons ago back in February. That nuts Sully EP was a promising sign of things to come for the Galway based label and with 2016 drawing near, we’re glad to say they’ve kept things up and haven’t looked back. The next release saw TMSV take control on a solo EP, with two tough half-time excursions while they’re latest release is a heavy mover from Northerner Taiko twinned with another TMSV banger. Serious business from the Rua Sound gang and big things in store if they keep up this pace!
Where do you store all your homemade weapons? You start a label and keep them there of course. Homemade Weapons launched Weaponry this year to showcase his own brand of militant 170 artillery. Outside of releasing an EP and an album on Samurai this year, his two EPs on Weaponry were serious heavy-hitters. His solo Mind Control EP back in February and the Coliseum EP shared with fellow west-coast producer Red Army capped off a productive year for the Seattle based don. A rumoured release on Weaponry is coming early next year too. Prepare for some fresh shelling!
Although launching late in 2015, UVB-76 took things to whole new levels in 2016. Ruffhouse and Gremliz’s imprint is focused on the darker aspects of D&B, those aspects suited to the most industrial of venues and the darkest of souls. Often morphing the line between D&B and techno, their roster is an impressive line-up of the some of the brightest names around; Overlook, Clarity, Mantra, Skitty, Gremlinz and Ruffhouse, including one third member of, Pessimist, all to hand. The label runs concurrently with their Abstractions nights which has kicked off in both Bristol and Brighton. Set up as a platform to showcase all things UVB, like an artist who needs a gallery or a killer who needs a warehouse.