In recent years, major labels have been steadily declining in terms of importance and relevance. This shift in tide has carved out a new lane for a different type of label. This new wave of labels are often artist run and act as a way to cultivate talent, break new artists and expand sounds. Nowhere else is this more present than within electronic music. There’s a slew of incredible labels out right now but we decided to hone in on 10 that we feel you absolutely need to know. Check out the list below and let us know we missed any of your favourites.
Sultan of Swirl, San Holo brought bitbird to crackling to life three years ago. The “create forever” label has since authored over 100 releases, launching the careers of countless artist. Like many of the labels on this list, bitbird’s compilation albums (Gouldian Finch) showcase some of the strongest and most inventive electronic tracks like Taska Black’s ‘Leave Me’ or Ramzoid’s ‘Underwater.’ While many of the bitbird artists showcase much of the same sparkle and radiant chiptune vitality as boss bird San Holo, there’s no questioning the breadth of bitbird’s music electronic arc. Bringing us names like DROELOE, BeauDamian and Araatan is evidence enough that the future is in good hands with this flock.
Despite genre tagging their releases “Dance & EDM” we know Confession as proud purveyors potent bass and heavy house productions. Headlined by the unholy trinity of Tchami, Malaa and Mercer, this French led label brings an abundance of bangers from across the globe including the likes of ANGELZ, Brohug, and Wax Motif. Their Alchemy compilations are a truly masterful mix of all things badass bass. Just don’t take the confession bit too literally or else we might not get another Illegal Mixtape from Malaa. With game changers like ‘Notorious,’ ‘Adieu’ and ‘Bylina’ all coming in the first 2 years of the label’s existence, this star-studded set of savages are sure to continue to make their mark with their mixture of mayhem and madness.
As a label and artists collective, Daruma bolsters one of the most impressive rosters in electronic music. Their team is littered with FUXWITHIT favourites including Andrew Luce, Electric Mantis, MYRNE, graves, baht, Luca Lush, QUIX, Breaux and many more. In the span of just over 2 years they’ve dropped 10 namesake compilations plus a massive collaborative EP with Mad Decent’s sub-label Good Enuff. Through all of this they’ve helped to break some of the best new electronic artists out and have some big things in the works. Look out for Daruma becoming a heavy-hitter into 2018.
Our hometown heros Zeds Dead turned heads with their first release when they featured Freddie Gibbs on ‘Back Home.’ The big names kept coming as they brought on Diplo for ‘Blame,’ NGHTMRE for ‘Frontlines,’ and how about Rivers Cuomo and Pusha T for ‘Too Young.’ This range was only the beginning for Deadbeats as they brought in more hometown talent in Memorecks, Pusher and Rezz. Not only are they fantastic at fostering young artists, their veteran status has allowed them to bring in some of the biggest and baddest names for some fire remix packages (including the likes of Crankdat, Dirtyphonics and Gorgon City). Since March of last year they’ve had over 73 tracks released to their name and if you find that too much to handle, might we suggest their fantastic new radio show which airs Wednesday nights.
5. Jadū Dala
Philadelphia’s “Magical Music Outfit” is the definition of consistency. Their weekly releases have been blowing minds since May of 2016. Their founders, Nathaniel Kosko and Jesse Babini, started Jadu with the mission “to showcase innovative and experimental dance music,” and there’s no question they’ve accomplished this. With releases like Cozway’s ‘Windbreaker,’ Richfellow’s ‘Rouse’ and IBI.’s ‘Arrival’ it’s as though Jadū Dala opened a fissure in earth’s surface allowing all kind of unknown to escape. Their tracks will leave your head spinning, searching for the repeat button. And it’s not just us at FUX that can’t get enough Dala, their tracks can be found in mixes by Benzi, NGHTMRE, and even Madeon. There’s an undeniable alchemy from this Philly label.
Headquartered in Montreal, Kannibalen Records has made it their mission to bring dark electro to the main stage of the EDM world. Founded by Patrick Barry, Marc-André, and Julien Maranda in 2011 the label has been collecting and unfurling deliciously filthy artists. The same trio comprise the label’s leading act, Black Tiger Sex Machine, which creates super-charged, aggressive bass beats grafted with operatic vocals, militant snares, stinging synths and performs them in signature, LED synced, tiger helmets. The others enlisted to spread the Kannibalen virus are Apashe, Kai Wachi, Dabin, Lektrique, Karluv Klub, Dead Battery, and Snails. Focused on reaching across genres, each artist on this label is known for their genre-bending and potent individuality, preserving the underground vibe, challenging the mainstream, and luring followers thirsty for a hardcore experience. If you need a dose and can not wait for one these artists to come to a festival or venue near you, check out their Kannibalen Radio show hosted by Lektrique, for plenty of their latest releases, and mixes. Infection is inevitable and incurable.
LA90 is the youngest label on this list with just a few months under their belt. What they lack in longevity is accounted for in promise. They’re at the forefront of the experimental bass scene and have released nothing but heat in their sort time. From Jon Casey’s maddening Geneva // Trigger Happy EP to Clockvice’s wild halftime project. Most impressive yet is the single ‘Four Season’ which brought together Holly, Chee, Crimes and Yunis. Add in the fact that they’re founded and backed by Bare Noize and you can bet they’re only going to keep rising. Get up on LA90 before they become a staple in the game.
8. Quality Goods Records
Founded by Trap legend, UZ, Quality Goods Records has been living up to their name since their inception in 2016. Their commitment to finding and breaking new talent in the trap scene is matched by very few (if any). Their roster boasts an impressive list that features Oski, sumthin sumthin, Ian Munro, Tascione, Sfam, UNKWN and more. Standout releases include sumthin sumthin’s brain-bending Afterglow EP and Oski’s massive Kid Chrome and Kid Calamity projects. Most notable of course is UZ’s debut Layers a 12 track trap epic. If you’re looking for forward thinking trap sounds, chances are they’re on Quality Goods Records.
9. Record Record
The double talk name of the label follows the Contrastive Focus Reduplication name of founders Point Point. The four man group of Aazar, LH4L, Devoted To God and Nömak literally and figuratively have their ‘Hands’ all over the delightfully diverse label. Their fantastic Filet Mignon compilation series has hosted their solo efforts as well as the likes of San Holo, Dombresky, Masayoshi Iimori and more. And this is really the key to the success and unquestionable quality of Record Record, the diversity and range not only in artists but in soundscope. They’ve touched on everything from acid and jersey club to garage and bass house. While you never know just what they’re cooking up, you can count on it being of the highest calibre.
Brillz has been championing the TWONK movement for years but in 2017 he decided to formalize it into an actual label. They came out of the gate swinging with an absolutely insane
compilation Twonkilation that featured everyone from Brillz himself to Bro Safari x ETC!ETC! x UFO!, YOOKiE x Holly, Wuki, Lil Texas, Willy Joy, Masayoshi Iimori and more. Keeping the momentum up, Hydraulix’s TWONK debut Madness proved a fitting title. If you like to get weird, be sure to check out the ₩ØƦŁÐ ₩łÐE ₩EłƦÐØS at TWONK.
Words by Colin, Mekabeth & Oggie James.