Every music label is born from the desire of wanting to leave a mark. All budding producers ponder the possibility of leaving an imprint on the musical world, even if it’s just one track. Music labels and the people who run them are the facilitators of these dreams and even though it’s the era of the superstar DJ and the mega-venue, it’s the music which keeps the whole ecosystem alive and kicking.
The 2010s was the decade of vinyl revival which was always going to be great news for labels who spent the 2000s on even tighter margins than normal with the rise of digital music. The re-birth of vinyl meant more financial and creative wiggle room for all checkpoints of the process, from the producer themselves all the way to record shops. It was a hell of a decade for re-imagining what house, techno and minimal could sound like.
Trommel isn’t a fan of ranking music or DJs, but we are massive fans of giving recognition to those who are amazing at what they do and push the scene forward for the best. With that in mind, we’ve chosen five labels who we think helped shape this decade musically and/or reflected the various sonic directions the past nine years took.
The London-based collective-stroke-label FUSE celebrated ‘A Decade Of Rave’ this year so it seems fitting that they’d be included in our list. What started out as a Sunday after-party series would grow into both a label and a collective before morphing into a global phenomenon with showcases and a presence all around the world.
The impact of Enzo Siragusa’s label is hard to quantify as with most things in the world of music. Although it’s easy to spot the likes of Enzo Siragusa and Archie Hamilton being global-touring DJs whilst the likes of Rossko, Seb Zito and Rich NxT also boast plentiful touring schedules, there’s something more to their influence though. The label meshed together elements of minimal, tech-house, deep house and garage to produce a strain of dubby minimal that can be heard from Bucharest to Bangkok on any given weekend.
Siragusa has said before that the parties grew into a label because attendees were complaining they couldn’t hear the sound they caught on Sunday at 93 Feet East anywhere else. Here’s hoping the quotees are still around to see FUSE’s journey and sound grow far beyond East London.
Key release: Enzo Siragusa, Archie Hamilton, Subb-an – Archenzubann EP [FUSE028]
It was always going to be difficult to pick just one release. But FUSE’s 28th release is a fantastic reflection of the label, A-side ‘Playdem’ infuses catchy vocal hooks and cheeky chords all being let by those dubby FUSE drums. B-side Shimmering illustrates the love for quirky dancefloor-focused music without ever straying into cheesy territory, something the label has done really well to avoid despite it’s huge success.
My Own Jupiter
A late entry to the decade but a vital one nonetheless. Through it’s first four releases, Nicolas Lutz’s My Own Jupiter released music from underappreciated producers from the 1990s and early 2000s dug up from Lutz’s own digging habits.
A double EP from Time Passages boss Binh would follow and seemingly change the course of the label. A phenomenal, mind-bending EP from a relatively unknown producer (back then) by the name of Do Or Die would set the label on a Uruguay-driven run featuring music from up-and-comers like Omar, Michelle and Z@P who were quickly establishing themselves in the scene with staggeringly refreshing takes on techno, acid and breaks.
Whilst these EPs were being championed by some of the most respected DJs in the game, the disciples from Uruguay’s famed Phonoteque club were beginning to be noticed and booked in Europe. With each gig and each release, their individual and collective reputations deserved skyrocketed to become some of the most respected around already. Their sound is had to define as it slightly differs from DJs, but it’s a stand of techno that’s loaded with bass and explores themes of apocalyptic undertones and eery melodies.
The Romanians came into the late noughties and dominated the ‘10s for the most part, there might just be a connection here.
Key release: Do Or Die – Imposible Materia [MOJ09]
Imposible Materia best showcases My Own Jupiter’s two main love affairs. Glitchy and bleepy breaks/minimal and thumping apocalyptic techno. Consciencia Sucia and In Time both showcase the former and Do Or Die’s amazing talent for creating tension and hypnotism within just a few minutes.
‘Lost’ may take the cake of the best track to come out of My Own Jupiter thus far, though. A throbbing dubby take on Uruguayan techno that’s as mind-bending as it is danceable.
There’s no debate. This was the decade when the Romanians took over. Sunwaves Festival went from a little known intimate festival to a global sensation that attracts thousands of visitors from across the globe. It’s easy to see the appeal, long parties, excellent DJs and music you almost definitely won’t have heard because, well, it’s probably unreleased. No label did it’s part in driving fans to both ecstasy and frustration as much as Cristi Cons and Vlad Caia‘s Amphia.
Amorf‘s, (Cons, Caia and Mischa Blanos) unreleased music was some of the most sought after and begged for of the entire decade, culminating in two excellent EPs both released on the label. Compatriot Cezar released his also highly-sought-after Archetypes EP on Amphia. Although there are lots of Romanian labels that capture the progression of the scene, Amphia takes the crown for one key reason – they simply released the best music.
It’s a game of opinions but SIT’s Sideways LP was the most imaginative collection of music to come out from under the umbrella term of minimal since the early days of Perlon and Playhouse. Other standouts include Dubtil’s Etape EP and Rhadoo’s Zanzibar EP under his Colorhadoo alias. There’s an abundance of ‘Romanian minimal’ in the current musical climate and there are lots of labels who release good music from that corner. However, it’s rare to see nowadays a label which releases so much unique and intriguing music with almost every release.
Key release: SIT – Sideways LP [AMPHIA009]
Sideways goes across a mammoth fifteen tracks but the pick of the bunch has to, of course, be Angels. The glistening and well, angelic melody is wonderfully contrasted by the twangs of hardware and snappy hi-hats, a wonderful mesh of deep-thought inducing music and an ability to make the crowd go wild.
A special mention has to go ‘Feel That Way’, a shuffling and murky track which bursts into after the half-way mark. An offering from Cristi Cons and Vlad Caia which is unapologetically set on making dancefloors pop. Lots of minimal wants to make dancefloors rock and unique sounding music is always the way to go in the case of Feel That Way as it doesn’t sound like anything else this decade.
The Romanians weren’t the only Europeans to have a break-out decade. Enter French label, booking agency, record distributor and record shop – Yoyaku. In hindsight, it’s easy to predict the Paris-based crew to become one of the most influential labels and booking agencies of this decade. An all-star crew featuring the likes of Cabanne, Lowris, Varhat, Janeret, Maayan Nidam and so many more to mention was always going to produce gold.
Except it was never that easy, a lot of labels in the current day take the approach of slowly releasing music after months of teasing. Nothing is rushed and quality checks are a time a dozen, yet technically Yoyaku released by far the most music this decade due to all their sub-labels and all of it was sublime.
The much-loved and sought after HOSTOM series, the eye-opening YYY series, Janeret’s glistening JOULE imprint, Aku, Yoyaku, TARTOUFFE and once again, so many more to mention. With the Yoyaku roster spreading their label’s music far and wide as well locally with the adored Yoyaku party series at the now sadly defunct Concrete, success has become well and truly deserved.
Key release: Janeret – Bright EP [JOULE01]
It was difficult to pick one release from all of Yoyaku’s sub-labels, but Janeret’s debut EP on his own label takes the crown. The title track showcases the collective’s love for glossy synths and esoteric melodies in the tracks whilst always keeping the dancefloor in mind. B-side Rear lends itself to showing off the likes of Cabanne and Maayan Nidam’s sound of intricate and tension-building minimal.
“You start a label because you feel like you have something to say musically.” Vera stated back in 2018 “We [Vera + Alexandra] are not producing music, we feel we’re better as curators and to give others a chance to showcase their music.”
What makes Melliflow’s success all the more impressive and wholesome has been their emphasis on bringing up-and-coming DJs and producers into the spotlight. The likes of Z@P, Etienne, And.rea and Federico Lijtmaer’s music has been wonderfully championed by the label. Whilst their beautifully-curated Melliflow parties, whether that’s on their own, co-hosted with Ukranian club Closer or elsewhere around the world, have given a platform to equally talented DJs.
The 2010s was the decade where eclecticism took over. In the period of 2012/13, minimal-based DJs such as Binh and Nicolas Lutz began to venture into a more forthcoming sound and genre spanning sound. Now their days of playing long and loopy house/techno are long gone, preferring to showcase their palette for forgotten sounds from house, techno, breaks and beyond.
Both Vera and Alexandra’s sound evolved with the decade and their label reflected it. Whether it was weirdo minimal from VRAC’s (Vlad Radu and Andrei Ciubic) ‘Ce Zizi Pisi?‘ EP, bombing techno from Z@P’s Sonic Utopia release or funk-infused vintage tech-house from And.rea on Placid Blue. No genre was left unappreciated throughout this decade courtesy of Melliflow.
Who knows what the next decade holds? There’s also a little known Berlin-based label who became adored through Berlin-based parties and original sounding music in the early 2000s…
Key release: Spacetravel – Ziusudra [MFLOW009]
Ziusudra beautifully encapsulates Melliflow’s penchant for oddball sounds and no one did it better for them than a master of sonic weirdness, Spacetravel. The eight-track LP captures the wide variety of genres that Melliflow has lent itself to, glitchy minimal courtesy of A1 ‘Sounds From The Island’, introspective techno thanks to ‘My Mind Your Mind’ and the choppy tech-house eeriness of ‘Welcome Back’, Ziusudra had it all.
It feels somewhat cliché but the 2010s were so inspiring and refreshing for music. Music production needs to always look forward though, new melodies, new combinations, let’s make the 2020s even better.