Nine years ago, Newcastle-born DJ and producer Patrick Topping played his first ever sets within the deep red-painted walls of Ibiza’s DC-10. Then a fast-rising upstart on Jamie Jones’ Hot Creations and Hot Trax imprints, he joined the DJ for his Paradise parties at the famous club in 2013, and in the years that followed.
Fast-forward to the present day, and Topping’s Trick label is taking over the very same club for its first season, bringing artists from the imprint and beyond to Ibiza. In the same way that JJ gave Topping his break on the island, Topping is determined to nurture talent through every aspect of Trick, all the way from giving unknown producers their first break, to supporting them through their careers. He’s building a family unit, and creating a home for both new and established peers. “There is a family element to Trick, but it’s not a clique,” Topping tells DJ Mag over Zoom. It’s a hot July afternoon in Ibiza, and the DJ is taking some time to relax before that evening’s Trick event at DC-10. “We’ve done over 50 releases, and what I’m really proud of is the number of them who have been breakthrough artists, and their first ever release on any label.”
Topping wanted a label to build on, long before it came to be the global brand it is now. During the pandemic, as with most of the industry, he had time to reassess, and revisit an old idea of his own imprint. “I launched the label in 2019, but I actually wanted to start it a few years before that,” he says. “But I couldn’t think of a name. Track names are so easy because they’re throwaway, but when you’re thinking of a label name, it’s just so hard. I was pulling my hair out, reading my favourite books, reading the dictionary, lyrics from songs... everything, and I just couldn’t think of anything.”
Eventually, Topping settled on Trick — which makes up part of his own name — and launched the label with three EPs of his own. After being captivated by different sounds and welcomed into various dance music circles, as well as finding his niche in the world of wonky, hypnotic tech-house, the label began life as a place for him to showcase the variation he enjoyed playing in his sets, through the power of his own production.
“It was only really the tech-house and vocal house songs that were getting taken by Hot Creations, because that was their vibe,” he says, “and I had some other stuff which wasn’t getting picked up, and it started accumulating. I was like, ‘I just wanna show that I can do some darker stuff, some techno’. It got to the point where I had so much, and it wasn’t right for Hot Creations, but I knew I wanted to put it out.”
Those first three EPs from Topping on Trick dipped into acid, techno and electronic club tools, and introduced the imprint as a label that wasn’t defined by the typical tech-house sound. The follow up releases featured Elliot Adamson’s 2019 cult dancefloor killer ‘Electric Acid Tater Tots’ EP, as well as records from then-breakout producers Bryan Kessler, Alex Virgo and Ewan McVicar. “Before I launched Trick, up-and-coming producers were sending me music,” he says. “I was getting stuff that was unsigned and I didn’t have a label, and it made me wish I did. I would play it out, and other labels would come in and release it. It got to the point when I had so much music from other people… Elliot [Adamson], Alex [Virgo], Gettoblaster… and I was like, ‘right, ok, I’ve got a little release schedule here, maybe 10’. So that’s when it all just came together.”
“It’s not just techno and tech-house or house and disco — Trick is somewhere they can all gather, and that’s really important to me. It’s from the heart, and I’m happy doing it.” - Patrick Topping
Trick has now released over 50 EPs from a huge range of talent. From the aforementioned Ewan McVicar — whose feel-good house cut ‘Tell Me Something Good’ broke through to the top 20 in the Official UK Charts, and won Best Track at our Best of British awards 2021 — and Shall Not Fade affiliate Meg Ward, to the likes of ANTS mainstay Andrea Oliva and Chicago icon DJ Deeon, Trick has evolved into a home for high-quality, diverse releases, from artists at all levels.
Being a label with an abundance of artists that Topping has given debut releases to, it’s important he stays personally connected with each EP — on our call, he admits that he’s almost finished listening to 1,300 demo emails. He also affirms the importance of nurturing talent. “I really love doing that, helping artists,” he says. “I recently did a big compilation, and three of the releases on there are debuts from artists — some of them don’t even have social media.That’s such a buzz for me, to be able to get in so early and give these people a platform.”
Trick has evolved from a label into a multi-faceted brand in less than five years, and Topping understands how to use his profile as a DJ to continue supporting newer talent in other ways. In 2019, the same year he launched the label, Topping hosted Trick’s first events. The first run of parties — which launched in the DJ’s home city of Newcastle, before moving on to cities like Amsterdam, Derry and Manchester — featured a slew of big names, like Ellen Allien, Paul Woolford, Cinthie, Octave One and KiNK. Alongside those, he enlisted support from the likes of early Trick signees Alex Virgo, Bryan Kessler and Elliot Adamson, bringing in that fresher talent he’d tapped for Trick’s release roster.
The label’s live events were temporarily halted during the pandemic while releases continued, and kicked back off in Belfast with another stacked line-up supported by Trick newcomer Ammara, a then-lesser-known Ewan McVicar, and other names from the label roster, like Ben Hemsley, Meg Ward and Anfisa Letyago. “I think Trick is a nice blend between established artists and people we’re trying to push through,” Topping says. “I like building that kind of family aspect that way, giving people multiple releases and getting them onto the shows and stuff. I’m always aiming to try and give people one date at the events, but it’s getting harder now — we just did a VA with 22 artists!”
With the next few releases on Trick already scheduled and slated for release — Topping aims for two EPs a month on Trick — all eyes are on the DC-10 residency. Again, he’s joined by a stack of huge names like Andrea Oliva, DJ Minx, Heidi, Joris Voorn and Denis Sulta, the latter of whom he’ll play B2B with next month. There’s also his rising label regulars: Ben Hemsley, Hannah Laing, t e s t p r e s s, and Meg Ward, and later this year, there’s plans to take Trick to the US and Australia.
While he didn’t know how Trick would evolve, Patrick Topping’s vision for the future of the label and brand is clear. Alongside a close knit team, he’s building foundations for new artists, and providing a home for eclectic releases from scene fixtures, all while testing the boundaries of his own sound.
“If someone comes to a Trick event, they can expect a variety of sounds, just like we do on the label,” he says. “It’s not just techno and tech-house or house and disco — Trick is somewhere they can all gather, and that’s really important to me. It’s from the heart, and I’m happy doing it.”