On meeting the pair, it’s easy to see why they make a good team. Even over video call, with Anna in Los Angeles and Isabel on the US’s east coast, they exude a warmth and support for each other, while embodying different energies: Isabel, an exuberance and desire to communicate lots of ideas; Anna, an unflappable cool and ponderance, even as the roofers above her apartment bang in nails overhead.
These contrasting but complementary attitudes are mirrored by their musical backgrounds. Anna, the self-professed “raver who never grew up” from the Bronx, was known as a dancer and promoter in New York City for years before she picked up a controller at the behest of friends. Isabel, by contrast, grew up in Texas, was in a sorority at college, and got into the world of dance music another way — the internet offering an avenue of discovery outside of traditional clubbing communities.
Crucially, though, both experienced epiphanic moments with UK sounds. For Isabel, Dizzee Rascal and Caspa & Rusko’s ‘FABRICLIVE 37’ were an alternative to the slick sheen of EDM, whereas Anna recounts a mind-blowing experience at a party in a skating rink in the early ’00s.
“So, it’s like trance and techno,” she recalls, “and from this side-room they had someone playing ragga jungle, and I just had to find out what it was. It blew my mind because it was sampling dancehall that I grew up with, but it was rave music. I remember thinking, ‘This is the perfect dance music!’”
“I love that feeling [of not knowing what something is],” Isabel chimes in. “That’s the high we chase. When I was coming into music as this complete newbie, it was constant. My mind would be blown every day.”
The label does an impressive job of enabling those kinds of experiences. Genres, bpm, and other forms of categorisation are deliberately eschewed in favour of artistic freedom. Listening to the releases is a dizzying experience: you might find unnerving halftime d&b rubbing shoulders with footwork, weighty 140 drawing on jungle breaks and trap triplets, or anxious rave bleeps propelled by a distorted reggaeton stomp.
“A lot of DJs and producers often feel imprisoned by the expectation of genre,” says Anna. “Worst Behavior is about authenticity... it’s about checking that part of you that feels you’re supposed to behave in a certain way. We just want to do what we want to do, and feel free doing it. It’s an invitation to ourselves and others.”
The label’s signature has undoubtedly been the self-titled compilation series that’s played host to an international cohort of producers — like DJ Madd, Stranjah, A.Fruit, DJ Swisha and many more. Each compilation is capped at a certain number of tracks, so as not to have anyone’s work get lost, and more often than not the artists featured are friends, or become friends through the process. This speaks to the guiding principle of holding space for artists and putting people on, and the commitment Anna and Isabel afford the relationships they make with artists the world over.
One of the more telling anecdotes is the story of the label’s only single to date, ‘1800AREYOUSLAPPIN’ — a ghettotech banger smothered in gurgling blasts of bass. After asking her friend HomeSick for a premiere on his blog, Footwork Jungle, Anna found herself taking over the blog’s curation, while in return HomeSick sent her the track. Not only that, but the Sinistarr remix that would go on to be the B-side was already a match made in Anna’s head. In no time they had put together what would become a totemic calling-card for the label.