DJ Mag's labels to watch in 2021
Introducing the labels set to make waves this year: from euphoric house and psychedelic electronics through to jungle futurists and leftfield club disruptors
Radiant Love’s name couldn’t be more appropriate. Specialising in bright, hypnotic club sounds, the label’s catalogue to date has pulled lovingly from hedonistic ‘90s scenes: from progressive house and proto-trance to high-speed breaks and blissed-out techno.
Far from being a pursuit of nostalgia though, Radiant Love’s releases are futuristic, and brimming with emerging talent. EPs like Fio Fa’s ‘You Think’ and D.Tiffany and Vani-T’s collaborative release as Pillow Queen erupt with dazzling velocity, capturing the euphoric energy of Radiant Love’s popular Berlin raves. “Most of the music [we release] has been made by our friends or connections we've made through the party, which is really great,” resident and co-director Byron Yeates explains. “To release music by people we know and admire, it makes it a lot more personal.”
A compilation released for International Women’s Day 2020 showcased a variety of styles, from ravey psychedelic head-spinners into downtempo electronic spirals, all to raise funds for worthy initiatives for women around the world. The label ended 2020 on a high with two sunrise-ready rave EPs from Bliss Inc and E00, and it seems like it's full steam ahead for 2021. “I'm starting to work on the next compilation for IWD, and I'm currently finishing up some of my own tracks to release on the label,” says Yeates.
While you’re waiting for that, be sure to tune into Radiant Love’s regular show on the HÖR streaming channel to get a taste of their irresistibly blissful sound. Eoin Murray
Key release: ‘Radiant Love IWD Comp’
“Although not a physical release, the IWD compilation is pretty special to me. Basically all the music is made by our friends and it helped raise a lot of money for two charities close to our hearts.”
Much like the snaking, coiled shapes on its artwork, the music on Siamese Twins moves at a leisurely pace in which ambient, psychedelia and deep dubby techno morph into one entity. Influenced by various styles of Asian folk music, the label is less than a year old but it's already established itself as a bearer of spiritual, tribal-laced slow-burners. Founded by Bangkok residents Johan Vandebeek, Sunju Hargun, Taychin Dunnvatanachit and Taipei-based DJ Yoshi Nori, Siamese Twins has three releases under its belt — one of which is a pan-Asian compilation exploring the concept of vinyan (a Thai term for soul) through drone, live instruments and slow-motion trance. It’s warm and woozy music that will leave you lightheaded and hangover-free.
“We want to walk our own path at our own pace and create something authentic rather than mirroring something that already exists,” Hargun tells DJ Mag. “Two heads, one path, one pace.” Nyshka Chandran
Key release: Mogambo ‘Cobra कोबरा’
“Our first EP ticks all the boxes of how we wanted to introduce the label: breeding new names from Asia and building a family to create dialogues with producers around the globe we admire. The record features trippy jungle grooves, tribal percussion, big psychedelic gongs, countless eccentric effect pedals and hints to ’90s Goa. Appreciating diversity in music, we are building from a sound that’s inherent for the region it’s made, on the slightly liquid and trippy spectrum.”
Launched in 2020 by the crew behind The History Of Jungle show on London radio station Deja Vu, Disrupt only dropped its second release in December but the label is already shaping up to be a first port of call for the Junglist Massive. Built as a platform for the wealth of top-quality tunes the founders were sent for their show, the idea is to “unearth new artists that deserve to be heard,” they explain. “The particular style isn't as important, but it has to resonate with the three of us.
If we all love it and it gets a good response on the show, then we release it.” DRPT001 marked the debut release for producer Circa96, and featured remixes from essential talents Tim Reaper and Dwarde, while 002 is a similar combo of newcomer plus much sought- after artists on rework duty (see below). With more vinyl and digital releases (including a compilation) and some merch on the way, Disrupt looks set to flip the apple cart right over in 2021. Ben Hindle
Key release: Charly Says 'Decisions' EP
“Our latest release shines a light on new producer Charly Says, featuring amazing remixes from FFF (3am Eternal, 7th Storey), Decibella (AKO, Diamond Life) and Ben Kei (Dalston Chillies, Constellations), with tracks that instantly transport you back to the golden era (’94/’95). We hope you like it as much as we do!”
Tim Reaper is one of the leading lights of the modern junglist movement — an unfathomably prolific producer with a strong desire to uplift his whole scene. It’s unsurprising then, that when he launched a label in 2020 it was an instant hit. “The original idea for Future Retro was to be a club night for the new jungle scene, and when the pandemic started, the club night idea had to be put on hiatus,” Reaper explains. “When I came up with the idea for the ‘Meeting Of The Minds’ collaboration series, it only seemed natural for it to help kickstart the label side of Future Retro.” The ‘Meeting Of The Minds’ series has had four instalments so far (with Volumes 5 and 6 about to be manufactured, and 7 and 8 in the works, alongside a “special joint label release”).
Each 4-track release sees Reaper team up with a different producer for each tune — the likes of Dwarde, FFF, Pete Cannon and Kid Lib have featured so far — bringing jungle’s finest together under one roof. Ben Hindle
Key Release: V/A ‘Meeting Of The Minds Vol. 1’
“To me, all of them have been key releases for different reasons, but ‘Vol. 1’ helped me to sort of realise that the actual idea of a collaborations series might be something that wouldn't be so problematic to implement and make into a recurring thing.”
Over the past decade, KRUNK has been a pillar of India's bass music culture. As an events, artist management and booking agency, the Mumbai-based team have relentlessly pushed high-bpm sounds such as jungle, footwork and dubstep through parties and tours. Last August, they launched another platform to broadcast a wider spectrum of leftfield styles. Their in-house label, Krunk Kulture, aims to nurture domestic talents and foster rhythmic experimentation at home and around the region.
So far, it's released two compilations of thumping breaks, acid, leftfield techno and syncopated percussion, featuring acts from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Japan and beyond. “I started Krunk Kulture with the aim of showcasing electronic music from India, our Asian neighbours, as well as friends on a global level,” says founder Sohail Arora, who produces the aliases EZ Riser and Rafiki. Nyshka Chandran
Key Release: V/A ‘Kaala Khatta - Flavours of the East’
“Our debut compilation will always be special. It showcases the best talent of the region pushing house, techno and breaks while being leftfield in its approach and vision. We could have not asked for a better start.”
Originally launched as a spot for free downloads in 2016, Cocobolo Sound found its feet as a label proper at the end of 2019. Headed up by partners Fish and Sherry S, Cocobolo has put out seven releases at the time of writing, covering sounds as varied as the pair’s high-energy sets — the common denominator being big, bad bass! “There's no genre boundaries,” says Sherry. “It's just a case of only releasing music that we really like and believe in.” There is one rule however: “They've got to be bangers.” Continuing this all killer, no filler run in 2021, the label will drop music from T-Man and Samurai Breaks (“a hectic and screwface-worthy break-filled belter”) with a remix from Lakeway, an EP from Killjoy, a grime collab from Sherry, Fish and Killa P, and the label’s first-ever vinyl release from returning talent SWR. And that’s just them warming up! Says Sherry: “2021 is looking spicy, and we couldn't be more ready for it.” Ben Hindle
Key Release: Juma x Fork and Knife ‘Pattern It’
“The gulliest, sharpest bars over a melting pot of garage, UK funky and grime, accompanied by the pure summery UKG bliss that is MPH's remix.”