When Simon Dunmore left his major label A&R job with AM:PM, the dance offshoot of A&M Records, to start his own independent dance label, even he couldn’t have imagined the success he’d go on to have. Defected Records is probably the most successful UK dance label of the past two decades, and has expanded into running events, managing artists and also running a DJ agency as well.
Defected got off the mark with a bullet. Its first release in 1998, Soulsearcher’s discoid ’I Can’t Get Enough’, shot to No.5 in the UK singles chart, and was quickly followed by a slew of classic house hits such as ATFC presents OnePhatDeeva anthemic ’In & Out Of My Life’ and then the sassy ‘Bad Habit’, Eddie Amador’s preacher-sampling ’Rise’, Paul Johnson’s soulful ‘Get Get Down’, Choo Choo Project’s robotik ’Hazin’ + Phazin’’, Ministers De-La-Funk featuring Jocelyn Brown ’Believe’, Bob Sinclar’s big glittery, string-tastic breakthrough ’I Feel For You’… and tons more.
As the pop charts became awash with house music just after the Millennium, Defected scored their first UK No.1 — ‘Another Chance’ by Roger Sanchez. Kings Of Tomorrow ‘Finally’ came out soon after, a track that would go on to achieve even greater success when mashed together with Layo & Bushwacka’s ‘Love Story’, and they also became experts at picking up big records and making them bigger — propelling cuts like ‘At Night’ by Shakedown and Hatiras ’Spaced Invader’ high into the charts.
Other great early records included Junior Jack ‘E Samba’, MAW present India ‘To Be In Love’, Dubtribe Soundsystem ‘Do It Now’ and DJ Gregory ‘Tropical Soundclash’ — all different, all quality. It was Defected’s ability to pick out accessible yet credible house tunes that set them off on such a sure footing.
As the noughties progressed, they had plenty more big records such as ‘Lola’s Theme’ by The Shapeshifters (another UK No.1), Fish Go Deep ‘The Cure & The Cause’ and Bob Sinclar ‘Love Generation’, while at the same time put out a load of underground club tracks. Latterly, tracks like Dennis Ferrer ‘Hey Hey’ and Storm Queen’s ‘Look Right Through’ have hit big, and their success has allowed them to more or less be able to release anything these days. So whether they’re pimping a mainstream breakthrough track or an underground Mr G cut, Defected make it work.
Their extended family over the years has included the creme de la creme of house music producers — many of whom are featured on these pages, talking fondly about the brand. This month, Defected reaches its 500th release milestone. Appropriately enough, they’ve recruited long-standing label artist Dennis Ferrer to helm ‘DFTD500’ — ‘Bubbletop’ is a quirky, dark-yet-boompty, edgy house cut that the Objectivity man specialises in, and fittingly opens the next chapter for the house music behemoth.
What is DJ Mag’s favourite Defected record ever? There’s too many great ones to choose from, so we asked some of Defected’s — and house music’s — most well-known artists to state their choices, as well as telling us what dealing with Defected has meant to them…
“Defected join the dots between the roots of house music and the seminal New York club scene of the late 80s /early 90s to the present day. Wherever they lay their hat, their music has ‘soul’.”
Favourite Defected track: Âme 'Rej'
Quote: “Defected means a lot for me, because they gave me my first Top 10 in the UK in 1999 with my Song ‘I Feel For You’, which gave me the credibility as an Artist on the Dance Music scene worldwide. Much Love to Simon and his crew.”
Track: “My favourite ever Defected record is Johnny Corporate ‘Sunday Shouting’ - definitely a track which never gets old and should be remixed asap for next year!”
Quote: “Defected has provided me with a base of support throughout the years that is pretty much immeasurable in its worth. I've benefited greatly from the hard-working staff breaking records and Simon's constant vigil in providing the fan base with quality dance records throughout the years. I truly believe that Defected's contribution to the history of dance music has been cemented with the 500th release and to this I tip my hat...for I am not only a contributor but also a fan. Congratulations are in order.”
Track: “Hmmmm I think it's gotta be ‘Finally’… Showing my age here.” Sandy Rivera / Kings Of Tomorrow
“I have been around Defected from the start of the Label, both the events and the agency. It's great to see it become the leader in house music. The label has done a lot for me and it holds some of the best songs I have ever made.”
Track: “Such a hard one for me, when I made some gems for Defected. ATFC - Bad Habit. I used to play it a lot. I remember playing this in Paris at the Queen Club and the place just going absolutely nuts around 6am in the morning, I had to stop the record and play it again. Records like this hold some of the best moments in House Music. You have so many artists with such amazing records on Defected, it was really hard to just pick one.”
“Defected has been my family for 7 years but I have followed them since the label started. I'm some what of a Defected addict, I probably have most of the 500 releases on Vinyl and digitally. I spent a lot of my record shop days searching through the back catalogue, there's some serious House history there from start to finish.”
Track: “Apart from the obvious KOT – Finally, it’s got to be Sydenham & Dennis Ferrer – 'Sandcastles'."
“Defected is family. 3 years ago Simon Dunmore convinced me to move across the world to be a part of the label, I’ve been in London ever since. I’ve had some great releases on the label, and now an album… it’s a special label to me because it’s always stuck to its house roots, and when I was first getting into house music in Australia, it was one of the go-to labels whenever you saw a release. Really happy to be a part of this now.”
Track: Kings Of Tomorrow - 'Finally'
Masters At Work (Louie Vega)
“Defected has been one of the top house music labels of all-time for me. Simon and the team always treat every project with the utmost care and make sure they do all in their power to get the message across to the world. My experience has been just that, and I am honoured to be a part of the Defected legacy, lots of my music has been released whether one of my projects, a mix album, lots of single releases through the Strictly catalogue in which Defected had acquired in the past, and we've had great times at the events whether Glitterbox, Defected parties, and many other Defected produced events. Defected Records is very important to our house music community, I thank Simon, Defected and the D family for all the great work over the years, congratulations on 500 releases, wow!!!”
Track: "My favourite Defected record, too many to mention, but one that comes to mind is ‘The Way You Love Me’ - Mark Evans (produced by DJ Spen). This track truly reminds me of Defected Records!!!”
“Defected means family to us. So many good times we’ve had over the past 12 years, maybe even longer – so many good parties all over the world – Air Tokyo, Pacha & Ushuaia Ibiza, Zouk Singapore, MOS London, Cielo NY and so many more. Defected was a way of life for us back in the day – making records, releasing on the label, presenting the radio show and playing at the events – we have made so many long time friends though the label – people who worked for Defected and artists who also released on the label. Defected was the pinnacle as a producer when we came on the scene many years ago – so we are really proud to have had a long association with Simon Dunmore and so many others at Defected over the years. You kind of get a sense that in 25 years time when people look back at the scene - Defected will be know as a label that stood for proper house music and that is something we are really happy to have been a part of.”
Track: Soulsearcher – 'I Can’t Get Enough'
“From the very beginning of our long relationship it was clear that Simon Dunmore had a tremendous vision, and its a great honor to be a part of the legacy Defected has made, and especially to be the very first Defected release ever... Congratulations on #500.”
Track: “Reel People's retake on Thelma Houston's ‘You Used To Hold Me So Tight’ floored me... in particular, the Club Mix.”
"I have worked with Simon Dunmore and Defected since its inception and it has always stood for quality House music from day one! There is real love and care for the music at Defected and it has flown the House flag proudly even in moments when the landscape altered and eventually returned to House."
Track: “Aside from my own ;)… Kings Of Tomorrow - 'Finally'.”
"Defected has been a reliable source of good house music for years and years, and I love the fact they've reintroduced the original Strictly Rhythm classic records, along with the House Masters series giving us the chance to find those great original tunes"
“Ah, Defected is like family! Ever since I’ve been producing music - Defected has been known for quality house music - I’m really honoured to be part of this crew and I have so many great memories of playing for Defected all over the world. Congratulations to Simon and the whole crew I’ve worked with over the years – here’s to 500 more releases!”
“I feel absolutely honoured to be considered part of a family of like-minded music people that I consider to be friends as well as colleagues. Working with Defected has really helped me spread my wings as an A&R man, and for that I feel hugely grateful.”
Track: Rachel Row - 'Follow The Step (KiNK Mix)'
“I still have memories of those grey & blue Defected vinyl. Defected has done so much to spread house music into everyone's ears and onto every dancefloor! It is definitely a keystone in our House music world. Now the 500th release, wow! Congrats!
“I remember when Simon Dunmore gave me a promo copy of Bad Habit, which is my favorite all-time Defected track. The original Jenny Burton version was a favourite of mine and to hear it re-produced by ATFC, and re-sang by Lisa Mitchell was nothing short of a powerful thing!!! We played the original hard for about a year straight. Then, Simon asked Karizma and I to remix it… talk about two happy house heads! In my opinion it turned out to be one of our best productions and I am grateful to Defected for great memories like that! Happy 500, and meet ya at a thousand!!!!”
Track: ATFC – 'Bad Habit'
“I have always been a fan of Defected and was really excited to have been able to work on remixes and release some of my first solo material on the label so for me there’s a lot of respect and admiration. I wish everyone the best at Defected. Here's to another 500 releases and more of that good......!”
Track: ATFC - 'Bad Habit'
Fish Go Deep
“Working with Defected was a very positive experience for us. The most obvious benefit was the exposure that comes with a release on a big label but it was also great to get an insight into how the music industry works at a higher level. From contracts to PR to release strategy and more - it was an education to see the inner workings up close and it’s something that still stands to us years later.”
Track: Sandy Rivera - 'Changes'
“Defected to me represents a label that’s been built on passion, integrity and authenticity. Supported by huge a huge loyal fan base, respected throughout the industry, and still going after 15 years now with 500 releases is something to be admired. Most major labels are soulless, nothing more than banks, many smaller labels are run by amateurs, both equally as frustrating to work with, working with Defected is a pleasure, its a highly professional well run machine fuelled by music above everything, the love of it in everyone that works there is obvious, that’s a rare thing.”
Track: Right now it’s KIDDY SMILE ‘LET A BITCH KNOW’ (brilliant video too!)
“Me and my rubber tyre have been bouncing along in the slipstream of the Great Ship Defected, since she was launched, around the time of The Great Flood. Since then, she has weathered many a storm, been responsible for immeasurable musical goodness and, no doubt, saved Jack from drowning on more than one occasion. As she sails off into the sunset of another 500 releases, may God bless her and all who sail in her.”
Track: Shakedown – 'At Night'
“Defected means House Music. I am very happy and thankful that I had the chance to release my album project "Between The Lines" on this label. I couldn´t have a better home, as this was a listening house album and I always wanted to show another side of me beside my passion for Techno Music.”
Track: Dennis Ferrer & Jerome Sydenham - 'Sandcastles (Original Mix)'
“Over the years I've worked with Simon and Defected many times, as an album compiler, remixer and of course DJ. It's always a pleasure to do stuff with them as whether its a party or a compilation, I know everything will be very professional and carried out to an extremely high standard. Defected are also extremely strong when it comes to promoting what they do, which is vital in this era. Also, whoever you dealing with at Defected, a strong love of the music comes across first and foremost. Respect for lasting the distance.”
Track: Martin Solveig - 'I'm A Good Man (Mousse T Breakbeat Mix)'
“The Defected Records team is the best House label you could ever work with. Defected really know how to turn DJs into mainstream artists”
Track: Dennis Ferrer – 'Hey Hey'
Heller & Farley (Terry)
“Defected have stayed the course by doing things the right way and by adapting to change and fashions, not mindlessly following them.”
Track: “Kings Of Tomorrow - 'Finally'. A vocal that never grows old, a bassline that is timeless and lyrics that can literally bring you to tears if you listen properly.”
“Defected is a long standing mainstay in house music, always repping it no matter what! I always have so much fun when I play Defected events, as the crowd is always well up for it, open-minded and I always get great a response when I release my tunes/remixes through the imprint. The promotion is great and the crew is made up of professionals that actually have fun hanging out together and this is priceless. Big ups to Simon for building such an entity.”
Track: “Pretty hard to pick just one, but… DJ Gregory - 'Tropical Soundclash'. There are tonnes more!"
Purple Disco Machine
“For me Defected represents the pinnacle of global House music. It is the label and brand that keeps the fire burning for real House and its Disco origins. So it has been an honour and a privilege to be part of that story.”
Track: Bob Sinclar - 'I Feel For You'
The Shapeshifters (Simon Marlin)
“We've been lucky enough to call ourselves part of the Defected Family since 2007 and friends and fans since its inception with Soulsearcher in 99! It doesn't surprise us that Defected have reached this milestone and continue to be the leading light in House Music today. Long may it continue and we look forward to working with them as long as we can.”
Track: Sandy Rivera - 'Changes'
Quote: “Congratulations to Defected for the 500th release. It was always a great pleasure to work with you guys and I appreciate the mixture of being music industry professionals and total music lovers at the same time. To the next 500!”
Track: Masters At Work – 'To Be In Love (Feat. India)'
“Defected is one of the most influential house music labels of all-time. Congrats on the 500th release! Long live Defected."
Track: “My favorite defected record is Carl Craig’s remix of my song 'El Solitario’! But I'm bias…”
“Before I worked for Defected I was already huge fan, vinyl promos were like striking gold to me in a record shop. To go from there to becoming A&R manager for the label is a dream come true and I’m very proud to have been a part of this incredible journey with Simon and the rest of the family to this amazing milestone. Ultimately the team here is full of passionate music fans and I think that really shines through in what we do. Next stop D1000…”
Track: “I need two, Tensnake - 'Coma Cat', a record I still love as much today as the first time I heard it, it's pure happiness in audio form. & Storm Queen - 'Look Right Through', Morgan Geist (a bit of a hero of mine) hitting #1 with a helping hand from MK will be a memory I'll never forget.”
"I'm pretty new to working with Defected, it's not even been a year since my first record with them, but that said, since the beginning I had the feeling that it's a label made by people who care about music quality. That is exactly what I love about working with them. I feel it's an easy and fun collaboration, they bring out the best in me as a producer and DJ, so thank you for what you guys do everyday!"
Track: “Not as a DJ, but as a normal guy in a sweaty dancefloor, I'd say I had some of the best moments of my life when the DJ was playing 'To Be In Love' from MAW.”
"Its an absolute pleasure for me to be a part of the Defected family. The music policy is true to House music's roots whilst being innovative and pushing forward. It’s one of the labels that has been there since I first started getting hooked on House music.”
Track: “I’m sure that I'm not alone in saying one of my favourite Defected releases over the years is Kings of Tomorrow – 'Finally”
“Defected for me is real house. I remember the classics Get Get Down, To Be In Love, Rise, I Feel For You, Spaced Invader, Another Chance - by the way still in my vinyl collection - and love many of the current tracks by Sonny Fodera, Purple Disco Machine, Lovebirds, Oliver $, Franky Rizardo or Junior Sanchez. I played so much Defected over the last months or years. The label never ceased to amaze me. And I hope they never will. Naturally I am very happy to be working with Defected on my first Mix Album "The Masquerade mixed by Claptone" as I know that the love of house united us.”
Track: “To pick just one record out of their extensive catalogue filled with classics would be betrayal to the whole genre though. I just can not do that. They just put out too many great tracks …"