Imprints brings you regular profiles of the most exciting record labels the world over, with input from the movers and shakers who contribute to their local electronic music communities.
Location: Windsor, Ontario
Upcoming releases: The Saunderson Brothers & Nihil Young - "Clear," Justin James featuring Dan Diamond - "Space Sleaze," Fer BR - "Empty Space"
Artists-to-watch:Fabio Florido, Ante Ujevic, The Saunderson Brothers, Fer BR, 4Yo4U, Nuno Lisboa, Loui Fernandez, Stiv Hey, Cosmic Boys
Justin James and his refused. label are Windsor, Ontario's techno vanguard—and that means a lot coming from the city that spawned Richie Hawtin. The Canadian town that sits right across the water from its musical and cultural sister city, Detroit, has a proud legacy of dark, throbbing electronic beats, and James is carrying on the tradition. If you like your techno with a hint of skeez, you'll be pleasantly surprised to hear the latest offering from refused. premiering right here on THUMP. Justin James' latest track featuring Dan Diamond, "Space Sleaze," is dark, dirty, and immensely gratifying.
*THUMP: What's the Deal?*
Justin James: refused. is a techno label curated by myself, as a means to contribute to the amazing culture of underground dance music. refused. provides me with an outlet to share my own music as well as the music of artists I admire, while also giving new artists a chance to be heard on a larger scale. The refused. sound is what I see as being forward thinking music that falls under the guise of techno.
Explain the name
refused. was originally intended to be called FUSE. For whatever reason, when I started listening to Richie Hawtin's tracks under his alias F.U.S.E., the terms "Fuse" and "Fusion" stuck with me, and inspired me throughout my formative years. When it came time to put the label together, I realized that there were a few other labels using the word "Fuse" in one way or another. I played around with many variations and even thought of "re:fuse". It was from that incarnation that it somehow evolved to refused..
Why did you decide to form your label?
I simply thought it was time. I want to take more control of my career in music. Starting a label allowed me to stand on my own and not rely on anyone else. I thought it would be a good creative outlet for me, and also a way to share music by artists that I'm invested in and believe in.
Tell us about the scene in your hometown?
My hometown may not have the wild clubbing experiences of Toronto or Berlin, but it is the home of Richie Hawtin, Marc Houle, Heidi (BBC Radio), Matte Blakk, and Ante Ujevic. We're also fortunate to have the brothers Remo and Renaldo Agostino, who have worked tirelessly to create and maintain an interest in electronic dance music for the last couple decades.
What's your favorite label that isn't your own?
I have way too many labels that I enjoy. I have always been partial to Minus and SCI+TEC, even before I was an artist on them. However, that's just the tip of the iceberg.
Have your releases been received as well as you'd hoped?
I can't believe how well they have been received. The testament is the large amount of demos we receive on a daily basis. Artists like what we're doing and want to a part of the movement. another index of our reception is the vast number of releases that end up in Beatport's Top 100 charts. We're fortunate to have a great following.
Which release would you recommend to introduce a new listener to your label?
I hope that refused. is too eclectic to have one release to be an introduction to the label. I'd encourage anyone to check out our whole catalogue and click through to see what we are all about. They can have a listen here.
Which are your favourite tracks?
That's like asking a mother who her favourite child is. Each track is special in their own way, but Cosmic Boys - "I Don't Care" is pretty hot right now.
What's the next release on the label? How far ahead do you plan your releases?
We are planned well into 2016 at the moment. Our next release will be the last one of 2015. It's a collaborative single between myself and an amazing vocalist Dan Diamond. It will be available for release on Dec. 8, and we're premiering it right now!
What challenges do you face running the label?
I am so fortunate to have an amazing team that makes running a label a rather smooth process. Our ninja of a label manager Rory Piecuch, our media master Eduardo Soto, our graphic guru Colin Tuer and the amazing ladies at the PR firm LCPR, allow refused. to run like a well oiled machine. They certainly deserve the lion's share of the credit.