Imprints brings you weekly profiles of the most exciting independent record labels the world over, written by movers and shakers from within their own electronic music communities.
Name: Black Butter Records
Vibe: Smooth wobble operators
Location: London, UK
Claim to fame: They discovered Jessie Ware.
Upcoming releases: Marshall F's EP, out September 22nd, Scrufizzer's EP out October 14th.
By the number: They've got 51 releases, so far.
Artists-to-watch: Gorgon City, Kidnap Kid, Woz and Joel Compass
What's the deal:
Unless you've been logged off of the Internet for the last 16 months or so, you've probably noticed that there's a new crop of young, British musicians making beautiful noise in the space between R&B, indie pop and dance music. From Disclosure to Rudimental, 2013 is all about big tunes with big feelings and big crossover potential. Well you can thank Black Butter Records, at least in part, for helping lead the Great British Invasion of 2013, as it will come to be known in the history books.
With their start-studded roster, triple platinum record sales, and a mantel stacked with top honors and awards, it's hard to believe the label has been around for only three years. A trio made up of Olly Wood, Henry Village, and Joe Gossa started Black Butter in Olly's apartment in 2010—today, the same label is responsible for the careers of some of the UK's smoothest wobble operators like Rudimental, Jessie Ware, Kidnap Kid and Gorgon City.
From deep space riddims, frantic jungle beats, room-shaking grime and percussive funk, Black Butter has lead British dance music away from your average dance floor cheese. Their most popular success story—Rudimental's "Feel The Love," a track that came to their attention as a rough demo in 2011—became a #1 hit in 2012. It has now sold over 1.5 million copies worldwide. Rudimental's album Home received top honors at the Mercury Awards for Album of the Year, a few weeks ago. The label also has a philanthropic side; they contribute some of their earnings to a charity foundation called LoveSpecs in Malawi that helps sustain the Tilnanu Orphanage community of 175 orphans.
THUMP: Explain the name:
Olly: Funny story, actually. I was coming through the airport on the way back from a gig in Jersey, UK and I found a jar of Black Butter. It's a local condiment that tastes like the filling in mince pies—they spread it on their toast for breakfast. We were looking for a name for the label for a month or so and one day I opened the fridge and it was just staring at me in the face.
With all the recent success and with this new wave of young talent, what's the scene in London currently like?
It's constantly evolving. London, in my opinion, is the center of the universe. I love it and wouldn't move anywhere else. Regarding the scene, this is the place to be if you want to make money, especially in the UK. Every International DJ comes to this city to play; there's always something to do every night. We throw label parties at various clubs. We're always searching for people that touch our hearts or give us butterflies with their music or voices. So that's what helps us identify good talent to bring on board to our roster, and that's the kind of talent that we want to be able to showcase to help the London scene evolve.
I'll tell you what people aren't into anymore: fuckin' dubstep! That whole genre died out as quickly as it came. Three years ago, everyone was all about it, because it was heavy and attracted a certain type of crowd—young boys that like to get all fucked on drugs and listen to aggressive music. But there's only a certain level of noise that people can handle. As a result, there were fewer women showing up on dance floors, which is never a good thing. So I think the sound has evolved now. They're calling it bass music, which is a lot groovier, spacious and classy-something you can dance too rather than head bang. It's a mix of garage, techno, and disco sounds.
What's your favorite label that isn't your own, and what track would you sign from it?
Olly: [Laughs] That's a good question to ask. I'm not going to be able to narrow down on just one label, I'll tell you that much. There are a couple of ones that I really like: Greco-Roman, PMR, Dirtybird and Defected. They all have top-notch releases and you can never go wrong with them.
I think some of my favorite tracks for this summer would be the ones that I would sign… I really like what Defected has been putting out—MK's remix of Stormqueen's "Look Right Through" on Defected is an absolute smasher. I think they can have a number one hit with that one. It's ridiculous! So is Dennis Ferrer's, "Mind Your Step," which has some really groovy vibes to it.
Check out THUMP's exclusive mix from Black Butter signee My Nu Leng: