When most think of electronic dance music labels, the larger names like Ultra and Ministry of Sound automatically pop up. Then, there are the efforts started by the producers and DJs themselves, some successful like Armada and others, like Sasha’s EmFire, operating on a smaller or entirely producer-exclusive scale.
But, while rock, hip-hop, and pop acts may be signed to labels long-term and for multiple releases, DJs and producers often shop around and put out singles on a per-release basis. This practice has led to some genre crossing, or at least less typical partnerships.
The most recent was Sander Van Doorn signing to Roc Nation, the label of Jay-Z, for single “Nothing Inside.” Although Roc Nation has additionally put out releases by Calvin Harris and Chase & Status, Van Doorn has no connection to the hip-hop or R&B spheres as a producer. While Harris produced “We Found Love” for Jay-Z protégé Rihanna and Chase & Status have worked with the Barbadian singer, Cee Lo Green, and Tinie Tempah, Van Doorn’s single is yet another iteration of his house-trance fusion.
“I am incredibly happy about this signing because, as a producer, you always want to reach as many people with your music as you can,” Van Doorn said in a statement. “’Nothing Inside’ is something I’m very proud of, so having it released on Roc Nation is absolutely insane! It’s a real honor to be on a label with so many amazing talents.”
Yet, Van Doorn is far from the only electronic artist to forge such an unlikely partnership. Other EDM performers, within the genre and outside of it, have put their releases out through less-typical labels, including the following:
DJ Pauly D on G-Note. He’s the DJ everyone loves to hate, but even with his reality star personality and Las Vegas residency, the wannabe producer signed to G-Note, a subsidiary of 50 Cent’s G-Unit Records label. With the rapper involved, Pauly D is working on an album, which will likely be released through G-Note.
Skrillex on Mau5trap. Just as Skrillex’s production career was emerging, Deadmau5 signed him to Mau5trap, which put out EP Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites. Perhaps Joel Zimmerman saw promise, then, in the DJ born Sonny Moore, but these days, the guy in the Mau5 head talks about how much he dislikes dubstep. Moore, as well, is no longer signed to Mau5trap and has his own burgeoning imprint, OWSLA Records.
Richie Hawtin on Novamute/Tommy Boy. Now considered a classic techno producer, Richie Hawtin once released two of his tracks – “Freak” and “(R)Edit #1 (Freak’d)” – on Novamute, a subsidiary of Mute Records, known best for Depeche Mode. However, Novamute releases are, in fact, distributed through Tommy Boy Records, a label focusing primarily on hip-hop and R&B once half-owned by Warner Bros.
New Order on Qwest/Warner Bros. Although intrinsically linked with anarchic (and notoriously disorganized and financially un-savvy) Factory Records, New Order, throughout the 1980s, saw their releases distributed in the U.S. by Qwest Records, an R&B and hip-hop label started by Quincy Jones and jointly operated by Warner Bros. For those familiar with New Order’s back catalog, the closest they ever treaded toward this realm was song “Confusion” – a break-beat electronic track too rough to be considered disco in the early 1980s. Warner Bros. acquired Qwest in the early 2000s, and took the label’s artist roster with it.