We call this feature Labels We Love but we might as well call it Labors of Love, since that's really what this is about: mavericks ignoring prevailing record-industry "wisdom," flipping the bird at common sense–and sometimes common decency–in the name of supporting music that needs to be heard. Every year we hear that the indie label is going to die, often from the owners themselves; despite this threat, our favorite imprints just seem to be getting stronger and more important than ever (especially in the face of the practically useless mergers... We mean, majors). So until blogs, MP3 sites, podcasting, straight-to-brain downloads, and rocket-fueled jetpacksreplace the humble record label altogether, we'll be doing this feature. And rest assured that label owners will continue to remain as charming, cantankerous, funny, fed-up, freaked-out, and fantastically individual as ever.
1. Anti- /Epitaph
A punk powerhouse branches into the outer realms of indie and hip-hop.
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Artists: Tom Waits, Sage Francis, Busdriver
Funny story: Just prior to Tom Waits' interview on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, he made a trip to the men's room where the ceiling tiles actually collapsed on his head. Jon Stewart said, "It was like an earthquake hit the bathroom. Thank God for us. Thank God for America, that night Tom Waits was wearing his Kevlar hat."
Favorite other label: Hellcat Records
Favorite lunch spot: Okay, it's not lunch, but our most favorite spot to eat at is Pinkberry. Green tea yogurt with blackberries, strawberries, and mochi... mmm. We're completely addicted.
Office mascot: Any one of the five dogs we have in the office on a daily basis.
Funniest label disaster: The day an entire wall of our office caved in from a mudslide.
Upcoming releases: Galactic From the Corner to the Block featuring Boots Riley, Lyrics Born, Chali 2na, Mr. Lif, and Juvenile; The Weakerthans Reunion Tour; Lyrics Born and Cadence Weapon albums.
Former big beat slingers hit the comeback trail in 2007.
Location: SoHo, Manhattan, NY
Artists: Tracey Thorn, The Chemical Brothers, Air
Funny story: Everything we can think of is too embarrassing and our artists will kill us.
Favorite other label: Sub Pop
Favorite lunch spot: Bazzininuts, a typical NYC gourmet deli and general store. Great, fresh food and it's always cool when you can eat lunch and spot Robert DeNiro.
Office mascot: The fat kid from the cover of the UK album cover for FatBoy Slim's You've Come a Long Way Baby.
Funniest label disaster: Making 100,000 copies of the Six Feet Under soundtrack and then realizing that the wrong audio master was used. We had to destroy them all. Not funny at the time but seeing we had so much success with the record we can now look back and laugh.
Upcoming releases: New albums from VHS or Beta, Prinzhorn Dance School, Small Sins
3. Buzzin' Fly
Ben Watt's London house imprint (and its Strange Feeling sublabel) bangs with the best of them.
Location: Camden, London
Artists: Ben Watt, Justin Martin, Rodamaal/Darkmountaingroup
Funny story: Ben Watt was drinking at the bar with EBTG partner Tracey Thorn before DJing one night. When he finally took to the decks, someone came up and said, "You better play something good. Everything But the Girl are here."
Favorite other label: Ever Records
Favorite lunch spot: Hawley Arms, Camden. An old man's boozer that has inexplicably become Camden's latest hotspot. Mussels, chips, and beer, and Kate Moss in the corner.
Office mascot: Nothing is belittled or infantilized. We are all serious deep electronic house and techno grown-ups.
Upcoming releases: Debut album from Paris' Mlle. Caro and Franck Garcia; new mix album from Justin Martin; Buzzin' Fly Vol. 4 Remixes
Luciano builds a cozy home for the year's most vibrant house and techno singles.
Location: Berlin, Germany (formerly in Zurich, Switzerland)
Artists: Luciano, Ricardo Villalobos, Thomas Melchior
Favorite other label: Perlon
Favorite lunch spot: Pan Aroma, a small and nice restaurant offering an exquisite mix of European and Asian food. Gregor, the owner, also runs Club der Visionäre, our favorite after-work spot, where our artists frequently play.
Office mascot: Orchids–as you can see on our artwork.
Upcoming releases: New singles from Alejandro Vivanco, Digitaline & Luciano, and Petre Inspirescu.
5. Compost Black
A Munich heavyweight's little sister makes most interesting dancefloor bits.
Location: Munich, Germany
Artists: Move D, Patrick Pulsinger, Zwicker, Lopazz
Funny story: Patrick Pulsinger is heavy into tuned cars and spends most of his time lying under cars, repairing and pimping them. When he came to the office to play us his new 12-inch, he came with one of his rare, pimped-out BMWs. Everybody in the office wanted to drive the car instead of checking his new tracks. Finally, the whole office had listened to the tunes while driving the car.
Favorite other label: Mojuba, Esel Rec, Dial, and Liebe Detail
Favorite lunch spot: Goldstaebchen (which means "goldsticks"). It's a party service with Thai food and sandwiches. We always feel ill from that food, but we still order from there every day. Maybe we are masochistic.
Office mascot: The pimpin' pope in his yellow Cadillac. It's a huge oil painting hanging in the office.
Funniest label disaster: The sales.
Upcoming releases: 12-inches from Manuel Tur & Dplay, TJ Kong featuring Robert Owens, Houseworks (which is Muallem teamed with Fauna Flash's Christian Prommer), and Wagon Cookin', plus Compost Black label nights in North America this winter.
It's La Cage aux Folles for Claude VonStroke's Californian dancefloor pranksters.
Location: Haight Street, San Francisco, CA
Artists: Justin Martin, Claude VonStroke, Worthy, Christian Martin
Funny story: We once booked Justin Martin a gig in Miami that ended up being at a tiny gelato shop with no DJ equipment. The best part is that the promoter acted like he was giving Justin a shot at the big time on the phone.
Favorite other label: Impossible question
Favorite lunch spot: All You Knead on Haight Street: burgers or omelettes. It's not even very good but they have nice round booths that fit the four of us perfectly. We always meet there to make all of our big decisions.
Office mascot: Umm... the bird.
Funniest label disaster:
Constant spelling mistakes. Also' get drunk sometimes and say I'm signing a track and then I have to tell the artist later on that it's not good enough. Terrible.
Upcoming releases: Channels Presents Catz n Dogz–The Chicken Affair EP; Riva Starr's "Bubble" with Claude VonStroke and Tanner Ross remixes; Claude VonStroke & Christian Martin's Groundhog Day; The Martin Brothers' EP #2
Ten years strong, and still one of the most surprising indies around.
Location: HQ in Wandsworth, London, UK with offices in Brooklyn, Berlin, and Singapore
Artists: Franz Ferdinand, Arctic Monkeys, Animal Collective
Funny story: Benjy Ferree was inspired by Drag City/Domino recording artist Will Oldham at an early age–but to act, not to play music. Ferree had just seen Oldham's performance as a teenage preacher in the movie Matewan, a dramatic movie about the stuggles of coal miners in Appalachia based on true events that involved some of Ferree's antecedents. Twenty years later, with Ferree migrating his focus from acting to music, he and Oldham are now labelmates.
Favorite other label: Kompakt. The Gui Boratto album, Chromophobia, is an office favorite right now and The Field's "A Paw In The Face" could be played on repeat for hours.
Office mascot: There is the mounted head of some sort of jungle cat on the wall as you enter the office in London. (Before anyone gets too upset, it's fake.) In the U.S. office during the month of March, the unofficial mascot is the jayhawk.
Funniest label disaster: We got the name of an Arctic Monkeys b-side wrong on the back sleeve of their U.S. debut single. Instead of "Chun Li's Flying Bird Kick," it was "Chun Li's Spinning Bird Kick." (Sorry. I never played Street Fighter II. I was of the Missile Command generation.) When the song got nominated for the "Best Rock Instrumental" for the Grammys, we tried to right the wrong, but were instructed that they were going to have to stick to the title as originally released. Sorry, fellas.
Upcoming releases: Animal Collective's Strawberry Jam, a new Notwist album in 2008, Max Tundra, and the solo debut from Dev of Test Icicles under the moniker Lightspeed Champion.
The cut of their cloth? Curating the world's finest club mixes.
Location: Farringdon, London, England.
Funny story: J Majik was stopped at U.S. customs with his DJ box. When asked what music he played he replied "drum & bass," to which he was asked, "Well sir, where then is your drum and your bass?"
Favorite other label: Every other label we have licensed tracks from in equal measure. Nice try, XLR8R!
Favorite lunch spot: Eat. 10 yards from office. Chicken pot pie–legendary. Hope and Anchor. 30 yards from office. Bacardi Breezer-Gooseberry.
Office mascot: Shealan, our New Media guy.
Upcoming releases: Mix CDs from Ewan Pearson, Marcus Intalex, Ricardo Villalobos, James Murphy & Pat Mahoney, Steve Bug, and Justice.
Isis frontman Aaron Turner unearths the bands making metal interesting again.
Location: Los Angeles, CA. The Rampart district,
to be exact.
Artists: Cave In, Pelican, Botch. (Isis gets an honorary mention, since most folks think they are on Hydra Head.)
Funny story: At SXSW this year, Oxbow had their set shut down when Eugene wouldn't put his pants back on. A clash between Eugene and the four bouncers subsided just prior to it popping off... That is, until Trevor from Pelican thought it wise to spit on one of the bouncers. Then it fully popped off. Thanks, Trevor.
Funniest label disaster: The new Pelican disc was delayed from May to June after the delivery truck carrying the CD stock rear-ended a shitbox car directly in front of our office, setting the shitbox and, eventually, the truck in flames. We pulled a portion of the stock from the truck before the firemen threatened to have us arrested.
Upcoming releases: New stuff from The Austerity Program, Xasthur, Pet Genius (ex-Cave In), Jesu, Pelican, and Kayo Dot, as well as deluxe reissues of classic Botch and Coalesce records.
Squelchy, in-your-face electro-house with two million tons of personality.
Founders: Tacteel, Teki Latex, Jean-René Etienne, and Emile Shahidi.
Location: Paris, in the Triangle of Death: Gare du Nord–République–Stalingrad.
Artists: Para One, Tacteel, Surkin.
Funny story: Surkin has already been on the cover of XLR8R. Check out issue #103: He's one of the kids surrounding Xavier and Gaspard from Justice. But which one?
Favorite other label: Roulé (Emile); Factory (Jean-René)
Favorite lunch spot: Café Pierre, Place de la République. It's a regular Parisian bistro with some ill-advised effort on the decor. The food isn't great, but it's quite central and easy for everyone, so it's become our second office.
Office mascot: Bobmo.
Funniest label disaster: Laptop crashes during live sets. But we have spares now. Spare artists too.
Upcoming releases: New singles from Surkin, Bobmo, Midnight Juggernauts, Curses!, Das Glow, High Powered Boys, a movie soundtrack and a live album by Para One, and Cuizinier's new street album.
11. King Street Sounds
Proudly maintaining the legacy of deep and soulful New York house music.
Founder: Hisa Ishioka
Location: Midtown Manhattan. The "Fashion" (read: "Pimp") District, where you'll find powder-blue track suits made of pure mink for sale.
Artists: Louie Vega, Dennis Ferrer, Ananda Project
Favorite other label: A toss up between West End, Sleeping Bag, and Metal Blade
Favorite lunch spot: Cavallo's Pizzeria on 7th Ave. and 28th St. Arguably the best vodka penne for, like, $6, and they give you Semolina bread to mop up the creamy vodka sauce. We think there's crack in that there sauce!
Office mascot: Our beautiful office kitty, Pocahontas. She's been coughing up her meals lately, leaving little "gifts" for us on our desks and chairs, so we've been calling her Puke-ahontas (not to her face, of course).
Funniest label disaster: The worst return from winter break ever–we came back to find all our newly furbished CD cabinets were not installed properly and had come crashing down on top of our desks, crushing computers and anything in their way.
Upcoming releases: Ananda Project's Fire Flower album and the Tiger Stripes Safari record.
2007 is another pivotal year for the kings of German techno.
Location: Köln, Germany
Artists: Gui Boratto, The Field, Supermayer
Funny story: One of our artists is a professional drinker. He's actually testing liquor for the government. Cool, huh?
Favorite other label: Esel
Favorite lunch spot: Kompakt Kitchen: daily fresh-made organic, vegetarian, non-smoker food.
Office mascot: The old crest of the city of Köln, a two-headed eagle.
Upcoming releases:TOTAL8 compilation, Supermayer Save the World
13. Light in the Attic
Miners of old-soul, funk, and reggae gold, with a dash of modernity thrown in for good measure.
Location: Seattle, WA
Artists: Karen Dalton, The Black Angels, Betty Davis.
Favorite other label: Factory, Elektra/Reprise/Warner in the late '60s/early '70s
Favorite lunch spot: A little shack called Paseo in Fremont (Seattle), two blocks from our office. Delicious, flavorful jerk chicken Carribean sandwiches, but go for the Mediterranean bowl and grab lots of napkins... It's messy!
Office mascot: The Wheedle–a furry, much-beloved, much-hated bear who was the mascot for the Seattle Supersonics in the 1970s/'80s and the inspiration for our compilation Wheedle's Groove: Seattle's Finest in Funk & Soul 1965-75.
Funniest label disaster: Our previous office was located in a dingy basement of an old house–kinda reminiscent of that creepy scene in Silence of the Lambs ("put the lotion in the basket"). After two years we had to move, as the basement kept leaking and stinking while our 90-year-old landlord denied it all.
Upcoming releases:Summer Records Anthology 1974-88 and full-lengths from The Saturday Knights and The Blakes.
14. Paper Bag
Canada's newest outpost for the best in indie dance and electronic rock.
Location: Toronto, ON
Artists: Tokyo Police Club, You Say Party! We Say Die!, Uncut
Funny story: Following Controller.Controller to a show in Chicago and watching their van spontaneously catch on fire. As they pulled over and threw the back doors open, seeing flames come out was scary (yet funny once the initial shock wore off). Some band merch was sacrificed but all the amps and guitars were saved.
Favorite other label: Sub Pop
Favorite lunch spot: Jumbo Empanadas. Homestyle Chilean food. They are the best lunch patio in Kensington Market, where you can find a competing Chilean empanada shop (El Gordo) directly across the street.
Office mascot: Our old intern Wes. He's now in Vancouver and we miss him; his sense of style was unparalleled.
Upcoming releases: New records from Holy Fuck and Laura Barrett.
µ-ziq builds a home for darkside glitch, dubstep, and breakcore with a devil-may-care attitude.
Location: Hackney, London, UK
Artists: Venetian Snares, Vex'd, µ-Ziq
Funny story: It made us laugh when the owner of a Dutch hotel asked us to pay for the damage that Venetian Snares and his drunken cohorts allegedly did by urinating on beds. It was, in fact, the support act who pissed himself in his sleep. Um.
Favorite other label: Rephlex
Office mascot: Wankface, the melted Fisher-Price phone.
Upcoming releases: Luke Vibert's Chicago, Detroit, Redruth; µ-Ziq's Duntisbourne Abbots Soulmate Devastation Technique, Shitmat's Beastiality, plus new albums from The Gasman and Venetian Snares
16. Room 40
Head Down Under for experimental ambient's latest sonic uprising.
Location: The sunny climes of Brisbane, Australia. Bring your sunscreen!
Artists: Tujiko Noriko, Text Of Light, Keith Fullerton Whitman
Funny story: One of our artists has written a yet-to-be-produced horror film; another worked in a turtle restaurant, both for the stories (lyrical inspiration) and the free turtle food stuffs.
Favorite other label: I have a good deal of respect for Kranky, 12K & L~NE, Touch, 23Five & Helen Scarsdale Agency and, of course, Someone Good.
Favorite lunch spot: It used to be a wonderful Mexican spot called El Torito. The designers Rinzen and I lunched there every Friday for a year... good times and full bellies.
Office mascot: Schnapps the schnauzer is our official mascot. He's a top-notch little fellow. He tends to his very own MySpace page.
Funniest label disaster: For a sampler we did last year I personally packed 7000 CDs in a day and a half. I was doing it in my sleep for weeks after. I've still got RSI!
Upcoming releases: Albums from Tenniscoats, Steinbruchel, Chris Abrahams & Mike Cooper, Tim Hecker, and the Airport Symphony edition.
17. SMC Recordings
Mac Dre's stable holds it down for the hyphy movement.
Location: Mission District of San Francisco, with a satellite office in Los Angeles
Artists: Pastor Troy, Mistah F.A.B., Capone of CNN
Funny story: Our new record deal with Pastor Troy came about after he saw a DVD about Bay Area legend Mac Dre. He was trippin' out 'cause of how Dre was and couldn't believe it. So we bought him a copy of Treal TV 1 and compiled our personal Best of Mac Dre and sent it down to him. After he got it, he called back and we started talking about a deal.
Favorite other label: Ice Cube's Lynch Mob records. We just love how proud they are to be indie. Their "Damn, it feels good to be independent" campaign is something we wish we came up with.
Favorite lunch spot: La Taza Cafe. It's across the street and is pretty much a coffee shop/deli, but they have a bunch of random meals. We hit it up at least once a day.
Office mascot: Captain McJarbon. He's a handicapped dude that's been around the neighborhood forever, on some Forrest Gump shit. He has no idea the stories he's sitting on.
Funniest label disaster: We had a problem with stores running out of product on a certain release. Instead of calling and screaming at everyone we drew a very humorous stick-figure diagram titled "Panic! At the Distro" that made its way into our wonderful distributor's company meeting. It definitely got their attention, though they didn't find it as funny as we did.
Upcoming releases: Capone of CNN and Green City, a group Scarface discovered and is executive-producing.
18. The Social Registry
Shard-sharp indie rock and electro-punk experiments by way of Brooklyn.
Location: Greenpoint, Brooklyn, NY
Artists: Gang Gang Dance, Blood on the Wall, Psychic Ills
Funny story: When Gang Gang Dance and Blood Lines played at Chop Suey in Seattle they nearly caused a riot. The venue tried to kick Blood Lines out of the club and GGD refused to continue playing, started chanting "Fuck Chop Suey," and caused 14 cop cars to show up.
Favorite other label: Table of the Elements, Kompakt, Silt Breeze
Favorite lunch spot: Pies and Thighs. It's a barbecue place in Greenpoint. Awesome Southern side-of-the-road-style food served outside by Joe Denardo from Growing (if you're lucky).
Office mascot: Laurence Lazarou
Funniest label disaster: Because Blood on the Wall's initial foray into Canada was marked by their booker not lining up their work permits, they have been dogged every time they play there. The last time we received a hushed phone call from Courtney Shanks informing us that that they were being escorted out of the country after their 24-hour stay by men with sub-machine guns.
Upcoming releases: Gang Gang Dance's RAWWAR EP; Christy & Emily's Gueen's Head; Samara Lubelski's Parallel Suns, Blood on the Wall's Lifers; and the continuation of our monthly 7-inch series, The Social Club, with releases by IUD, Growing, and many others.
19. Solid Groove
Switch and friends bring cheeky rhythms and in-your-face bass back to house.
Location: London, England
Artists: Switch, Jesse Rose, Speaker Junk
Favorite other label: Counterfeet
Office mascot: Sinden
Funniest label disaster: We were unloading some stock at a friend's house and some local scallywags must have nicked a couple of boxes out of the van. When we went back later, the whole street was covered with smashed-up vinyl. Cheeky buggers had a proper game of Frisbee with 100 Dubsided promos.
Upcoming releases: A Jesse Rose album, a Dubsided comp mixed by Speaker Junk, and new Solid Groove, Switch, and DJ Fame tracks.
Post-post-rock and seductive experimentalism from bands whose names you can't spell.
Location: Berlin, Germany
Artists: To Rococo Rot, Faust, Ekkehard Ehlers
Funny story: When Wire magazine visited Faust for a cover story in their home in the South of Germany, Faust's Zappi Diermaier served so much vodka with orange juice on the first night that all band members suffered from a serious hangover and refused to answer any questions for almost two days.
Favorite other label: Lovely Records
Funniest label disaster: The first two releases were both vinyl in special handmade sleeves. After we had already bought all the materials, we found out that it took me about 10 minutes to finish one sleeve. Both releases were rather successful, so we spent nights and nights and nights gluing paper and photos on cardboard.
Upcoming releases: Albums from Alejandro Franov, Sun, and Klangwart.
21. Stones Throw
Peanut Butter Wolf's classy imprint remains the most reliable name in indie hip-hop.
Location: Lost Gates, California (a.k.a. The Highland Park neighborhood of East Los Angeles)
Artists: Madlib, J Dilla, Peanut Butter Wolf
Funny story: A movie production took over our office warehouse last week to shoot a scene where Ice Cube runs out with a stolen TV. Upstairs we had Arabian Prince, one of the other founding members of N.W.A., who we're doing an album with this year. At the end of the day we found out Arabian Prince had the nicer car of the two.
Favorite other label: Ghostly International (Egon); SST, Slash, Frontier (Jeff)
Favorite lunch spot: El Atacor #11, Taco Spot, and Via Mar are all competing in-office for best tacos in East L.A. Egon likes Nicole's Gourmet Imports in South Pasadena, 'cause it's inexpensive, super-fresh, and healthy.
Office mascot: The grey-jacketed Doom toy that we did with Kid Robot or Quasimoto's brick. It's just a red brick, but someone recently offered us $30 for it.
Funniest label disaster: Trying to create warehouse space in our turn-of-the-century building's first floor. Our warehouse currently looks like something out of Silence of the Lambs–only one intrepid employee will venture down there unarmed.
Upcoming releases: New records from Percee P and Madlib this month, followed by Guilty Simpson, James Pants, Heliocentrics, and Supreme Team (Madlib & Karriem Riggins) this fall.
22. Tru Thoughts
British purveyors of future jazz, broken breaks, and new soul from old souls.
Location: Brighton, England, in a weirdly green building
Artists: Quantic, Alice Russell, Nostalgia 77
Funny story: Quantic, TM Juke, and founder Robert Luis were in New York last year. We were offered some space cakes which where cooked for the Wu-Tang's GZA for his gig that night. They were so strong we did not sleep and laughed nonstop 'til the next day (for about 12 hours).
Favorite other label: Ninja Tune. They always release music they like, and it's always independent.
Favorite lunch spot: Pause. It's a café run by an Asian family. They do traditional British dishes like jacket potatoes and sandwiches but also amazing curries.
Office mascot: We did have a Wall of Mirth. Hardly a mascot, but somewhere we used to put the things that made us laugh–country & western drum & bass artists asking to sign to us, middle-class English kids dressed up as 50 Cent (seriously), weird emails we get through the website, and any threats we happen to get!
Funniest label disaster: Quantic was in U.S. and ended up DJing at a Beyoncé photo shoot and having his picture taken with her. Paul Jonas was excited and sent the picture to a few magazines thinking he could make Quantic the male equivalent of Paris Hilton (but with talent). Quantic was not happy about this and gave Paul a rollocking!
Upcoming releases: The new Quantic Soul Orchestra album, and TM Juke has been hard at work producing and co-writing with Alice Russell for her album's fall release.
23. VP Records
From Jamaica to Jamaica, strictly the best dancehall stormers and reggae jams.
Location: Jamaica (Queens), NY
Artists: Sean Paul, Elephant Man, Beres Hammond
Funny story: After bribing Elephant Man with a bottle of Hennessey so he would come to the office in Jamaica, we followed him to a show from Kingston to Trelawney. His driver told us it was a 20-minute ride. It took four hours of driving in a van with no brakes, arriving at 2 a.m. and returning to Kingston at 6 a.m. Ele performed for 17 minutes...
Favorite lunch spot: Nelly's Café on Jamaica Ave. Two roast chicken legs and two thighs with white rice and veggies for $4. We are on a budget around here.
Upcoming releases: New albums from Assassin, Elephant Man, Shaggy'-Wayne, and Morgan Heritage.
A shock 'zine curates hit makers from all around the world.
Location: Toxic Williamsburg, NY
Artists: Bloc Party, The Streets, Charlotte Gainsbourg
Funny story: At one show, someone came up behind Jared from The Black Lips and stuffed a bottle rocket in his pants. It went off like three inches behind his nutsack and burned off all the hair.
Favorite other label: Hydra Head
Favorite lunch spot: Kasia's is a Polish diner on Bedford Avenue whose phone number is listed on our staff contact list. The delivery guy comes on a hot pink bike and teaches us Polish phrases and gives us our hangover cures.
Upcoming releases: Black Lips' new LP this fall.
25. XL Recordings
An eclectic stable of big personalities, and their even bigger hits.
Location: Notting Hill, London and Tribeca, New York
Artists: Prodigy, The White Stripes, Thom Yorke, Dizzee Rascal
Funny story: During an internal set-up meeting last year with Peaches, she announced to the entire label staff that she was going to call her third album Fatherfucker 2.
Favorite other label: Tie between Rough Trade, Domino, Wichita, and 4AD
Favorite lunch spot: In NYC, the Halal cart on Hudson and Vandam. In London, it's Books for Cooks on Blenheim Crescent.
Office mascot: Jack the white-tailed deer. He's just a head, really, mounted on a lovely wooden plaque.
Funniest label disaster: When Ratatat played at the Guggenheim last year, Mike Stroud and Jacob, the keyboard player, snuck out to the loading dock to have a swig of Jack Daniels and a smoke before they were due to perform. A security guard caught them and tried to escort them from the premises. Everyone inside was frantically searching for the missing band members while Mike was nearly in tears trying to convince the guard that he was actually supposed to be there, and that 1500 people were waiting for him to take the stage. After the show, the inside of the Guggenheim was so trashed by the Ratatat fans that they got banned from ever performing there again.
Upcoming releases: Devendra Banhart's new album, plus the debut from Jack Penate.
Watch Out Now
Ten record labels to peep in the months ahead.
1. Alpha Pup
Daddy Kev's L.A.-based label has crafted a super team of hip avant-gardists from the Left Coast, including out-there rappers Busdriver and Subtitle and interstellar travelers Daedelus and EdIT.
2. Dial records
From Lawrence's heart-rending tech to Efdemin's lovely, layered quilts of sound, Germany's premier source for minimal house
and emotive ambient pushes the boundaries of bliss while making us consider applying the term "intelligent" to dance music once again.
3. Hiero Imperium
Bay Area MC legends Hieroglyphics sound better than ever, putting the party rocking on hyper-speed with back-to-back solo knockers from some of the liveliest hip-hop personalities around (Tajai, Opio, and A-Plus, to name a few).
4. Mad Decent
Only a few releases deep, Diplo's label proves equally adept at unearthing great underground sounds from around the globe (Bonde Do Role, Baltimore club dude Blaqstarr) and marketing (a shirt with Mishka, and his excellent podcast). Can't wait to hear what's next.
Berlin minimal's next generation–Sebo K, Pan-Pot, Exercise One, and guests like Magda and the band Mia–click 'n' grind on Anja Schneider's and Ralf Kollman's two-year-old imprint, which boasts compellingly subtle grooves and high-quality mastering.
6. Om Hip-Hop
We've been feeling a little "eh" on the OM label's house releases, but their hip-hop stable shows big promise with conscious, jazzy boom-bap from Zion I, Strange Fruit Project, and Zeph & Azeem.
7. Massive B
Bobby Konders' American dancehall outpost, active since the mid-'90s, has been demanding our attention again since last year, with the release of Collie Buddz's massive "Come Around," plus hot riddims Jah Love and Tony Matterhorn's '90s-dance-influenced March Out.
This label provides hypnotic, loopy, and sometimes haunted house and techno that proves depth and the dancefloor aren't mutually exclusive. Plus, label owner Matt "Radio Slave" Edwards culls some great remixes from the likes of Claude VonStroke, Jesse Rose, and his own alter ego Quiet Village.
9. Still Music
Jerome Derradji's smooth house and jazzy broken beat label puts Chicago on the map again, while re-rubs from dons Jazzanova and Phil Asher up the good-vibes quotient.
10. Trouble & Bass
Drop the Lime's crew of Brooklyn-based bass heads (of which XLR8R editor Vivian Host–alias Star Eyes–is a part) scissors up dubstep, electro-house, pop, 4x4 garage, and B-more club to create new-sounding dancefloor bangers, with forthcoming releases from Acid Jacks, Boy 8-Bit, and Passions vs. Curses.