Simon Dunmore, the boss at Defected, gets some stick on this blog. His hypocrisy when condemning others for remixing their archive when his own labels engage in the same practice is but one example where he falls short.
And yet, I also have a certain degree of respect for him. He left the security blanket of the majors to set up the independent Defected at a time when the majors were busily trying to crush Ministry of Sound, which was eating away at their share in the dance market. He’s also taken considerable risks over the years and completely transformed Defected.
So much so that describing Defected as a record label now does them a disservice. They’re more of an events company with a record label attached. Over the years, the company has also selectively invested in different back catalogues – for example, they bought much of MK’s some years ago when the price was low.
Nonetheless, there’s something I find very curious about this building up of back catalogues. It seems like a bit of a lottery to me – pay money and buy lots of things, then hope some of it soon starts making money for you.
Not that Dunmore is worrying. Because he tweeted this last weekend…
Music is often something which runs in families. If someone has a taste for music, it’s probably because they got introduced to it by a relative. Which means it’s not always easy to tell when a certain talent runs in families, or whether it’s just a younger person using the name of an older family member to make a name for themselves.
Now, an admission. I haven’t heard much of the Dunmore Brothers before. The sets I’ve heard seem solid enough. The track selections are a bit more tech-house than I like, but they clearly have a talent for what they’re doing. I also have little doubt that their dad’s work in house music has rubbed off on them – and I bet he’s rightly pleased as punch to see it.
A quick Google search reveals they only seem to be involved with Defected’s own events – but maybe that’s something that’ll change in future. A pandemic and a huge backlog of delayed shows has to be cleared first. However, being Simon Dunmore’s sons, this – rightly or wrongly – means they can end up accused of taking advantage of nepotism.
An extremely rare incidence of swearing from Simon Dunmore – sources who have worked with him in the past say he rarely uses such strong language, so I suspect this suggestion has rather rattled him.
Less certain, however, are persistent rumours that the two sons are potentially being lined up by their father to potentially replace him when he retires. When I asked a source who worked with Dunmore Senior at AM:PM whether retirement would ever be on the cards for him, he just burst out laughing. Told me all I wanted to know…
Let me start this post by emphasising I do have a certain amount of respect for Defected boss Simon Dunmore. Yes, I might well have some fun at his expense on this blog, but his record label is still here. Most of the house labels around in 1999, when Defected was set up, have long been dead and buried.
And it appears Dunmore is in a nostalgic mood today – perhaps inspired by the Dance For Stevie event this coming weekend. He’s tweeting about his label’s long standing relationship with Ministry of Sound…
But things weren’t always this rosy. Defected came about because of changes within the dance music world. In 1998, Ministry of Sound was doing incredibly well and the majors weren’t best pleased. Their response was to stop Ministry from getting access to almost their entire repertoire for their highly successful compilations.
Ministry of Sound responded to this by trying to set up some other labels. They offered Dunmore £200,000 to set up his own record label. Under the deal, Ministry would do certain back office jobs and Defected would sign and licence records – these tracks would be given prominence on Ministry’s compilations.
The label launched early in 1999. Releases by Defected that year came from the likes of Soulsearcher, Capriccio, Paul Johnson, Masters At Work, Powerhouse and ATFC. But behind the scenes, things were chaotic. Don’t take my word for it – take it from Simon Dunmore himself.
In an interview with the London Evening Standard in 2013, he said “I hadn’t run a label before so getting to learn about leases and company house returns and tax implications, dealing with staff and human resources was all entirely alien to me. For the first two or three years we made some quite big mistakes – not big enough to kill us, but big enough.”.
Dunmore also mentions that despite having worked at EMI sublabel Cooltempo and Polygram outfit AM:PM for nearly ten years before, he wasn’t aware of royalty collectors MCPS. However, they’d heard of him – and they called him in for a meeting to ask why he hadn’t paid some £140,000 worth of royalties.
Reading between the lines of this interview – and several others where he speaks about Defected’s early years – it appears the relationship between him and Ministry of Sound deteriorated quickly, and I suspect part of it was because they expected Dunmore would have been more aware of the business side than he was. I also suspected they thought they would have more control over Dunmore than they actually had.
Defected and Ministry of Sound split officially in 2001, with Defected being in debt to the tune of £500,000. Curiously however, Defected’s tunes continued to feature heavily on Ministry’s compilations even after the breakup. But ultimately, the two were drawn closer together as their labels suffered during the digital age and they had to rely more on the events side of their businesses.
And now, they’re best buddies. Who said romance was dead, eh?
One source of endless amusement for this blog over the past few months – and a source of headaches for the Defected team – has been a whole bunch of Jesus Loves UK Garage T-shirts they ordered months ago, as part of a promotion for the Todd Edwards House Masters compilation. No matter what they do, they just can’t shift them.
Since then, they haven’t sold. I’ve speculated as to the reasons why, but things aren’t any clearer. What I do know is they’re still at Defected’s London HQ. In their popup shop this week – which closes today – Zoe London posted a few photos on Twitter whilst inside. And look what was there…
With just under two weeks to go until Dance For Stevie takes place at the Ministry of Sound, the publicity machine has gone into overdrive. And all for a good cause – it’s to raise money for expensive home adaptions so Stevie Laviniere can live there. The full story is something I’ve covered before.
Part of the extra publicity has been to give individual DJs their own customised version of the flyer with information on who’s appearing. At the time of writing, only a few of them have made an appearance – some DJs might have decided not to use them, others might just not have used them yet. The customised versions show their picture on the right hand side and their name in larger text.
Here’s the version Simon Dunmore, the Defected label boss, is using.
Good grief. At the time of writing, it remains unclear whether Dunmore suggested this picture himself or if it was merely supplied to him. But all the same, was there really not a more flattering photo of the man himself available?
He looks like he’s posing for some kind of statue – and that he’s starting to lose his patience with the sculptor…
Ahoy there! I hear o’ curious goings on right now o’er at Defected. Led by the boss (or shall that be captain?) Simon Dunmore, I gather ye return to work in thar fancy offices – they be in Shoreditch, over in ye east of London – haven’t gone as well as ye captain first hoped!
As ye may already know, ye plague has been around for some time now and all ye pirates have been landlubbered and hiding at home with ye buried treasure. But now ye olde plague is less of a problem, thanks to ye vaccines, Captain Dunmore let it be said to his shipmates “Ahoy there, back on the ship we all go!”.
But this olde pirate kept hearing that all was not well. Ye source whispered into me ear – not everyone be happy with Captain Dunmore’s plan! I thought it be nonsense, until me eye saw this…
Our industry still has challenges ahead. The Steve Job’s & Apple mantra “I’d rather be a pirate than in the navy” is often quoted @DefectedRecords….not all the crew have returned to office in swashbuckling fashion….it’s going to take a moment to become our former selves.
Could there be something in it? Just a few weeks ago, Captain Dunmore proclaimeth loudly on Twitter that he was excited to get back on ye ship – but it seems the captain didn’t realise the landlubbers didn’t all feel ye same way as him.
Sources at ye ship Defected be good at holding ye tongues, so I can’t say what’s behind ye rebellion against Captain Dunmore – the label be the best at stopping leaks to ye mischievous scribe. And those that be found guilty by Captain Dunmore? They be made to walk the plank…
Signing your track to Defected seems to mean that, at some stage, you have to appear at one of their events. Given Defected is now an events company with a record label at the side, this is hardly surprising. If they’re spending all that money to promote your track, you owe them an appearance or two.
I certainly have no problem with Defected using the artists whose records they’ve signed to promote their events. But I do wonder what’s going through the mind of Cristiano Spiller, the real name of the DJ who simply goes by his surname.
After all, Spiller is probably most well known for his Carol Williams sampling “Groovejet” – but he has done other things. In 2001, he released a song called “Cry Baby” with a remix from Röyksopp. It came out in the UK on Positiva and sounded distinctly Daft Punk. But will the latest generation of clubbers know this?
Will they also be aware of other things he’s done? Aside from putting out a fair few records, he’s also done remixes for the likes of St Germain, Bob Sinclar, Riva Starr and Cerrone. Not exactly a bad discography.
It’s not entirely clear whether Defected have booked him for a DJ set, performance or both – but I understand that Sophie Ellis Bextor is due to appear to sing it. So it doesn’t look like DJ Spiller, as he used to style himself in his early days, will be getting to showcase some of the other things he’s done.
It’s amazing what power a big cheque has on someone…
To borrow and somewhat tweak a line from classic BBC comedy The Fast Show – this week, Simon Dunmore has been mostly eating. Over the weekend, he seems to have decided to cook an entire cow – much to the amoosement of his followers.
And yesterday, he posted another picture on his Instagram account of him eating… a fish. Oh, and lots of lemon.
Quite why the Defected boss has recently taken to posting pictures of his dinners remains something of a mystery at the moment. Admittedly, it’s one that I’m making next to no effort to resolve, but perhaps it’s something to do with his announcement on Monday that the label’s staff are going to be back in their offices from September 1st.
It might also be to do with Dunmore’s love of the high life. One source who’s worked with Defected in the past told me recently that “Simon’s the type of person who believes in celebrating every success you get in life. Leaving AM:PM and branching out on his own scarred him in the early days of Defected, and he’s been the same ever since”.
Of course, to anyone who knows him, none of this is news. A source who worked with him in his AM:PM days told me “Simon’s always had a taste for the high life. Whenever he wanted to get a deal over the line, he often took people out to dinner. He must have known where every restaurant within a 5-mile radius of AM:PM’s offices were – the budgets there were huge and a lot of us basically dined out at their expense.”
One can only wonder what the cooking facilities at their revamped offices are like – but a quick Google search of the restaurants near their trendy Shoreditch HQ reveals a lot of choices…