No label encapsulates dance music’s international explosion and restless creativity quite like Global Underground. Set up by two Geordie clubbers who literally bounced off the dance-floor and into the record business, this resolutely independent label quickly established an untouchable reputation for cutting edge dance music of the very highest quality, which continues to this day. Global Underground is still at the cutting edge of electronic music and DJ led compilation albums, this is alongside hosting worldwide branded events and tours with the finest DJ talent from across the globe.
Global Underground launched in 1996 with a Tony de Vit mix album based on a visit to Tel Aviv. They haven’t looked back since. Over recent years it has expanded from a world-famous series of defining DJ mix CDs into all areas of cutting edge dance music – from artist albums with acts like James Lavelle’s UNKLE to providing music for CSI, one of the world’s most popular TV shows, and some of PlayStation’s biggest selling games, to staging fantastic parties in some of the most exotic locations in the world. Along the way, the label has built a huge loyal, international army of fans and sold over three million CDs.
Sasha, one of the world’s most magical and best-loved DJs, has had a relationship with Global Underground since his first San Francisco mix in 1998. His 1999 ‘Ibiza set’ is regarded as a classic dance album. In 2004 Sasha launched his Involver series – remaking and reworking tracks before weaving them into a stunningly varied mix. In June 2004 this became Global Underground’s second Billboard Number One, The label released the second instalment of this highly imaginative series at the end of last year to critical acclaim.
“They were the first people to put the photograph of the DJ on the cover, and really push with huge poster campaigns. They took an underground culture of mix tapes and really made it look real and made the music industry sit up and take notice.” Sasha, DJ.
“Everywhere I play, all around the world, somebody always comes up to me with a GU CD and asks me to sign it.” Nick Warren, DJ.
A decade ago the original idea was simple. Global Underground would take DJs to play a party in one of the most unusual, exotic clubbing locations on Earth. The two CD-set would capture the night, the atmosphere and the visit in music, beautiful photography and detailed liner notes. Small wonder the biggest DJs in the world clamoured for a place on the roster. Sasha, Paul Oakenfold, Deep Dish, John Digweed, Danny Tenaglia, Nick Warren, Dave Seaman, and Darren Emerson are just some of the names that have graced those distinctive image led covers. Along the way, and for the thousands who buy the albums, go to the parties and get into fierce debates on the notorious message-board, Global Underground has become more than an internationally renowned dance music label. It’s become a way of life.
Global Underground has also pioneered some of the world’s best new talent and in 1999 launched the Nu-Breed series which showcased up and coming DJs like Amsterdam’s Sander Kleinenberg, Melbourne’s Anthony Pappa and the UK’s Steve Lawler, Danny Howells and Lee Burridge. Lawler subsequently moved on to ‘Lights Out’, a three-album series focussed on the darker, sleazier side of nightlife scene. “They were the first people to give the DJ complete control over the album, that was very exciting,” says Lawler. New names to appear in this much loved and sought after series are Jim Rivers from the UK and the upcoming DJ/producer talent that is Sultan from Montreal in Canada to name just two.
A brand new ‘GU DJ’ series has also launched in 2009 with the first instalment coming from the ever popular British house DJ Nic Fanciulli followed by break-beat masters the Plump DJ’s, both of whom are currently on a worldwide club tour to support their releases.
It’s been a rollercoaster ten years spent on the frontiers of international dance music. And on the way a series of international parties have been staged in some of the most unusual locations on Earth for example beside the Great Wall of China and the Pyramids in Egypt. Long may the fun and games continue!