Indie label Zulu Records has been slaying it for the past five years. Celebrating half of a decade in the industry, the Brighton-based label has made a significant impact on the underground house music movement.
Some of their achievements include two No. 1 Beatport tracks, 11 Top 10 Beatport tracks, over 100 tracks in the Beatport Top 100, and more. With a fresh new look and rebranding under their belts, we caught up with label founders MDE (formerly known as My Digital Enemy) to answer some pressing questions that we had about their impressive successes, future plans, and more.
Hey guys! Thanks for speaking with us today. We are loving your sound. How did you get started in running a record label and who is involved with the foundation of Zulu Records?
Thanks for having us here. For those that don’t know, we are Serg & Kieron aka MDE, we started Zulu Records in 2012. We were getting frustrated as artists, as some of the labels we were working with were moving our release dates with little or no notice. It meant that instead of having an MDE track being released every 4 to six weeks, we might have two on the same day then a two month gap. We decided to start a label so we could plan our releases more effectively. We went to the ADE conference and arranged meetings with various distributors. We settled on Baseware at the time and they really helped us kick start the label. Six months & six releases later we were globally recognised with multiple Beatport top ten tracks and affiliations with Toolroom & Ministry of Sound.
Since you started Zulu 5 years ago, you have had countless accomplishments. What are some moments that stand out to you as pivotal turning points?
1. Licensing My Digital Enemy ‘Wrong’ to Toolroom Records. It hit No.1 on the Beatport House Chart and stayed up there for six weeks.
2. Starting our sub-label ‘Vudu Records’. Our second release, My Digital Enemy ‘Shamen’ hit the number 1 spot in the Beatport Tech House Chart. Pete Tong played it on his BBC Radio 1 Show then live at the Big Weekend!
3. Peter Gelderblom & Randy Colle ‘Got To Be Good’ hitting No.1 on Beatport and seeing support from the world’s biggest DJ’s. Everyone from Pete Tong & Danny Howard to Duke Dumont who was still playing it in his sets two and a half years after release!
4. My Digital Enemy ‘Deep Down Inside’ hitting 825,000 plays on Spotify.
5. Zane Lowe finishing his set at Glasgow’s Big Weekend with Carl Hanaghan’s awesome rework of the classic ‘Strings of Life’!
If you wanted to give someone who has never heard of Zulu Records before an idea of the sound that you embody, which songs would you recommend?
We are suckers for old school pianos and rave samples. We grew up in the nineties so they really take us back. I’d say that has become a big part of the Zulu sound. Uplifting house vibes but not afraid to delve into the more underground sounds too.
Patrick Hagenaar – ‘Love Rhythm’
Peter Gelderblom & Randy Colle ‘Got To Be Good’
My Digital Enemy & Kadian ‘Lives Again’
Jason Chance, The Doctor & Gifty ‘Your Rhythm’
As we’re going into the second half of 2017, artists and labels are beginning to go all out in terms of promotion, releases branding, and the like. How are you focusing yourselves on continuing to bring Zulu Records out into the mainstream?
We have recently rebranded Zulu Records with a new logo. The new look has had a really good feedback from our followers. After five years we felt we needed a fresh look and also a slightly different direction sound wise. We are taking it back to the roots and concentrating on strictly house music. We are pushing Spotify more than we have ever before, streaming is still an emerging market that we need to keep up with.
As an Indie label, your practices must differ from some of the commercial labels our readers are familiar with. What makes you different than the norm?
We tend to push our releases for Beatport success first. We do a two-week exclusive with them. After that it goes to all other stores as well. Commercial labels tend to do a release in all stores at the same time. The benefit in doing an exclusive release is that the store will be more likely to give you a banner placement to help promote the release. It makes a massive difference having support from the stores. It can make or break a release.
Any last words or anything new fans can look forward to this year?
We have some really cool tracks lined up. Our Zulu Ibiza release is out on the 31st July with 11 exclusive tracks. We have a new track out next week from hot newcomers ‘No Requests’ and an awesome remix due in September from Federico Scavo. I have just signed a new take on a classic summer anthem that kicks all the way back to 1997…It’s a bit of a secret at the moment but it’s one that needs a summer release, so it will be out mid August!! Watch this space!!
Check out Zulu Records’ recent Miami 2017 compilation below and look out for the Ibiza compilation coming soon!
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