Polydor executives have spoken to Music Week about building a dance music legacy and a new model for artists with the company’s Chaos label.
Chaos achieved a chart breakthrough with debut release Giving Me by Jazzy, which peaked at No.3 and has 332,780 sales (Official Charts Company). The DJ and singer from Dublin has also hit No.1 in Ireland.
The new imprint is headed up by co-general managers Silas Howison-Waughray and Paddy McLean, who are interviewed in the new edition of Music Week.
Chaos is launching amid a resurgence for dance music.
“It feels that, post-pandemic, kids want more high-energy, high-tempo dance music, in a live environment particularly,” said Howison-Waughray.
“The TikTok generation are now hitting the clubs,” added McLean. “So the content flooding out of these clubs is percolating to all areas of TikTok and going global.”
Jazzy was signed following her success as a featured artist on Belters Only’s 2021 smash Make Me Feel Good (Polydor), which peaked at No.4 last year and has sales of 1,053,294.
While Belters Only appear as producers on Giving Me, the track marks Jazzy’s emergence as an artist in her own right.
“It was super-important for her to step out as a solo artist,” said Howison-Waughray.
Alongside Jazzy, Chaos’ roster includes Australian acts Confidence Man and Tom Santa, and UK dance duo Prospa.
“Representing the whole spectrum of dance music is quite important and not just having one linear route to go down,” said Howison-Waughray.
A key element for Chaos is to establish a strong connection with the dance music community, as well as promoting artists across a multi-media landscape including the label’s own livestreams and podcast.
“Chaos will allow us to have a presence across all platforms and offer artists content opportunities,” Howison-Waughray told Music Week. “So it’s a combination of the music itself, but ultimately we are offering artists a 360-degree package.”
Chaos’ team are also working on live events and will further establish the label brand with a range of merchandise.
“Building this imprint is going to require a lot of talking points across different areas – livestreams, the podcast, live events, merch and the music,” said Howison-Waughray. “Going further into Discord and Twitch gives artists and ourselves the opportunity to promote the label as far as it can go and gives the dance community something to really get behind. We’re building a brand that has substance and is meaningful for fans.”
McLean said this can “alleviate some of the pressure on new artists”.
“Quite often in dance music, the record itself will explode quite quickly,” he said. “There’s then a lot [of expectations] put on the artists to develop their Instagram and their following on various different platforms.
“If in some way we can help with that via Chaos as another voice to talk to the dance community in the UK and in Ireland, then we feel like we’re achieving something slightly different from the other imprints that have launched all over the industry.”
Alongside success with Belters Only, Jazzy built an audience with mixes on SoundCloud. She was signed by senior A&R manager Jack Duckworth.
Polydor has had success with dance acts including Jax Jones, Meduza, Becky Hill, Shane Codd and Rain Radio. The major’s JV with Jax Jones and manager Dan Stacey on WUGD has paid off with a summer hit for Hannah Laing with RoRo collaboration Good Love. The single peaked at No.7 and has sales to date of 198,708.
In the future, there could be opportunities to bring together acts signed to Chaos with the wider Polydor roster.
“Polydor has been quite good at cultivating the cross-pollination of artists remixing each other, featuring with each other,” said McLean. “For us, Becky Hill and Jax Jones are our two flagship dance artists, and for the new ones coming through it’s our aim to get them to the same level.
“If a Jazzy and Becky record happens in two years, I’d be over the moon. But at the same time, we want to allow Jazzy to become a name in her own right over the next 12 months. And the same with Confidence Man, they add a whole other dimension to what Polydor can do in the dance space.”
Jazzy has been lined up as the first guest for the Chaos podcast, which will be filmed and clipped across social platforms to widen the reach. Jazzy filmed the first Live From Chaos DJ set, which is approaching 50,000 views on YouTube.
The Chaos team will focus on their artists’ regional audience outside London, and a launch event is planned in Manchester.
“It’s about creating an imprint that means something to fans all over the UK and beyond,” said Howison-Waughray.
McLean is already looking ahead to the next decade for Chaos.
“If we can build a platform that they trust and look to for the next exciting new artists to come from this space, then for me that would be a job very well done,” he said.
“The ambition really is to take it global, that is a long-term prospect,” added Howison-Waughray.
PHOTO: (L-R) Team Chaos at Polydor including Dulcie Mackechnie (senior creators manager), Ajani Caro (visual streaming manager), Silas Howison-Waughray (co-GM, Chaos), Jazzy, Jack Duckworth (senior A&R manager), Paddy McLean (co-GM, Chaos), Oliver Hunter (head of digital creative strategy), Louisa Coppock (Chaos marketing & streaming).
CREDIT: Ariel Pedatzur