Fabric’s team have spoken to Music Week about their industry ambitions for the dance music institution.
They have recently launched a new record label, Fabric Originals, that will sit alongside the existing Houndstooth imprint.
Fabric recently signed a deal with Peermusic that will facilitate in-house publishing for the 60-plus writers signed to Houndstooth, which turns 10 this year.
Despite the difficulties facing clubs during the pandemic, the last few years have seen a dance music boom in other ways. Breaking acts Eliza Rose and LF System both topped the charts in 2022 with major label singles.
Meanwhile, established artists such as Beyoncé and Drake incorporated classic club sounds into their new work, while newer acts like Fred Again.. and Peggy Gou are making a chart impact.
“Peggy Gou closed down Soho when she appeared in Soho Square recently,” said Hiroki Beck, Fabric’s head of labels at Fabric. “It’s a kind of celebrity culture. We’ve seen it with US EDM artists, people like Deadmau5 or Steve Aoki, but not so much outside of that until now.”
However, Fabric is focusing on the underground.
“We established the new label to sign artists representing the sounds of the club, with a focus on dancefloor-geared music,” said Beck. “We are in a very privileged position to have a direct link to the club, so instead of just creating yet another dance label – which is a rather tired model – we are able to match our release plans with events at the club. The aim is always to have that double aspect when it comes to considering an artist, cross-promoting both elements, be it selling more vinyl or tickets for shows.”
All of which means Fabric’s A&R reach is wider than many of their peers.
“We are lucky to be in a position to have direct relationships with some of the best talent within the dance and electronic sphere,” he added. “The mission for Originals is quite simple really: to become the home to the biggest dance label brand with a consistently high quality output, not just for established artists but also championing the new surge of talent that will become tomorrow’s stars. We take inspiration from the likes of Ninja Tune, XL and Warp – but we also want to go on our own trajectory and find our own pathway to success.”
Fabric co-founder Cameron Leslie noted that Fabric’s ability to “move, adapt and do things faster than a bigger, well-established set-up,” works as an advantage.
Beck emphasised that Fabric’s label and publishing ventures rely on creativity and its long-established spirit of independence.
“It’s not all about how much money you can throw into something and force the issue,” he told Music Week. “We have to think outside the box to get our voices heard on behalf of our artists. Also, being open to collaboration is important to get leverage and stay relevant, so it’s about partnering with the right companies, whether that is distribution, DSPs, or even brands in other industries.”
We represent the cutting-edge sounds of tomorrow, but there’s an element of responsibility that comes with that
Over its 10-year existence, Houndstooth has developed electronic acts including Special Request, Call Super and Throwing Snow, while also branching out with more recent releases by JFDR, Hinako Omori and buzzy dance/metal band Scalping.
Beck is confident that the Peermusic deal will help push the operation up a level.
“Acquiring both master and publishing copyrights has enabled us to grow our publishing and sync arm significantly, and this new venture with Peer will expand our reach globally,” he said. “Sync has always been a strong revenue source for Houndstooth and we want to expand that even further, so we can reinvest in the artists we believe in and help them secure additional income when the live sector has been averse to risk-taking post Covid.”
The impression you get from the team is one of a group of people who relish the challenge of maintaining their position at the forefront of dance culture.
“We represent the cutting-edge sounds of tomorrow, but there’s an element of responsibility that comes with that,” said Beck. “It’s about being leaders in our scene when it comes to certain agendas, such as being a lot more vocal on diversity, or championing LGBTQ rights. We have to educate the mainstream as interest builds in our scene, reminding everyone that dance music is open to all.”
Ventures such as Fabric’s labels will only help the cause.
“The new Originals label has given a complementary way to service artists and a missing puzzle to support what Fabric is as a brand beyond its walls,” said Jorge Nieto, creative director. “We are expanding, curating events in other venues and spaces, especially London institutions such as the English National Opera, St Paul’s Cathedral, the Royal Albert Hall, Museum Of London and others.”
“It means we’re working with the City Of London – we haven’t ever really talked to them before,” said Leslie. “We announced a show in St Paul’s Cathedral and the prospect of that, pre-Covid, or in 2016, was unimaginable. There’s a huge amount of collaboration that didn’t exist five years ago.”
PHOTO: Fabric team members Jorge Nieto, Cameron Leslie, Flaminia Agrimi and Hiroki Beck