Global Underground is a music label founded in 1996 by Andy Horsfield and James Todd. The label symbolizes the international explosion of dance music during the 1990s and first manifesto for high-end DJs such as Sasha, Paul Oakenfold, John Digweed, Danny Tenaglia, Nick Warren, Dave Seaman and Darren Emerson.The label originially launched in 1996 with Tony de Vit’s Tel Aviv-based album. The original idea was simple. Global Underground would take DJs to play a party in one of the most unusual, exotic clubbing locales on earth such as Moscow (Deep Dish), Romania (James Lavelle) and Buenos Aires (Dave Seaman). The resulting two-CD set would capture the night with music, beautiful photography and detailed liner notes. Sasha, Paul Oakenfold, John Digweed, Danny Tenaglia, Nick Warren and Danny Howells are just some of the names that have graced those distinctive covers, making an impressive legacy for an independent label based in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the North of England. GU founders James Todd had been a musician and a new romantic and Andy Horsfield a professional photographer shooting rock bands. Together they were the wise-cracking ‘Fat Lads’ and quickly became famous in international dance music for their no-nonsense approach, easy-going warmth and piss-taking party lifestyle. As encompassed by the slogans they put on every album. “Don’t Take Life Too Seriously,” declared one. “Travelling The World At The Speed Of Sound,” advised another. As a label, Global Underground also pioneers some of the world’s best new talent. Launched in 1999, the Nu-Breed series showcased up and coming DJs like Amsterdam’s Sander Kleinenberg, Melbourne’s Anthony Pappa and the UK’s Steve Lawler. Lawler moved on to Lights Out for Global Underground, a three-album series focussed on the darker, sleazier side of nightlife. “They were the first people to give the DJ complete control over the album. That was very exciting,” Lawler says now. In addition, (pull)Global Underground launched the GU Music division to promote original work from original talent with artists like Holland’s Pako and Frederik, Australia’s Lostep and the UK’s Traffik.(/pull) Next to come later this year is the debut album from U.K. Top 40 act Dark Globe, whose sleek vocal breakbeat expands the label’s roster into new musical territory. In 2004 GU Music also took over the release of Never Never Land album by UNKLE. The single “Reign” – which featured a storming vocal from former Stone Roses singer and solo star Ian Brown, along with a spectacular, explosive video–blasted into the UK’s Top 40. In 1999 Andy Horsfield and James Todd were profiled for the U.K.’s Sky TV show Apocalypse Tube. In 2000 a one-hour documentary on the UK’s Channel 4 network, entitled Getting Away With It, was screened, which followed the Fat Lads to Budapest, Buenos Aires, Ibiza, Uruguay and Newcastle, and featured GU DJs Sasha, Dave Seaman, Darren Emerson, Anthony Pappa and Nick Warren. The documentary was also shown in Israel, Slovenia, Eire, New Zealand, Australia and on the USA’s Showtime and is now one of two Global Underground Transmission DVDs. That same year, the UK’s ITV network showed Global Underground taking Danny Tenaglia and a crowd of international clubbers on a float through the Berlin Love Parade. Grammy-award winning DJ/producer duo Deep Dish joined Global Underground in 2001 with a memorable trip to Moscow where they were interviewed by Russian Vogue and photographed in Red Square. In May 2003, their second Global Underground album from Toronto was the label’s first Billboard #1 Electronic/Dance chart hit. 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.
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In June 2004 this became Global Underground’s second Billboard #1 Electronic/Dance chart hit. GU has also moved into television and movie soundtracks and now supplies music for America’s CSI – a show that with a vast global audience is one of the most seen TV shows on Earth. The label has also diversified into game soundtracks–providing music for PlayStations huge-selling SSX Tricky and top game developers like EA Sports.
Paul Van Dyk @ Pier 54, NYC
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