Black Butter’s UK Invasion: A Look At The Brand’s Past, Present, and Future
What do Rudimental, Clean Bandit, Jess Glynne, Gorgon City and Kidnap Kid all have in common? Three words: Black Butter Records.
The condiment-inspired UK label began as an independent platform for artists, regardless of genre, but since then they have quickly transformed into one of the leading dance music tastemakers in the modern scene. Black Butter Records humbly began in London, England, when Olly Wood, Henry Village and Joe Gossa had a vision for their original management company, Stackhouse Management. Pulling their name from a peculiar condiment Wood reportedly spied in an airport, Black Butter Records saw their dream come to life and envisioned the brand’s future as one much bigger than a small group of artist releases.
Whether it’s throbbing grime cuts, barreling drum and bass, gospel-injected house, clambering garage, or anything in between that tickles their fancy, Butter Black Records is all over it. In 2010, their release catalog consisted of Man Like Me, Marco Del Horno vs. DJ Swerve, Kill Light, and RackNRuin – the lesser known solo project of one of Gorgon City’s members. The following year only picked up steam with more brooding talent including Woz, Noisess, and drum and bass festival bill toppers, Rudimental.
Rudimental was early to the game. They still hold themselves proudly on the Stackhouse management roster, and upon the commencement of Black Butter, the lead single, “Spoons,” off their forthcoming debut artist album saw the light of day in early 2012. With MNEK and Syron on vocals, the track earned a respectable response from listeners, but their follow-up number, “Feel The Love,” was a hurricane patiently waiting for its time to blow the English band into the international spotlight. Pairing the radio-perfect voice of John Newman – before he was a pop sensation – and an upbeat drum and bass backbone, Rudimental had hit the nail on the head and earned their first UK #1 that lead the way for the album’s future platinum status.
In terms of timing, Black Butter couldn’t have hit it better. Throughout 2012, the tastemaking force began developing their most promising stars with Gorgon City, Clean Bandit, and Kidnap Kid but it wasn’t until the following year that the label really hit its stride.
2013 in the UK saw the rise of Disclosure’s “White Noise”, MK’s remix of “Look Right Through,” and other British influencers all reaching the summit of their home country’s charts. It comes as no surprise then that in May of that year, two of the label’s most prophetic groups teamed up for a ground-breaking endeavor.
“Intenions” was not Gorgon City’s highest charting single. Nor was it their first. But, it is a point in Black Butter’s history that deserves recognition. “Intentions” brought aboard a quartet named Clean Bandit. A joint effort that foreshadowed the coming success for two of the imprint’s most lucrative talents.
Following “Intentions,” Gorgon City took 2014 by the horns right from the get-go and revealed the first single off their debut studio album, Sirens. “Ready For Your Love” currently still holds Gorgon City’s highest peak on the UK charts at #4. Their career has only hastily risen since with a top 10 album and world-renowned live setup to substantiate their position in the dance music spectrum. Remaining loyal to Black Butter, Gorgon City still holds their own as one of the record label’s most illustrious acts.
Now, back to that quartet named Clean Bandit and that cute tune named “Rather Be.” Accompanied by fellow Black Butter signee, Jess Glynne, “Rather Be” has sold over a million copies to date — not too shabby for an independent label. Black Butter signed Clean Bandit back in 2012, before superstardom, with their debut single “A+E,” which was later the lead single on their debut LP, New Eyes.
This abridged journey through Black Butter’s history and roster has an underlying theme throughout. Black Butter began their invasion in a genre space that hadn’t yet penetrated the radio. They were the underdogs but they stayed true to the music they believed in, and once the opportunity presented itself, the label’s growth took off organically.
Holding home in one of Europe’s dance hubs, Black Butter saw the scene in front of them run its course whilst the US explosion was at its early stages. Once the US boom was in full force, Black Butter made their skip across the pond with their developed acts to make sure their artists entered as early as possible.
Clean Bandit and Jess Glynne’s “Rather Be” was a global sensation for over a year. Kidnap Kid is a juggernaut of the groove-ridden house movement. Gorgon City dominates major festival bills and was a first-mover in developing a live electronic performance. Rudimental is credited for launching John Newman’s illustrious career and are one of the only drum and bass bands to champion radio. Black Butter is the brand responsible for triggering these acts’ dominant roles and success in the dance music market.
With more talent on their roster rising up the ranks like My Nu Leng and Wayward, Black Butter never stop at continually fostering their constant stream of budding talent. However, beyond their label and management endeavors, the UK pathfinders are looking towards a new frontier: tastefully-curated events. Already having hosted a Canadian tour, showcases all over the UK, a Miami Music Week showcase, and more, Black Butter have planted their seed in the event market and repeatedly blow expectations out of the water with the response from each.
Black Butter Records are specific in their tastes. They are timely with their execution. They are knowledgable of the scene. Their precise planning for each endeavor is the key to their rapidly evolving influence on the dance music market, and with their recent expansion into events, Black Butter will inevitably become an even larger dance power player with their innovative mindset at the head.
On the Monday of Memorial Day Weekend, Black Butter will be taking over Populux Nightclub in Detroit to host the official afterparty for Movement Electronic Music Festival. After the festival ends, Black Butter will be passed the torch to keep the party going with Gorgon City, Kidnap Kid, and a special B2B set with MK and Lee Foss.