Sunday, December 09, 2007

Label in Review: DFA Records

DFA Records Home Page
DFA Records @ MySpace
DFA Records @ Wikipedia
DFA Records @ Discogs
Interview w/ James Murphy @ In the Mix

When James Murphy joined with Tim Goldsworthy to form a label in early September 2001 Murphy wanted to name the label Death From Above. But the New York based label quickly nixed that idea in the middle of that September and the two settled on the acronym of DFA. Since 2001 DFA has become a force within the independent indie-dance and electro-rock scene, releasing the Rapture's first album, Hot Chip's The Warning in the U.S. and creating a literal heap of remixes for acts ranging from Justin Timberlake to Nine Inch Nails to Gorillaz. Home to acts like the Rapture, the Black Dice, Juan McLean, Shit Robot, Prinzhorn Dance School, the Shocking Pinks and James Murphy's own band, LCD SoundSystem, DFA is typically on the cutting edge of electro-anything and pushing beyond New York and into the electro-scene of European discotheques. Their remixes are highly sought after both by listeners and artists.
What makes DFA so distinctive is the mix between Murphy's 70s funk and Goldsworthy 80s new wave sensibilities. In particular their remix of Hot Chips "Just Like We (Breakdown)" transforms an otherwise excellent track into a nine minute sonic experience. Their emphasis on a mix of live instruments and electronic sounds allows DFA to stretch the boundaries of dance music without pegging themselves as simply another 'experimental' label.
Murphy's own LCD SoundSystem is a perfect example of what DFA seeks to achieve as Murphy and drummer Pat Mahoney blend live beats with synths, looped vocals and out-and-out rock music. Recently LCD SoundSystem released a single for Nike's runners ad campaign that was 45 minutes long. It is through these sorts of efforts that DFA has grown its presence in the minds of indie and even a few average music consumers.
On a side note, as the Wikipedia mentions, a copyright issue arose between DFA and the band Death From Above 1979 when DFA 1979 was going by the name Death From Above. While Murphy is made to look like the good businessman in all of this, DFA 1979 did not take the forced name change well. Murphy claimed it was simply and issue between Capitol Records and their label but DFA 1979 took it personally. Yet the label still stands and continues to produce and release new records by both their in house acts and new acts they can find.
So far, DFA has built a reputation as a respected independent label while eschewing the typical 'sell-outs' stigma for many (although there are a few who argue otherwise). Much like Matador Records in the 90s, DFA has become a trusted label for quality acts and music. Keep your eyes peeled for anything with the DFA logo as it represents good music to dance to.

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