In honor of Independence Day, KEXP is saluting some of our favorite indie record labels who’s DIY-spirit helped revolutionize the music industry. As an independent radio station ourselves, KEXP is thrilled to give a 13-gun salute to these pioneers with a series of label spotlights through the Fourth of July.
By Mel Trejo
When the DFA label first began, Pitchfork boldly stated that DFA was “more important than almost anything else going on in music right now”. The New York based dance-punk label DFA was founded in 2001 by Tim Goldsworthy, James Murphy, and Jonathan Galkin. Tim Goldsworthy, an English ex-pat, was co-founder of the UK label Mo Wax as well as a founding member of the the James Lavelle project U.N.K.L.E. The New Jersey born James Murphy had been in various bands, DJ’ed around New York and ran his own recording studio called Plantain. Through a string of connections, Murphy had found himself working on the David Holmes album Bow Down to the Exit Sign, which is how he came to meet Tim Goldsworthy who was working on programming for the album. Murphy and Goldsworthy hit it off and began working as a production duo, under the name The DFA, which was short for Death from Above and taken from the name Murphy DJ’ed under and also the term used to refer to a PA system Murphy had designed for shows.
As the DFA, they provided production for bands such as the Turing Machine, Trans Am, and Zero Zero. Around this time they also met the band The Rapture and convinced them to let to allow the production duo to produce an album for them. During these sessions is when the song House of Jealous Lovers was born. It was also around this time that Goldsworthy and Murphy were introduced to event producer Jonathan Galkin. They played House of Jealous Lovers for Galkin who was floored by the song. In their initial conversations with Galkin, Goldsworthy and Murphy also talked about how they were considering beginning their own label, although they weren’t sure how to go about doing it. The punk infused electro sound of House of Jealous Lovers made such an impression on Galkin that within weeks of that first meeting, he quit his six figure job and dedicated his full attention to starting the DFA label, which in the very beginning meant that he was literally going from record store to record store schlepping vinyl.
Besides The Rapture, their first releases included the compilations, DFA Compilation #1 and DFA Compilation #2 which featured tracks from bands such as Pixeltan, Shit Robot, and Murphy’s own band LCD Soundsystem. Since their beginnings in 2001, their roster of releases have included the self titled LCD Soundsystem debut and subsequent releases Sound of Silver and This is Happening, The Juan Maclean’s The Future Will Come, Black Dice Broken Ear Record, the US release of Hot Chip’s The Warning, and Free Energy’s Stuck on Nothing. In 2008, they signed an exclusive distribution deal with EMI and some of their most recent releases include The Raputre, In the Grace of Your Love, the self titled debut from Holy Ghost!, and Shangri-La by YACHT. Watch some of their release highlights below:
LCD Soundsystem- Losing My Edge
The Juan Maclean- Happy House
The Rapture- House of Jealous of Lovers