Last Friday, Deadbeats, the record publishing company created by Toronto’s own Zeds Dead, let loose its very first compilation. This nine-track love letter to ornate bass music, and in many cases their homeland, gives listeners their first genuine glimpse into what this Canadian creative space is up to.
“It’s all about making Deadbeats into a platform for the artists we work with,” says Deadbeats’ label manager Harrison Bennett. “Anything we can do to help them develop and get heard by bigger audiences; that’s what we want to do. Zeds Dead have always had a strong DIY ethos – the Deadbeats events and the record label are the natural evolution of that approach.”
It’s pretty clear that the Deadbeats mandate is to not just publish material, but generate a cohabitation space for emerging producers to both share their music to a supercharged audience, as well as perform live. Last year, the label took on several North American concert dates that were fully kitted out with collective branding and Zeds Dead as headliners. Harrison’s aforementioned ethos suggest that these gigs go hand in hand with releases, and the bosses themselves pay it forward thanks to some inspiration from their own formative years in “The 6ix.” “Through their come up in Toronto, the Bassmentality series, and in their annual hometown shows, Zeds Dead have always strived to showcase Toronto talent alongside international artists. So Deadbeats, through our record releases and events, is a natural extension of that idea.” Bennett and company’s deep roots in the Canadian music scene have helped the label’s metamorphosis into a tribute to that community. “I live in Toronto, I love the music scene in Toronto, we’re so lucky to have such a deep and talented pool of artists living in this city.”
Zeds Dead ~ 2011 at Wrongbar via Social Talk
That brings us back to Deadbeats Compilation 1, the first major indication of what the label’s identity will be going forward. Grime, drum ‘n’ bass, dubstep, dancehall; it’s all here thanks to contributions from producers on the upswing like Rezz, Pusher, Megalodon, and Kid Froopy. “Putting together a label compilation has been part of the plan since the jump. After Zeds Dead released their album Northern Lights and Nebbra’s EP last fall, we started to shift the focus onto this compilation. We would have put it out earlier but we kept getting sent new tracks that we wanted to add! So this release should give everyone a good sense of what we want to do the rest of this year and beyond.”
Speaking with THUMP earlier this month, Hooks of Zeds Dead indicated that some more surprises could soon be on the way for devoted Deadbeats fans. Bennett elaborates, “We’ll definitely do more compilations in the future. I won’t say it’ll be a regular thing, but it will be a thing. What people should expect is a bunch of new music from Deadbeats this year…EPs, singles, mixes, new artists, familiar artists…we’re really excited to share this music with everyone.”
From a personal standpoint, Bennett went on to tell us how much this important benchmark means to his team heading into the better half 2017. “I love talking to artists that have a vision for their music and helping them execute their ideas. The idea for the compilation was to give listeners a more complete introduction of into the world of Deadbeats. Finding a way to connect all these elements from the label’s side and the artists side was a creative challenge similar to putting together a mixtape. You want to find a way for everything to stand out in its own place and still be part of a cohesive project that tells a story. I think these tracks give people a good sense of the label and these artists, and hopefully has them ready for more!”
Stream Deadbeats Compilation 1 in all its glory via Spotify below including songs by Nebbra, Rezz, Megalodon, Memorecks, Pusher, Blount, and Zeds Dead themselves.
Feature image by @edmlens