Industry Insider: Defected Records’ Adrienne Bookbinder
What leads a Toronto girl to London to work for one the most beloved house music labels? A series of fantastic, music-fueled coincidences (or fated?) events, of course. Adrienne Bookbinder came to house music the way many of us do: a few tracks that blow our mind, a friend leaving their equipment around, and a little trip to a music festival. Here’s how she went from dancing in Detroit to living the London dream.
Only The Beat: What is your background with house/electronic music?
Adrienne Bookbinder: I grew up in Toronto where electronic music wasn’t being fed to us through Radio or TV. In my teens, I was never really into the same music as the majority of my friends and I had to find my own way musically – which makes my taste and knowledge a bit random at times.
Drum and bass was actually my first gateway into the dance music world, I was listening to artists like Zinc, Shy FX & DJ Hype by the time I was thirteen. I naturally had a love and appreciation for dance music. When I got to university, I was going to every single DJ night there was and my taste in dance music started to change. When Tiga played ‘Mind Dimension’ at The Guvernment one year, my friends and I were completely mind-blown, I had never heard anything like it before.
I think things escalated quickly one summer when my friend who was moving asked if he could keep his decks in my flat until school started again. We put the set-up in my kitchen and I really started getting deep into house, techno and everything that came with it that summer. When I went to Movement Detroit one year, Kevin Saunderson and Seth Troxler were playing b2b at the Made In Detroit stage and I found myself dancing next to a sixty year old local man having the best time of my life. I thought damn… this is something special.
OTB: Tell me about your position at Defected- what are some daily responsibilities?
AB: I work in Publishing, A&R and Synch at Defected – so there are quite a few areas I’m balancing throughout the day and my work is always changing on a day-to-day basis. It’s pretty sick though because we’re not a major label, so I always get to switch it up and get my hands stuck into different areas of the business.
Publishing-wise, I work a lot with our roster of producers and hook-up collaborations with singer/songwriters to get top lines on their songs. Much of my time is spent listening to music, trawling anything and everything, finding new music, new vocalists from different backgrounds/genres, copping fresh acapellas to sample and developing songs I’m working on with different producers.
I’m also out of the office quite often… hitting up meetings, familiarizing people with our catalog, forthcoming music, publishing projects, finding new opportunities for collaboration, and attending a lot of gigs.
OTB: What work experience did you have before your Defected position that made it a good fit?
AB: After graduating university I moved back to Toronto and decided to start my own blog and interview DJs, so I could meet as many people in the industry as possible and learn the most about dance music in the shortest amount of time.
I started hustling big time… My best friend’s brother let me apply for press passes to the big festivals in Toronto under his events company name. No-one really knew who I was at first, but I was swindling my way into all of these events and bringing my friend along with a handheld camera to film my interviews. I was also writing for a few blogs in America, doing music reviews and stuff. Somehow, Sharam and Lee Foss were the first interviews I ended up landing.
I became really close with a girl who promoted for CODA, so basically started living at that club every weekend. I was doing this for two years and got to interview some amazing artists like Sven Vath, Bob Moses and Detroit Swindle. I learned the most about music just by constantly talking to people about it.
When I decided I was ready for a real experience in the music business I chose to move to London because the music scene here is so diverse and driven by passionate people; I thought that pirate radio was the most insane concept… people are literally stealing airwaves to get their music heard!
So I moved here and took a course in radio production and also happened to land a role at Defected, which was doing Marketing & Social Media. A few weeks into it, Simon Dunmore picked my brain about the music I was into and then offered me a job in Publishing and A&R.
I’ll always have love for Simon, he pretty much took me off the street and gave me an opportunity to work hard and prove myself and do something I really want to be doing.
OTB: What changes in the electronic music industry do you think will happen in the next five years?
AB: It’s already starting to happen now but I think the music industry in general is going to see a rise of the independent artist. There is this old school framework that certain publishers especially are still operating in. Being stuck in a contract and giving away a share of royalties isn’t as attractive to artists nowadays who can pretty much distribute and collect on their own music.
I think something which won’t change is that labels/publishers with the most proactive and creative A&R will remain valuable, because there’s no app, portal or logarithm that can ever replace real A&R direction. Defected A&R couldn’t be more hands on with the songs that get released, and I think they are the longest running independent house music label in the world which is saying something!
OTB: Who are your top two established artists and top two upcoming artists?
AB: Floorplan / Robert Hood – honestly, everything he does I love.
Crookers – I was a fan of Crookers growing up when they were a duo. Now it’s just one guy and he’s releasing with Defected. I’m working with him often, sending a lot of accapellas and getting top lines. He is a machine… turns things around in no time and comes out with the best ideas – it’s amazing to witness and be part of.
It’s always tough choosing my upcoming favorites because this changes on the daily. ABRA has stuck with me for a while now though. I also love this rapper / vocalist / producer named Eric Biddines. I’m working with him on a few tracks he sounds like Andre 3000 and is so dope!
OTB: Thanks Adrienne! Check out Defected at the links below.
Connect with Defected Records
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