The Dragonfly label manager, Humphrey (pictured to the left, now not label manager and concentrating on music again in 3/2005) talks about the history of the label, Youth's role in creating it and its future plans with Revolve reporter Sonal Scott

What is Dragonfly’s history?
This is our 11th year. It started back in 1992 out of a studio that Youth set up in Brixton called Butterfly studios. It was a studio for musicians to come and experiment. Youth was in a band called Killing Joke who recorded there along with other bands like System 7 and The Orb. It was an amazing studio space for musicians to come together; a creative space equipped with a mixing room, recording studio and garden. From Butterfly records stemmed Dragonfly records, LSD (a side chill-out label) in 1998 and finally Kamaflage in 2002 (a progressive house label).

 

How long have you known Youth?
Three to four years; a rather nice meeting. I left a message on his phone explaining exactly what the ethos of a party I was putting on was. We instantly got on and clicked. He had always been a musical hero of mine.

You run LSD and Kamaflage. Who would you like to give credit to behind the scenes?
Right now I’d like to say thanks to Darren Stubbs, who I’ve been working with and who was the label manager for six years, in difficult times keeping ‘Dragonfly’s head above water’. Mauri’s been here for a decade and helps with the marketing of Dragonfly - a very solid person.Youth has been a central figure to the label. I can’t really say enough about him. Also Mark Neil, who’s been with us a decade and does most of the cover designs. It really feels like a family around here.

Youth dancing at one of legendary Butterfly studio parties

What’s been your biggest release and which single has been the most successful since?
The pinnacle was the Pleidians' Album IFO (Identified Flying Object). It was a huge landmark. The biggest seller and the one that really catapulted the trance scene was the Hallucinogen album ‘Twisted’ in 1995. Simon Posford working in the Butterfly studio with Youth.
We are about to do our fourth Shakta album ‘Feed the flame’. He is about to embark on a world tour to support the album which comes out in February 2004.
How do you decide which artist to bring to the label?
We’ve always tried to look for music that lasts. It isn’t quick-fix music. An album that you can put on two years later and it still has the “sound”. We’ve always tried to have quality control.
So who is on your table for judges?
Youth, Jazz (Big Life) and I will have a listen to it. If we have a good feeling about someone then we’ll go for it and give them 100% support. But we are quite tentative on taking on a new artist. We used to offer an artist a three-album deal now it’s just one. But if we like an artist we like to work all the way through with them and develop them. Next year, we will release the second Zen Lemonade album for example.

What about the tour in Japan right now?
At the moment Man With No Name and Youth are doing a 5, 6 or 7 gigs (laughs) in 10 days in his mammoth schedule.
Youth is promoting his Youth &Dub album. He is a big figure in Japan, since being a part of Killing Joke at the age of 18. He is quite a hero out there. Youth has got his fingers in so many pies, he’s buzzing.
What do you think has kept Dragonfly in the scene?
I think being careful with the music. We have a team that’s passionate and a strong business sense. I have seen various labels fall by the wayside over the last 10 years and Dragonfly is still here. Coming up is a golden age for us!
Which up-coming labels do you think have potential in the local scene?
In terms of full-on music the Alchemy guys are doing amazingly well. They put on rocking parties. Their DJs have a huge following. It’s important to have a fan base.
Anybody from Dragonfly playing at the BOOM in 2004?
It’s still in discussion with Diego. Two years ago we did a massive 2-hour live show at BOOM. We had 8 people on stage and played the sunset set. It was absolutely mind-blowing!

 

Man WIth No Name in action

Seb Taylor (Shakta) another of Dragonfly's main name stablemates

Have you been to Goa? Do you think it has influenced your music because it did influence Youth with his music?
Hugely. The funny thing is that Youth influenced Goa before Goa influenced him. They were playing his music in Goa before he even got there. In the late 80’s and early 90’s he’d been making music with Ben Watkins (Juno Records), which was being played in Goa.

The new compilation ‘Beaches and Cream’ what’s it about?
It heads back to the early days really. Any connection with Goa? I think it’s got a huge connection with Goa. Beaches & Cream makes me smile. It’s got a funny title, kinda tongue and cheek. It’s a joke for us. Heady days – reminds you of pure days of Goa.
What do you prefer the Deck or the Dance floor?
I love to be a part of the crowd and sometimes find it strange that you find DJs that don’t dance. I find that a strange concept. Of course you have to DJ and concentrate. But if a DJ can’t finish his set and get on the dance floor how will he ever feel the pulse of the people.

sphere image by aaron crawford