Whenever we write here at Ears To The House about Simon Dunmore, we feel a little conflicted. On the one hand, the Defected boss is one of the last giants of the house music world. Out of all the house music labels around in Defected’s founding year of 1999, they’re one of few which haven’t bit the dust.
Indeed, the changes within Defected over the years are truly astonishing. What started out as a house music label selling vinyl and occasionally holding events at Ministry of Sound – who lended Dunmore around £250,000 to launch Defected – is now a fully fledged events company with a publishing arm. The fact Dunmore’s empire is still here whilst many others have long perished is a credit to the man himself.
And yet, we do have our issues. For example, there’s Defected’s occasional habit of purchasing large swathes of house music history and claiming it as its own. 4 To The Floor, Nu Groove, Soulfuric and Tommy Musto’s legendary Sub-Urban are just some of the historic house labels whose catalogue is now owned by Defected. It feels at times like Defected is trying to establish a monopoly over house music – and their branding does little to dispel this impression.
Whatever the truth, one undeniable fact is that Defected has changed with the times. Which is why last year, one particular rumour reached the then Amateur’s House desk suggesting label boss Simon Dunmore was due to retire this year. As we couldn’t get the story to stand up, we made a decision not to take the story any further.
But changes have been happening within Defected, as Dunmore himself has acknowledged. For instance, he says 2022 will be his final year as a touring DJ – saying he’s stepping back because he wishes to support his family. Whilst this is clearly an honourable thing to do, questions must have crossed his mind about how the future will play out.
So the question must be asked – will Dunmore ever retire? A source who has asked to remain anonymous but who knows the man well says “I really don’t know. I don’t think he’ll ever leave entirely. He’s built up Defected from nothing. It’s all him from top to bottom. There’s no other business like it. Everyone’s going through uncharted waters on this.”.
“But the one thing Simon has got better at in recent years is delegating. He used to be really hands-on with every aspect of his business – now he has a small number of people he trusts intimately to do his work. Simon gives them a brief, they get on with it. He’s a tough guy to work for, he freely admits that himself, but he’s fair. But when that fateful day comes that Simon can’t do the job anymore for whatever reason, I don’t know who could replace him.”.
And it’s not just his colleagues who are wondering about the future. The industry have also noticed change is afoot – Dunmore was recently honoured at the International Music Summit’s Legends Dinner. But with dance music beginning to emerge from the pandemic and finding itself in a lot of unusual territory, there’s demand for some stability too.
Hence why Simon Dunmore has absolutely no intention of leaving the company which he founded 23 years ago. But whenever that fateful day comes, Ears To The House can’t help but believe house music will have lost a baron – and quite possibly lost the last one standing.