What’s next for Wez Saunders and Defected’s new era?

With the changing of the guards at Defected now apparently complete – at least until the next set of changes are brought in – everyone is getting used to the same faces still being around, only sitting in different places than they used to. And this also applies to us at Ears To The House – hence our new graphic for all stories Defected.

Wez Saunders is now in charge of the group – and the label is keen to have us believe that nothing has really changed. Saunders claims Dunmore is now an “A&R consultant” – a claim which makes sense given Dunmore has been in the A&R business since the 1990s, but we strongly suspect this isn’t the sole extent of his influence.

As we’ve pointed out before, Ears To The House has a mixed relationship with predecessor Simon Dunmore. On the one hand, he’s a true house music baron who has thrived in an era where many of his rivals were crushed by a changing world. This is nothing short of an incredible achievement and house music will never see the likes of him again – but we do have issues with Defected colonising huge swathes of the genre’s history by frequently buying old record label catalogues.

So what are we to make of Wez Saunders, the new king at the helm of the Defected empire? We asked The Insider for his take on the subject, as he knows both men very well. He told us “Wez is a very different character to Simon, for sure. Like me, Simon came into the business at a time when things weren’t as formal, and has always been more willing to put his personality into his work and his brands.”

“But whilst Simon undoubtedly has business acumen, Wez has it more at the forefront of his thinking. All this talk about the New Era Music Company tells us more about Defected’s new direction than even they expect. Wez isn’t a cold person by any means, but I expect he’ll take the company in a more commercial direction.”

“I suspect this has been in the works for at least a few months now. Simon’s been keener than normal to emphasise his role in house music history – almost as if he’s trying to make sure he isn’t forgotten. He never will, of course. As your site put it, he was the last of the house music barons and as much as I like Wez, he’s no baron. That era is over.”.

A source close to Defected tells us “Dunmore’s been looking to scale down his involvement with the company for a while. He has a good team in place and he’s taught them well. His legacy is in safe hands. He wants to spend more time helping out his family. This, alongside his retirement as a touring DJ this year, allows him to do exactly that.”.

Looking to the future, there are questions over how much Wez Saunders intends to change at Defected. Seeing he’s worked with most of the people in the company for several years already, a purge of existing figures looks unlikely. But when even Simon Dunmore says he believes a “new approach and fresh energy” is required – the idea Saunders has taken over Defected to do things exactly the way they’ve always been done is absurd…

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