Strange times indeed! As Sondela becomes the first label to ever be released from Defected’s vice-like grip, what led to the split in the first place?

Ever since Defected was launched back in 1999, the label had grand visions to become a leader in house music. This was entirely unsurprising to anyone paying attention – founder Simon Dunmore previously worked for the Polygram backed AM:PM and EMI’s Cooltempo.

It’s also worth remembering that Ministry of Sound was providing £250,000 to enable Dunmore to launch the label. Ministry had their reasons for doing so – not least because they needed a reliable outlet to provide music for their compilations business. Grand visions were therefore required from the off.

Despite Ears To The House frequently asking questions about Defected, it’s worth noting that almost every house music label that existed in 1999 has long since disappeared. In the process, it has become a full-on events company with a label attached – and even its own publishing arm and back catalogue purchased from other labels and artists.

Yet recently, something previously unthinkable happened – Defected actually agreed to let a label leave the group. And according to those we’ve spoken to for this article, the whole process appears to have been quite amicable and smoother than expected.

Sondela was launched in 2021 by Sef Kombo and Louie Dunmore – who just happened to be one of former boss Simon Dunmore’s sons. Ears To The House was, at times, quite critical of the seemingly disjointed way Sondela was treated by Defected – yet last month, it was confirmed Sondela was becoming independent.

The move sparked a flurry of speculation. Was this the more commercial side of new boss Wez Saunders coming into play? Was it some kind of attempt to reduce the influence of the Dunmore family within Defected? After all, one of Simon Dunmore’s children worked at Sondela whilst his daughter is understood to also work at the label.

A source close to Defected denied such speculation, saying “Wez is a consummate professional. I’ve worked with him before, and that’s not the way he does things. What happened with Sondela was Louie wanted to go in one direction and Defected wanted to go in another. Rather than trying to force Sondela to fit into something that didn’t work for them, it was easier to let them go their own way. The only thing I don’t know is who owns the rights to the catalogue thus far.”

It remains to be seen precisely what Sondela will do next – most of the label’s artists are from outside the UK, and the label only signs tracks, not artists. They have also yet to release any new music since they gained their newly found independence…

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