So is this why Sondela was shown the door? Defected launches a new afro-house label called Mahaba, just months after waving goodbye to its last one…

Defected is a company that devotes its existence to becoming larger, not smaller. This was one thing that stayed constant throughout the Simon Dunmore years, and Wez Saunders shows no sign of changing that particular strategy – with one exception.

Back in May, Defected quietly announced that Sondela was being allowed to leave its vice-like grip – and become an independent label in its own right. The decision was reported in Defected’s own favourite publications, whilst it wasn’t referenced at all on its own social media pages.

During the summer, Ears To The House did some digging to see what was going on. Although a highly-placed source denied speculation that the move was taken to purge the influence of the Dunmore family in the business – Sondela is owned by Louie, the son of the previous boss – we couldn’t establish exactly what Defected was trying to do.

We might now have an answer to that mystery. Barely days ago, Defected published an article on their own website about Kitty Amor – an artist that they signed a publishing deal with over the summer – was launching her own label called Mahaba Music. And guess what this new label is going to be releasing?

The very same kind of afro-house that Sondela were putting out when inside the Defected machine. Amor herself is providing the label’s debut release on November 17th, called “Solitude” – a move that not only leads by example by “demonstrating the sonic intentions of Mahaba”, but also helps fulfill her publishing deal with Defected.

It’s quite a clever business move by Amor, although one source within the Defected machine isn’t surprised. They told us “Sef Kombo and Kitty Amor did live streams during the pandemic. It’s how Sef came up with the idea for Sondela in the first place. There was some surprise when we found out Kitty wasn’t involved with Sondela when it launched.”.

So what’s to be made of the timing of all this? We reached out to the same highly-placed source we spoke to months ago, and they said “The optics aren’t great here, that’s true, but there’s no big conspiracy. As far as I know, Mahaba evolved organically over time. Kitty has been doing stuff with Defected for a while, and she knows her stuff.”

“Whether Mahaba will be successful depends a lot on how the Defected machine treats the label. The pandemic stifled efforts to bring Sondela into the group properly, and it never seemed to quite take off. Only time will tell whether this foray into afro-house is any more successful than the last one.”.

We shall see…

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