Like every indie label, Night Shift Sound started out with good intentions; to release on a monthly basis with the aim to showcase talent from across the world.
The label, set-up and operated by Mike Burgess and James Medina, better known as HeavyFeet, the garage-driven house music production duo who released a slew of tracks and remixes between 2007-2012 on labels such as Black Butter and Champion Records, realised that long term, this approach wasn’t sustainable.
Two years in, they made the decision to switch to releasing 15-20 track compilations only and to only release 1-2 of them a year. They haven’t looked back since.
Mike explains the thinking behind Night Shift Sound’s focus as a label: “Small labels, by title, have a finite amount of time, budget and resources and they’re going to come up against multiple problems if they’re only focusing on one artist at a time. Our approach is to find 6-7 amazing original tracks, commission 4-5 great, new remixes, and select 5-6 back cat. favourites – and compile this as a club DJ would”.
With Mike and James having come up on compilations as varied as Bonkers (UK hardcore), Fabric Live (UK bass and grime) and Global Underground (progressive house), their own comps follow their personal learning of what a comp should be; both a mixed and unmixed version of a well-curated set of club tracks – that ideally takes the listener somewhere other than on a 30-minute steady jog!
Whilst Night Shift Sound has never been shy of expressing their love of a bassline, the Northern Power House series has become the ultimate platform for the label to bring together and represent house, garage breaks and UK funky, creating a more holistic, joined-up, bassline-orientated sound of multiple tempos – which has also been a bonus, elsewhere.
James elaborates; “we’ve noticed that by focusing on the comps, our audience is becoming more invested in what we stand for as a label. Over the last couple of releases, more music fans are also starting to realise we’re a small, Manchester-based outfit and with true dance music values at our centre.”
Mike continues; “for us, the best indie labels in dance music promote their core values through their compilation releases and whether you’re Defected, Butterz or Hospital Records, putting the cornerstones of dance music culture; being community minded and practicing inclusivity at the heart of what one does, is super important to us. We’ve always been very transparent about how we work. We don’t tie our artists down in any way. For us, it’s important that creatives have the ability to work with other labels – we’re really just here to promote the culture around the music. It’s far bigger than us – and indeed any label”.
Northern Power House Vol. 4 sees the return of heavyweight bass aficionados Das Kapital (Animal Language, Red Bull – South Africa), Murder He Wrote (Roska Kicks & Snares) and GHSTGHSTGHST (Four40) to the series, as well as the addition of new signings from Manchester’s new generation of bass-focused producers, including Cozen, J69 and Nat Fanuel.