Ten years into its run, there's no denying the indelible mark that's been made by Damian Lazarus' Crosstown Rebels label on electronic dance music.
In a way, a spot on the label's roster has become a rite of passage on the underground house and techno scene, with the label having broken such international luminaries as Jamie Jones, Maceo Plex, and Art Department before they went on to stardom and celebrated labels of their own.
"I think [Crosstown Rebels] began as a forward-thinking, boundary-pushing, underground label -- and I believe we are still that," Damian Lazarus tells Crossfade. "But probably just a bit better at doing it, after these last ten years."
"We have enjoyed so many great moments, it is very difficult to pick one," Lazarus reminisces. "But there was a moment three years ago at a Rebel Rave at the Warehouse Project in Manchester, when at the end of the party, I was playing Chaka Khan's 'Ain't Nobody' as the last record, and pretty much all of the Crosstown artists were dancing on the stage. It was a huge celebration, and Jamie [Jones] stage-dived into the crowd, Art Department's Kenny [Glasgow] and Jonny [White] were robot-dancing. It was just pure vibes. And I felt at that moment really proud of what everyone has achieved."
So can the die-hards expect another ten years from Crosstown?
"The longest I ever really plan ahead with the label is around 12 months, so I have absolutely no idea," Lazarus admits. "All I can be sure of right now is that with the collection of artists we have at Crosstown and the unbelievably sick music we are going to release this year, I can confirm we will be around, doing what we do, for the foreseeable future."
Undoubtedly, though, whatever the years ahead may have in store for this groundbreaking imprint, the label boss and his crew have every reason to celebrate their success right now. And they'll certainly do so during their annual Get Lost Miami gathering at Ice Palace on March 29.
Anticipating that bash, Damian Lazarus shared his five essential picks from the new 10 Years of Crosstown Rebels compilation album.
Andre Kraml's "Safari"
"This was one of the major defining moments for the label in the early days. The crazy lyrics in this track and the mental animal noises attracted me at first, and then when James Holden turned in his unreal remix, I think everybody realized that this label was going to be an important one."
Deniz Kurtel's "The L Word"
"One of the sexiest tracks we released from one of the most artistic members of the collective. Deniz proved with her debut album that she was a true artist like no other."
Amirali's "Beautiful World"
"This feels like a record that would only feel right on Crosstown. Very accessible to all, yet very cool and edgy. Lyrically, it sets itself apart from most house or techno records, and is a celebration of our lives. I love the fact that the artist is from Iran, proving how diverse our roster of artists is."
Hiem's "She's The One"
"A brilliant project from the guys from Sheffield. I remember hearing this being played for the very first time in the main room at Space in Ibiza, and when the junglist bassline dropped halfway through, I saw a very bright future developing for what we were doing with the label."
Art Department's "Without You"
"This was one of the two tracks on Art Department's debut double A-side single release. Not only did this track launch the duo to superstardom, it created a whole new genre of its own, which many people attempted to replicate soon after."
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Crosstown Rebels' Get Lost Miami 2014. Saturday, March 29. Ice Palace West, 71 NW 14th St., Miami. The party starts at 5 a.m. on Saturday and ends at 5 a.m. on Sunday. Tickets cost $70 plus fees via residentadvisor.net. Ages 21 and up. Visit crosstownrebels.com.