Still Music debuted in 2004 with the Sugar EP by French artist Patchworks. The platter's B-side featured a remix of Patch's title track by Amp Fiddler that transformed the song by adding in new keys and vocals. Aside from setting soulful dance floors ablaze, it more importantly set the tone for the label's future of introducing artists from all over the world to one another to see what might result. "My impression was that people were very isolated in what they were doing. You get a French guy being influenced by a guy from Detroit or a soul artist from the US, but never really worked with them, never tried to contact them," says Jerome Derradji, owner and sole operator of Still Music. "Back in the day, labels had no real border. You take a label like Blue Note they would take five dudes to the studio and that would be an album! I think a label should be run like this, I don't think it should be about one sound."
Derradji seems uniquely qualified for the job. He comes from a French and Algerian background, went to art school on weekends for 15 years and worked at vinyl distributor Groove Distribution in Chicago for many years. It was his connection to the underground that made him step out on his own: "I was tired of seeing the same records, same artists all the time getting props. There was all this music I was aware of that nobody else was aware of, I wanted to see records coming out from these guys." And so he has: over 45 records have already been released in just four years over his three labels.
Along with Derradji's dedication to artists that transcend borders, Still also makes a point of addressing social and political issues. Seun Kuti's debut 12-inch features a track entitled "Na Oil" and the Voice's named a 2006 release "Horror in Sudan." There is more to come as well: "There is going to be more stuff coming out soon that is in that vein. Since when does music get separated from politics, from social endeavors? I think for everybody the best music and the most classic music is the music that carried a message," claims Derradji. "I think the most boring labels are the ones just making a product to be played in the club to entertain some yuppies. We make music for all the future generations to discover, to actually get a picture of a certain social state that we were in at a certain time."
until the design was just right."
In an even more direct nod to dance music history, the sub-label Past Due was launched in 2007 as an avenue for re-releasing ultra rare and obscure soul and disco tracks with the assistance of Rob Sevier of the Numero Group imprint, a hardcore record archaeologist and reissuer in his own right. Despite the vintage photos and faux-aged sleeve design, the Still Music aesthetic of mixing it up is still in full effect on Past Due releases. From Japanese deep house artist Rondenion editing DIT to the UK's Charles Webster taking on Visions of Tomorrow, cultures, eras and sounds clash to create something new.
Derradji's current project is a collaboration between Still Music and legendary label BBE, entitled The American Boogie Down. Derradji hopes the relationship will be a fruitful one: "BBE was interested in giving us a P&D [production and distribution] deal. We signed over Past Due and Still Music to BBE which is distributed by K7! now. For once we can actually say your release will be everywhere [when you sign with Still]. Still and BBE match in approach to soulful music, but Still retains all control over the music and artwork we release." Compiling rare independent label 45's and 12-inches from the late '70s and early '80s, The American Boogie Down contains some absolute gems that shine in a market that has seen more than its share of rare disco compilations over the past few years.
Rescuing rarities is one thing, but Derradji also has a keen ear for new artists. Aside from Trus'me and Seun Kuti, Still has been responsible for the debut releases by Alex and Stephanie Attias' Attias project, Rondenion and Keith Worthy who was included in the In the Dark (The Soul Of Detroit) compilation.
No matter what happens with Still Music in the future, Derradji insists that personal connection will remain: "You have a certain identity that you forge through your experiences, what you lived, your personality. Your personality is what helps you make decisions, and express things. That's the beauty of it." And the beauty of Still as well.