Going Global with an iconic mix series.
It's tough to overstate the role that mix CDs once played in dance music. While print magazines and radio were vital sources of information in the pre-internet age, the mix CD was its own type of message, a physical manifestation of the idea that DJs could be superstars. In the '90s, few did more to advance this idea than Global Underground. The series, which began in 1996, achieved this by working a few simple but smart angles. They convinced some of the scene's biggest DJs to come on board—the first ten mixes included Tony De Vit, Paul Oakenfold, John Digweed, Sasha and Danny Tenaglia. Contrary to other mix series at the time, they put the DJs on the CD's front cover and made them look cool. And, vitally, each mix was based on a set the DJ had played in a far-flung destination, fuelling the sense that dance music was exploding across the globe. The result was a series that took on a mythological status.
Andy Horsfield is one of GU's founders. He watched it grow into a scene-leading series, as he travelled the world and had the time of his life. But in the early '00s, he also saw the bottom fall out of the physical music market, forcing GU to weather a storm that few had seen coming. On the occasion of GU's 20th anniversary, which sees the label release a three-CD compilation, Horsfield explained the series' long and winding journey, from the top to the bottom and back up again.