It’s too simple to call Cold Busted just a record label. Sure, these purveyors of trip-hop, instrumental hip-hop, downtempo, and funky sounds consistently release modern classics. But the LA-based label, founded by Derrick Daisey—formerly known as DJ Vitamin D—have created a lifestyle music experience orbiting around Daisey’s rarefied palette and iconic vintage-vibing artwork, and a thriving community of innovative musicians feverishly creating and collaborating.
“I’m always thinking timeless—and don’t follow trends,” explains Daisey. Instead, what he looks for in an artist is fresh beats, cliché-free artistic choices, and track consistency. Daisey creates the majority of the label’s stunning ‘60s and ‘70s-inspired visuals, so each prospective release has to move him not only as a label head, but also has to stir his artistic impulses.
Cold Busted started in 2008, and quickly built a recognizable and trusted brand through a steady stream of mint releases with a distinct, and thoroughly developed, artistic aesthetic. The label has garnered the support of tastemaking entities such as Hillydilly.com, Nova Planet Radio Show, U Call That Love, Dave’s Lounge Podcast, The Vibe Guide YouTube Channel, Waxhole, Paris DJs, OpenLab, and Funky Fresh radio show (Radio X FM). The boutique imprint’s catalog is also in demand by third party licensers looking for quality releases to use in various commercial formats.
The label and its artists work together as a creative collective, conceptualizing new releases, collaborations, and remixes in an exclusive Facebook Group. In a public-facing way, Cold Busted has built a dedicated following through a series of high quality gratis compilations titled Bust Free available on the Cold Busted Bandcamp site. The imprint also operates its own radio station: Cold Busted Radio – Busted Beats Streamed 24/7. Here, fans can enjoy the Cold Busted catalog, in addition to music outside the Cold Busted sphere that inspires these tastemakers. Adding to the Cold Busted cache is its commitment to old school ideals when it comes to fidelity and music packaging. Besides selling its catalog digitally, the label prides itself in offering its music in vinyl options with select breathtaking picture discs.
Part of the label’s appeal is its mix of indie artistic ethos with its muscular business reach with respect to marketing and distribution. Not only does this well developed industry network make the label’s music visible and readily available for purchase, but it also offers niche artists prime exposure. On the business end, Cold Busted works with such industry stalwarts as Beatport, iTunes, Spotify, Bandcamp, and Fat Beats.
Cold Busted’s roster is eclectic and consistent in quality. The artist Poldoore crafts uplifting and transcendent tracks pulling from gritty funk and soul, and balmy reggae and lounge. His latest album, The Day Off, boasts a refreshingly diverse guest list, including the mysterious Maverick, emcee duo The 49ers, American blues singer Bodhilynn, and trumpeter Will Magid. Poldoore will be gigging throughout Europe this spring and summer. The revelatory work of Blue In Green sublimely melds masterful jazzy guitar and a smoky-bar lounge sensibility with a cratedigger’s expansive taste, covering the spectrum of hip-hop, bossa nova, and downtempo. His latest release is the epiphanic album Inner Funk. DJ, and producer, mister T.’s recently released Funk Around The Sun innovatively blends dreamy electro sophistication with more a pronounced dancefloor bump.
A landmark release in the Cold Busted catalog is nu jazz mastermind Akshin Alizadeh’s imaginative remix of Marlena Shaw’s legendary “Woman of the Ghetto.” Another label standout is hip-hop artist Es-K’s Serenity album. This is an epic release featuring an impressive cast of lyrical luminaries and track star producers. My Neighbour Isis an artist with a solid following and robust profile, he will be issuing two upcoming releases, the second being a follow-up to his favorably received reggae album. Perennial all-stars of the Cold Busted catalog are its carefully crafted compilations, which are consistently being created in the lab and released to widespread acclaim.
Daisey began his professional music career as an artist. For nearly two decades he was an in-demand house artist known as DJ Vitamin D. He released hundreds of tracks internationally across multiple labels during this time, and his experiences as an artist informs how he treats Cold Busted artists. “I always loved the business end,” Daisey says. “It’s rewarding knowing how different retail outlets work, how music gets played on the radio, and the ‘ins and outs’ of publishing—I pass this information onto my artists, it’s an advantage of working with Cold Busted.”
Though he’s moved on from the DJ world, he stays creative through developing Cold Busted’s iconic visual presentation. “Music is very visual to me—the records I loved growing up had covers that reflected the music inside,” Daisey says.
When Daisey started Cold Busted back in 2008, he was driven solely by passion for a beat-driven art form, but he has been successful with his penchant for recognizing this milieu’s leading lights. Cold Busted has now become a respected and sustaining tastemaking music brand. As a testament to this, Cold Busted’s recent foray into a cassette release sold out before its street date. Marveling about his current position he says: “I really put everything into Cold Busted. To see how it has paid off has been so rewarding. Every morning I feel incredibly grateful I am doing something I love.”