Signing Story: DJ Fresh--How He Got Flexible with Columbia


A household name in his native England, dubstep producer Daniel Stein blew minds as one quarter of drum and bass super group Bad Company. Better known as DJ Fresh, he concocted his own label, Breakbeat Kaos, with fellow platter spinner Adam F and signed to Ministry of Sound.

Working on the song “Hot Right Now” for his third LP, he employed the services of British-Albanian singer Rita Ora, who’s signed to Jay-Z’s Sony-distributed Roc Nation. Fresh connected with Nation’s Ty Rock through his attorney, Andy Varley, who sparked Columbia’s interest. The label, in turn, sent Rob Stringer and Ashley Newton to Fresh’s sold-out show at London’s Koko. This performance, combined with his ability to spotlight new artists via guest appearances, attracted them.

“The reputation, size and passion of the label was key.”

Although other labels expressed interest, Stein chose Columbia. “Their team features some of the most respected people in the industry,” notes the artist. “The reputation, size and passion of the label was key.” At the same time, Columbia has agreed to let Fresh continue partnering with small labels––they’ve already signed off on a project with Diplo’s outlet, Mad Decent. Stein let his manager hammer out the details of the agreement, which took around three months. “I trust him with this kind of stuff,” he says, “though I’ve ran my own businesses and it’s sometimes tough to let go.

“My battle now is to take the music I love to the world,” he continues. “That’s a phase of my career that is relatively new and based on a long progression through running labels, releasing underground tracks, etcetera.” But if you want to get signed as a DJ, “You just need to take every opportunity you can,” he advises, “and push to make every opportunity work for you.”

By Andy Kaufman