British label Music To Die For Recordings is turning heads – and ears. From discovering and developing fresh talent to pioneering new sounds and reimaging the traditional compilation album, the London-based label is not afraid to break from convention to champion the electronic artists it believes the world needs to hear.

This forward-thinking approach is evidenced in ‘Artists To Die For’ – its new annual label compilation concept. Showcasing future star talent signed to the imprint, each album comes in three distinct parts to cater for today’s range of fans, music heads and tastemakers and their music consumption preferences.

The series launched with ‘Music To Die For Presents: Artists To Die For v1’ in September. A selection of 12 standout, DJ-friendly originals that traversed from lush, dreamy electronica and organic house, through melodic techno and tech-house to dancefloor destroying acid, it landed as a statement of intent, underscoring the eclectic, genre-defying attitude of the label.

Aimed at streaming and radio play, the ‘Edits’ version followed late last year and now, completing the hat-trick, comes the final definitive version spanning three discs and titled ‘Expanded & Remixed’. Fuelling creativity within the Music To Die For family, this is where things get even more interesting; all the featured artists have selected and remixed a label mate’s track from the album for this special edition.

We deep dive into Music To Die For, its talented artist pool and the new compilation concept with label boss Johnny Hudson…


Johnny, let’s start with your own journey in music…

Growing up in Yorkshire, I was first exposed to dance music in my early teens. I started sneaking into raves in Preston, Leeds and Manchester, and was instantly hooked by the energy of the music and the emerging culture. I soon became obsessed with turntables and learning to DJ.

At 16, I bought a pair of Technics 1200s and this opened the door to record shop culture, vinyl and producing mixtapes. I’d play records relentlessly whenever I could and wherever people would listen. After winning a Midlands DJ championship, I started playing in clubs around the UK and overseas and have been fortunate enough to spin at some amazing venues alongside hugely influential idols like Tony De Vit, Ian Ossia and Danny Tenaglia.

During these foundational years, I realised I wanted to work in the music industry but not as a full-time DJ. I was truly obsessed with the creation of music and, after a brief stint in club promotions, landed a coveted job in London as a dance music A&R. I signed and developed DJ/producers like Tall Paul, Fergie and Dave Seaman and more alt electronic artists like The Droyds and Ladytron. I later moved into marketing and promotions, progressing to senior positions within indie and major labels and eventually became Head of Strategic Marketing UK at Universal Music Group.

Since then, I’ve consulted for many artists and music and technology companies until founding Music To Die For. I’ve been super blessed to work with some of the biggest labels and artists – like the Rolling Stones, the Cure, Nirvana, the Who and Prince – during my career and have deeply honed my craft in A&R, marketing, promotions and digital, all the major tools needed to run a successful music company.

Why did you launch Music To Die For?

Music To Die For was initially born in the mid-noughties to support artists and producers who needed help shaping records and campaigns for licensing to bigger labels. The label was short-lived back then but had early success topping dance charts and receiving tonnes of DJ and radio support.

A few years ago, I found myself increasingly helping more artists with advice again, particularly through the pandemic, and it became clear I should relaunch the label under my own stewardship and values. I sounded out a few artist friends who got very excited by this proposition and wanted to jump onboard.

A close friend, Luke Brancaccio, really encouraged me to go for it. He was also looking for the right home for a beautiful track he’d made around that time and said he’d sign it to the label. That gorgeous track was ‘Always’, a collaboration with Gai Barone and featuring the vocals of Kiki Cave, and I felt compelled to ensure it was worked properly. It became our first release and two years on the label has grown organically.

Luke Brancaccio & Gai Barone - Always (Original mix)


What’s the label’s philosophy?

Music to Die For is dependable for quality while being inventive and creative. Although a small indie label, we have a rapidly growing roster. We want to embed ourselves in the hearts, minds, and eardrums of global club culture and we take pride in discovering, nurturing and breaking new talent.

More than just a label; we’re building a community. We’re creating a true label collective and home, one that defies trends.

Our releases aim to solicit strong emotional responses and connection with listeners. From hedonistic and euphoric dancefloor rushers to the deeply soothing or real intelligent headsy music, we don’t mind how it’s done but we only release timeless music that commands attention and will remain evergreen in today’s manic, ever-changing global musical landscape.

We harbour ambitions to break the next big global artists in the electronic space from the ground up by exploring new approaches, sonic territory and leaving our mark as we grow.

Some labels these days seem to just churn singles out. How does MTDF differ?

Lots of labels just heavily brand their own identities and go after trending sounds, not really helping artists per se. Most dance labels tend to focus on putting out one-off single releases, which I don’t believe helps artists to build their fan base or establish longevity. Putting the art and artist first, we build relationships and artist strategies, which is a real differentiator; we’re in it for the long haul.

I care about music and not genres; the Music To Die For ethos is to embrace any style, as long as we share the artist’s vision for it and it deeply connects with people. This will be central to the label’s longevity and continued relevance. A quick scan of our catalogue reflects that ethos.

Finally, I use my wealth of experience in A&R, marketing and digital/tech with every artist signed to the label. They have a direct relationship with me and I support, advise and discuss all the relevant aspects of releases and career development with them – something not many small labels offer. Artist development is a key factor in what we do. Our artists release on other labels too and this is healthy, but they primarily and consistently grow and develop with Music to Die For.

Luke Brancaccio

How are you discovering new artists?

I’m blessed to have an amazing network from many years in the business while label A&R Luke Brancaccio has his incredible ear to the ground. Together, we’re signing some amazing records and sounds. We, of course, use all the usual demo tools and resources, like LabelRadar, ChartMetric, TikTok, Soundcloud, etc, but most artists tend to emerge through our network and relationships. As we grow, the music we release is attracting even more exceptional talent that wants to work with us, which means we’re doing something right.

magic made by r - Eternity Original MIx


What makes a young artist stand out even if their music ‘isn’t quite there’?

I’ll focus on two young artists, both under 20, who we’re developing. The first, [main photo] is an incredible young Ukrainian woman making music through a major war. She’s living in a hugely pressured and dangerous situation and is channeling that into music. Listening to her early demos and recordings, we heard something really genuine in her voice. The way she writes lyrics and performs them hits hard and her music production is now catching up. Also, not having come from the traditional club scene, she makes records with less outside influence and so has more unorthodox, authentic and fresh production ideas.

Expressing the realities and emotions of living through a war, her ‘Eternity’ track is a beautifully melancholic yet hopeful slice of organic house and the lead single from her EP of the same name.

He's Peaking Sideways (Edit)

The.CHAIN is another young talent from Whitley Bay, in the north of England. He only had one demo track and it needed work but his style was fresh and the track was cleverly produced given his limited knowledge. He also puts on his own club nights, which helps shape his sound and vision. I can see him going far as you need that entrepreneurial energy and belief to make it these days.

Belying his age and relative inexperience, his ‘He’s Peaking Sideways’ track is a hazy, dreamy masterpiece of deep electronic goodness, and paves the way for his forthcoming EP.

When you nurture talent, what does that look like for the artist?

It often means throwing away timelines and allowing time for their music to shape and evolve. By focusing on musical ideas and not deadlines, artists can experiment without pressure. One example is Jørgen Tonvang, aka Astrotrain, a producer from Norway. It’s taken nearly six months to get his first release ready and now it sounds so special.

In terms of artist development, there are no hard and fast rules. I focus on what’s needed, whether that’s help shaping a sound, brand identity, social and content strategy, or getting deep into the music and A&R and feeding back on everything from arrangement and production ideas to mix and mastering. I’m a part of every step until the records are the best they can be and this works differently for each artist.

For example, Jamie Stevens has ARIA awards and over 400 production credits to his name, but I really challenged him with his ‘With You’ record and now we have an incredible album on the way. For experienced artists like Jamie, I’m a sounding board and more critical of mix and arrangement tweaks and mastering. With developing artists, it’s more about ensuring originality of ideas and connection with audiences.

Rosie Touch the Sky

Most notable success or key moments for the label so far?

We’ve had five Beatport No.1 releases and eight coveted Hype Chart No.1s in our short life. Beatport has been fantastic in supporting the label through their Hype programme. We’ve also racked up over seven million streams for our catalogue and had two tracks break one million Spotify streams – not bad considering we’re just getting started!

Fauxplay’s ‘Touch The Sky EP’ climbed to No.1 on Beatport’s Melodic House & Techno and Progressive charts and reached No.3 overall. This was a huge milestone for the label and our artist. It’s been great to develop a brand-new artist like Fauxplay from the ground up and help him achieve recognition, acclaim and success in his early career stages. His follow-up ‘Conjure EP’ also hit the top spot.

We’ve developed new and emerging artists including Mallinder, GIVE LOVE and Gus F, and sourced productions from new school house and techno talents like Chambray, Artche, Sasha Carassi, Joshua James and Framewerk. We’ve also released tracks by more established artists like Luke Brancaccio, Gai Barone, Richie Blacker, Indie Elephant, Speakman (formerly Speakman Sound) and the aforementioned Jamie Stevens. And by exploring new revenue streams, we recently helped Indie Elephant secure his first sync for a Netflix docu-series about Price Harry’s Invictus Games.

Tell us about the ‘Artists To Die For’ label album concept…

Compilations traditionally have a release event moment and then quickly die down and are even harder to impact in the modern streaming era so we wanted to rethink the compilation concept to work best for our developing roster of talent. Presenting the album in different variations – featuring original DJ-friendly cuts, edits and remixes – and staggering the release of the versions gives us a three-pronged approach to showcase some the best new underground artists over an extended time.

Featuring a number of the artist already mentioned, ‘Music To Die For Presents: Artists To Die For v1’ signifies more than just a melding of musical minds; it’s testament to our commitment to champion diverse, groundbreaking music and showcase key tracks from artists who have future releases in the pipeline with us. The album is a nice stepping-stone to those dedicated releases.

The concept is working too. The range of eclectic styles on the album has tastemakers praising how fresh it sounds. ‘Artists To Die For’ will be an annual project and we hope the industry comes to regard each compilation as a gateway to discovering hot new tracks and artists.

Talk us through the musical journey on ‘Vol.1’ then…

The artists are so diverse, as are the genres and styles, which range from flavours of deep organic house, afro house and indie dance through to vibey melodic techno, trance and acid-tinged psychedelic electronica. What connects all the tracks, however, is that they all sound accomplished and work well in DJ sets and clubs as well as for personal listening. Many topflight DJs have praised how the tracks standout for originality, which is exactly what we were shooting for.

The ‘Expanded & Remixed’ version is designed to fuel creativity and collaboration between the MTDF artists. Tell us more about your thought process here…

For this version, each artist has turned in a remix of another artist featured on the album. Through this collaborative approach and mindset, our vision is to cultivate an authentic artist community at Music To Die For, where producers can really grow as artists, find the confidence to experiment and genuinely flourish. The community approach provides a shared support network for our like-minded artists, promoting collaboration and encouraging the free flow of new creative ideas, and opening up fresh, new, innovative directions through the cross-pollination of sounds. It strengthens connection, growth and artistic evolution within the label family.

How is that vision reflected on ‘Expanded & Remixed’?

“It really comes to life through the remixes. The level of imagination, originality and creative thinking that all the artists display is outstanding. A showcase of future-facing sounds and ideas, these new interpretations – the debut official remix outing for several of the artists – really mix things up.

Who got to grips with who on the remixes then?

GIVE LOVE opens ‘Expanded & Remixed’ with a deep, dreamy and acid-laced soundscape version of Fauxplay’s ‘Ascension’; Eyal F. layers pensive and twinkling keys into his widescreen trance-inducing take of Stuart King’s ‘Aloe Vera’; and Speakman re-rub GIVE LOVE’s ‘Give You Love’ into a youth-inflected raucous workout complete with firing synths and cosmic breakbeats.’s unconventional twisted dancefloor rework of Mallinder’s ‘Heavy Rotation’ is really melting brains, and under my production alias Hudson I added a heads down dancefloor groove, emotive club-ready synth keys and a vocal twist to the Speakman x French For Rabbits collaboration ‘High’. This one recently premiered on Dave Seaman’s Selador radio show and is a standout for Eelke Kleijn, Joris Voorn, Joseph Capriati and many more topflight names.

Eternity (the.CHAIN Vocalic Remix)


The.CHAIN brings something different to the table, elevating’s beautifully melancholic ‘Eternity’ and adding his own vocals to the instrumental original; and Indie Elephant morphs Ryan Martin’s ‘Awakening Skies’ into a melon-twisting slice of wonky progressive house.

DJs like Tommie Sunshine, Diskjokke, Sister Bliss and Danny Tenaglia are all over Fauxplay’s dark, tough and menacing remix of Eyal F’s ‘The Boat’; Stuart King takes mine and Fauxplay’s ‘Smoke Rings’ into more rueful and melodic house territory; and Gus F delivers a radiantly optimistic interpretation of ‘He’s Peaking Sideways’ by the.CHAIN.

Other Side (Ryan Martyn New Spirit Remix)


Every remix has something special. Mallinder’s subtle yet euphoric driving house take of Gus F’s ‘So Good’ builds to an indelible finale, and Ryan Martyn pairs the ethereal vocals of Indie Elephant’s ‘Other Side’ with sublime Spanish guitar, transforming the driving original into a lush, percussive-licked electronic lullaby.

Did the remixes deliver the results you were expecting?

Above and beyond. All the artists demonstrated that they’re not afraid to rip up the rulebook and the result is forward-thinking music that’ll impact listening experiences and dancefloors worldwide for years to come. We also worked with the Remixology platform, which has now onboarded all the artists for future remix opportunities.

What’s a common mistake that young or inexperienced producers tend to make with their music?

A common trap many fall into is thinking that a record with many complex sounds and layers will win people over. The most simplistic track with a huge hook or melody line wins every time through the history of dance music.

And finally, what DJs would play a set that sounds like the ‘Artists to Die For’ album?

Tricky one as the album covers so much ground but DJs like Soulwax/2ManyDJs, Red Axes, Adam Ten or Erol Alkan, who embrace the diversity of music and cast aside genres. That said, DJs like John Digweed and Anthony Pappa are playing a lot of our records that I wouldn’t have considered an obvious fit for their style but this again underlines how the fresh sounds and originality are really striking a chord with many of the industry’s key players.


‘Music To Die For Presents: Artists To Die For Expanded & Remixed’ is out now on all major platforms.


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