That's 28 imprints in total under the Armada banner. Armin's launching an empire and it's all run by kids!
As if Dutch lord of the trance Armin van Buuren wasn't busy enough lifting masses towards the heavens on a nightly basis, the seasoned dance veteran launched not one, two, or even three imprints from his Armada Music endeavor this past September, but four sub-labels, each with their own distinct set of ambitions and aesthetic.
The new-school imprints break down as follows: Armada Deep will set its sights on the currently u-bro-quitous deep house sound, Armada Captivating will unearth future stars of trance, Armada Trice is all about warm, poppy house drops (Just don't call it #FutureHouse in Holland), and lastly, The Bearded Man's luscious face-locks will invite all the weird and wonderful producers who are too strange or unique to be pigeonholed into a genre label.
Keep in mind, the Armada Music family already includes Perfecto, headed by Paul Oakenfold, Gareth Emery's Garuda, Dash Berlin's Aropa, and Aly & Fila's Future Sound of Egypt. Basically, if you don't have a vanity label under Armada Music, are you sure you're even a producer? We took a closer look at the two new imprints that piqued our sensibilities the most:
THE BEARDED MAN
The Bearded Man immediately strikes as a unique proposition in the whole Armada portfolio, and it's run by a 19 year old kid named Marwen Tlili, who impressed enough as an intern at Armada to have earned the shot at his own project. How did he score such a sweet gig so early on, you ask? "#YOLOSWAGGED it," he laughs, before adding: "No seriously, I guess I am just really lucky."
The legend of The Bearded Man goes back some way. Tlili recounts the origin story: "....All was quiet. The pre-historic Bearded Man stood ready. As he finally broke free from his self-imposed trance, he stepped off the stump and picked up a rock. In a moment of sheer brilliance, he struck the rock against a boulder, and BOOM. Big room house was born. Over 500,000 years ago, The Bearded Man defined music as we know it. Rock hitting rock: the foundation of all EDM."
You'd think the pressure of a half million year old origin tale would weigh on young Tlili's mind. That is not the case. "I see signing music the same as I see women," he explains. "Do I look for a brunette, a blonde, or a redhead? No. I don't care as long as they are perfect. So I just look for good music doesn't matter what genre!"
Armada Deep, an imprint launched to focus on acts that straddle the line between Armada-ready sounds and deep house, is run by another young one, 22 year old Kevin Duane, who actually takes on double duty running the more experimental leaning SUBJEKT imprint as well. "Armada Deep represents the deeper side of Armada Music," Duane tells THUMP. "It brings tracks that have proven their strength in the underground, yet still have a good crossover potential. Basically just quality deep house releases."
The label's focus on deep house comes hand in hand with developments in the genre stateside. "It's very hard to tell what the state is because music can go so fast," says Duane. "the past few years,deep house has grown so big. It's taking over radio and its getting huge on festivals. I think this is just the start."
Duane continues, this time about what he does with the remaining hours of his day (here's a hint: It's not sleeping). "SUBJEKT, on the other hand, is dedicated to warm, deep and more experimental music that tell more compelling stories. With this label I try to set out and create a platform for talented people that aren't afraid to bend or break the rules of convention. It's really exciting and really helpful at the same time because I really like to go underground and look for new talents.
Jemayel Khawaja is Managing Editor of THUMP - @JemayelK