Simon Morell, FINA Records founder and boss, is a true all-rounder in the world of house music and is in no way new to the game; a stalwart who has worked in various facets of the industry for the best part of 20 years.
Bradford born and bred, the ever affable Yorkshire man first cut his teeth DJing down t’ road in Leeds where he became something of a local legend, and a regular fixture on the city’s bar and club circuit; his most notable appearances at Dave Beer’s flagship house and techno night, Back to Basics, and the equally reputable Asylum. He quickly became synonymous with being able to perfectly judge the pitch of a night and then bend it to his own will. It is this infallible ability that has since seen him secure the patronage of the likes of Ralph Lawson, Loco Dice, Alex Under and Andrew Weatherall.
In 2002, itchy feet and opportunity made him migrate to London where, for 8 years, he ran one of London’s first underground Deep House nights, DDD, at the legendary club The Key.
Off the back of his success as a promoter, and now as label owner, Simon has billed alongside some of the biggest names in the business, and has played at gigs all over the gaff, most notably The End, Ministry of Sound and for Mulletover, as well as Ibiza’s Space, Ushuaia and Pacha, and Sonar and Garden festival.
And it was during his time running DDD, some 14 yeas ago, where his commitment to new music, and talent for spotting new fresh and underground acts first became obvious. Very few promoters can lay claim to being the brains behind booking the then relatively unknown Seth Troxler, Loco Dice and Claude Von Stroke for the first time in the UK.
It evident that jumping on the bandwagon has never been his style and his forward thinking flair for recognizing what’s hot and what’s not hasn’t gone unnoticed. It earned Simon the position of A and R consultant for Defected, where he has been a key player in bringing more of an underground sound to its family of labels, signing the likes of Doc Daneeka, Andre Lodemann, Seven Davis Junior, Maxxi Soundsystem, Sure Thing and Jovonn.
His penchant for seeking out experimental and organic sounds and the excitement he feels after signing fresh music for his own label, FINA Records, is his main motivation; his focus now fixed firmly on building on the imprint’s impressively eclectic and varied back catalogue. The slowing tempos and intricate melodies of recent releases - Rick Wade’s ‘Sweet Life’, Powel’s ‘Cloud City’ and DFRNT’s ‘Nobody Stop Me’ - have taken the label in an ever-more considered direction and continue to bely Morell’s absolute indifference to what’s trending; a fearless embrace of everything from low slung, techy grooves, dashes of disco through to the deeper shades of house. Pretty much anything goes for Simon, so long as it has intelligence, musicality, funk and soul.
With an offshoot label, FINA White, in the making, a platform upon which he plans to release tougher techno cuts, and with releases from Terrance and Appian and with remixes from Francis Inferno Orchestra and Monty Luke in the pipeline, FINA, an imprint already held in high regard amongst industry folk and house aficionados alike, will no doubt continue to go from strength to strength. It is his ambition that it will become, more widely, a go-to label for people who appreciate quality underground house music.
And what’s in store for Simon Morell as an artist? With a couple of recent productions under his belt – ‘Monster Mind’ on Dessous, and the acclaimed remix of Rick Wade’s ‘Sweet Life’ on FINA, both co produced with Tom Taylor, formerly Electric Press, it looks as though there might be yet another string to the Northerner’s bow….
And with his sights set on touring FINA in 2015, you’ll be sure to find him in his preferred territory somewhere soon, that is, “in the corner of small dark room, playing to likeminded lovers of house and techno who just… well…get it.”
Juan Corbi, director and programmer at Pioneer DJ Radio, FINA A and R Man and experienced DJ, is a jack of all trades and master of many. His extensive experience working in the music industry has seen him gain some pretty impressive credentials; former radio producer, audio editor, compiler and mixer at label giant Defected Records, recording studio owner, promoter of Brighton’s Route 1 parties and not least BAFTA nominee for his audio work on the Play Station 3 game ‘B-Boy’.
But it is DJing that has always been his true passion. At the tender of age of 13 he bought his first decks, cutting his teeth at mixing Old Skool Rave, Hardcore and early Jungle, which he still loves and collects today. At 16 he first started playing at local traveller free raves and putting on his own parties near his small hometown in the Midlands, whilst earning his keep at Oxford’s Massive Records.
But it wasn’t really until after earning a degree in Sound Engineering when his DJing began to really notch up a gear. As well as playing house and techno, he was also heavily into hip hop and breaks and spent hours honing his scratching and mixing skills, aspiring to the talents of Q-bert ad Tony Vegas.
And his efforts didn’t go unnoticed. After winning DJ competitions at DJ Culture and at Plasa, a testament to his technical ability, tight mixing, and knack for reading his crowd, he was given the opportunity to play for Numark in Belgium, France and the UK alongside some of his biggest inspirations including House legend Gene Farris and the UK Techno icon, Colin Dale. And off the back of that, he got regular slots gigs at Eurobeat 2000, Route 1 and Dope Ammo/Universal Beats.
In ?? Juan got he opportunity to manage a label down in Brighton and it was during his time there when he became a regular fixture on the festival circuit playing at Lovebox, Bestival, The Big Chill and Rockness, as well as holding down a residency at one of Brighton’s longest standing tech-house nights, Tech-Noir.
In 2014, Juan concentrates his efforts on running Pioneer DJ Radio from the Sonica Studios in Ibiza and working in A and R alongside the like minded FINA boss and close friend Simon Morell where his huge appetite for listening to and discovering new music keeps him more than well fed.
Ever positive and ambitious, and equally hard working, Juan is determined to help see FINA flourish and build on its growing reputation as a place for quality house music. With the label’s plans for launching it offshoot techno imprint in the near future – an avenue for tougher techno edged releases, Juan’s in-depth knowledge of the underground house and techno scene will no doubt be invaluable.
His love for music and music technology is what keeps Juan excited; the hours he spends DJing across the island and in his studio programming beats and finding new samples, is all in preparation for what he hopes will see him earn more gigs as an artist, and for FINA showcases. FINA is a platform upon which he intends to release his music, to play live and to promote the sound he wholeheartedly believes in. “A sound that oozes quality and makes people stop and listen…music that has meaning, soul and originality.”