Apron Records was established in 2012 as a creative outlet for Steven Julien (FunkinEven) and the community around him. Since then it has become globally recognised as a quality seal for Black music from jazz to electronic via hip hop, house and fusion.
The label’s initial releases came directly from Julien’s own kitchen and were defining of their era. Tracks like Beat Crash and Dracula blazed a trail for the loud, brash, futurist style which lit up the house and techno dancefloors of the time. Meanwhile a more classic edge to the label could be perceived in 2012’s still sought after Chips / Sweets which continues to change hands amongst collectors, foreshadowing later original works from acts like Ratgrave (Max Graef and Julius Conrad) in a similar style.
The label quickly became the go to platform for producers pushing cutting edge music, which refused to adhere to the rules of house and techno, despite conquering those styles repeatedly. Greg Beato’s Apron EP and Shanti Celeste’s SSS became breakthrough moments for those producers, catapulting them onto a global stage and establishing thel abel’s reputation as a trusted seal of approval for new talent. The same can be said of the label’s parties and the notorious Apron BBQs, which have provided a local platform in London for DJs like Josey Rebelle and Byron the Aquarius.
2016 marked a key moment for the label, with the launch of its first LP. Steven Julien’s own Fallen signalled the beginning of a new era for Apron, picking up on the label’s previous forays into the deeper roots of Black art and culture and shaking off some of the harder, more abrasive edges of its earlier days. Tracks like Chantel and Carousel marked a new era of music providing a modern twist on heritage styles like new jack swing, fusion and soul. The label started to grow its network outside of its tight knit London community, attracting the work of LA based producers like Delroy Edwards and Ashtre Jinkins, aware of local growing local support for the imprint. Apron even sports a Brazilian fanbase, which lead to a series of shows in Sao Paulo and a release for Sao Paulino acts My Girlfriend and Zopelar.
Since then Apron has graduated from a key London dance label to a global force for cutting edge Black art, with a clothing line that rivals the clout of skate brands and fashion houses. LPs from artists like Quaid and Sun Runners have restated the label’s commitment to modern Black music of all shapes and sizes, no longer restrained by the pigeonholing of the dance scene and increasingly existing in its own bubble as a key independent. The label’s apparel has been modelled by household names in modern culture like Lucien Clarke, Taiba the CEO of creative hair brand KEASH and London DJ/Producer Shy One. Meanwhile, the aesthetic of the label’s products continues to evolve, driven by a commitment to originality and the fostering of up and coming designers.