“When I started DJing, the openness that exists now didn’t exist at all,” says Nic Tasker, label boss of AD 93. “Play techno and house together: people would comment. Whereas now it seems to be a free-for-all. That was always more what I felt aligned with, and I guess that’s continued with the label. I’m not focused on a specific sound. To me, it’s about working with artists that excite me in some way.”
A listen to the London-based label’s recent run of releases bears this out. The metronomic no wave of Moin, the South London beat poetry of Coby Sey, the dreamy ambient electronics of SKY H1—there’s nothing consistent here, exactly, except an urge to foreground idiosyncratic voices operating on and around the edge of the dancefloor.
Tasker’s CV reads like a cross-section of a certain corner of the London music industry. He DJed across Europe, held down a residency at NTS Radio, worked at the Soho record shop Phonica, and as a host and producer at Boiler Room. “I just wanted to be near what I thought was exciting,” he explains. He was an A&R at tastemaker label Young Turks in 2014 (now known simply as Young) when it launched its imprint Whities—the name both a reference to the initials of the parent label “YTs” and a nod to white label culture, the practice of releasing tunes, often anonymously, on plain-stickered vinyl. “The original idea was that it would be a vehicle for young artists to release music anonymously,” says Tasker. “But it became something else when I took the lead on it. I’d always wanted to run a label, and it was this amazing opportunity.”
Whities’ opening run of releases established it as a label to watch, lining up killer 12″s from the likes of Overmono, Avalon Emerson, Giant Swan, and Lanark Artefax. Tasker took the label independent from Young Turks in 2017. In 2020, during the global Black Lives Matter protests, he announced the label was changing its name to AD 93. For one, Tasker says, the label no longer had any connection to white-label culture; for another, he’d felt increasingly uncomfortable at how the name might be perceived. “I don’t want the name to potentially exclude or offend anyone or be a topic of conversation at all,” he explained in a statement. Announcing the rebrand, he says, “felt slightly worrying—like, ‘Oh, am I drawing attention to something I don’t need to draw attention to?’ But I feel glad I’ve done it. It’s like, yeah, now we just get to move forward.”
Following the name change, AD 93’s continued to go from strength to strength with a string of 12″s and long-players from newcomers and returning names. Here are eight key releases from across the AD 93 back catalog.
Vinyl LP, Sweater/Hoodie, T-Shirt/Shirt
Co-founder of artist’s collective CURL and a collaborator of Mica Levi and Tirzah, Coby Sey made his debut on the label way back in 2017, meaning his debut album Conduit has been in the works for some five years. What he’s made here, though, feels genuinely original: a mix of coruscating post-grime textures and ambient introspection with Sey’s lyrics up front, musing on police violence and the power of community. “We’ve been friends a long time, and I think what he does is amazing,” says Tasker. “He and people like Mica represent a very London sound that isn’t necessarily obvious to people who aren’t from here. It crosses genres in a way that not a lot of other experimental music does.”
T-Shirt/Shirt, Vinyl LP
Moin is the trio of Joe Andrews and Tom Halstead—better known as the sepulchral production duo Raime—and the Italian percussionist Valentina Magaletti. On Paste, the musicians survey avant-rock from a fresh angle, with Magaletti’s cooly precise drumming underpinning enigmatic vocal samples and slanted, dissonant guitar work that recalls late-period Sonic Youth. “I loved everything Raime did, from their mixes to their music,” says Tasker. “Their musical knowledge is unmatched by a lot of people—a lot of ‘90s techno, hardcore, grunge, American punk, things like that—and Moin is the collection of all these things. I’ve been a massive fan of Valentina for a long time, we’ll be releasing something she’s done with Zongamin next year.”
060 brings together two veterans of the AD 93 catalog—the San Francisco DJ and producer Avalon Emerson and the Italian-born, London-based producer Guglielmo Barzacchini, aka Anunaku for four tracks of breezy, melodic dance music. It’s the first fruits of a collaboration that is set to run and run. “Avalon was over here on tour one time, and she’s a big fan of what Guglielmo does. They got together and hit it off. I think the idea is it will become a vehicle for Avalon to release some more club-orientated stuff. They’re thinking it’ll be a long-term relationship—they’ve got a lot of stuff in the pipeline,” says Tasker.
Belgian producer SKY H1 made her debut on AD 93 in late 2021 with Azure, a collection of gorgeous, ambient-tinged electronics that harks back to the home-listening vibes of Warp’s Artificial Intelligence compilations, even as it draws on newer forms like drum & bass and dubstep. SKY H1 dedicated the album to her late mother, and accordingly, tracks like “Labyrinth” and “Blade” have an introspective, healing quality. “That style of music is quite timeless,” says Tasker. “I think people always want emotional, electronic music, and that’s never going to go away, regardless of what trend is popular.”
Overmono, the fraternal partnership of Tom and Ed Russell play a precision-tooled blend of breakbeat hardcore and techno that’s helped them graduate to the big rooms. Mostly they release through XL Recordings, but this 2018 12” for Whities is one of the gems of their catalog. See especially “iii’s Front,” which takes a breakbeat and juggles it around with the dexterity of a skilled jazz percussionist. “They’re kind of in that vein of classic British electronic producer duos,” says Tasker. I guess the release they did with me feels a bit more left, a bit stranger compared to some of their recent catalog. I love it, it’s one of my favorites—I hope we’ll do something together again at some point.”
Vinyl LP, Compact Disc (CD)
Tasker isn’t shy about approaching his heroes, and some of AD 93’s stand-out releases have come from him firing off a hopeful email at an artist he’s admired from afar. One such figure was Geir Jenssen, the Norwegian musician behind the long-running ambient staple Biosphere. In response, Jenssen sent him Angel’s Flight, a selection of disquieting but beautiful music drawing influence from Beethoven’s String Quartet No.14. “Think of Biosphere, I think people often think of ambient-leaning techno music, whereas this is a bit more experimental, and I know it probably polarized his audience slightly,” says Tasker. “Some people really like it, while others are like, ‘This isn’t part of the Biosphere catalog.’ But I love it. I think it’s great.”
Minor Science (born Angus Finlayson) was behind the fourth release on AD 93, and he’s since become one of the label’s constants. His debut album Second Language swings as close to a signature AD 93 sound as you might find: angled at the dancefloor, but genre-agnostic and meticulous in its sound design. “The production is so interesting on his records. He’s drawing on all these different influences, you can tell he’s really into jazz and stuff,” says Tasker. “We work together a lot, and that’s a relationship I really enjoy, helping him out with the creative side. There’ll be another record out by him next year, which I’m super excited about.”
DJ, producer, and founder of Berlin party collective Olympe Fatale, Vivian Koch, approaches the music-making process as a spiritual practice. Her 2021 album for AD 93 walks the line between dreamy, ambient atmospheres and more rugged, club-ready moments. “This record is one of my favorites we’ve put out, and I feel like she’s not been as championed as much as she should,” says Tasker. “She’s very into making meditative, droning music at the moment. If she decides to carry on making stuff, I feel she’s got a real bright future ahead of her.”