About Circus Company
You think running an underground record label is hard? Try doing it in Paris, a city overshadowed by the filtered house legacy of the ’90s that anything else can feel invisible.
But that hasn’t deterred Circus Company. For 10 years, the label has served as a platform for brilliant, weird, beautiful, funky, funny, mindbending material from across the dance-music spectrum: most of it house and techno, but influenced by hip-hop, jazz and African music; more Pépé Bradock than Daft Punk. Indeed, it was artists like Bradock, Ark and Mr. Oizo, the avant-garde of Parisian dance music in the ’90s, that inspired Circus Company’s vision and made it possible for the label to develop as it has.
In the process, they’ve introduced the world to a side of Paris we never knew—not just characters like co-founders Sety, Kean and Nôze’s Freak, but also friends and family including Ark, dOP, Nôze, Oleg Poliakov, D’Julz and Antislash. Add to that the international members of the traveling circus – Audio Werner, Dave Aju, Guillaume and the Coutu Dumonts, Mossa, My My, Miss Fitz, Samim, DJ Koze, Seth Troxler & Patrick Russell, to name but a few esteemed names—and you begin to see how far their tent extends. Circus Company isn’t about a scene, or even a sound. It’s about a kind of spirit, and those who feel it, get it.
Circus Company got its start in 1999 with a series of compilation EPs introducing the unconventional funk of the co-founders and their co-conspirators – four artists to an EP, with the pieces of a larger whole slowly sliding into kaleidoscopic view. A focus on individual artists was the logical next step, and the next few years tracked the development of Ark, Nôze, San Francisco’s Dave Aju and Montreal’s Mossa. Since the middle of the decade, Circus Company has ridden a creative wave that only continues to build. The sound of the early releases – quirky, impish, sometimes minimalist but never “mnml” – has expanded, morphed and warped. It ranges from dOP’s lush, acoustic textures to Dave Aju’s lopsided computer funk, and from Oleg Poliakov’s subaquatic house grooves to Sety’s immersions in texture and rhythm. They can be jacking grooves, late night experiments, dubby bubblers, but while no two records sound alike, they all carry something distinctively… Circus Company. This is music with character: even one-chord meditations immediately announce their presence.
The character of every release is manifest in Circus Company’s lovingly designed records. Visuals are an integral part of the label’s overall aesthetic – something that’s become all the more rare as 12″s turned into CD-Rs, and CD-Rs into bits on a screen. For every release, the Parisian duo Tom & Léo creates original designs that perfectly complement the music; from the whimsical to the psychedelic, their minutely detailed sleeves are enough to make you buy vinyl again, if you ever stopped.
That spirit doesn’t end with the run-out groove; it all comes together in Circus Company’s parties. Growing their roster and entertaining around the globe, they now stage their antics everywhere for the pleasure of music lovers.