Brighton-based Jalapeno Records marks 20 years

Brighton-based Jalapeno Records, one of the UK’s leading funk and soul labels, are celebrating 20 years of existence.

Trevor McNamee
Trevor McNamee

They are releasing a 20th-anniversary compilation album featuring highlights from the label’s 20-year history.

The label has been championed by 6 Music’s Craig Charles who called them “one of the big labels to keep the flag of UK funk and soul flying high worldwide.”

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The compilation, Two Decades of Funk Fire, will feature key tracks from the label’s back catalogue, including Kraak and Smaak, Smoove and Turrell (number one album in the official dance music charts this year for Stratos Blue), ephemerals, Flevans, The Allergies, Izo FitzRoy (Dimitri from Paris mix) and others, promising a unique snapshot of a label that has quietly established itself as one of the most important funk and soul labels in the UK today.

To date, Jalapeno has clocked up more than 350 releases from 53 acts, 64 feature artists, 330 remixes, 50 albums, 34 compilations and spawned four sub-labels. A regular live touring schedule and countless Jalapeno Sound System DJ sets at festivals (they have played every Glastonbury since 2006) have all helped cement their reputation in their 20th year as one of the most important independent labels in British music today.

2020 has been the most successful year yet for the Brighton based independent. While other labels halted release schedules due to the pandemic, Jalapeno has celebrated a number one album in the official dance music charts (Smoove and Turrell’s Stratos Bleu) and had their most prolific period to date, with album releases from The Allergies, Izo FitzRoy, Flevans and ephemerals amongst others.

The label is run by Trevor McNamee. Having cut his teeth at BMG, Trevor worked the ranks through Polydor, Jive Records (as label manager), then back to BMG (as marketing manager), before joining label partners Elliot Ireland and Alex Rizzo (friends from Brighton in the 90s) at Jalapeno Records in 2001.

Trevor has since become sole owner of the label while Ireland and Rizzo have gone on to concentrate on making music and production for their library label Pedigree Cuts.

Trevor said: “Reaching 20 years in any business is an achievement but in one that has changed as many times as this industry has, still being here and keeping us and our artists from having to do proper jobs feels special.

“Although I had a lot of experience working at major labels, Jalapeno has offered me the chance to do what I do for the love of it, and that has never really changed. At Jalapeno we sign artists based on whether we dig them, rather than whether we think they will sell huge numbers. It’s always nice when they do make money though! Seeing our artists getting serious support on national radio in the UK and around the world or getting chart success after years of building a fanbase organically makes the long haul worthwhile.”

Trevor added: “When an artist has a clear idea of what they want to do, then I try to meddle as little as possible. Many of our artists prefer the first time we hear an album to be when it’s finished – with no tinkering. And that’s fine – I wouldn’t have signed them or given them that creative freedom if they hadn’t proved they were due it.”