Updated: Jul 8
Founded in 1987 by one of the true Miami Bass legends, Claudio Barrella a.k.a. Debonaire, Debonaire Records has been a tenacious force that even though short-lived in its beginnings, came back with a vengeance in the late 2000's to become a strong part of the resurgent Electro Bass and Miami Bass scenes; releasing title after title of monumental releases that have received plaudits from all corners of the world since.
Conceived shortly after spending some time coming up in the scene as a DJ, and being introduced to music production by James McCauley of Maggotron, Barrella began to feel that taking control of his own destiny would be the best way forward. Tired of ideas and recorded work not coming to fruition in the way he envisioned because of the lack of control over the material, Barrella began to take notes, and observed the world around him only to notice that there was no reason not to do the same on his own...the rest was history! Debonaire Records was born, and the onslaught would now begin.
The first release on the label was in 1988, with the iconic "Take It To The Max" by Tricky D. Old school Miami Bass elements, classic cuts, and Raps, coupled with the meanest bass around, elevated the label to becoming one of the most important imprints of the late 80's Bass scene. The label soon followed up with the debut and only release by the group "Rock & Fizz", which featured Debonaire himself as the executive producer.
But it would be the next release that would prove to be monumental; not just for the label, but for the Miami Bass scene itself. Introducing Breezy Beat MC, Debonaire collaborated to record one of the most important Bass songs of its time, "Shake The Joint", which was released on 12" vinyl alongside "Catch My Drift", and featuring scratches and cuts by DJ Nasty Nah.
While not many releases were published in 1990, that year would prove to be a bit more productive for the label, starting off with "Love & Lust featuring Aisha", then followed by what is easily not just one of the most iconic Miami Bass releases, but for Electro music in general as well: "Bass Generator/Ignition", by Dynamix II. Having been joined at this point by Debonaire himself, Dynamix II took Bass music to a whole new level with atmospheres, vocoders, and edits that truly at that time were unheard of!
After the return of Love and Lust for their final record, "Temptation", Debonaire Records unfortunately had to close its doors, leaving people scattering after what had been nearly 4 solid years of subsonic mayhem. After handling everything on his own, whether it was manufacturing, marketing, distribution, not to mention the production aspect of the recordings, Barrella began to crumble under his own weight, realizing that as a one man operation, the responsibility of running everything related to a record label was simply too much.
Though this may sound like the sad ending to a great story, the reality is that it was a humble and very mature approach to paving the way forward to his own future. Beginning to focus on the commercial studio aspect of things, Barrella put everything into "Debonaire Recording Studios", recording countless of amateur and up and coming acts, as well as his own works; becoming a formidable force in the local scene, and slowly, but very strategically (though somewhat unconsciously), building on something that would eventually come around full circle in a way he would not have even imagined.
In 2007, nearly 20 years after its last release, and after receiving many emails from fans around the world asking for the label to return, Debonaire Records finally opened its doors again; which leads us to one of the biggest mysteries and controversies in the Electro Bass and Miami Bass scenes: the 1988 announcement of the never-released Debonaire side project and record "Omega II - Sonic Boom", which was to be published on his sub-label "Showroom Records", yet suddenly appeared in small quantities all over the world; even being sold at auctions sometimes for hundreds of dollars.
The mystery was finally revealed when that same year in 2007, Barrella received a message from Thomas Werner of Dynamik Bass System, who confessed to him that it was him who had written his own version of the concept for "Sonic Boom", and pressed it on an exact replica bootleg of a Showroom Records release, crediting Claudio Barrella, Dave Noller of Dynamix II, Luis Cabrera, and DXJ for the production of the record. Though at first this may sound like a classic case of music industry fraudulence, the truth is that it was quite the opposite; especially considering the artist did not give himself credit for writing the song, which he in fact had produced.
It really could be seen more if anything, as a huge fan's attempt at keeping something going he felt should have never died; even if it meant taking matters into his own hands, while remaining in the background and without trying to take any credit. In fact, so much was the sincerity in his letter to Barrella, not to mention the transparency of what had happened, that after discussing matters with him, the release was finally published in 2007 on the newly reborn Debonaire Records. Instead of it being Debonaire's official recording of the song, Barrella decided to release Werner's version, and even remixed it himself, including it on a split EP with a reworking of Bass Generator and Ignition, featuring Exzakt. The rest could be said is, well...history, put to rest!
Since the return of the label, there has been an onslaught of blockbuster-type releases from the label, following Sonic Boom with Maggotron's official return to the Electro Bass scene, with "Mission: Electro". A punishing 21st century approach to the artist's signature works, including comedic vocal themes and vocoders. The record was in collaboration with Debonaire as executive producer, and also featured a remix by Miami Bass icon Scratch-D. The record was followed by Tricky D's "Take It To The Max" remixes EP, which included reworks by The Dexorcist, Hydraulix, Scratch-D, and a reworking of the song "Letters" by German Electro legend Supreme.ja. The label has also seen the return of Breezy Beat MC on the "Bass Regenerator" E.P. with Debonaire, as well as Freestyle's "Invade The Party"; while signing new act "Freak Force Crew" with "The Main Idea Is Bass".
Due to the changes in the market, and with the lack of sales for 12" vinyl to generate enough revenue to continue, the label has decided to primarily publish its titles on digital formats, and though available worldwide, the focus has been on sales through the Debonaire Records website. There have been many works by Bass master Debonaire himself (Petrified, Hovercraft E.P., Bassed On A True Story, Six Dollar Man), as well as Maggotron (Digital Bass), and German Producer Cee-Onic with "Back To Bassix", not to mention the availability of the vinyl titles on digital as well.
Debonaire Records is still going strong however, and while indeed there have been many hurdles, there is no sign of anything stopping someone who is a strong force to be reckoned with in this scene. After the release of the hit album "Electro Novocaine", Debonaire and his infamous imprint continue to evolve as time goes on, delivering consistent Electro Bass tunes crafted with skill and class. Watch this space for more Debonaire news!