5 Tracks that Tell the Story of Low Steppa's House Label, Simma Black
Aug 16, 2022
4 min read
Artist-driven labels are more common than ever in the modern dance music landscape. While we now expect our favorite artists to create imprints to put out their music and that of their friends and peers, this was not always the case.
The reality is that there have been a handful of pioneers who paved the way, demonstrating what is required to create and maintain a successful label. U.K. house legend Low Steppa founded his imprint Simma Black in 2013 and has worked tirelessly to ensure its relevance over the years to the house music scene.
As Simma Black approaches a decade of releases, it's important to understand the tenets guiding the label and highlight some of the incredible music that exemplifies what it’s about. In Low Steppa’s words, “make sure that you will play the music.”
Although this is standard for artist-driven labels, it is an absolutely essential rule to live by when running a house music label. Would you feel comfortable playing this song live at a show? Then sign it. Many labels make a living off of signing all sorts of music. Low Steppa feels, however, that having a relatively stringent sonic identity will ultimately lead to great community and culture around the label.
When Simma Black got its start, the label was very focused on U.K. bass house, a distinct sound based on strong bass lines. As the label has grown and developed, the rules have slowly become less strict. The sounds of Simma Black still center around heavy bass lines, but as a house purist, Low Steppa has worked to ensure Simma Black represents the euphoric vibes of house music as well.
Over the years, Low Steppa and his team have also recognized the importance of fan service. While this can manifest itself in a variety of ways, the Simma Black team has focused on creating live event experiences for their fans, as well as special releases and unique merchandise. At the end of the day, the community is what bolsters a label, and ensuring that the community around the label feels special is crucial.
As mentioned, Low Steppa likes to sign music that he would play out — not only now, but in the future as well. His goal is to find the hidden gems that are timeless, records you can sign in 2013 and play in 2022. Below are five tracks that are truly timeless records on the Simma Black label.
1. Low Steppa & Marc Spence - Need to know
One of the first releases on the label, “Need to Know” is a collaboration by Low Steppa and Marc Spence that appeared on the Quarantine EP. Marked by thick bass lines as well as uplifting synths and vocals, this is a perfect early night track to get the dance floor grooving.
2. Full Intention & Dennis Quin - I’m Not a Freak
Gentle horns alongside a steady cowbell separate this track from the rest. Released in 2017 by Full Intention and Dennis Quin, “I’m Not a Freak” is still a proper house staple in Low Steppa’s sets.
3. Low Steppa - Drums Rockin
A unique drum pattern and an epic vocal sample make “Drums Rockin” the ultimate party starter. Carrying the signature Simma Black bass line, this Low Steppa original is a monster.
4. Tom Junior - 90’s Groove
“90’s Groove” [sic] is a prime example of why we love Simma Black. Released in 2022, the track is simultaneously modern and classic. Paying homage to the groove patterns of the ‘90s, Tom Junior adds in a heavy build to create a truly relevant track.
5. Kyle Watson - Three Wobs
The ability to identify rising talent is crucial for any label. Kyle Watson has made a name for himself over the years through his unique low end sound, and he now runs his own imprint, Box Of Cats. “Three Wobs” was released in 2016 and carries the signature Kyle Watson traits: low end bass line, minimal vocals, and a snarling synth line.