Cast your mind back to 1992. The world wide web had only just been invented, and mobile phones were very rare. The world we know today was just being born-and being born right at the same time, over in Chicago, was a little label called Large.
Large Music was the brainchild of Windy City resident Jeff Craven, who was worried that house music was in danger of being sidelined in its own birthplace, the international spotlight that had once shone on the pioneering Trax and DJ International imprints having moved on to New York labels such as Strictly Rhythm, Nervous and 8-Ball. “I thought a label with that kind of energy and underground profile could work in Chicago,” says Jeff. So, pooling funds with a friend, he began finding talent and pressing records. Kerri Chandler’s ‘Raw Grooves EP’ became the label’s breakout release, and Large Music hasn’t looked back since. In fact, far from looking back, Large is a record label that’s always been about looking forward. In the 90s, their catalog featured the likes of DJ Sneak, Mateo & Matos and Dennis Ferrer when they were right at the start of their careers, not to mention providing a then-nascent UK garage scene with one of its most enduring anthems in the form of Roy Davis Jr’s ‘Gabriel’.
In the 2000’s, the Chicago-based label was quick to pick up on the deep and soulful house coming from the West Coast, releasing material from the likes of Halo, Jay-J, Rasoul, Miguel Migs and Julius Papp. During the Deep House revival of 2013 Jeff embraced a flurry of young producers who emerged out of Europe, with releases from the likes of Roland Nights, Evan Iff, James Dexter and Matthias Vogt. Yet while fashions fluctuate and music mutates, one thing that hasn’t changed is the Large A&R policy. It’s simple: “My formula has always been to release music that I was really into and what I would play as a DJ,” says Jeff. “I’m still just as excited about house music as I was in 1992.” Which probably explains how Large has been able to stay relevant all these years, this is one veteran label that isn’t content to endlessly rehash former glories, but who instead keeps searching out new underground talent.
At the time of writing this, Large Music is 26 years old, with some 300 singles and 50 albums under their belt, and tracks licensed to over 400 compilations. Which means they’ve been putting out upfront house music on a weekly basis since before many of the people dancing to it in clubs this weekend were even born. They set out to ensure that house music didn’t get sidelined in Chicago in the 90’s. What they’ve actually achieved is to push house forward all over the world for 26 years and counting.