The Story of Daptone Records

This article was written by Phineas Upham

There is a soul revival happening, and a large portion of its best music is coming from one major label. Daptone Records, based out of Brooklyn New York, came into play after the label Desco was shut down. Desco was the brainchild of Gabriel Roth, who would later team up with Neal Sugarman to create the new label.

The Dap Kings are the core band in the ensemble of artists signed to the label. Sharon Jones sings lead, and Roth himself plays bass.

The studio is owned by the musicians, Sharon Jones even pitched in to wire it.

What makes the Daptone sound unique isn’t a combination of cutting edge engineering with high-tech equipment. The entire operation is done by analog tape, which already differentiates Daptone from other record labels. Most of the mixing equipment has been professionally restored from the 1970s, and the authentic effects are created by these machines in studio. The studio definitely has that old school vibe, but it’s got a mix of newschool too. Inside the drawers at Daptone, one might find cheap Radio Shack microphones tossed next to an RCA DX77.

The studio is part of a house in a rundown neighborhood of Brooklyn, one of the last places gentrification still hasn’t touched in the city. Inside, Roth uses a minimalist approach to create amazing sounds. The style is almost “Beatle-esque” with plenty of room in the middle of the channel for vocals.

Daptone isn’t trying to recreate history, but they are paying an amazing homage to it.

About the Author: Phineas Upham is an investor at a family office/hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Phineas Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media & Technology group. You may contact Phineas on his Twitter page.