U-TRAX Quite Deep Music
Once upon a time, in a small country below sea level, there was a small independent record label dedicated to releasing left-field electronic dance music. This label was the vinyl spiritual successor to the cassette label Drome Tapes, part of the multimedial Drome Foundation, founded in 1992 by DJ White Delight (Richard van der Giessen), The Connection Machine (Natasja Hagemeier and Jeroen Brandjes) and DJ Paradize (Remco van der Drift).
(For a full Drome tapes discography, click here)
U-TRAX – Quite Deep Music
DJWD wanted to make some of the exciting tracks from the three long play Drome cassette releases available to DJs, so vinyl releases had to come to the rescue. And so U-TRAX was born in 1993, its name being a tribute to the first ever House music record label Chicago Trax.
Since most of the talent on this new record label was going to be from the Utrecht area, U-TRAX seemed like the only possible name – tracks from Utrecht. (Admittedly not a very original name, since the once infamous Utrecht punk scene of the late seventies had already produced a double vinyl sampler called U-Tracks.)
Drome veterans DJWD and The Connection Machine signed for the first and third release on U-TRAX, while mutual friend and famous local DJ and producer PA Presents… (Peter Aarsman) made his vinyl debut on the second 12”, all released in the first half of 1993.
On its 1995 website (“constructed for Netscape 1.1 or higher!”), its goals are described as “…to release music that is either different, deep or just strange, that makes you wonder and carries you away...: intense music.”
So U-TRAX didn’t exactly follow the then current blueprints of techno music then, sometimes being so leftfield that the U-tracks were hardly danceable. At least, that’s what the masses on the dancefloors decided (though the U-TRAX A&R department had an entirely different opinion – and was obviously much better at dancing than the masses).
Despite all that, the first six releases did rather well and received nice reviews, even from the likes of Juan Atkins, the godfather of techno, who was then a reviewer for one of the leading dance magazines.
U-TRAX released six more 12”-es when in 1996 label boss DJWD decided to quit his daytime job and become a fulltime DJ, producer, label boss and dance and games journalist.
1996 and 1997 saw the release of another three U-TRAX releases, at what is possibly the worst timing ever. Towards the end of 1996, commercial and hardcore dance music had taken over and it became virtually impossible to make money selling underground dance records.
So in early 1997 a change of direction was needed and DJWD laid his record label and alter ego to rest and became Richard van der Giessen again, a journalist that figured more money could be made by writing about games – and translating them!
Phoq U Phonogrammen – Vuigh en Onbesuisd
1995 saw the birth of a U-TRAX sub-label that was basically more a manifesto than a record label. The name and motto (“sordid & rash”) exhaled a fierce anti-establishment attitude and it became the platform for “quick and dirty music, rough and soulful techno & acid, right from the heart onto vinyl. Who gives a fuck about quality?!” But it was also a form of self-mockery, as Phoq U can also be read as "f*** U-TRAX".
The original Phoq U launch press release is somewhere between hilarious and awkward and is still wandering around on the internet - let's just say we were young.
From 1995 to 1997, seven 12”-es were released on Phoq U, ranging from raw acid by Fanon Flowers to hyperactive electro by Arno Peeters, a.k.a. Spasms, who later became the godfather of U-TRAX’s in-house voice dubbing studio.
As with the last U-TRAX releases, it proved to be very hard to sell these records to wholesalers by 1997.
Ironically, this also means that the last U-TRAX and Phoq U releases were simply not widely available and some of these releases at one point were selling at 150 euros on the internet.
This interest in the old U-TRAX music, combined with the suprise release in 2017 of the Culture Clash album, made by DJ White Delight, DJ Zero One and TJ Tape TV back in 1992, inspired label boss WHite Delight to reboot the record label. 2018 sees a soft launch, with some old U-TRAX and Phoq U releases being made available again through Triple Vision Distribution from October 5 onwards. Then in 2019 we will shift into a high gear, with some exciting re-releases and new releases. We will keep you posted on this website and through our social media accounts!