What a long, crazy and amazing trip it’s been for Pete Dafeet. In 2005 he co-founded Lost My Dog Records with friends Ian Straker and Najan Ward. During this time he helped cultivate and bring proper deep house to the forefront and rocked dance floors all over the globe. Through good and bad times, he managed to stay true to his artistic vision, never wavering to the lure of commercialism.
Having mutually decided to wind down the label, Lost My Dog’s final release fittingly comes in the form of Dafeet’s The Root, The Soul, a triumphant album comprised of eight deep-house gems that could only have been realized thanks to Dafeet’s multitude of musical experiences over the past decade.
With Lost My Dog ending on a high note, Pete looks back on his favorite label moments of the past decade.
1. Deciding to start a label
Pete Dafeet: I got to know Nags and Ian while I was at university in Loughborough. Ian was doing a PhD but also ran a house night in one of the student union bars and worked as a buyer in the local record shop, which Nags ran. I got to know them both, and made sure to give them a copy of my first tracks when I started producing.
I remember being in an extremely dull third-year Econometrics lecture when Nags texted, asking if I fancied meeting him for lunch. We drove to Leicester, and he asked if I wanted to start a label, as we had most of the bases covered between me, him and Ian. I hadn’t really thought about it before, but it seemed to make sense. I wasn’t convinced we’d get the idea off the ground though, let alone run it for ten years and work with guys like AtJazz, Ian Pooley and Huxley.
2. Delivering our first record
We were penny-pinching at the start, so we decided to save on shipping costs and drive our first vinyl (a tribal house we’d picked up from Subterfuge and Tony Thomas) from the pressing plant to the distributor ourselves. I drove down to Wembley in my Mum’s battered Vauxhall Astra and picked the records up from the MPO warehouse, then drove up to Ian and Nags in Loughborough where we spent the afternoon putting stickers on the sleeves. Ian and I then drove the finished stock up to Bolton to drop them off with the distributor, Unique. They found it so funny that we went to all that effort and probably saved about £5.
3. YSE – “Bounce Back”
“Bounce Back” was something of a watershed for us. To this day it’s still the most iconic release we’ve done, and it was the first to get real mainstream support. Norman Jay played it live on BBC Radio 1 from Notting Hill Carnival, and we nearly died. We hadn’t even sent him a copy — he bought it himself!
4. Our first Sonar party
I’d been to Sonar once as a punter in 2005. Then in 2009 Nags decided that we should do a party there, so in early spring he started flying over and hustling to make contacts. He somehow got in touch with Bradley Telleria (who records as Tres Manos), and he agreed to do a party with us. I flew over for the party expecting a real shithole, but they had somehow managed to land the terrace of the Hotel ME, with a view over the whole of the city. What can I say, it was amazing! It was also the party where we met Giom for the first time — he was in Barcelona on a mate’s stag do, and brought the whole party along with him!
5. Getting lost in China
2010 was a really fun year for me. Promoters seemed to have noticed what we were doing, and I started getting some incredible gig offers. I did my first US tour in the March of that year, and shortly after went over to China to play. I was picked up at Shanghai airport by a driver who spoke no English, and dropped off at a really plush artist’s residence with nobody home. It took me six hours to get through to the promoter, who had been called away on business at short notice, so I had two days to myself before the gig, wandering the streets and exploring the city. I found someone who spoke English and asked them to write me a ‘get out of jail’ card on a Post-It note, with the address of the place I was staying. Each day I explored the city, and then handed the post-it note to a taxi driver when I was ready to go home!
6. Celebrating our fifth birthday in London
We celebrated turning five with an afternoon party on Brick Lane in London. It was a hot, summer afternoon — perfect for an outdoor party — and we packed the place. Giom and I played outside during the afternoon, then Massimo DaCosta took over for sunset. His set is still one my favourites from our parties and am so happy we recorded it. My parents and family came down too — it was the first time I’d played at a reasonably social hour so the first time they came to see me play!
7. Playing Fabric for the first time
In my opinion Fabric is the best club in the world. I had spent some great nights on the dance floor there when I first moved to London, so when they asked us to host room three I nearly fainted. We got Burnski down to play, and covered everyone in Lost My Dog stickers, a good few of which are still stuck on the walls there. Judy and the Fabric crew are all incredibly friendly and welcoming, and the club is run like a business should be – the most professional you’ll find – so it really is a pleasure to play there.
8. Rhythm Plate’s album, Off The Charts
We’ve known the Rhythm Plate guys since we started the label — they were based in Nottingham when we were setting up in Loughborough, so we had quite a few shared acquaintances before we met. They are two of the funniest people you’ll meet, and they really don’t give a fuck about the politics of the scene: they’re just in it to make music and have fun, which is very refreshing these days. They were working on this album for a number of years, so long in fact that we were starting to have doubts about whether they’d ever finish it. But it was worth the wait! This was the first artist album we put out, and one of my very favourite Lost My Dog releases. Check it out if you haven’t already.
9. Calling it a day
This might seem like a weird one to include in my top ten memories, but it really is a great memory. Nags hasn’t been involved in the label for the last few years, and Ian and I had exchanged a few e-mails and phone calls late last year discussing what to do next, and when the time came to make it call it really made sense to call it a day. We’ve had ten wonderful years, but the motivation to continue had been decreasing for a while, and we decided that it would be better to go out on a bang than on a whimper, which leads me on to the last big moment…
10. Our swansong: my album The Root, The Soul
I’ve been making music for a long time, and an album is something I have always wanted to do, but I never had the confidence to give it a proper go. I’d always get a track or two in then stall. I finally got my act together in 2013 and had the bulk of the album done by the end of that summer. It took until the end of last summer to get the final few tracks finished but I’m really happy with the end results, and thankfully so are the people who’ve heard it so far. We’ve had some incredible feedback from artists I really respect. To hear people like Chez Damier, Ian Pooley and Terry Farley complimenting it has made all the effort worthwhile. I hope everyone else digs it too!
Pete Dafeet’s “Wife” featuring Nacho Marco’s remix is out digitally with a vinyl release out June 15, 2015. His debut album, The Root, The Soul, is out now on Lost My Dog Records.
Images courtesy of Pete Dafeet