You can’t get too deep into this thing before you learn to recognize what’s real. Beretta is as real as it gets.
Founded in 2002, the Detroit label Beretta Music has been a magnet that attracts raw talent, getting the first and sometimes the best release from a generation of emerging Midwest techno artists. Christina Chatfield released her first solo EP on sublabel Beretta Grey; Seth Troxler debuted with 2006’s Love Bezerker and Luke Hess a year later with Absolute Truth.
Any DJ interested in the latest sounds from Detroit learned to pay close attention to distributor sheets that announced Beretta’s latest signing and forthcoming releases. From today’s perspective, you can reconstruct a vital part of Detroit music history over the last two decades through a careful review of Beretta’s discography.
That’s sort of what I’m trying to do here with this reboot of 5 Mag’s SELECT playlist series.
I want to know what makes a record label tick — as a thing with its own life and a personality separate from the people running it, distinct from any other label that might share a few artists in common.
It’s an opportune time, as Beretta Music is back on the scene, with label co-founders Brian Kage and Ryan Sadorus collaborating as “Airport Society” on Life Like with vocalist Demetrius Carrington. I asked Brian and Ryan about Beretta Music’s identity via the records they’ve released — Beretta’s first release and its latest release; its best known records and the co-founders’ favorite deep cuts; and a few of the records that inspired them and shaped the new label when they founded Beretta Music twenty years ago.
I also grouped a bunch of the tracks together on playlists for your listening pleasure, embedded below using @lonbeshiri’s awesome BNDCMPR playlist platform which provides the playlisting functionality that Bandcamp does not, and one with quite a few more gaps on Spotify.
The Tracks That Inspired the People Behind Beretta Music
Pepe Bradock: Deep Burnt (1999)
Aril Brikha: Groove La Chord (1998)
Pepe Braddock’s “Deep Burnt” and Aril Brikha’s “Groove La Chord” for me. I remember hearing “Deep Burnt” the first time at Motor Club in Hamtramck.
Armand Van Helden: You Don’t Know Me (1998)
I have to go back to Armand Van Helden’s “You Don’t Know Me” as one of my close friends used to spin this all the time when I was living in Japan, and I just loved the disco-y vibes, and this track is really what originally inspired me to start making music and DJing personally.
Beretta Music’s First Release
Various Artists: Recoil EP (2003)
Our first release was developed in 2002 and released in 2003. It’s called the Recoil EP and was a Various Artist record. It featured Airport Society with a song called “Red Eye” named after taking red eye flights. We produced the song in Ryan’s basement in Detroit using Reason and a Novation K-Station.
Kage really nailed it… our original Recoil EP signified our hunger for getting music out and was the culmination of much of our personal work before that point. We had no distribution at the time and just created the record on our own, hustling it around Detroit and selling to local shops as well as shipping to people around the US. It was truly a learning experience from start to finish and helped pique the interest of our future distributor in NYC.
Beretta Music’s Latest Release
Airport Society ft Demetrius Carrington: Life Like (2022)
Our most recent release is Life Like featuring vocals by Demetrius Carrington. I had originally written the string section for another song and sent the arrangement to Ryan. Ryan had received some vocals from Demetrius that he recorded for a video project, and married the strings I had written with the vocals. Ryan showed me what he had done, and I immediately recognized the potential. I quickly wrote a bassline part, and fleshed out the arrangement and we had the song.
Yeah, this to me was a “happy accident” of several elements coming together at the same time. Kage wrote the strings and bassline himself, which is super cool… and I think Demetrius’ vocals and message just really stands out in the track. We wanted to keep it somewhat basic and let the message shine through.
The Best Known & Most Popular Tracks from the Beretta Music Catalog
Ryan Sadorus: The Detroit Dude EP (2022)
Brian Kage: Bear Trax Vol 2 (2011)
I don’t really know what’s been most popular, but stand-outs for me are probably Ryan’s recent EP The Detroit Dude and my EP Bear Trax that was released on our sub label Beretta Red.
DJ Vitamin D: In The : AM EP (2004)
That’s a tough question…. I guess for me the DJ Vitamin D EP stands out. He was another DJ who I looked up to at the time, someone so talented and for us to work with him and do an EP with him on our label was really cool.
Deep Cuts from the Beretta Music Discography
Christina Chatfield: Finite EP (2010)
Reference: Reference Vs. Pt 2 (2010)
Arthur Oskan: Wants & Needs EP (2011)
Deep cuts on the Beretta label are Christina Chatfield’s Finite EP, Reference vs CV313 & Marko Furstenberg, and Arthur Oskan’s Wants & Need EP.
Airport Society: Travellers EP (2004)
I guess for “deep cuts” I generally fall back to the first two records, both the Recoil EP and the Travellers EP. They are just so raw and each one being a labor of love from our early days, if you will. The Recoil EP was us figuring things out and the Travellers EP was when we finally got the attention of Rhythmic distribution in NYC which helped solidify a deal with them to get our music out to the world, which was so hard to do then. We were able to get people’s attention with the first release, but it didn’t really “hit” and get rolling until the Travellers EP came out.