Jerome Sydenham’s ambitions for his company couldn’t be clearer. Indeed, only someone with his unique background could have founded a record label as innovative as Ibadan Recordings. Born and raised in Ibadan, Nigeria to an English father and Jamaican mother, he was schooled in his teens in England before migrating to New York City in the early 80’s. Sydenham’s work today is largely influenced by the cultural diversity of his upbringing and has echoes of a musical history that spans indigenous African and contemporary western music. During the mid 80’s he became involved in the underground dance music scene both as a DJ and a promoter. In 1986 he threw a successful weekly party in Philadelphia and by 1987 he had a residency at the legendary Nell’s in NYC.
Impressed by Sydenham’s love of music and business ability, Atlantic Records procured his talents within the A&R department in 1989. Over the next five years at Atlantic and later, East West, he honed his business skills in a major label environment, lending A&R direction to such artists as En Vogue, Gerald Levert, Simply Red and Das EFX. His underground dance music interests continued to run in tangent with his commercial A&R work at East West as he largely succeeded in crossing dance over to the mainstream with albums by Ten City and Michael Watford.
In search of an outlet for his own creative and entrepreneurial skills, Sydenham founded Ibadan Recordings in 1995. Passionate discussions about classic records and new jams with, then, Dance Tracks owner Joe Claussell, led to more serious deliberations about the future of his label. Both were particularly unified in their approach to reworking the prestigious Atlantic Records Ten City catalogue which Sydenham acquired from East West upon his resignation. Sydenham brought in Kerri Chandler who shared similar remix aspirations for Ten City’s classics and thus the backbone of the label was formed. Sydenham’s emphasis on outstanding musicianship challenged standard house music production values and the critically acclaimed Joe Claussell compilation “Language” of 2000 which features productions by Claussell, Sydenham, Chandler, Marc Cary and Dele Sosimi is widely considered as a milestone in the deep house genre. 2001 saw the release of his own full- length collaboration with Kerri Chandler, “Saturday” and bears out Sydenham’s talent as a producer. He continues to push the envelope with the tech-soul of tracks like “Sandcastles” and “Double Penetration” co-produced with Dennis Ferrer on the Ibadan 10” sub label.
Sydenham’s musical range as a DJ can be found on his Space Lab Yellow compilation series. This series released in conjunction with the prestigious Tokyo night club Yellow, boasts track listings that range from The O’Jays “I Love Music” to house staples like Michael Watford’s “Michael’s Prayer”.
He continues to support the label and his work with DJ dates around the world (2003 has so far brought him to Japan, South East Asia, Italy, Greece, France and the UK).
Sold out! Since it’s launch in 1995, Ibadan Records has firmly established itself as one of the most pioneering and influential dance labels in the world. It all began when label head Jerome Sydenham decided to rework the prestigious Atlantic…