Saturday 12 September 2009
Dylan Jones: Wander into a house party on Ibiza and the music you'll hear will probably be a Hed Kandi compilation
Talk Of The Town
The Ministry of Sound's James Palumbo might be Britain's latest Worst Young Novelist (his self-published debut has received some withering reviews, to put it politely), but his purchase of Hed Kandi three years ago will probably turn out to be one of his shrewdest investments. Astonishingly successful, they are probably the best dance compilation on the market, appealing equally to the excitable teenage monster and equable fiftysomething creative. And in a few weeks' time they celebrate their 10th anniversary.
These days the Hed Kandi brand can be found in bars, clubs, on fragrance bottles, clothing, even chartered Boeing 757s. But it's the compilation albums that people hold dear, the albums you remember to rescue from the hire car when you're handing it back. And the chill-out series is the most popular of all. Wander into a house party on Ibiza, Sardinia or Majorca in the middle of the afternoon and the music you'll hear will probably be some sort of Hed Kandi compilation, the default soundtrack choice for every hungover, over-dressed host – seamless island beats that encourage you to kick the Birkys off and open another beer. Chill-out is a cathedral of bizarre juxtaposition, where camp ballads meet hard house on the dancefloor of subversity – and Hed Kandi are usually there to capture it.
One of the reasons for the brand's enormous success is the choice of illustrator used for the CD covers, which nearly always feature a cartoon beach babe, drawn slightly ironically, inferring glamour, sex and travel. The illustrator is Jason Brooks, a man whose career I like to think I was partially responsible for. I hired him 18 years ago to be the illustrator for the magazine I was editing. The illos were mainly of girls, and they didn't look too dissimilar to the plastic bootilicious Hed Kandi girls of today.
If you've yet to succumb to the Balearic delights of Hed Kandi, then I would advise you to do so. Far be it for me to encourage you to put any more money in James Palumbo's pocket, but he might need a little more just to offset the abuse he's received for writing such a bad book. Dylan Jones is the editor of 'GQ'
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