Longtime music executive Steve “Steve-O” Carless has partnered with Warner Records on a joint partnership to start his label Defiant Records. Carless, who is president of A&R at Warner, told Billboard that creating Defiant was a “lifelong mission.”
“I just believe in achieving what you set out to do no matter the risk, test, or obstacle,” he said. “It’s important to be brave and intentional to not lose sight of that. I wanted this to be representative of the career I’ve been privileged to have and also speak to the artists who dream to create their story on their own terms, who aren’t scared to be who they are unapologetically.”
Defiant Records houses burgeoning acts, including Bandmanrill, Sha EK, and McVertt, who teamed to craft the bulky 27-track project The Defiant Presents: Jiggy In Jersey. Executive produced by McVertt (who co-produced Lil Uzi Vert’s Hot 100 top 10 hit “I Just Wanna Rock), Bandmanrill and Sha EK thrive in a playground where Jersey Club and drill music coexist. Having previously worked with Pusha T, Big Sean and the late Nipsey Hussle, among many others, Carless believes his experience will come in handy when building out the careers of his signees.
“I truly believe that my experience affords these artists an opportunity and mentorship that’s hard to duplicate,” Carless relayed to Billboard. “I have 10,000 hours of experience in management, A&R, digital, and promotions. I’ve been inside a record company for my whole career and have simultaneously operated outside of those buildings as well. I’ve helped build brands and companies and also understand the agency piece of it thoroughly. I think all of that super-serves these artists in a way that can create more unexpected opportunities and expedited learning because it’s a unique situation here at Defiant Records.”
Regarding plans to grow Defiant Records into a powerhouse, Carless has a simple rinse-and-repeat strategy he thinks will be the blueprint for his label.
“The plans are simple, be authentic and detailed. We set attainable goals, achieve them, and repeat. We will always be the best in our space. The name of the game is to be consistent and curate our big-picture and individual stories simultaneously. Our focus has primarily been YouTube because it’s the most current breeding ground for global talent, and we’ve signed each one of our artists based on their following on the platform.”
Stream The Defiant Presents: Jiggy In Jersey below.