Founder Tony Nwachukwu, alongside SBTRKT and Lu.re discuss CDR's journey and impact over the last 20 years.
If you spent any time in East London record shops in early 2003, you may have come across blank CDs with a flyer in the case for a party called Burnt Progress. Unlike most DJs at the time, the party's founder, Tony Nwachukwu, turned up to The Embassy Bar in Islington with just two CDs. This is because Burnt Progress wasn't like other club nights, instead inviting bedroom producers to bring their unfinished tracks for Nwachukwu to play. Before the party started, people added their CDs to a growing stack by the decks.
"I didn't know what I was doing, but I had this idea and I wanted to make it happen," Nwachukwu told me on a video call. "I'd gone through some personal trauma in the music industry, so I wanted to create an environment that had nothing to do with the industry and everything to do with experimentation, risk taking and pushing the boundaries of sound. So many things made sense that first session. Why it should exist, the power of sharing music and the democratisation of progress.
"Burnt Progress soon became CDR, AKA Create. Define. Release. Nwachukwu took the innovative party concept to Shoreditch club Bridge & Tunnel, before finding a more permanent home at nearby Plastic People. At a time when the legendary basement spot was the epicentre of so much in UK dance music, many budding artists were figuring out their sound while attending CDR, such as Floating Points and Daisuke Tanabe."Every so often there'd be this energy in the room where everyone stopped and looked at each other to say, 'this is a banger,'" Nwachukwu said.
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