As one of the longest standing independent record labels in the US, Nervous Records has built its reputation through a willingness to take chances on new sounds and new producers. Nervous was the first American label to sign and release tracks from such dance industry luminaries as Armand Van Helden, Paul Van Dyk and Nuyorican Soul. This spirit has enabled Nervous to build a catalogue of hits that spans the complete range of underground dance and hip hop genres.
The label was famous almost immediately when it started back in 1991 because of its eye-catching, very distinctive cartoon character logo. In addition the first three releases were produced by Roger S., Kenny Dope, and Todd Terry respectively, representing the three best house producers of that time. By 1992 Nervous was featured in magazines like Billboard, DJ Magazine (cover story), Mixmag, and ID, hailed by all as the “Sound of New York nitelife.”
Nervous’ first major dance release came in 1992, with “Feel Like Singing” by Sandy B. Nervous decided at that point to focus its energy on expanding the label’s musical field. The label’s first step outside the house music arena was with the Brooklyn, NY-based rap group, Black Moon, whose single “Who Got The Props” virtually put Brooklyn back on the map as a center of hip hop. At the same time, the label decided to alter the Nervous character for this release, giving it specific hip hop characteristics, and calling the hip hop label Wreck Records. Massive success followed with the Wreck imprint, as hits soon followed by Smif-N-Wessun, and Funkmaster Flex.
Nervous decided to continue to expand its musical boundries in 1993 by signing Mad Lion, which would be the first reggae artist on the Weeded imprint. Once again, there was huge success as Mad Lion’s single “Take It Easy” sold over 250,000 units.
Meanwhile, the Nervous merchandise continued to produce massive sales numbers as it established itself as one of the most favored t-shirts for the youth cultures of America, Japan, and many European countries.
In 1994, the label decided it was time to move into the electronic genre, and started an imprint called Sorted. The first artist on that label was Josh Wink, who went by the artist name Winx. While Winx’s debut release was a critical success although not a major seller, Winx’s follow-up release “Don’t Laugh” became the American dance community’s most talked about single, and ended up selling several hundred thousand units worlwide. Subsequently Nervous released Winx’s debut album, “Left Above The Clouds.” This album was one of the first “electronica” albums to be released, and lead to Josh Wink being signed to Sony as an artist. Nervous also released an album by two Long Island based dj’s, DJ Micro and Vicious Vic. The album, entitled “Progress Into Our Future,” since became a seminal album for the crew of Long Island dj’s that currently dominate clubs with their hard trance sound.
In 1996, Nervous virtually single-handedly created a garage house music revival by releasing the debut solo artist album by house music legend Byron Stingily. Byron was formerly the lead singer of gold-selling group Ten City. His second single on Nervous, “Get Up,” went to number one on dance charts around the world, including the Billboard Magazine club chart in America.. For his album, “The Purist,” Nervous assembled an all-star cast of legendary House producers, including Frankie Knuckles, Masters At Work, David Morales, Basement Boys, Maurice Joshua and MK.
As the musical trends continued to evolve in the late 90’s, Nervous continued to create new imprints to remain at the cutting edge of all independent labels. Nervous Dog was created to accommodate the emerging harder-edged house sound of New York; Strapped was the home for uptempo, club oriented hip hop Party tracks; and Nervous Chill released the down tempo, jazzy grooves that are always in vogue in the newest restaurants.
The label also has had many successful tours over the years. One of the biggest was in 2,000, when the Nervous tour was sponsored by Playboy Magazine and KAMEL cigarettes, and featured DJ’s Jackie Christie, Razor-n-Guido and DJ Escape, along With PA’s by Nervous artists Byron Stingily, Charlotte And Kim English. In addition, Nervous created what became one of the Winter Music Conference’s most original Parties, the Nervous After-hours breakfast at Denny’s, which featured an International list of dj’s entertaining conference attendees at 5:00 AM while they ate their grand slam Denny’s breakfast.
In 2000 and 2001, the energy tribal sound dominated the US club and Nervous gave America’s club-goers four of the its most dominant anthems, “Skin” by Charlotte, “Ssst…Listen” by Jonah, “Unspeakable Joy” by Kim English and Dive In The Pool by Barry Harris featuring Pepper Meshay. During this same time, the label has also created many successful compilation series, among them “Hip Hop Independent’s Day,” and “Future Progressive,” and “Club Nervous.
As the hits grew in number, so did the value of the catalogue for sampling purposes. Nervous songs have been sampled in major hits by Mariah Carey, New Edition, Coolio, Flip Squad, Basement Jax, George Michael, Soulsearcher and more..
In 2006 Nervous gave the US one of the biggest dance radio records with What A Feeling by Peter Luts & Dominico, a track which won the 2007 WMC award for Best Euro Dance track. In addition, Nervous delivered the most memorable US underground track of the year with Ralph Falcon – I Need Someone, which was also number one club record of 2007 according to Billboard Magazine.
In 2008 Nervous had two of the top five most played records of the year at dance radio, with Bellatrax feat. Sophia May/I Can’t Help Myself and Every Word by Ercola featuring Daniella, and ended the year as the two most played label at dance radio in the USA according to Billboard Magazine.
Nervous has also made a strong foray into the compilation market, building a roster with some of the most credible house music. The past twelve months has seen full length cd’s from Oscar G, Ralph Falcon, Funkagenda, Mark Brown, Behrouz, Chris Lake, Starkillers & Austin Leeds, DJ Theo, Exacta and Marlon D. Second half of 2009 will see releases from Danny Krivit, Frankie Knuckles, Tom Stephan, Peter Bailey and Richie Santana and Anane (produced by Louie Vega.
2009 will also see the relaunch of the celebrated Nervous merchandise line, as well a continuing series of Nervous Nitelife events featuring the dj’s on the artist roster.