When Los Angeles-based Dufflebag Recordings launched in fall of 1997, founder and A&R Wally Callerio wanted his label to tell its story through house music. Tapping into the soulful house sounds of the day, Dufflebag’s moody catalogue of releases fit the vibe of the times. Deep, funky and jazzy, the label grooved on the premise that dance music can move smoothly with the backing of a soulful vocal or the bump of dirty bassline.
Now as house music evolves into a new decade some 15 years later, Dufflebag is evolving with it, keeping the beats earthy and vocal while turning new dance music audiences on ear. Even from its beginning, Dufflebag earned quick, critical acclaim, as Callerio’s self-styled “Déjà vu/Whispers” and “In Your Arms/Thisgo” defined its creative direction. On the heels of the success come releases by a slew of underground house mainstays, including DJ Sneak, Fries and Bridges, Jason Hodges, Vibezelect, Chuck Daniels, JT Donaldson, and Natural Rhythm, to name a few.
While Dufflebag had always built its reputation on releasing standout pieces of vinyl—26 in all—Callerio has since traded in his classic, trademark pressings in favor of digital tracks. To date, the label has dropped more than 75 original tracks and is only beginning to gain its momentum.
“The dance music that is considered mainstream, I believe keeps down the style of music I am putting out,” Callerio says. “I want to flip the boat and deliver house music that is as pure as Off the Wall or Thriller—something that reaches audiences young and old because it’s good, classic and memorable.”
Dufflebag’s sound remains defined by its passion for full, soulful vocals—a far departure from tracked-out cuts or sample heavy grooves that can often generalize a genre. Callerio’s vision for music is a living, breathing beat that will prove timeless instead disposable—a vision he says has never been fully realized.
“More than fifteen years of my life has been dedicated to house music and I have still not seen it reach its full potential,” he says. “I plan on being a part of changing that.”