With a career that includes breaking ’70s disco acts such as Chic, the Trammps, Sister Sledge and others, Jerry Greenberg sees contemporary EDM as the perfect vehicle for his return to the label world. Greenberg is launching the new Pacific Electronic Music (PEM) imprint in partnership with the Ibiza-based DJ duo the Aristofreeks, with Sister Sledge’s Kathy Sledge as the company’s first artist. A new version of Sister Sledge’s “We Are Family,” produced by the Aristofreeks, is due out within the next two weeks, to be followed by “Thank You,” an original track, within six weeks, according to Greenberg.
“I’m thrilled and excited to be back into [the] kind of music I really know and love,” Greenberg told Billboard from Ibiza before the 16th Annual DJ Awards on Wednesday, where he and Sledge were both to be honored Legends Awards. “I love to be part of something now that’s happening. I want to discover the next hot DJs and the next hot performers that [are making] this music, and are going to have hits with it. I’m very, very excited.”
PEM will have offices in Ibiza and Beverly Hills, Calif., and won’t necessarily be limited to electronic artists, according to Greenberg. “[The Aristofreeks] and myself are real music people, and if the next rock band came along or the next pop band came along, that doesn’t mean we wouldn’t be interested in signing it,” explained the onetime Atlantic Records president — a former artist in his own right (with Jerry Green and the Passengers) who’s also worked with Michael Jackson’s MJJ Music, Mirage Entertainment, MGM/United Artists Music and WTG Records. “But [EDM] is the music [that], right now, we know and love.” Greenberg will serve as the company’s chairman, with the Aristofreeks Max Martire as CEO. Joe Vasconcellos will be PEM’s CFO, and Marvin Katz will serve as outside General Counsel. PEM releases will be distributed globally by the AWAL arm of Kobalt Music.
Greenberg says PEM is a confluence of two events. Earlier this year, Sledge approached the exec to help her with a Billie Holiday tribute project, “Brighter Side of Day,” to be produced by Stanley Clarke. Shortly after that he met the Aristofreeks, whose work he says “just blew me away. They played me a lot of what they call mash-ups, and as a music person, when you stumble on what I consider to be come creative guys doing new music, we decided to form a partnership.” Sledge still plans to record the Holiday project, but she sees working in the EDM world as a natural extension of what she did with Sister Sledge.
“I think it’s so appropriate,” she said. “[Dance] music is timeless, so I feel like I’ve come full circle. Jerry was one of the first record company presidents that saw the gift in my voice at an early age. In those early days I wasn’t ready to do a solo project, but now I am. So it all feels like its come full circle in a good way.”
Sledge has so far recorded about six songs with the Aristofreeks, including remakes of some other Sister Sledge material. Chic co-founder Nile Rogers, riding high on his recent collaborations with Daft Punk, has agreed to play guitar on one of the songs. Greenberg says PEM is approaching several Major League Baseball teams about using the new version of “We Are Family” during the upcoming playoffs; most notably the Pittsburgh Pirates, who used the original version of the song as their theme during the 1979 World Series and are back in the playoffs for the first time in 21 seasons.
In addition to signing other artists, Greenberg says PEM also plans “to do a bunch of mash-ups” under the Aristofreeks’ direction. “With the artists that I know and my reputation in the business and knowing all the publishers, I don’t think I’m going to have a problem getting permission to do these mash-ups, which I think are gonna be just incredible,” he said. “This is a very interesting time in the business. I’m very excited we’re in it, and we’ll see where it all takes us.”