How did Y&LC come about?
Nadia – Y&L came about when Sara and I were turning 20 and had just moved to London. We had been running a club night, doing a fanzine and djing for a while and setting up a singles label felt like the next step. At the beginning we just thought of putting out new bands singles but after a couple of years it grew into more, Noah & The Whales ‘Peaceful The World Lays Me Down’ was our first album.
That must have been pretty amazing having such a success with your first full length. Did the reactions to the album surprise you or did you know you had a hit on your hands?
We always knew Noah and the Whale were destined for big things, that’s why they were the first band we ever really wanted to work with long term, but it’s always a pleasant surprise for things to be even more successful than you hoped. We all had an amazing summer that year, with the band playing to their biggest crowds at festivals. It was a real privilege to be part of it.
What’s the label’s main ethos and has this changed at all over the 7 years you’ve been going?
Sara – when we started the label we really wanted it to feel like a community, where you bought the bands single and came down to see them at our club night. There was definitely a real sense of a scene in London at that time, bands played together and came down to see each other’s shows and even did each other’s artwork! We still really like to feel it’s a club and lots of people collect every release we put out, which makes us really happy.
That’s pretty awesome, as the music industry get more and more impersonal, that you still have that kind of following. What do you think it is about the label that keeps people so devoted?
I think a lot of big labels are faceless with no identity or even feel for what acts they sign; there is no thread that runs through them. Independent labels like ours hold onto fans because there is clearly an ethos behind what we do and release.
What was your first release and how did you find the band/ get them on board?
Nadia – Vincent Vincent & The Villains ”Blue Boy” was our first release. We had known the band for a while and they had played our club night quite a few times. We told the band and their manager Buddy Racket we were planning on setting up a record label and they said they wanted to be our first release and it went from there. At the beginning we really had no idea what we were doing but we learnt as we went along!
What did you find was the hardest part, as two proper newcomers, of getting a unknown label up and running?
It was all a bit of a struggle to begin with, but we didn’t even realise we had bitten off more than we could chew. We were kind of blissfully ignorant, and just went with it, learning as we went a long, and slowly it got easier and more organised with every release.
How do you feel about websites like Spotify, which have stared to make the ‘physical release’ something of a novelty?
Nadia – Spotify is great for people to check out new bands they wouldn’t always of made the time with before. I still love having all my music on physical release though, but I’m a massive music geek. I understand its not for everyone! There are a lot of dinosaurs in the music industry that are really stubborn against change, things like Spotify aren’t going to go away we just have to learn to adapt with them!
Yeah, it seems that more and more labels are embracing that digital side with album previews etc, do you think the way Y&LC operates might change more in the next few years possibly focusing more on the digital side (like the singles club)?
Not to change and grow with inventions and digital developments would be the death of a small label like ours.
We feel you have to go with fans and what the audience want, and usually they want things in the most immediate, cheapest, hassle free way, and why wouldn’t you want to provide that! We’re a small company, at the end of the day it is just two people making the decisions, so we can try new things and adapt easily. We don’t have to go through a board meeting or office politics to try out something or give away free music.
You’re well known supporters of vinyl, why do you still put out releases on a medium that, a lot of people argue, has been dead for 20 years?
Sara – I love vinyl and the feeling of having something tangible from your favourite band, a piece of artwork they crafted. Most people seem to buy our vinyl releases even though they don’t have a vinyl player – it’s better then having, say, a mug of your favourite band!
What’s the process of getting an Lp or Ep out. Do you find you have bands approaching you or is it still all about proactively searching for new talent?
Nadia - a lot of bands and managers approach us, however nearly all our releases over the years have been friends’ bands and friends’ of friends’ band, which happened in the case of Noah & The Whale. We find a lot of our acts through our club night too. Its a pretty long process leading up to a single and we start working 2 months before the release date and 4 months with an album.
Coming up to your 7th anniversary what do you think it is about Y&LC that’s kept it relevant?
Sara – We do kind of have our niche, and the indie world has grown smaller in recent times, but I think we’ve tried to keep relevant by only doing releases we really love and working with bands we really want to, like Being There and Oh Minnows. That means doing less releases, as there are fewer things that fit with our label that we get excited about enough to do, but that’s ok with us. Doing our Digital Club is important to us though, giving away free music is part of what we do now, and it’s nice to still have that platform for brand new bands.
As a label and the organizers of a club night do you get more satisfaction from throwing a big party or releasing something new?
Nadia – both really! Its always great having a single or album launch party. After all that hard work the band and us have put in its really good seeing everyone’s fans coming down to support them and check out the new release. I did love putting on our club at the legendary Astoria club in central London though. We had some very fun times there and a lot of great bands played like Supergrass, Vampire Weekend, Andrew WK and Metronomy.