How do you think the label has changed and evolved over the years?
“Honestly, I never felt like I knew what I was doing with this thing until about 2019. I don’t necessarily think you need to know what you’re doing to run an effective label – ultimately, it can be as simple as releasing great records and paying your artists on time – but 2019 was where it felt like something clicked and I finally had a handle in terms of how to run a campaign, how to build an artist from scratch, how to build the right team around a release, how to manage and maintain the business, that sort of thing. I mean we’d already had objectively successful campaigns at that point – records that were no.1 on iTunes, Billboard charts, AIM nominations, all that stuff – so maybe this was just the point where the imposter syndrome started to fade, but that period was where something clicked, and I think the professionalism we bring to our operation as a result is the main change we’ve experienced over the years.”
Of which releases or moments are you most proud?
“Tons. Seeing artists blossom who we’ve worked with since their very first release is always a huge one – the journeys Finn, I. JORDAN and T. Williams have made since their debut releases on Local Action is an enormous source of pride. It still blows my mind that we’ve released two Dawn Richard albums and get to call her part of the family; likewise DJ Q and the fact we get to work so closely with such a bonafide legend from the scene that birthed us.
Building working relationships with artists abroad like UNIIQU3, DJ Jayhood and Lena Raine who I’ve admired for so long from afar – honestly, there’s a lot, but without sounding too misty-eyed, the fact I get to call all these people friends is something I really don’t take for granted. This industry gets more gruelling by the day, but every week I have bonafide geniuses send me their unreleased music, and if I packed it in tomorrow I’d still count all these people as some of my closest friends. When I finally do call time on Local Action, I’ll look back just as fondly at the lockdown Jackass marathons with aya and ELEANOR as I will travelling to SXSW with Dawn, you know?”
You still run parties, why do you feel this is important?
“Well, we probably don’t throw as many as we should but I’ve always found them one of the most stressful parts of the job – they’re just not my strong point, and I’m more comfortable throwing one big blowout every couple of years than trying to maintain something regular. But ultimately a lot of the music we release fits best in the club, and I actually think it’s been one of the label’s historical weaknesses that we don’t throw them more regularly. Luckily our artists are booked enough at the moment and throw enough of their own parties that they can spread a little of the gospel themselves.”
What do you wish you’d done differently?
“The main one would be not taking the label and my role in it seriously enough for the first 7-8 years, but there’s a ton of factors in that – imposter syndrome and immaturity I’m sure both factor into it. But we move, no point dwelling on it.”
The London underground music scene has been significant in establishing the sound and identity of the imprint, is this a conscious inspiration?
“I mean, yeah – I grew up in London, a lot of my early musical epiphanies were at Plastic People, Fabric and The End, and when I started the label I didn’t have many creative intentions beyond being part of that ecosystem, so it’s always going to be part of Local Action’s make-up. But very little of our roster comes from London at this point, and only a handful live here, so I don’t think the label’s identity has to specifically tie into it. Our sibling label 2 B REAL is based out of Manchester and heavily reps the city, while our ties in the States grow every year, so it’d be disingenuous to tie ourselves too closely to one place.”