From putting out techno releases from Lakker to the more jungle/breakcore stylings of Rognvald and Dgohn, as well as the weird and wonderful Anklepants and space rock of Henge, Love Love Records caters to a good portion of our musical tastes here at Skirmish. It’s a label that is consistently pushing some of the most forward thinking artists in the underground, and all of it is done for the sheer love of music.
We caught up with one of the founders, Sam Fez, to find out more about it’s history and what goes into running an underground label. It’s personally one of my favourite labels so delighted with this.
Firstly, how did Love Love get started? Was it always an ambition to start a label? Where did the inspiration for the name come from?
Love Love started off as a punk club night in Essex. I started it with a couple of friends while in school promoting each others bands and we collected up tracks for CDR compilations of acts we booked and strange electronic music that was mostly going on in Colchester around 2005. This was around the time I met Vince and Keith, and Darren Emo Hunter, who sadly passed away in 2011. It was around that time Henry ‘DJ Love Love’ came into the fold.
I’ve always been really into labels for finding new music but I’m not sure when it became an ambition to start my own. I was making music myself from a young age and meeting people at gigs and parties so it seemed logical to start a label, as I felt the side of the music I was interested in wasn’t properly represented at the time.
There was a lot of different reasons why we went with the name Love Love. The name was coined by a friend of mine from way back when I was in bands and it meant various things to different people. He used to send letters to promoters with our demo in and really over the top press blurbs exclaiming we were signed to Love Love Records. So we wrote Love Love Records on the CDR compilations and it just went on from there. We were happy with the name and various meanings and interpretations that might manifest from it.
Since your inception you’ve released artists as diverse as Henge, dgoHn, Anklepants, Christoph de Babalon and Lakker. All are very different but similar if you know what I mean and seem to encompass a “Love Love” sound. Is there a certain aesthetic you look for when putting something out?
Yeah I think there is. Everyone we release is on their own tip and quite often seem to be outsiders in the scenes they’re involved in. I get excited by music I haven’t heard before and especially music that I don’t really understand. But that said, it’s very important to me that it’s still as engaging as possible. Whether that’s on the dancefloor or a less social setting. There seems to be a sort of LSD stained, post-breakcore theme to a lot of the acts we release.
How do the releases come about? Is it a case of you contacting artists that you like or do you get sent a lot of stuff?
We get sent a lot of demos but it’s mostly a case of us contacting artists we like. A lot comes through recommendations of friends who know our tastes too. We’re all really into music as well and we each follow different pockets of niche scenes and communities.
Recently there’s been talk that “vinyl is back” and is bigger than ever. As a vinyl label, what are your thoughts on this? Do events like Record Store Day have a positive or negative effect on the industry do you think?
Yeah, it’s back in some ways but it’s much different this time around.
For one thing though, it’s re-ignited my interest in turntablism and generally goofing around with friends on a set of decks scratching and playing things at the wrong speed.
To be honest, Record Store Day is generally a bad thing for less mainstream music – the major labels put in huge orders of classic album reissues which clogs up the pressing plants and smaller labels are always left at the back of the queue. Record Store Day is pretty much the epitome of this. This is why there are quite often delays on smaller labels vinyl releases.
But that said, I can see how it helps support brick and mortar shops and it’s a good way of getting people excited about leaving their homes. So on the whole, it’s a positive thing.
For those who may be unaware, in terms of getting the records in stores, can you take us through this process? Is there certain avenues you need to go down?
Distribution really is paramount. We work with State51 mostly who are great and have a solid team. They work hard to get our releases into stores but it’s a lengthy process and definitely pays to account for as much time as you can to get the records from the plant to the warehouse and then onto the shelves. Recently we’ve begun working on promos with some vendors ourselves but we usually ask them to contact State51 to stock the releases.
How hard is the promotion side of things? Do you set yourself a budget in getting it out there? What channels do you find work best for an underground label such as Love Love?
It’s varied a lot over the years but we generally set ourselves a budget to work with and try to do as many things in-house as possible. It can sometimes be difficult promoting more off-kilter artists but it’s just a case of getting through to the right audience and letting the music speak for itself most of the time.
Social media like Facebook and Instagram are the most obvious channels as a lot of people are already quite plugged into those and looking for things to engage with generally. It feels like radio might be making a comeback as well, or at least the format of a radio show.
Every Love Love release has wicked artwork. How important is this side of things for you? Do you guys tend to work with a designer or is it driven by the artists?
Thanks. Yeah, the artwork is really important to us but we try to reach a nice equilibrium with the musician where everybody’s happy. Sometimes they have something in mind already but quite often we’re asked to provide something or help with an idea.
Henry is generally in charge of the visual aesthetics for the label and does a lot of great release artwork and graphics himself. We also work with a lot of outside artists for some releases like Colin ‘SNUBLIC’ McAllister on the dgoHn 12”s and Martina Ampuero for Ruby My Dear’s 12” last year and there are a few artists we have in mind for future releases. I’m really excited about a record we’re releasing soon with artwork by Jim’ll’Paint It – it’s been great fun to work on.
What’s been the biggest learning curve since starting the label?
It’s hard to pin down one thing in particular. I started Love Love when I was 15 and I’ll be turning 30 this year and I’ve learned quite a lot so far. I’ve certainly learned how not to do some things.
2018 has been another busy one for the label. What upcoming releases can we look forward to?
We have a Chevron album out soon as well as a record by Hellfish & Bryan Fury. Mike Teknoist will be giving us some techno love under his Firehammer alias. I’ve been into all of these guys music for about half of my life now so I’m honoured to be putting out some music of theirs.
Richard Wilson’s second installment of Rognvald – The New Selecta will be pressed very soon too. He’s been working on some really decent hip hop with lil orti trum lately as well. I’m pretty buzzed about an album by Sly & the Family Drone as well!
Ruby My Dear’s band called Borderouge also has an EP out soon with some wicked remixes on it and our engineer Robin Harwood should hopefully be giving us some of his music soon too which I’ve been excited about for some time.
Finally, what advice would you have for any budding label entrepreneurs out there?
Make sure you love and believe in the music you release and work with like minded people wherever you can. Don’t follow trends or pigeonhole yourself to a particular sound, take mastering very seriously and aim towards doing as many things in-house as possible.
A massive thanks to Sam Fez for the interview. Make sure to follow and check out the Love Love web spaces below.