1.Who are you? Tell us a bit about your label
Will Street – Founder of Chess Club records.
Before Chess Club Records was established the Chess Club name existed as a monthly club night at The Social in London that showcased the best musical talent from around the UK and beyond. Between the years of 2006 – 2012 the night was responsible for hosting debut or early shows for Bon Iver, Bombay Bicycle Club, MGMT, Lykke Li, The Vaccines, Michael Kiwanuka, Noah & The Whale, Yeasayer, Laura Marling, Mumford & Sons, The XX, Florence & The Machine (most of whom were unsigned at the time) amongst many others. Chess Club quickly built a reputation as an incubator for undiscovered talent and became a hunting ground for the country’s A&Rs.
Building on the culture and brand that the monthly night had built, in 2007 Chess Club Records was born. Between 2007-2018 CCR were responsible for unearthing, developing and releasing debut material from an array of artists, across a broad spectrum of genres from all around the world such as; Wolf Alice, MØ, Jungle, Easy Life, Easy Life, Sundara Karma, White Lies, Billie Marten, Local Natives, Chet Faker and many others. Thanks to the label’s consistent strike rate Chess Club is seen as one of the most relevant and trusted tastemaker labels in the UK with the global music media paying special attention to artists who carry the CC logo on their releases.
In 2019 Chess Club stepped out on it’s own to became the fully independent label it was always destined to be. However, in doing so the label was charged with the challenging task of building a whole new roster from scratch. Two years into the build and Chess Club already boasts one of the most exciting young rosters in the country with artists such as Alfie Templeman, Sinead O’Brien, BLOXX, Phoebe Green, Pixey and Coach Party being some of the most talked about emerging acts in the country.
2. Can you suggest 5 of your favourite artists from your label for someone who may not have heard of you before, to listen to?
Oh this is a hard one! Like being asked who your favourite child is! Don’t make me choose! We love them all equally 😉
3. Is there a specific style of music that your label represents, or are there many? If so, can you name the main genres?
We pride ourselves on not working within one specific genre. I think that’s one of the main reason the label has been able to thrive over the years. We’ve worked with an array of acts from across the alternative/indie spectrum. From Billie Marten to MØ to Wolf Alice to Alfie Templeman to Jungle, the sonics are very broad. Our mantra is “Alternative with ambition”. We want to work with artists who are doing some interesting and unique but with cross over potential.
4. What do you enjoy about working in music?
There is so much about working in this amazing industry but for me the biggest buzz I get is still from discovery. There is nothing like hearing a new artist for the first time and thinking “OMG what is this?! It’s amazing! I need to work with this person!”. That’s the entire ethos that Chess Club is built on, ‘Discovery’.
5. How have you coped running the label in the lockdown?
We’ve actually been the busiest we have ever been as a label. Our release schedule has been mad since last March. At the start of lockdown 1 we had to adjust and find ways of creating visual assets like music videos to accompany releases. We did a few animated style videos or lyric vids but then as things started to settle and people worked out how to shoot things safely we ended up being able to operate fairly normally. A lot of the artists who we work with are self sufficient and were able to write and recorded themselves using home studio equipment to a high standard which meant we can crack on with putting out music.
6. What are you most looking forward to in the future & when things go back to normal (e.g. any specific artists / releases / tours you’re looking forward to?
It’s stating the obvious but I cannot wait for gigs to return! I will never again complain about having to go to the Old Blue Last on a Tuesday night for a 10pm stage time. You don’t know what you got till it’s gone!! Also, festivals! The prospect of salvaging some of this year’s festival season is keeping us all going!
In terms of our own roster we have been working with some artists now for the last 12-18 months who have never been able to play live so I can’t wait for those guys to be able to get out there and play in front of people. It’s what validates all of the hard work that goes on behind the scenes.
7. Anythign else you’d like our followers to know?
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