Y&L Interview on Spoonfeed
Young and Lost Club Interview
04 August, 2010
Jamal caught up with the Young and Lost Club for a chat about gold plated vinyl, free trips to Disney Land and making it big in the 7" record business.
With the country supposedly a floating island of financial despair and the record industry in the midst of a slow painful death, it is nice to see the success stories of those who've said ‘I will survive!’ with all the enthusiasm of Gloria Gaynor. Young and Lost Club are: Nadia Dahlawi and Sara Jade, both 25 and both responsible for the thriving record label that's been releasing albums and singles on 7” vinyl for five years now.
Instead of going out and working for The Man, they've become The Man, in a much prettier, friendlier, female form of course. The initial process of creating the label was born out of many years working in the music industry as teenagers.
Sara, the one more likely to deal with some of the overly ambitious characters of the industry, explains the label’s birth: “I think one of the reasons we started was because we’ve been working in music since we were 16, so people kind of knew us because we’d reviewed so many club nights, so different labels and different industry guys were always asking us to consult for them. Then a couple of people tried to set up a label for us where we would be sort of figureheads and get bands but we never really liked the way they were approaching things and thought we could do it better ourselves and do it in a much more artist friendly way.”
Nadia continues: “We did a fanzine and then we did a club night to go with the fanzine. Bands like Art Brut played and Special Needs and from there we just started doing the label when we were 20. It was never a grand plan.”
Their inspiration came from a willingness to help the bands they liked. “We were lucky; the first few bands we worked with were really visually distinctive so that was a big point for us,” said Sara.
One of those first bands was the multi-coloured Noah and the Whale and the partnership has blossomed ever since. Sara continued: “We have a really good relationship. We’ve done two albums with them now. We did two singles before we did the album. That’s one of the reasons we wanted to work with them because we just got on with them so well. We always understood what they wanted to do.”
It hasn’t all been rainbows and sunshine however. The first single released on the Young and Lost Club label, Vincent and the Villains – ‘Blue Boy’, encountered one or two problems as the girls did their best to get to grips with some of the intricacies of a single release. “When we first started we didn’t really know what we were doing,” said Nadia in amongst some embarrassed laughter. “We just learnt as we went along and that first single was three months late. The band kept calling us asking where it was but eventually it arrived.”
01 Blue Boy - Vincent Vincent and the Villains by Young And Lost Club
With that single Young and Lost Club used their club night contacts to throw a sold out launch party. Gigs in small, sweaty venues can be some of the most memorable nights and the Push Bar in West London proved to be just that. Sara describes the atmosphere, saying: “The single launch for the Vincent Vincent single was so crowded! Some people loved it, some were complaining saying, ‘why did you get such a small venue?’ It was amazing. It was a really good night but that one was so crowded.”
Since then they have released over 50 singles including ones from Bombay Bicycle Club, Good Shoes, Cheetahs, The Virgins and Pull Tiger Tale.
The duo’s dynamic is interesting. I met them during a busy day of interviews and e-mailing correspondents. Nadia, who appeared extremely chilled, is surprisingly the more structured member of the pairing: “I’m more organised and Sara’s better at dealing with the bands and their crazy ideas.”
Crazy ideas like releasing a single on gold plated vinyl. “Your first instinct will be like ‘no!’ and I’ll be like, ‘well it is a good idea but maybe it would work if you did it this way’. But Nadia is really good at being organised which is good for running a label.”
The benefits of success in an environment you love are of course the freebies. The girls went on to explain their time in Japan. “We got flown over to be there a week and we only DJed one night. We were like ‘how did this happen?’ They paid for our hotel and took us to Disneyland. That was definitely a perk.”
Not that the day-to-day business doesn’t have its own rewards. “Even doing the club night is always a perk because friends come down to see you work, but it’s not really like work.”
Sara adds: “And you get to see all the bands you really want to see. It is hard work. I think also because it’s your own label, everything you do, when you achieve something, you can be really proud.”
20 Blue Skies - Noah and The Whale by Young And Lost Club
Although on the surface their success may seem to have been gained quickly, getting to be a well respected name in the business takes its time. Advice for anyone wanting to do something similarly ambitious is to get a foot in the door early as possible.
Sara explains: “The one thing we always tell people is to do as much work experience as you can. We’ve done it everywhere. Also you get to do really amazing stuff doing working experience. I worked in a Rough Trade shop and I got a job as a press officer and travelled around the world. It doesn’t have to be setting up a label, there are loads of opportunities and starting young really does help.”