Wears The Trousers // 20 July Women In Industry feature
women in industry #6 • young & lost club
So, after a short summer break, our ‘women in industry’ feature is suntanned, rested and returned! This is where we introduce you to the inspirational movers and shakers behind the scenes and give props to the ladies who contribute to the music world away from the stage. The UK is full of really rad women shaping the industry and keeping things fresh; Nadia Dahlawi and Sara Jade are a perfect example of this. The duo have been major players on the London indie scene since late 2004, not just helping talented bands make that leap to bigger things but also running some super fun club nights and championing that classic music form, the humble single, via their industry leading label Young & Lost Club.
Like Wears The Trousers, the duo celebrate their fifth birthday this summer (huzzah!), having notched up a rather grand total of fifty-two singles under their skinny-jean belts. They’ve helped everyone from Vincent Vincent & The Villains (they split their label launch with the band’s debut single release party) to Noah & The Whale and Golden Silvers, and to mark their coming of age the ladies have chosen their favourite Young & Lost “hit and misses” to include on a cracking thirty-four track birthday compilation (out August 16). We talked to Nadia about how the duo got their now-prosperous business off the ground and find out how it felt to be filled with that young-and-lost in-London romance back when the DIY enthusiasts first started out.
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So, the Young & Lost Club has come a long way since 2004. Can you take us back to the beginning and explain how it all got started?
It all started when we were both sixteen at boarding school, we were so bored that we decided to start a music fanzine. We came up with Pyrrha fanzine and did reviews on bands like Interpol, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and The Libertines, who were all starting out at that time. Sara was the writer and I was the art department / picture editor! We moved to London when we were eighteen and came up with the idea of a singles label. We wanted it to be like a club where people collected every release and came down to the club nights we put on. We eventually got organised and set up Young & Lost Club, and our first release was Vincent Vincent & The Villains’ ‘Blue Boy’, which sold out straight away. We have now put out fifty-two singles as well as two albums! We also ran a night called Push every Saturday at Astoria 2 (up until it was knocked down by Crossrail last year) and had bands like Andrew WK, Vampire Weekend, Holy Fuck and Supergrass play.
Was it a DIY affair or did you have friends in the industry to give you advice/help?
At the time we didn’t know anyone doing a singles label like ours so we really did learn as we went along. Looking back I can’t believe we managed it! By our tenth single, though, it really felt like we knew what to do, although we still learn new bits with every release we do.
What were your objectives when you set out, and have they changed over the years?
We still love putting out 7” singles and doing our club night, that hasn’t changed at all. At the beginning we felt like we only wanted to do singles but now we really love working on albums. We are so happy with the Noah & The Whale albums we put out and have other albums this year coming out from Oh Minnows and Planet Earth, as well as a third Noah & The Whale one next year.
Do you feel your background/education has encouraged or discouraged your career choices?
We had no background or education in music at all but I don’t think that has had a negative effect on us. We both did as much work experience as possible in our school holidays at places like the Rough Trade record shop and worked for various press companies.
Has your gender affected your career in the music industry? Do you feel it’s been beneficial or detrimental?
It never seems to matter too much. Sometimes it can be a bit of a boys’ club in the London music industry scene but I would always much prefer to be a girl!
Are there any individuals who inspire you with their own career achievements?
Growing up I was obsessed with music biographies and read whichever ones I could lay my hands on. The most inspiring was the NY punk scene book Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk by Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain. Everyone was very DIY and that really inspired all that Young & Lost Club is about. I highly recommend it to anyone wanting to work in the industry!
A lot of your work involves supporting bands. Have you ever been tempted to put down the Filofax and get up on stage with a guitar yourself ?
Neither of us has ever been tempted to join a band. I play the harp though, and Noah & The Whale and Lightspeed Champion were always asking me to play on recordings for them.
Do you have any favorite behind the scenes/backstage stories?
The night before Astoria 2 got taken over by Crossrail we had a big party. Lots of people were really unhappy about Astoria being knocked down and everyone came out and supported the last night there. People were taking bits of the venue home as souvenirs!
What’s the most difficult part of your job?
Some bands have amazing ideas but some are just not possible to do all the time! For example, one band wanted to goldplate their 7” vinyl record…
What makes your job rewarding?
Getting people’s reactions to the latest release we have put out. Also, when a 7” sells out straight away or a club night sells out!
Do you have any essential survival skills/tactics?
Just be prepared to work hard and often for not much money! Also always be polite to everyone, you never know when karma will come back to bite you!
Do you have any personal ultimate career goals in the music industry?
We would love to put out more albums and work with bands we believe in for as long as possible!
What advice would you give to other young women hoping to follow in your footsteps?
Do as much work experience as you can! Also don’t take it too seriously. You’re working in the music industry, not being a doctor!