Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit

Label of The Year 2014: Transgressive Records

18 December 2014, 10:24

With early releases from Bloc Party, The Subways, Mystery Jets and Foals, Transgressive Records helped define what it meant to be indie in the early/mid-2000s. Ten years down the line and they have not only grown into their skin, but grown as an entity, adding a management and publishing arm, and two imprints in Kissability and ParadYse. With releases from Alvvays, The Antlers, Africa Express, FAMY, Gengahr, Flume and so many more this year, Transgressive Records have weathered the ever shifting seasons and stand apart as one of the defining modern labels.

And so as they celebrate their Tenth Anniversary, we celebrate them as a label by naming them our Label of The Year. When discussing what we should do for this piece, someone had the idea to let Mike Harounoff from the label interview founders Tim Dellow and Toby L. Sat in a room in the basement of their LoveLive (their film company) building with smuggled pub beers in tow, this is what transpired.

Best Fit: Yeah … we're recording now.

Mike Harounoff: OK, we're on the record. For those who don't know Transgressive or the people behind it, why don't you introduce each other?

Tim Dellow: Toby, I met when he was really young. He traded off that for a long time and now we employ someone called Mike who has traded off that for too long as well!

Mike: Yeeahhh

Tim: And he was so enthusiastic, just about music and wanting to do something positive and just get involved with bands. He was fearless and ambitious and that was really exciting because I hadn't really met anyone with that dynamism. So I thought he would be a good person to partner with.

Toby L: This is Tim. He's from Essex. Tim used to wear his Granddad's jacket and was a kind of Withnail and I meets The Young Ones kind of student character! He was extremely outspoken and whilst I wasn't, at university I could vicariously live through his self-righteous manner and his indignant views on the world, which I have to say were pretty contagious. I found a lot of my friends were going in a different direction to me and when I met Tim he, again, shared my ambition and frustrations about certain things, particularly linked to the music industry and music culture.

Up until that point I thought I was going to be a lone wolf, but when I met him it was a really genuinely cheesy lightning-bolt moment where I knew I had to work with him for the rest of my life. Within three weeks and about four pints of Hoegaarden (that I couldn't afford at all and was terrified about how expensive it was, but was playing it cool) we decided to start a record label and we didn't have a name for the first two months.

Tim: Yeah, when we pitched to The Subways I remember that was quite awkward because that was our first single. I'd done a couple of seven inches before with my band mate on a different label but I started my pitch and was like 'I might do it under this and might do something new,' and I was like, 'I'm talking to a new partner about a new venture, we're going to come up with a new name. It's going to be amazing.'

Toby: It must have sounded so fucking fluffy back then.

Tim: Hahah so true, but the manager was a really good person and he said, 'To be honest, the fact that you've done Bloc Party - it's a good heritage and we want to be part of that but your partner is going to have to be really impressive for it to work.' I said, 'The guy I'm thinking of partnering with is Toby' and he said, 'You've said the right name there. Toby is one of the best guys I've ever met.' It turned out that he knew Toby through the Buffalo Bar, like everyone. He was like, 'Yeah, it's going to be a great label, brilliant. We're really keen to be involved.' That was the clincher for me, sat in a Café Nero somewhere upstairs towards the back.

Toby: Oh the glamour!

Tim: Then we went to Welwyn Garden City and were made sandwiches by the band's parents. We had to sit down and explain the music industry to them and I think halfway through I think they tuned out, which was good because we were talking shit. Fortunately we agreed to do the band's single and it became really easy after that, in a weird way; certainly for the first couple of years.

Tim: This is very retrospective for a label piece in 2014

Toby: He's going deep! He's going deep!

Tim: Sorry Mike, continue.

Mike: So why a record label? You were doing other things, T.V. and gigs. Why, for you, a record label?

Toby: That's a good question. What the fuck were you thinking?!

Tim: I was trying to put across this across to someone the other day, about where my passion for music came from and I think there's a wonderful feeling when you discover a band and you're so excited about it and share it with your friends and see that excitement with them. If you try and maximise that into a job then that's curating a label, I guess.

I thought this could be my way of bringing stuff that I felt was being under-represented to a larger audience. I think as we developed – and this is something I know you've experienced as well, Mike - once you start working with bands it becomes very much about the people and trying to build careers, but in its infancy I don't think I had that concept yet. I was just thinking about putting out cool music in a cool way. Toby, I remember, was actually very anti the idea of a label originally because he was like 'labels are dead.'

Toby: I think it wasn't the concept of a good label or a good label identity I was talking about - because I have always and always will love that musicology that comes with a great record label and the culture that's associated with it - for me, what I foresaw almost practically speaking was that it was about to go through the most challenging phase of its evolution. Sure enough, we started the label in possibly the most, 'it was the best of times, it was the worst of times,' attempt. It was the last year, literally, of people spending the way they did, formats and records being marketed the way they were before, suddenly, everything just fucking changed.

Budgets changed, majors and indies alike, and it was a really fucking crazy and tumultuous time, but I guess for us it was good because we didn't have a big team. We were just a couple of guys in a broken down office and then, very slowly, that team grew and continues to now, very slowly.

We were only thinking about the necessity of what we made and signed. I think a lot of people were thinking about 'How do I keep my job? What the fuck is going to happen in the future?' and all the scaremongering that comes with it. Hopefully that gave us a good base for the next ten years. So we were able to sail the choppy waters of that transition.

Tim Dellow and Toby L. Photograph by Sonny Malhotra

Mike: Did you think you'd get to ten years?

Toby: Tim and I took it very seriously from day one and it was not a pure passion project. I mean, it was definitely a passion project but there was also a kind of ambition and commercial eagerness to make it resonate internationally.

Tim: Transgressive, I think, will exist beyond Toby's and my life. It's like, we've already handed it on. If you want to talk about legacy. I think one of the big reasons we're going through a good patch now is because we have a identity and a core set of ethics and values that everyone at the company really understands. It also resonates within the artistic community, it's modern, fresh, and respectful of artists and works positively in that way.

Mike: Is this how you would have imagined the tenth year of Transgressive being?

Tim: I think it's been a golden year, one of the best...

Toby: I think the new signings, the records we put out this year, and those coming out next year are kind of the most relevant we've ever had. The diversity and the quality of the roster that we're working with right now is at its prime. That's just fortunate timing and the blueprint of ethics and that kind of rock history, that has lead to it.

Tim: I don't want to scoop any albums that we haven't announced yet but the new Fist City album is incredible. The new Songhoy Blues is incredible and the new Marika Hackman album is incredible and then Gengahr and Cosmo Sheldrake, all with records in the first part of next year, I kind of think. When I look across those things, it's actually ridiculous.

Toby: You've got new ones coming out and I think that's the beauty of it, you've got your juggling act of historic and futuristic.

Mike: I got into the label because of the early stuff. You do a lot of debut releases and debut records. Why is that a good thing? Why is that important to you?

Toby: I think the beginning is always the most exciting time because nothing is tarnished - everything is speculative and anything can happen, and it does. Careers aren't always just one clear line but they're tumultuous, especially in music or art and music is inextricably linked to fashion so it goes through movements and phases. One minute you're the most important artist or sound in the world and the next you're absolutely irrelevant.

Great talent rides that fucking ocean. So for me, specifically, what I find exciting is when you find an amazing new talent and you're there at the very birth, helping to get it launched. Anything is possible and it's beautiful and it's naive. I think then what happens is ultimately down to circumstance - the public, the media, the people behind the artist.

The one thing I will say is that it's really exciting doing that, but I think the real art of it is making great records continually, and going through those ups and downs, and knowing that sometimes when you're on a downward crest that you can't control, what you can control is the quality of your output at the time. You can know that if it's good, even if it's not appreciated, that in its life span it will be re-evaluated.

Tim: I'm always really excited by debuts and those special things as well but also and this is probably why we work well together, I really like the development. You can have these rebirths which I find massively fulfilling. You look at a band like Johnny Flynn, Foals or The Antlers where things get refined and changed and you're always going to love the energy of those first records because they're normally energetic things. But I like the responsibility in an industry that...

A lot of labels, you'd get to a position where you had three or four chances before getting dropped. But from Talking Heads to Blur, people often come up with their better material once they've passed that period, even though their debuts were exciting for different reasons and have lots of good stuff about them. In the industry we're in at the moment and with the approach to it, that happens over the course of a demo to a single or a single to an EP. If you get to album two now, that's a real challenge. So I think the good thing about Transgressive is making sure bands have the chance to creatively stretch themselves and do better work over time. That's both exciting and fulfilling to me now.

Toby: I think they're both important: birth and maintenance! Birth and living really, that's it isn't it.

Tim: When we first started hanging out Toby indulged my attempts at journalism and let me write for his Rock Feedback website, and one of the first life-changing opportunities he gave me was the chance to interview Patti Smith. This week on the iPlayer there was this thing with Patti Smith and David Lynch which I was really excited about. I thought, 'I'll go back and revisit it.'

Toby: What did you think of it, by the way?

Tim: I thought it was really good.

Toby: I loved it.

Tim: Yeah, I really enjoyed it.

Toby: Do you think David Lynch trailed off slightly in terms of interest? She was saying things and he was just like, 'Beautiful.' [Laughter] Like two or three times and I was like is he listening to her or is he just thinking about, I don't know... a slug in a fucking naked orifice?! I mean, I am; all the time.

Tim: Back to my point, I did this interview with Patti Smith and Toby talked me into it and I can't believe it. I was such a …

[Mike and Toby are laughing in the background about the slug comment]

Toby: Hold it together! Sorry...

Tim: I can't believe... Now what I have and what I like is that I have actual experience, I've worked with bands over time and I'm not as arrogant as I was.

Toby: [laughter] I'm arrogant in a different way; I've got better looking but ...

Best Fit: I really want to read your interview with Patti Smith

Mike: He's a bit of a shit in the interview, for real. I read it for the first time and ...

Best Fit: Is it still online?

Mike: Yeah, yeah [it's here]

Toby: This is the character I described earlier when I first met him, and I knew that Tim was this person and it was so funny.

Tim: I've mellowed so much.

Mike: Mellow Dellow, man. SO you won label of the year.

Photograph by Sonny Malhotra

Toby: Yaaay!

Tim: Yay!

Mike: You won it in the year 2014. What do you think about music in 2014? (Is this too serious?)

Tim: I think this year's been interesting. I think it's been a great year for good albums and there have been a few exceptional albums. Aside from Transgressive my albums of the year are probably the Flying Lotus album which is ...

Toby: I agree.

Tim: ...which is incredible. The first time I heard it I thought 'Is this new Miles Davis that I haven't heard? Oh no, wait, someone is rapping on it. Ohh my god this is incredible, I love it so much!' The new Shellac album is a perfect example of a band who I began - even though they're always amazing live - to lose interest in and then album five is their best album! I think it's better than 1000 Hurts and just incredible. The War on Drugs album I've really enjoyed too.

Mike: It's interesting that you don't mention any debut albums in your albums of the year. In terms of finding new talent do you think that it's quite important if there are new artists then we have to be on it, straight away? We shouldn't be hearing great debut albums from labels that aren't Transgressive: they should be on Transgressive.

Toby: There are plenty of great new artists out there and in terms of great new records, as testified by the list Tim was reading out, but I think I'm back on what Tim was saying, 'If an artist is exciting in the beginning then just think about what they can be a few albums in.'

It's fascinating that all the American artists that have been going for multiple records, that are breaking through now – whether that be Future Islands, The National or The War on Drugs - they've been around for fucking long time and they've had enough time to tour that big fuck off country they're from and make better record after record. Over here everything is so small and everything is so insular and you've got one shot. And that is possibly a reason why a lot of the best records are North American; because they have had the time and the patience and the space and the lack of visibility to actually become excellent.

Tim: I think music in 2014 is, I think...everyone thinks they can be an artist now and everyone is encouraged and I think a lot of that is really exciting and with the punk DIY you can get yourself out there and stuff but as a result I think it's really tough to navigate to what's really exciting and really important culturally.

Toby: It's cool that indie music is also doing - to the point about main vs. indie thing - so well. It's interesting that you get a thing like Caribou who then has a top ten record. For me it's... people who're making real artistic statements and real music, they are getting to the more sustainable careers.

Mike: We would be nothing without our bands. Did Toby tell you about Alvvays? We were at South by South West and every morning you'd wake up, quite hungover and we went through the bands we were going to try and watch and we'd pick out a few thinking, 'These are the killer bands.' I put on this tune by this band, Alvvays…

Toby: “Adult Diversion”

Mike: I just hear Toby going 'What's this? This is good.' And I was like where is he? And I just see Toby's head, only his head, at the top of the stairs.

Toby: I craawwwled out to listen to this song [laughs]

Mike: He genuinely did. He crawled out of bed to shout at me saying 'You'd better put this on the list for today.' So I just saw this head and was like 'Yeah, OK.' So he came downstairs and listened to it again and was like 'This is good.' We just had to go and see this band so we sprinted, hungover as shit -

Toby: And we were worried because we thought there'd be a queue because they sounded really amazing, thinking it's going to be fucking packed

Mike: So we just ran and ran right past the bouncers and ran right into a completely empty room. It was massive.

Toby: I was like a 500 capacity room and they opened with “Next Of Kin” or something like that and it was just literally fucking empty. We were standing right in the middle so it looked like Molly, the singer was just singing straight at us. We were like, 'This is weird.' What was funny is, it was one of those really rare moments.

Mike: You never get that at South By, there's always some douchebag watching.

Toby: Yeah, it was just Mike and I watching.

Tim: You were those douchebags.

Toby: We were, we just stood there watching it in our permanent hungover state and after each song looking at each other thinking 'well that was a very good song.' So we kept listening ...

Mike: Everyone there was saying 'Fuck, these guys are amazing!'

Tim: You do those trips and things like South by and you say 'I've found the future of music!' and you get home and it's like holiday blues. It's never as good when you get home. So these guys came back with quite a few things and we put the thing on saying 'This is the track. This is the single! This is the single! And I was like 'Yeah, this is really great.' And I was like, 'This is great.' This is so great that on the bus home I was listening to it and halfway through the journey I said 'This is one of the greatest.' I mean talk about great debut albums, this is just end to end, every song is incredible. Lyrically, she's just incredible. It's just one of those bands - like Belle and Sebastian or Camera Obscura meets Breeders - amazing kind of really intelligent, brilliant modern female perspective that both seduces and undermines at the same time; a really tough slant.

Toby: Also, she channels her awkwardness into humour and a great dissection of everyday life.

Tim: When that's transcribed I'm going to sound like such an idiot because I can't string a sentence together about how important songwriting is, but for us as a label I think that is always marked out as one of the two things: something original or a combination of things we've never heard before put together in an interesting fashion; or just great songs.

Mike: Or doing the best thing in your chosen genre, being the best at the thing you want to do is as valid as doing something completely different. That's quite an important way to see things. If you fall in the middle it's often not going to be something… Tim, tell me about Gengahr ?

Toby: We went to one of those industry shindigs...

Tim: ... in Liverpool and I went and it was. Mike, you tipped me off to them and gave me the demo to listen to on the train which I enjoyed so much I listened to it about eight times on the train journey thinking 'This is really great, they're brilliant songs, I hope they can play live.'

So it was at the Kazimier - which is a brilliant venue - but it was very stale, very music industry kind of crowd and it's fair to say they weren't as amazing as I knew they could be but there songs were brilliant. Those things are the toughest gigs and they're a very self critical band as well. I spoke to them afterwards and we just got on really well and seemed ethically aligned. I just fell for them as individuals, seeing what they had achieved together already at that point.

So we came back, enough hype, I was like 'Let's get an offer out, we've got to do this, this is really good.' We constructed an offer before anyone else had seen them and went down on mass to the Scala where they supported Wolf Alice.

Toby: It was like a team outing. Everyone from Transgressive went down en masse

Tim: That band: We just fell straight away, the chemistry was just really excellent. That doesn't happen all the time.

Mike: It was immediate, it took genuinely - and this isn't an exaggeration - it took like 10 seconds.

Toby: We understood their references and I think they understood what Transgressive was about.

Tim: That's going to be your album of the year next year I think, it sounds really good, it's not finished but [they all start talking over each other]

Mike: That was something I thought we could talk about, Indie bands - they're probably the things that people would want or expect from Transgressive but then there's this other side like Africa Express and Songhoy Blues…

Toby: The thing that's great about Africa Express is that it's about putting different countries within Africa on the world stage making it credible and contemporary as opposed to trying to alienate it. Like let's not be a charity, let's not fucking condescend these musicians - who are far better musicians than fucking everyone - let's just actually say this is fucking great music we're all one big thing and doing it together - it's like the most neutralising approach to music culture. It's just so pure, and that's the essence of Africa Express. We were going to make this documentary about Mali and the period where they banned music there - for one reason or another that didn't come off - but then it dawned on us like wait a second, they're making an album out there, who is going to release it?

Tim: We caught them two weeks before they went out and we were like lets make this.

Toby: Damon [Albarn] was fucking brilliant and he was like whoever does this needs to get what we're doing; to understand these are modern recordings reflecting all these musicians in a completely different way and this is the future. The thing I love is that it's a fucking celebration, it's the most collaborative effort ever and there's brand new artists from everywhere, from places people have never heard of and off the back of that is how we found Songhoy Blues.

Tim: And they're like for us like The Clash of Mali

Toby: [laughs] Via Timbuktu.

Tim: They were heavily persecuted and you know the Taliban entered and bam, no music. They were cutting off the hands and heads of musicians and you can't imagine. They heard this was happening and they're just like intelligent, great, incredible musicians

Toby: Who took risks. They became a band when the country was banning music

Tim: And it needed it. They're punk but punk to the nth degree

Toby: It's not even punk really, it's fucking …

Tim: It's vital. So Nick Zinner met them on this trip and was like I'll produce your debut album, and it's astonishing.

Man its been such a good year when you look back. Marika Hackman too, like Nico if she was into seriously depressing electronic music, it's amazing, folk influences, morbid re-write of just another diamond day in a sense on there and its just an incredible special album and to see that from someone so young is amazingly exciting to have watched that development as well makes me very happy. We're a modern music company. We're not like a traditional label - like the publishing, the management, all the stuff we've done historically, its really hard I think for people to join up the dots. But it being our 10 year anniversary we could look back at all the stuff we've done from like Young Knives, Lady Fuzz, Foals, Esser, Pulled Apart By Horses, Thumpers, Mystery Jets, Regina Spektor [we forget to mention we own that 7” they put out in like 2005], Graham Coxon, The Shins, Iron and Wine to everything we're doing now and stitch it into something that hopefully at last has some real kind of like cultural value.

Mike: How much longer have we got?

Best Fit: Just keep going

Mike: Haha, your eyes just glazed over then

Toby: Tell me more about Mike, this illusion, this intelligent, young man?

Tim: So Mike, in terms of your influence on the label, its worth noting our different experiences but Mike has bought in: Theme Park, FAMY, Thumpers, Gengahr, Alvvays, Cosmo Sheldrake. That's the thing we're not onerous ogres - you've bought those things in.

Mike: I only get beaten once a week! It used to be twice a week but now its only once. It's fucking nuts though, it's 10 years, I've been into this label since I was 15 years old.

Tim: So Mike how did you find out about Transgressive? Tell us your Transgressive story.

Mike: So I wasn't into guitar music at all. I grew up in a place called Illford which is just outside London, and its like the music that was played around that time was just grime. That's really cool now but at the time it was just that was what was happening and I had no idea that there was this other side of music. You'd say to me like Oasis and I'd be like thats grunge music – for real thats what I would have said [laughter all round] I did and a friend of mine didn't do his homework.

Serious, and he got grounded. He had tickets to a gig, the NME awards tour gig, and he was like look I can't do to this gig do you want to just take my tickets and I was like I don't want to go to like a heavy metal gig. Seriously [laughter]. The line up was like Maximo Park, the Arctic Monkeys, We Are Scientists, and The Mystery Jets and I was like I don't want to go to this screamo-death-core bollocks. I went but I was like this is going to be torture [Toby laughs] I can't believe I'm doing this, then the Mystery Jets started playing and I can't even describe it to you properly everything changed at once. I was like oh my god this is the music I've really wanted to find the whole time but I didn't even know it existed.

Toby: What was it about that band that triggered that?

Mike: I don't know I think it was like the first time I'd heard romanticism put across in that way.

Tim: Was that the Twenty One album on that tour?

Mike: It was before Making Dens came out, I'd never heard those sort of topics. I remember watching them and I'd never really seen people look that way before, I didn't know why they were that way. I had no idea what books they might have read or any of those things I just say this thing and I was like fuck, this is the best thing ever. I went home and I was like I should find out more about this band, this is crazy. I went onto there forum - forums were big at the time - and one of the things was about how amazing their debut single “Zoo Time” was and I found out where it came form because I really wanted to buy it but it was sold out and I was like how do I access this so I found Transgressive via the Mystery Jets. Then the quality of the stuff and how good Transgressive were at the time of finding the very best of like a certain sound that was going on in London and just outside of london, I was like this is everything I needn't look elsewhere too much - I got into Young and Lost Club and Young Turks too - but I was like as long as I get every Transgressive 7” I'll kind of know what's up.

Then even more randomly I went to see the Mystery Jets headline the Bloomsbury Ballroom. Me and my friend went to watch the band, then we were there and I was really hungry and I was like I'm going to leave before the Jets to get like a flapjack from the newsagents around the corner...

[Toby stifles a guffaw]

Toby: I love the detail.

Mike: Yeah, I know but this is big, man - I wouldn't be doing any of this without this ridiculous string of events like not in my control. Like my friend should have done his bloody homework and I wouldn't have been, you know what I mean? I should have had dinner before I left the house

Best Fit: So you went to get the flapjack?

Mike: Yeah, I left and as I left I bumped into this lady and she was like 'Do you know the way to the venue?' and I was like 'Yeah I just came from there' and she was sort of talking to me and she was like 'I work for this label called Transgressive' and I was like 'I don't believe you'. [Laughs]. I thought record labels were like this big glass building run by men with ponytails, big bellies and big briefcases full of money. I had no idea it was just people that liked music, it wasn't a thing that I knew.

Tim: So that was Lilas right?

Mike: Yeah, that was Lilas - our partner - and so she was like come and do work experience and I was like maybe, I don't really know who you are but then I remember going to the Transgressive website and she was modelling a T-shirt and I was like I know that person – shit its the woman from the gig I better email her straight away.I went to their dodgy old office in Holloway Road...

Toby: So bad

Mike: And it was like first door after the front door was a toilet, that always smelt of like indie boy sweat. It was Art Rocker and Transgressive and people lived there and stuff, and like...

Tim: Foals and who became Savages, just like a gang of squatters

Mike: Regardless, I got there and they asked me to do stock check and I was like 'Yeah, I'll go and do stock check', then so I was doing stock check and I was like this is what I want to do, this is my life - not stock check...

Toby/Tim/Best Fit: [Laughter, Toby claps]

Mike: I love counting and stuff … no I was just like I need to be around here and over time it just sort of worked out. But the round up question, are you ready: Why are we your label of the year?

Tim: That's a good question

Toby: That is a good question

Best Fit: Shiiit. Well I guess it just feels like there aren't many modern labels in the sense that Transgressive is a modern label. There's no laurel resting, and the releases this year have been, well, incredible.

Tim: Awww yay

Toby: Yippee! I think the thing is we're always just trying to do something different every single signing. There are no rules in terms of genre.

Tim: I was just thinking when you said that - what haven't we done properly yet, we haven't done a proper hip-hop album.

Toby: We released our first classical record this year

Tim: I was going to say like this year - leading onto a question but - I was thinking oh this year though we did get to release Ghostface Killah (who is one of my all time favourites) on that Flume deluxe version - which is an astonishing, essential, important album. It's certainly one of my highlights of this year. To you two, what would be your Transgressive highlights of the year?

Toby: Oooh, highlight of the year...

Tim: Nothing's going to beat Ghostface Killah.

Mike: I think the first thing is Bethnal Green Working Men's Club.

Tim: Yeah that was pretty cool.

Mike: Something about that whole thing was - not to go on about how I met Transgressive - but it was the kind of thing that was happening at that time, like people putting on events like that, it wasn't just shows.

Toby: In weird venues. It's how Transgressive started, we used to like run those nights.

Mike: I was walking around and everyone was like 'this is fucking cool', the bands were watching each other, hanging out in the top room drinking together, just because they were only there together because they were all part of this thing called Transgressive.

The other thing I think for me on a personal level is the FAMY album, that whole record it hit me for six. We always have this thing when we sign bands when we think - would you be happy just buying the album? Or do you have to feel like you have something to offer a band do you have to be part of that? No, sometimes it's cool to just let it happen and go buy the record, but with FAMY, I wouldn't have felt right just buying the album in the shops.

Toby: I think for me, I love obviously the making of records and like discovering artists. It is the greatest honour to sort of be part of that process before it becomes public, but that said when it becomes public and it takes on a life of its own and you see that physically occur i.e. at gigs or Festivals - that for me really brings it together. So highlights from this year: Foals doing two nights at Ally Pally was fucking magical.

Tim: Watching Dry the River and Pulled Apart by Horses on the side of the stage at Reading.

Tim and Toby: Flume headlining the dance tent!

Toby: Then at the Barbican show, that final song where like they did Johnny Flynn again “Tickle Me Pink” where the Mystery Jets came up, Marika came up, Laura Marling came up - it was like a culmination of everything - it was like the future and the past. Those live moments unify everyone and everything we do.

Mike: Every time you've seen a band on the roster's first show is always like the best thing. One of us has taken the others to this room, in some arse-end-of-nowhere place, to watch this band that they quite like and all you're thinking is like 'oh fuck, is it going to be good?' then when you leave and you all love it's that moment of like 'let's get to work.'

Toby: Some would say it's relief to some extent.

Mike: Yeah, you're looking at each other and going 'let's do it'. It's those 'let's do it' moments that are always good, and there was a lot of them this year.

Toby: There were a lot of 'fuck it' moments too. Great art, great music, great decisions they're usually done with an air of kind of 'fuck it, let's do it', you know? The only people that hold ourselves back - most commonly - are ourselves. Some things are against our power but most of the things we hold ourselves back from in our lives are within our own grasp. You know everyone deals with fear, everyone deals with paranoia, politics, all that shit but the thing that makes us over come any of those things is like when we rise above and find a courage or a braveness within that we didn't know existed. Overcome it and then become better people and better conduits for what we're trying to do.


Mike: One last super cheesy thing

Toby: We can do super cheesy

Mike: We're label of the year right? Everyone has seen our mugs all over the place this year, like me, Tim and Toby but Lilas who's our partner, and Lewis who is our new online PR guru wizard, and Rachel as well who like runs things, and Claire who's our Producer/Artist Manager and Dan Monsell who does the Rock Feedback bookings, and Charlie, and Joe, and all those people like, it's not just these guys. These guys started it and that's the best thing in the world and why it's so amazing but there are so many people that work really fucking hard and they should be in this piece definitely... sentimental bollocks from Team Transgressive.

Photograph by Sonny Malhotra

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