XL Recordings Documentary on BBCR1

The BBC are broadcasting a documentary about XL recordings tonight. It’s made by the extremely talented Becky Jacobs and is well worth a listen as Richard Russell’s label is one of the most influential we’ve ever had, right up there with Island, Factory and Rough Trade.

XL started out as a hardcore breakbeat label born out of the acid house explosion, releasing the music people started making when the Roland 303 acid bleeps faded out and breakbeats took over. They were there when Prodigy did their first gigs at rave chaos-pit Labyrnth and that signing bankrolled the label for the whole first phase of their life. Happily, and unlike other label heads, they chose to spend the money on more music rather than a big diamond watch and a Boxster.

There’s a million things you could say about XL: the way they shifted to bands in the early 2000s; the finely-tuned radar-ears that allowed them to sign Dizzee on the back of the I Luv U white label and allowed them to release Boy In Da Corner in all it’s pristinely raw-from-road honesty; the genius of re-releasing the first two White Stripes albums and getting Jack front and centre of their newly-expanded internationalist roster. And that’s only the half of it. All record labels go on about only releasing music they like but either a) some of them are lying or b) some of them like horrible music. XL have remained like that music loving person you know: slightly arrogant but pretty much right about everything, and hallelujah for that.

If you were to ask me which labels are doing the same thing now, I’d have one answer. The Rinse family of labels, events and radio. They’re connected to the roots of their culture in exactly the same way XL were, and to a pretty large degree, still are.

One way of ensuring that you stay relevant is to focus on the roots, not fruits of a culture, and XL are definitely in camp roots.

Info here.

I just made a documentary for BBC1Xtra about the new wave of young entrepreneurs coming up with creative responses to the recession, presented by Gemma Cairney. It’s going out tonight.

It was a real pleasure to be able to make this, and not just because I’ve discovered I love making radio. It was a pleasure because I know there’s a huge disconnect between what the mainstream thinks about the youth and what I know from my work as editorial mentor at Live Magazine. Most people are just fed stories of doom and violence, dispossession and laziness. We hear that exams are too easy, that school-leavers can’t read or write, that young people are addicted to their phones or to celebrity and that’s not to mention the constant hum of our obsession with the tiny minority of youth who get involved in criminal violence, who end up as inaccurate poster children for a whole generation. They’re not.

I see a different reality, of a generation – or perhaps more accurately a sector of a generation – who are incredibly motivated and capable. These are people who are spending their teens and easily twenties making their own jobs, setting up charities and social enterprises, starting businesses that will end up employing other young people, or otherwise just doing stuff that will help make them more employable. Enterprise these days, says one of my interviewees, Andre Campbell, isn’t all about The Apprentice. It’s just “a positive hustle”.

I interviewed some positive hustlers for my documentary, like Sam Harris who set up Pedal Power in Bristol, or Live Magazine editor Celeste Houlker who also runs 12th Estate, a social enterprise to support young women who want to set up their own businesses.

The only downside was that I couldn’t include more people, like Beejay Mulenga who I first met when he was 13 and was hurtling headlong into a world of enterprise with his Supa Tuck Shop company and charity Supa Inspire, or the Rianna Price from the supa dupa fly Run Dem Youngers or Shadrack Straker who dreamed up a business that would bring people together and would solve youth unemployment at the same time. He became one of the first Virgin Media Pioneers and has subsequently met Richard Branson on a number of occasions. There are thousands more like them all across the country and I think they’re great.

Proudly powered by WordPress
Theme: Esquire by Matthew Buchanan.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 101 other followers

%d bloggers like this: