We speak to Hari Ashurst and Jack Thomas, the two musical upstarts behind Double Denim, the London label that’s signing some of the most exciting talent around. Plus, an exclusive mix.
In just a few short years, the two trendsetters have nurtured the Double Denim brand from in-the-know music blog into one of the most impressive indie labels to emerge out of the capital, snapping up Wonderland favourites Outfit, Pandr Eyez and Amateur Best for their ultra-discerning roster.
How did Double Denim develop from a blog into a label?
We had a really really neurotic approach to running a blog. Rules like, we could only post an artist so long as nobody else had blogged them, and even then only if they had a really minuscule amount of plays on Myspace. Plus it had to be really really good. Problem is there’s not exactly enough music that fits that criteria to keep a daily blog. In essence we were running the blog like a hyperactive 7″ label anyway. We just didn’t know it at first.
How did you guys meet?
Jack was DJing and I was making music and playing out in London a bit. We sort of met through that and it didn’t take long to realise that we had the same ideas and obsessions about new music. After the blog became the label, we had a few different ideas of how to run it before settling on being a singles label (at least initially). We tried out doing a few split 7″ singles before realising that purity is best.
Describe the DD sound in a sentence?
Pop music made by outsiders.
Would DD ever sell out to a major label?
The labels we feel kinship with are all independent or belong to a more indie-minded set-up. Not gonna say never, because we might discover the next Justin Bieber and want to have some fun in the future, but it’s just not something we’ve thought about. Part of the fun of doing it ourselves is that small victories feel like really really big ones. At a major label you might sell 20k records and be chalked up as a failure, which is difficult to comprehend. 20,000 people is a lot of people.
So how do you select ?
We try to meet them, hang out, really get a sense of why they’re making music and where their ideas are taking them. Jack flew over to New York recently to meet one of the artists we’re releasing next. You know when you’ve reached a tipping point between finding a good artist and finding someone you want to release or work with.
Has your aesthetic grown or changed since DD’s conception?
We never started the label and said it’s going to be this thing or that thing. I often wondered
whether we should, especially when you see some other labels with really strong aesthetics from the start, but I think letting the releases and music define the label as you go is the most honest way of doing it.
Are there particular challenges to running a successful label?
It’s a competitive time for running a label. Not only do you have dozens of artists with their own labels now but it’s also just as easy for a new artist to release something online without a label at all. That’s totally a good thing, but definitely a challenge for a smaller label. We have to approach each release almost like a collaboration and put a lot of energy into what we can add to make it worthwhile.
What does the future hold for Double Denim?
We’re probably going to work on less singles and more EPs and full-length projects. There’s something magical about a 7″ but it’s fleeting. We’ve got three EP releases for Spring that aren’t announced yet and some more stuff that will be ready for later in the year too.
Double Denim singing Amateur Best’s album is out now. www.doubledenimrecords.com
Words: Zing Tsjeng