In a year where many new, young labels are vying for the attention of the music-buying public - and, of course, trying to work their way into every DJ's record box – Love Not Money has made quite an impression. The Leeds-based label, helmed by Luke Pompey, has churned out tonnes of music from a range of talented (and mostly new) artists while maintaining a high quality and a slick approach to everything they do, from the artwork, to merchandise and parties. The label has become a reputable source of good music in a short time, which is impressive to say the least.
I had a chat with Luke Pompey, just before he set off on a Love Not Money August tour through Europe, to find out how it all started and more...
So Luke, tell me, to begin with... what's your history in terms of music, I mean how did you get into house/techno? Were you a musical child or did you get into it a bit later on in life?
I can’t really vouch to being a musical child as such. Growing up in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales I was always out playing somewhere but the roots were there for sure. I was brought up on a healthy diet of Northern Soul and Motown. I’m nearly 27 now but I really became passionate about music when my brother got me some 1210s for my 12th birthday. From then on I was experimenting with everything from Hip-Hop, to Hardcore, over the years I’ve played it all - being able to mix between genres makes you a more versatile DJ.
Yeah definitely. Can you remember some of your earliest raving experiences, where did you go/who did you see?
I actually started DJing out in a local bar where I lived when I was 16. I had my first residency playing US House and Garage. The bar owner thought I was 18 and I actually got away with it for two years until my parents put my 18th birthday in the local paper, so most weekends until I was old enough to go clubbing I did that. Soon as I could get in clubs though we used to go out of town to the nearest cities, Leeds, Liverpool and Manchester to Cream and Sankeys. Space in Leeds was a big one back then for me, they were booking all the decent soulful House DJ’s like CJ Makintosh, Dennis Ferrer, Sandy Rivera so I became a regular there.
There’s something about Leeds that you can’t explain until you’ve lived here & immersed yourself in it. On a clubbing level, everyone who’s a part of it knows what I’m saying & I’m pretty sure a lot of the big DJs from Europe & across the world will tell you it’s one of their favourite places to play...
So when did you decide you wanted to become a DJ and how did you go about making the DJ dream a reality?
I was an amateur boxer throughout my teens and was training for Yorkshire schoolboys, but then along came girls, music and cheap cider and all that went out of the window. I was getting into spots of trouble back home so I had to look at the bigger picture, I ended up enrolling on a music technology course in Leeds and moved over here.
From there I started DJing in the Leeds scene. I entered the 4clubbers.net and Kissdafunk DJ competition and came came second and it all snowballed from there. Salvador, who ran 4clubbers took me under his wing and put me on at all their parties.
From there I was given a spring board of opportunity and was lucky enough to play Cream, Amnesia in Ibiza when I was 19 and then Privilege with Tiesto for Galaxy FM a year later.
That's really cool... So, I have to ask what do you think it is about Leeds that seems to produce so many talented musicians?
There’s something about Leeds that you can’t explain until you’ve lived here and immersed yourself in it. On a clubbing level, everyone who’s a part of it knows what I’m saying and I’m pretty sure a lot of the big DJs from Europe and across the world will tell you it’s one of their favourite places to play.
It’s home to some of the UK’s best clubs and a hot bed of musical talent. People move here from afar just to be part of it and where you’ve got people who are that passionate about music you’re going to find people who are that passionate about making it too. Plus, with the universities & music college being some of the best in Europe it’s inevitable that there’s gonna be an endless supply of talent.
Yeah true, true... so when did you decide to set up Love Not Money?
After DJing for so many years and then learning how to produce at college, setting up Love Not Money Records back in November 2011 was the next natural step. With some big names coming out of the city in the past year or two, the likes of Burnski, Miguel Campbell, Rob James etc... it’s all on my doorstep and I’m lucky enough to be good friends with most of the guys involved in the scene. Thing is, I felt that, apart from the city's bigger labels like 2020 Vision and Gruuv there was a gap in the market for all the up and coming producers, so this was intended as a home for us all to release on.
The label name is very distinctive and upfront in its ideals... How long did it take to come up with the name? How important is the name to you?
The name works as a brand on so many levels, not just as a record label. It’s kind of a play on a few things really... My outlook on life has always been about doing something for the love of it. I think too many people are trapped in jobs they don’t enjoy with no direction. I just don’t see the logic there; you should be putting your energy into something you love and, if you work hard, money will come from it.
The second meaning obviously being about the state of the music industry and how small independent labels are lucky if they make any money from it at all these days. With the stores taking a 50% cut of royalties overall it leaves the other 50% to be split between the label, artists, promo, artwork, mastering... you name it.
I work in schools part-time teaching music and for kids it’s second nature nowadays to download illegally - & they think there’s nothing wrong with it. When you’ve come from buying wax & paying £50 or more for a rare record to spending £1+ on a WAV it’s not too much to ask...It really is a joke to say that a store that simply takes everyone else's hard work and uploads the track to a server feel that they deserve such a big cut, leaving little, if not anything at all for the rest. It’s greedy and really reflective of the type of economy we live in today. Finally it’s intended to play on political strings a bit. The world’s at war and unrest over money and oil, all the bullshit you see on the news, and often we forget our prime purpose in life its to get along with each other and move forward as human beings… some of the artwork hints at this.
Nice one and how did you raise the funds etc... to get LNM off the ground? Was it relatively easy or did you find it tough?
I’ve literally done the whole thing on bare minimum, more or less doing everything myself, from artwork to promotion, editing YouTube videos, marketing.. you name it, just to try keep the costs down. The only real out going was for mastering but I’m trying to learn the theory of that now so I can do all that myself too. People find that hard to believe, but you learn a lot when you’ve spent the last six years as a DJ managing and promoting yourself. I put everything to one side last year to make this happen and thankfully the hard work is coming together.
Yeah I was gonna ask, how's it going now? Because of the amount of piracy/file sharing that goes on now, did you worry that you taking a big risk starting the label?
I never really had anything to lose so there was no real risk involved in setting up the label but file sharing really pisses me off and it’s something I’m well against! I mean, what’s the mentality of the person who first uploads a track thinking, “Yeah I want everyone else to have it for free”, surely he paid for it in the firstt place in order to get the track? Do they get a buzz off it? It’s something that’s really affecting the industry.
I mean our EP from Matt Fear was fire, it should have been well up there in the charts. Matt’s having great success of late and everyone was playing his track ‘Powerband’ after we sent the promo out. Yet one day after release it was up on all the dodgy sites. There’s only so many emails you can send to these blogs before it becomes pointless and you’ve just got to accept it’s leaked. Every label has this problem and nothing real seems to be getting done about it. I work in schools part-time teaching music and for kids it’s second nature nowadays to download illegally - and they think there’s nothing wrong with it. When you’ve come from buying wax and paying £50 or more for a rare record to spending £1+ on a WAV it’s not too much to ask.
Agreed, it's madness how it's become the norm with the younger generation. Scary, in fact! Apart from that, what's the most difficult aspect of running a label?
It’s very time consuming; but the rewards are next level. You’ve got to give it your full attention. I couldn’t imagine holding down a 9-5 and running a label at the same time, if you have a girlfriend and a 9-5 you’re fucked!
Haha, yeah definitely. How have you managed to make the label a success and reach out to so many producers new and old?
I did my homework before I set the label up. Politely emailing DJs to get a database of contacts. Then I looked at the marketing side of things, you’ve got the tracks, you’ve sent them to the DJs, now you have to get people to hear them.
Blogs are a wicked part of today’s music culture, like I Voice etc... it’s a great way to find out about new music, so I got together a list of sites and started networking. It’s not rocket science but, like I said before, time consuming. On the music front we’re very cross-genre and people are already starting to recognize us for this. We don’t particularly follow one certain trend but instead we try to cover all bases and just release good House music from up and coming artists, regardless of the sub-genre. There’s too much good music out there to stick to one sound.
What would you say has been the label's biggest success so far?
I’d have to say the success of our second release; Real Nice & Cubiq ‘Had Enough’. I knew as soon as I heard it that there was something special about it and it still blows me away now, every track on the release is top notch. The Cubiq lads are classically trained musicians that moved up to Leeds to go to university. You can hear the musicianship in everything they touch. Proper live elements, which for two 19-year-old producers, is a rare thing. Then I got the Kreature remix back and what he did with that piano was a something else, it went straight into the Beatport Nu Disco top 10 after one week of release and then, the same weekend, Pete Tong featured it on his Essential Selection and it snowballed from there. It’s since featured on various compilations and gained support from DJs you could only dream of getting behind your label at such an early stage.
You seem to be putting out tonnes of music at the moment, where's it all come from?
The initial main bulk of A&R was done in the three months prior to setting up the label to make sure we hit the ground running and had a strong starting roster but from then on it’s just an ongoing process. Initially it was guys I’ve known for years in Leeds: Matt Fear, Kreature, Alcatraz Harry, Ali Scott, Kezla, David Garfit and Will Crawshaw, we’re all best mates. Then a few of the guys I discovered who’d moved to Leeds to go to uni, like the Cubiq lads and Samuel W.
Now the label's out there we get sent about 30 tracks a week and simply sift through them picking out the good ones. There’s new people emerging all the time so you can never really be too complacent. We do ‘New Love’ compilations, in fact we just recently released our second, and it’s a perfect way to introduce new artists to the label and explore different sounds.
Talking of new artists... What would you say is the best way for a young producer to get their stuff noticed by a label owner like yourself?
All the contacts are out there and usually a label has a website with an email address on, it’s pretty simple. A wise Yorkshire man once said, “He who seeketh findeth: and to him who knocketh, the door shall be opened”… No, but on a serious note, find a label that represents the sound your making and send it to them. Be patient but at the same time persistent.
As someone who is constantly A&R-ing, can you recommend some new talents we should be checking out?
I’m loving Disclosure right now, I’ve been into these guys for a while now and they are finally blowing up globally. Their productions and the sounds they use are amazing. Then there’s the new lads we have onboard at the label of course, James Winter, he’s just finding his feet with producing but two tracks in and showing great potential, This Is I, Liam Geddes, Cecyl, Rick Hirst, Josh Butler, Timmy P, Dale Howard, Jacsun, dharkfunkh, Chris:Q, Sean Roman & Room 303, the list goes on...
You must have to have a lot of foresight with what you do, how do you manage to keep your finger on the pulse? Any new trends you can see creeping up at the moment?
Personally I try not to get too caught up in the latest trend thing. Sounds come and go from summer to summer but good music’s good music, regardless. As a DJ I generally play all sorts in my sets and often go back in time to dig out forgotten gems.
Nice one, yeah that's the best way... What's coming up on the label up until the end of the year?
Over the coming months we’ve got an EP coming up from local lads Denney and Ste Guthrie, who’s asked friends Robert James (Hot Creations), Tim Weeks and Luke Gibson to remix it. I’ve just signed a really strong EP from Manchester artist Make Or Break who’s no stranger to the label as well as getting a few more international artists onboard with an EP from Mexicans Nobody Knows, Argentinean Fosky and Romanians Mahony & BOg who’ve previously had releases on Crosstown Rebels.
There’s also a killer EP to come from new guys CP Connection, which I’m tipping to do really well, Charlie Banks is on that remix who, for an 18-year-old, is doing really promising things right now. We’ve had a really busy debut year with about 22 releases due by the end of it, but it’s all part of the plan to get the label out there and on the map.
Come 2013 we’ll really slow things down to one release a month and move onto vinyl as well as digital. We’ve also just launched the clothing range, that’s going really well. Go to our Facebook page to check that out. As of September the label's going to be involved bi-monthly at Mint Club and Mint Warehouse in Leeds, as well as our monthly residency on the first Saturday of the month at Distrikt bar... so moving into the events side of things as well, which I’m no stranger to.
Sounds promising.. And what are you up to yourself, any new music in the pipeline?
I’m just about to head abroad for most of August. I’m doing a label party at Zulos Beach Club in Palma, Mallorca. Then on to Berlin for a few days and from there on to Ibiza, where I’ll be spending the rest of August. We’ve got various label parties going on over there, boat parties, a pool party at Kanya on the 12th, a cheeky DC10 afterparty at Es Vive on the 13th and just confirmed Spektrum at Sankeys out there on the 14th.
I’m back at the end of August for the UK Bank Holiday weekend, we’ve been invited down by the E.T.A and Real Nice guys, who we did Glade Festival with, to do a float at Notting Hill Carnival and a block party on the Monday. There’s a very special surprise guest playing who I can’t reveal right now but that’s gonna be exciting!
On the production front so far I haven’t actually done a full release on the label. I’ve spent so much time this year looking after everyone else’s music that it’s left me hardly any time to do my own stuff. With the label in full swing now I’m in the studio working on tracks for other labels as well as an EP for Love Not Money for early next year. I’ve lined up some decent remixers for that so I’m trying my best to make sure that my debut release is a memorable one. I have done three remixes for the label which I’ve really enjoyed doing.
Finally, any advice to someone considering starting up a label themselves?
Find the right distributor as that’s who’s gonna help you get your tracks to the stores, get you featured releases on the stores and recoup your royalties. Also think outside the box, try to do something different, there’s loads of labels being set up every day, ask yourself what makes yours different? And the obvious ones: work hard and keep positive!
|Love Not Money
Started: November 2011
LNM Clothing: www.lovenotmoney.bigcartel.com
Address: 15 Highbury Street,Leeds- LS6 4EZ, UK
Luke Pompey, Cubiq, Matt Fear, Kreature, David Garfit, Liam Geddes, Darius Syrossian, Samuel W, Kezla, Will Crawshaw, Dale Howard, Ali Scott, Alcatraz Harry, James Winter, The Dutch Rudder, Mark Wells & Ant Brooks
LNM015 - The Dutch Rudder & Mark Wells - "Love Not War" EP
LNM016 - Ant Brooks - "Old's Cool"
LNM017 - George Holliday - Never Gonna Grow
Most Successful Tracks
1. Real Nice & Cubiq - "Had Enough" (Kreature Remix)
2. David Garfit - "The Trouble With This" (Darius Syrossian Remix)
3. Real Nice & Cubiq - "Had Enough" (Original Mix)
4. Real Nice & Cubiq - "Had Enough" (Matt Fear Remix)
5. Ali Scott & Alcatraz Harry - "Fresh P" (Original Mix)
6. Will Crawshaw - "Bitch Shop" (Original Mix)
7. Spring Offensive - Worry Fill My Heart (Cubiq's 'P45' Remix)
8. Real Nice & Cubiq - "Had enough" (Luke Pompey remix)
LNM018 - Various Artists - "Summer Heat EP" (feat. Lee M Kelsall, Tough Love, Cambie & This Is I, Econix, Ellis & King) 27/08/12
LNM019 - Nobody Knows - "My Love For You" EP (Inc. remixes by Toucan, Kreature) Sept 2012