Record labels are arguably the most important influence behind the sound and complexion of a local music scene: they provide the songs that we listen to, support the artists who soundtrack our nights out and often, the club nights where we hear these artists play. Labels create the networks that bring together like-minded individuals and collectives to drive change and progress in the sectors they operate.
At only four releases deep, and with their fifth release – featuring a track included on SynthGlasgow Radio 013 - set to be released very soon, local label West End Communications is doing all of the above on an impressive scale. As one of the most exciting of the smaller record labels in Glasgow right now, head-honcho Kyle Robertson has been DJing for five years and wasn’t even old enough to buy a drink at his first gig. Ahead of their second label takeover at the Sub Club this Sunday (18th), we caught up with him to learn a little bit more about the label that’s making waves across Glasgow right now.
Check out West End Communications most recent release from Power Inc. & Europe Hack below, as well as The Burrell Connection’s ‘Pollok County Classic’ EP and his guest mix on SynthGlasgow Radio:
SynthGlasgow: When and what inspired you to start West End Communications and what are you hoping to achieve with the imprint?
Kyle: I started it about two years ago. The idea behind it was just to put out tracks made by my mates; most of them were just sitting on stuff that they hadn’t bothered to send out to anyone so the music was already there. I guess the aim is to shed some light on some pretty talented guys who deserve the recognition.
SynthGlasgow: Does West End Communications have a core sound? If so, what is it and what are your main influences?
Kyle: I don’t think there is, I mean people send stuff in saying things like “this would suit the sound of the label”, but I’ve tried to make it not have any particular “sound”. If I think it’s good, then I’ll put it out and hopefully people agree with me! I guess with the first four releases it could be labelled as more of a techno label than anything else, but I think with the next few releases that preconception will shift.
SynthGlasgow: West End Communications has been involved in a number of great parties, including a showcase at a prime after-party spot, a Sub Club takeover and a warehouse party in Edinburgh. Are the parties as important to you as the label?
Kyle: I dunno; I think they’re two separate things. Obviously the records are great for the artists to show their influences and tastes within the studio, but put them in a booth and I’ve found they all play completely different stuff. I think the parties are great to show people what kind of records the artists are listening to and what they would want to hear at a party, which is also a great way to advertise the label as a whole as well as themselves. Coming from a mainly DJ’ing background I personally love the parties and playing out.
SynthGlasgow: Are you going to keep the label quite local and work with the names you have?
Kyle: I think the artists I have now are more than enough to carry the label forward; I have a few more local guys who are still to release, but have some very interesting work in the pipeline.
I’m also putting together some final touches on a digital series for the label, which is not so much a separate sub-label or anything - just sticking to the main ideas of the core label but putting stuff out a lot quicker. Turnaround times from the (pressing) plants have slowed the release schedule down quite a bit, which can be frustrating for both the artists and myself. Digital releases will hopefully rectify that and also bring in some new talent on the roster.
SynthGlasgow: Are you planning to keep much of the output vinyl only? And how do you decide what will be pressed and what will be released digitally?
Kyle: Basically, the idea is to keep the main label running as a white label with the releases on it being vinyl only, then having the digital series to put out further releases. I’ve got the next five 12”s planned already, so I guess anything new I want to put out will go out digitally. I will also use it for newer people who I feel should have a release but maybe aren’t established enough for a 12 inch release.
SynthGlasgow: Aren’t established enough in terms of sound quality? A lot of digital series labels tend to push out music that isn’t as good as their main vinyl releases.
Kyle: There’s not a difference in quality in my eyes, or ears. Digital is a good way of getting stuff out quickly. I don’t really want to have to wait for a long time to get new stuff out there; I can wait longer with current artists and use the time to generate more interest. It’s harder to do that with new talent.
SynthGlasgow: Has it been hard launching and managing a label? What challenges have you come across on the way?
Kyle: I think the hardest part was generating the initial capital for the set-up costs and first few releases. I was still at university when I started, so I basically put all my SAAS into it. I was quite fortunate to get a distribution connection pretty much as soon as the label started, which without I think I would have struggled.
SynthGlasgow: What tips would you give to anyone who wants to start a record label?
Kyle: I guess just read up on the basics and have a decent understanding of the actual process of releasing a record. Studying music business for 3 years helped me a lot, but I still didn’t really have any idea what I was doing when I started - not really sure I do now!
West End Communications feature at FLY this Sunday (18th) at the Sub Club, with Kyle WEC, Unknown Artist, Perth Drug Legend and The Burrell Connection. Advance tickets are available from Resident Advisor priced at £5.