Meet Your Stage Programmers: Young Turks
24 January 2012
We’re super happy to be collaborating with one of our favourite labels, British indie Young Turks, on the 2012 festival.
Young Turks founder Caius Pawson has been working with our own Danny Rogers on an electronic Young Turks stage for the Australian events that promises to be something pretty darn special.
Although the label is five years old, Young Turks started out seven years ago, as a series of club nights in London organised by then 18-year-old Caius Pawson. The freeform, genre-hopping parties soon became the stuff of legend, growing to take over whole warehouses, then whole buildings.
One night, during a particularly large party at an abandoned building in East London, the police turned up and put an end to the festivities. But it wasn’t all bad: among the crowd that night was Richard Russell, owner of XL Recordings.
‘He was like, “Well, I suppose you need a job now,”’ Pawson told The Guardian. ‘That's kind of how the record label started.’
The label that came to be known as Young Turks became part of the XL stable, with Pawson also doing A&R for XL (Pawson signed Tyler, The Creator earlier this year). From their first release –– singer-songwriter Jack Peñate’s first single, Second, Minute or Hour –– Young Turks eschewed a uniform label sound in place of a steady stream of innovative, genre-defying releases, quickly becoming a label you could rely on for quality new music.
‘It's not confined by genre, but hopefully there's a link of innovation and just trying to do something in a certain way, which I can't really put my finger on,’ Pawson says. ‘I mean, I never had any set mission statement, except just to do things that I liked and thought was good.’
It’s served him pretty well so far. After early releases by El Guincho, Kid Harpoon and 2011 festival favourites Holy Fuck, the label struck it big in 2009 with The xx’s all-conquering, Mercury Prize-winning debut lp, xx.
‘The xx is a definite highlight, but you learn as much on the smaller records as you do on the larger ones,’ Pawson says.
Young Turks have now put out more than fifty releases, putting together a thrillingly diverse catalogue that features a heap of our favourite records from the last few years: Glasser’s mesmerising debut 12”, Tremel; SBTRKT’s incredible, self-titled debut lp; John Talabot’s pop-house gem Families; and great singles from Wavves and Gang Gang Dance, just to name a few.
More is on the way, too: Chairlift’s hugely anticipated new album, Something, has just come out, and this year should hopefully see a new xx lp.
For Pawson, Young Turks is about working with artists he loves, and respecting their vision. ‘What we tend to do is work with artists who already know what they want to do, or we give them time to figure it out,’ he says. ‘We just kind of accentuate what they're doing already.’
Exclusive Download: John Talabot (feat. Glasser): Families (JT's Sooner Version)
Three Key Releases
The xx – xx
After seeing one of the The xx’s early shows, Pawson offered the young band –– then fresh out of high school –– a room to rehearse and record. These nocturnal sessions produced many of the songs that made up The xx’s phenomenally successful debut lp, xx, which went on to reach #3 on the UK charts, and propelled the band into some pretty rarefied heights.
While the band continues to work on their sophomore lp, Jamie xx has kept himself busy with a heap of projects, including a fine collaboration with the late, great Gil Scott-Herren, which came out through XL/Young Turks last year.
El Guincho: Alegranza
Alegranza, the second album from space-age exotica purveyor El Guincho, aka Spanish producer Pablo Dias-Reixa, was a revelation: a meticulously constructed, decidedly other-worldly electronic pop record that managed the feat of sounding at once strangely familiar and almost entirely new.
Combining spectral harmonies with ecstatic chanting (entirely in Spanish) and tribal drums, Diaz-Reixa created his own sunny, wonderfully warped landscape, the whole thing held together by his immaculate sense of rhythm and timing. Watch the clip for 'Palmitos Park' at right.
SBTRKT – SBTRKT
After releasing a steady stream of remixes and his own instrumental tracks, SBTRKT, aka London producer Aaron Jerome, last year released his amazing, self-titled debut lp to instant acclaim.
An inventive, intricately layered collection of electronica, SBTRKT’s debut drew heavily on rising UK soul singers Sampha and Jessie Ware, who, as Uncut wrote, ‘add just the right quantities of sugar and grit’, without ever distracting from Jerome’s impeccable, wide-ranging production. One of our favourites of 2011.