EXCLUSIVE: 5 MINUTES WITH TOM LEA
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  • Post published:20/05/2021
  • Post last modified:20/05/2021

The underground record label Local Action, is run by Tom Lea, home to DJ Q, Slackk, Jammz, Finn, D∆WN, T. Williams, Dread D, Yamaneko, Shriekin, Lil Jabba, Deadboy and more.

Here we catch up with multi-faceted founder and dj Tom, regarding the obstacles of running such a thriving dance label, with so many artists under his belt we don’t know how he does it quite frankly!

How did the record label start? What is the meaning behind the name? When did the record label begin?

Started in 2010. Phonica Records in London approached me about A&Ring a label with them, focusing on more underground UK stuff than the house-slash-techno-slash-disco that they’re known for. They funded the first few releases and I A&Red them, but then it reached a point where I felt too attached to it to really want someone other than me calling the shouts, and they kindly let me go solo with it. Also I started to really fucking hate techno around that time.

There’s no meaning behind the name, me and my friend Andy Musgrave from Crazylegs – who was then doing our artwork, and I now work with on a vaguely more professional management basic – picked two words at random from my housemate’s science book and bang.

What would you say are the biggest challenges in managing a label? Were there unexpected obstacles you ran into when you started?

See when I first started the label – the first thing I learnt was that you wanna make sure you’re getting the artists’ best music. Make sure you work with artists who prioritise you rather than ones who’ll give you second or third choice or the demos. I hit up a few established artists that I really loved (and still do!) when I first started the label, and they were down to do releases, but I quickly realised I wasn’t gonna get their A game. Made much more sense to work with T. Williams – who was our key artist for the first few years of the label – from the ground up, knowing I was always getting to release his best stuff. It’s much more rewarding and you release better music. I hate these labels that just fling out 12”s from whoever.

What have been your favourite releases so far on the label?

I dunno, there’s a lot. Lately I’ve been much more focused on the idea of signing artists rather than tracks. We’ll still continue to do one-off records from people who probably won’t release with the label again when it’s appropriate and interesting enough, but I’m less interested in that than I used to be. I think it’s more important to do something like we’ve done with Lil Jabba, where we’ve continued to support and champion someone who I think should be talked about as up there with the best, but who’s not sold a load of records or really sky-rocketed yet. We’ve got some of our biggest profile releases yet coming up, but the minute I stop wanting to develop young, weird geniuses who are fully on their own wave is the minute I’ve lost my edge.

Where do you feel the label going from now? Do you have personal goals looking forward towards the future of the label?

Fuck knows. We’ve got an album coming up which will be our highest profile – and probably best-selling – release yet, and that’s a big step for us, one I don’t take for granted. That’s a big focus at the moment, and then when that’s all done and good and out, we’ll see what happens.

In terms of personal goals, I wanna develop what we do live. It’s not my strong point – I’m someone who knows how to release records, not a promoter – but hopefully next year we can work with a few more external promoters and do bigger events. The first summer I had Local Action I watched our first 12” get rinsed at Sonar, and I’m not going back until we’ve done a stage there.


The music world can be daunting. What advice would you give those that are looking to make their own big break?

Do it your way, be honest, always think about why you’re doing stuff, and question shit – whether it’s contractual, or just in terms of things you’re told are done a certain way. The best people, whether it’s producers, managers, or what, are people who infiltrate the industry on their own terms. Be suspicious of people but don’t be stush for the sake of it – the best thing about making and releasing music is that you’ll also make some of your best friends out of it.

What can we expect from the label for the rest of 2016?

Albums.

Local Action Records
D∆WN – REDEMPTION [Out Nov 18]

Checkout Local Action Records latest releases here.

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