Interview Happy 10th Birthday, Chess Club!

With the influential London record label celebrating a decade of existence, we got some familiar faces - old and new - together for a trip down memory lane.

Pick up virtually any copy of DIY from over the years, and the likelihood is that, having a casual flick through, you’ll likely come across a current signee or alumni of West London record label Chess Club within minutes. With a reputation for catching onto the next big thing yonks ahead of anyone else, Chess Club are responsible for launching DIY cover stars like Mumford & Sons, Jungle and Wolf Alice at the very beginning, and they’ve also helped some of our faves - from MØ to Sundara Karma - release their debut albums. With a hugely eclectic roster that pays no attention to the constraints of traditional genres, the only real unifying factor across ten years of Chess Club is a sky-high bar when it comes to quality.

“I didn’t want Chess Club to be known as ‘the trance label’ or ‘the indie guitar label’,” explains founder Will Street, reflecting over the past decade. “Over ten years we’ve done lots of things, and I wanted us to be known for quality across the spectrum. I also never agree to work with people until I’ve been to the pub with them,” he adds. “You wanna be working with people you trust and respect, and that works both ways, for the label and artist.”

This focus on close-knit creative relationships is what sets Chess Club apart as a special bunch, agrees MØ, who is currently working on the follow-up to debut ‘No Mythologies To Follow’ alongside the label. “Very often, this whole music industry thing becomes so business, business, business, and money, all that shit,” she explains. “I remember I was in shock, because they didn’t want to change me,” MØ laughs. “I was like, mmm, this can’t be right, this can’t be true! You always hear horror stories about evil labels wanting to change you. But they were really into all my weird semi-artistic shit!”

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