Label Love: LoAF

Lots of 'L's this week in Label Love with LoAF. Lovely.

Posted on May 20th, 2011 in Features and Interviews, GaBLé, Lo / By Peter Clark
Label Love: LoAF For many many years now, LoAF Recordings have been putting out a number of high quality records from some of our favourite artists, most notably the new record from GaBLé (review here) which inspired us to catch up with the boss himself, no, not quite Bruce Springsteen, but label owner Udi Radomsky, to try and unravel the intricate web he weaves.

Hello. Firstly, who are you and what do you do?
I’m Udi and I’m the founder and manager of LOAF Recordings.

Where does the name LoAF come from?
LOAF stands for Lo Alternative Frequencies.

How did the label start out?
I joined the Lo Recordings team about six years ago. At the time we had an abundant of really great demos that we were nuts about, so we decided to launch another arm of Lo Recordings to promote it with special limited editions with strong visual identity. We contacted our designers, Non-Format, with a brief to have a series of releases (mainly EPs) as small quantity CD-Rs that can sit well in your vinyl rack. The result can be seen here.
The first year was a bit mental where we set ourselves with a task of releasing an EP every month. Looking back now, I can see it was a bit too ambitious but I’m very proud of all the EPs we’ve released at that time and I think we got quite a lot of cred and respect for the music and packaging.

How does the average day/week pan out for you?
I run the label with my good friend and colleague Vincent Oliver. Vincent deals with the design/online business and I deal with admin and marketing (the boring stuff). It usually involves meeting with artists, PRs and a lot of admin. Actually, more admin then everything else. To put a release out takes a long time these days and we take our job very seriously to make sure that all of our catalogue is registered correctly and promoted properly. I think that’s the basics of our work, although not very glamorous. We pride ourselves as being a ‘no-frills’ label on the operations front.


How has your job changed since you started?
I guess the main change is that we work longer campaigns than before. When we sign an artist we come up with a plan for the next 12 months and try to keep the project alive as long as we can after the release. Our lead time between signing and release has gradually increased due to this.

Why is the label split into three sub labels? (Lo/LoAF/LoEB)
Good question, I think its more how things panned out rather than a clear-cut logical decision. Lo was founded 16 years ago by Jon Tye and Gavin O’Shea. I was a big fan of the label when I joined and was delighted when asked to set up a new label. LOAF came about as an outlet for new music we liked but couldn’t place, a sort of a developing ground for new artists. After a year, we had a few artists we thought could make the move to full albums, so we did that. So far we released album by GaBLé, Omo, Vowels, Dark Captain Light Captain, Ben Butler & Mousepad, Charlie Alex March, The Present and Extra Life. You can listen to everything here.
LOEB is 12” only label and its another outlet for our musical output. It was born of aspiration to sell more 12”s but we were limited by our distribution network. So we set up LOEB and got that rolling.
I think I’m right when I speak from all four of us here is that we get a bit bored dealing with one form of music and we diversify our musical yield not out of choice but out of necessity.

In an ever changing world of music formats and distribution, how do/are you evolving and keeping current with the current scene, and where do you see the future of LoAF heading?
In my opinion what has changed is that we have to look at each release on its own term. We have seen an increase in demands for some product on vinyl, some releases do better on the download front and some sell well in CD. Today more than ever, we have to look into the small details and make our minds according to past performance and gut feeling. I personally feel that the actual music is what drives everything and the challenge is to find/estimate what format and distribution suits each release.

Dark Captain Light Captain

Are mediums such as The Explorer’s Club, which you co-released with Arctic Circle records, with special tracks and other goodies, a possibility of how LoAF may release/promote records in the future?
The Explorer’s Club was a lovely experiment for us. We were lucky enough to work with Ben Eshmade of the Arctic Circle who curated the whole thing and Pika Pika who gave the series its visual identity. It was a great experience and we’re very proud of what we’ve done but it was very much a time consuming work without much return, so we’re not sure if we’ll do it again at the same format. However, we’re open minded and when the right project will come along we’ll probably change our mind.

What do you look for in bands/artists to garner your time and interest?
Firstly, we need to like their music very much and make sure we get along with them as individuals. Vincent’s has a pretty offbeat sense of humour so if they past that hurdle, I would say they are in. They also need to be able to promote themselves and not be too shy about it.

Can you see a resurgence in independent record stores, or have things changed so much that there’s no going back?
We can see it. Our offices are very near Rough Trade East so we’re there quite often and its great to see people feeling out the store and buying stuff. I went to record store day last month and I couldn’t believe how rammed the shop was. As a heavy consumer of music, that makes me very happy.

What have been some of the highlights and lowlights of your time at the label?
Highlights will be seeing GaBLé playing with a 15 piece choir in Rennes and Caen. During the show I turned around to look at the audience and people were so moved, they had a tears of joy in their eyes (no joke). The Chap at the End of the Road festival, playing in front of 5,000 people and everyone was digging it, and our recent Christmas party, getting blown away by Nazca Lines first ever live show and probably our wildest party so far.
The low points will probably dealing with people we didn’t get along with. People who are more show than anything else. I’ll spare you the details.

It seems to come in waves, but the debate about music and internet downloading seems to be coming around again. Where do you stand on the issue? Is it killing the music scene? (It’s a big topic to generalise we know).
We are not too keen on people grabbing our music without paying for it, but on the other hand, we accept that it is possible and that's how people consume music at the moment. We spend a lot of effort on having nice packaging, from the actual design to the smallest detail such as paper stock and as a music consumer I think that makes a difference and encourages people to buy a product.
I also think that owning music is getting a bit obsolete and more people use Spotify and other streaming services to get their music fix without clogging their hard drive or record shelves. The ‘market’ is changing and that’s an exciting prospect.

Ben Butler & Mousepad

Where would you advise someone to begin when wanting to discover the music of LoAF?
Check out our new Domestic Pop Deux compilation. I’m very pleased with how it turned out, diverse but with a common thread to it. I also recommend the debut from Ben Butler & Mousepad and GaBLé which are probably are the most entertaining live show you’re going to see or your money back. And The Chap, you got to love The Chap.

Any advice for someone wanting to set up their own label?
Make sure you like the people you work with. I can’t stress that enough. If you don’t like them as people, there is little chance that you can pull it off. Try to spread a spirit of community with everything you do, get friends and family involved and don’t forget that you’re doing it for fun so when it stops to be fun – stop.

Do you carry an ethos or mantra?
Two words: Domestic Pop.