Having released original music on labels like Jeudi Records, Culprit, and Blue Shadow in the past, Bambook turned his previous success into a record label of his own towards the end of 2020.
The Swedish-based Ya Hala Ya Hala imprint has since released music from names such as DC Salas, Genish, Autrakic, and Bambook himself, and they have some big things coming down the pipeline for 2022.
We recently had a chat with Bambook for the latest edition of Label Mates, where we got to ask him about launching a label in the middle of a pandemic, how much he values things like the visual identity of the label, what we can expect to hear on Ya Hala Ya Hala in the coming months, and more. Get the full discussion below.
You launched Ya Hala Ya Hala towards the end of 2020, what were some of the biggest challenges you faced in the very beginning?
I’m a person with very a strong sense for visuals, which means it either looks 100% or it’s a no! So, imagine the struggle I went through until I felt this is it, this is how the label branding should be seen and presented.
Don’t get me wrong, I had the name and I could see visual language ideas in my head, which is great, but to execute it on the same level as your own imagination requires accuracy and creativity. Visual exposition is crucial in the music industry, if you nail it (for yourself at least) it will be felt by those who know and have an appreciation for the arts. The label logo is a woodcut (linocut) design.
Secondly, I had been working hard for almost the whole of 2019, putting everything together so I could launch the label in November 2019. I had developed a release schedule for the next 6 months and had several label nights lined up in different cities across Europe, then COVID hit.
I don’t think I need to explain the level of frustration I felt, like so many others in the music industry, so let’s just leave it here. But one thing is for sure, my desire to run my own independent record label was so strong that it kept me going through these unprecedented times.
And you’ve since released six different EPs from names like DC Salas, Inigo Vontire, Genish, and Autarkic, what is your typical process when it comes to signing new music?
I work from the heart, which gives me the ability to enjoy the process of communicating with artists who I adore and respect. I present my vision for the label to those I’m interested in working with, if they see it, value it, and understand it, then they usually want to be a part of it.
I don’t look at high-profile artists as hard to get, or at up & coming artists as undeserving to invest in. The music is the only thing that counts in signing music on Ya Hala Ya Hala. I also receive demos weekly and I must say I listen to all the demos and if the sound fits what I’m looking for, then I sign it.
And who else might we expect to see on the label over the next few months?
Our release schedule continues to bring different styles to the scene, covering a wide range of genres and artists. This autumn we are happy to welcome the ever-talented Doctor Dru for a 2-track EP titled ‘Trip To Bianya’.
At the beginning of 2022, Adana Twins and Marvin & Guy will be gracing the label with remixes for Moo Moonster’s second release on the label, titled ‘Space Phantasy’. Genish will also be back on the label with a collaboration with New York-based indie band Radiant Reveries, so watch out for that! I have more music signed but I think that’s enough info for now, I don’t want to spoil all the fun!
The artwork on the label is pretty unique, and very high quality, you mentioned earlier that this is something that’s important to you?
Music and artwork go hand in hand and are inseparable when it comes to the end product and its success. Cheap meaningless graphics are a turn off, and decrease the chances of people listening to the music.
Good quality music needs artwork with the same degree of quality, so once you look at the cover you can immediately tell – this is going to be good! I have been fortunate enough to work with the unique talents of Virginie Chemla, whose work is just magnificent in every way.
The process of creating artwork is quite the ceremony – I send the music to Virginie with a little note of any ideas I have with the artist. After that, she starts to paint on the spot while listening to the release, transforming it from audio, into a physical and visual language, that speaks on behalf of the music.
There are quite a lot of roles to fulfill within a label, from organizing contracts to getting tracks mastered, what is one of the hardest things about running a label that most people might not be aware of?
I fulfill all the roles you mentioned above and more, one of the hardest things about running a label is coordinating everything around each release, so it can be done on time. That requires a lot of follow-ups and consistent communication with all parties involved, to meet the target deadline.
And what is one thing you enjoy about running a label?
To start with, EVERYTHING! But if you insist on one thing then it has to be working closely with the artists. I’m a motivator, and know how to identify the artist’s needs and expectations, to get them inspired and to thrive. I like to involve the artist in all facets related to their release, so together we can achieve the best possible product for a diverse audience.
I also enjoy being part of a label team of 3 people, where we work around the clock to make sure things are running accordingly. Francesco Bertelli handles the mixing and mastering side of things, Virginie Chemla is responsible for the artwork and graphics, and I’m in charge of the overall management and operation of the label.
Do you have a favorite label, besides Ya Hala Ya Hala of course?
I have many labels I listen to often and anticipate what they are going to release next. To mention a few; Phantasy, Multi Culti, Habibi Funk, Hard Fist, and Life and Death.
What is your vision for the label five years from now?
To steadily transform into one of Europe’s (or even the world’s) most diverse and artistically ambitious small labels. To have worldwide label showcases, where I can provide a platform for the label’s artists to perform and expand their reach on a global level.
We have also started a project at the intersection of art, fashion, and music, designing wearable art by essentially turning our in-house artist Virgine Chemla’s pieces into a clothing line. The idea is to use the label artwork and paintings as prints for caftans, ponchos, and scarfs.
And one piece of advice you would give to someone that’s just about to launch their own imprint?
Have a vision and stick to it no matter what!
Doctor Dru – Trip To Bianya EP is out November 26th on Ya Hala Ya Hala.