2014 marked a triumphant milestone for Transgressive music. 10 years ago two music obsessives Tim Dellow and Toby L, both 19 years old, were introduced at a small London gig, by Kele from Bloc Party. Tim was obsessing over bands, running a fanzine and releasing Bloc Party’s debut single, Toby was running reputable website rockfeedback.com, which he set up aged 15 from his bedroom, whilst making shows for MTV and – promoting a Bloc Party gig. One thing led to another and within two months the newly befriended duo had set up their indie label Transgressive Records, on a shoestring, from their respective bedrooms.
They worked out how a label works. They signed some good music. They proved themselves to be passionate, clever, and likeable. Seymour Stein, music industry figurehead who famously founded Sire Records and the Billboard chart, discovering the likes of Madonna, Talking Heads and The Ramones in the process, heard about the talented duo and invited them to New York. A baptism of fire for the two teenagers who found themselves being plied with alcohol to the point they were both throwing up at the end of night one, wondering what had happened, lost on the streets of the Big Apple. Stein became an early mentor for the boys and remains in regular contact.
Fast forward 10 years, now at the grand old age of 29, Tim Dellow and Toby L still own the same record label, now with a third partner, Lilas Bourboulon – who joined as an employee of the company in 2006. Things are different now, though. They have added a management company, a publishing company and most recently Tim and Toby have become Founding Partners and joint Creative Directors of LoveLive, the TV production and digital media company responsible for live streaming Rihanna’s infamous 777 tour, as well as filming Eminem, Madonna, Adele, and beyond.
There seems to be no stopping them. Between the three of them they have signed and worked with diverse artists including Foals, Flume, At The Drive-In, Two Door Cinema Club, Graham Coxon, Regina Spektor, The Shins, The Antlers, Neon Indian, Africa Express, Noisettes, Iron & Wine, Johnny Flynn, plus many more.
At a time where classically independent record labels have struggled and become shrouded in gloom, their independent company has scored chart success around the globe, received three Mercury Prize nominations in nine years and accumulatively sold millions of records worldwide. How so? They say their philosophy is simple: the Transgressive brand marks a stamp of quality, no matter what the genre; old-school ethics with a pro-artist policy, always aiming to surprise.
To mark the 10th anniversary, the music group hosted stages, events and parties across the UK and Internationally, spread throughout 2014, including huge sold out shows at the Barbican and Bethnal Green Working Men's Club, featuring acts from across the roster.
‘Transgressive, and its spin-offs, represent a community of celebration, adventure and surprise. The only consistent theme musically is Transgressive representing a badge of quality – Flume to Marika Hackman to Pulled Apart by Horses to Johnny Flynn to Foals to Graham Coxon to Africa Express… is quite a trip. We endeavour to take risks and support outsiders whilst still competing on a mainstream level.’ Toby L, April 2014
Transgressive is based in East London.