A healthy measure of respect can be offered to the boys who run CityBass. The promoter has maintained a portfolio of quality worldwide acts, a testament of what can be achieved when a group of innovative individuals work ceaselessly towards the common goal of showcasing pioneering music.
Having enjoyed a near-half decade building a steady reputation of headlining Cardiff’s vying night-scene, the group took natural steps to expand the family further with CityBass’ sister project: YCO Records, founded in 2013.
Since then, YCO have seen resounding success in the endeavour, with the white label vinyls hastily selling out. Fifth Quarter met up with one YCO affiliate, Ben Hunter, shortly before CityBass’ fourth birthday event, to talk over how YCO came about, the response it has experienced thus far, and where it is headed for the future.
FQ: Who are YCO, am I right in saying you’re made up of 4 people?
Ben: YCO is four of us mainly. City Bass and the whole YCO thing, it’s quite a collective thing you know, there’s quite a few of us that run CityBass, about 8 of us now. YCO is four of us, mainly. Myself, Joey Pearson and Chris Thomas run the label and then Alex Sullivan who’s in charge of all the art and design.
FQ: So does it gravitate around City Bass?
Ben: It’s all born out of CityBass, for sure. CityBass is the foundation definitely.
FQ: You had CityBass established, what made you decide to start YCO, what was your thinking behind “right a record label is our next move”?
Ben: It was pretty organic, and something we talked about for quite a long time. We wanted to put out some music, particularly vinyl as well. A big tune was made by our mate Brad, aka Blured, our first record – It’s Quite. It was something we were all into and it used to get played a lot at the parties.
FQ: That had a really great response didn't it.
Ben: Yeah definitely had a great reaction. When we had Luv*Jam in Undertone, I think Cayne - The Organ Grinder played it that night and Luv*Jam was absolutely vibe-ing off it. He was really into the tune, and was really up for remixing it. So that seemed like a really good starting point to launch the label. Get that tune out with a Luv*Jam remix.
FQ: Was it born from putting on those CityBass nights, having all these acts and thinking, “Why are these not represented well enough?”
Ben: Absolutely yeah. It was a want to put out music that we ourselves were really really into, music that might not have got out there otherwise.
FQ: So it was literally a case of “Right, we know all these producers and DJs; lets do something from it”?
Ben: Yeah definitely. The thing with CityBass is that it gave us a lot of links in terms of you know, people that come down to play for us. We end up being quite good friends with some of them, we stay in contact and get to know some really good, talented people.
For example, with the Deep Space Orchestra boys, we were just like, “Here’s the label, here’s one of our releases, wanna send us some tunes?" And they just said “Yeah” and sent us a couple of amazing tunes that were exactly what we were looking for. The DSO lads - Si and Chris as well as Coley, Luv*Jam and Brad Blured have all been really supportive of the label and what we’re trying to do.
FQ: You make it sound so easy.
Ben: It really was! It all just fell into place at the time.
FQ: Had you, or in fact anyone from YCO, any previous experience in labels - or is this your first ever dip in the pool for that?
Ben: Yeah absolutely. This is our first time doing this. It’s exciting, especially as we’ve all been involved in it from the other side as vinyl-buyers. We all spend a lot of money on vinyl, and have done for a long time. So you see it from that side and then to work from the other side has been really interesting.
FQ: I guess that response you had from your first pressing has been really reassuring then?
Ben: It was amazing. I mean it sold out in about 2 weeks. That was incredible, especially as we didn't really do a massive amount of promotion. You’ve got other bigger labels who might do stuff with magazines, they’ll build up a huge mailing list – but it was all word of mouth for the first record really. Which is for us as vinyl buyers, is often how we find out about tunes. It could just be a mate plays it at a party or says “check this tune out”. That’s how I think it sort of grew. It’s gotta be a good tune to get that word out of mouth.
FQ: It must have helped having that CityBass association, being able to play a potential release straight to your audience?
Ben: Absolutely - you’ve got room to really try things out. You can play it in the club, see how it goes down. You get a direct response from people. Does it make people dance? That’s what we’ll want to put out, something that makes people dance - whatever form that may take.
FQ: What are you planning to be your sort of long-term objective then - what do you hope to achieve with YCO?
Ben: We’ve never sat down and been like, "Right, what’s our five year plan”. At the moment it’s very much from release to release. We’ve got another two in the pipeline that are definite. So it’s about getting that stuff out and allowing it to grow - just following it a bit and seeing where it goes.
FQ: What does YCO actually stand for? Both the acronym and in business sense terms?
Ben: 'YCO’ literally comes from that HMS Jawside video. A few years ago when Chris and I were really into dubstep, I used to go on dubstep forum a lot, and that video was doing the rounds with the guy’s jaw swinging about all over the place with him saying every few second’s “Yes, come on!” and it just became this saying amongst people. I sort of just forgot about it, until years later my mate in Bristol just started shouting it all night. It's just one of those things that became this sort of shout of appreciation.
FQ: So that translates over to the music side then.
Ben: Yes exactly. People would shout it at CityBass, and in the current social media world, it got abbreviated to YCO. I suppose, in terms of business sense - it’s become our ethos. We want to put out tunes that make us feel like that, that make us want to say ‘Yes, come on’. But it’s all about fun really.
FQ: You’re putting out these white-label, limited run vinyls at the moment -
Ben: Yeah we’re all really strong believers in that vinyl format. Choosing to have YCO to just put out vinyl to begin with, was our first option. We were like “We're definitely putting out vinyl, how much does that cost, how many can we afford to do?”. As for the digital side, we asked ourselves that later. It’s not wanting to limit people having the music, if people want the music - give them the music.
FQ: Would it be something you’d think of moving to in the future?
Ben: It’s something we might do in the future yeah, a sort of compilation of our favourites would be good - with some extra remixes.
FQ: Is that a 2014 in the pipe-line plan?
Ben: I think 2014 is going to be concentrating on getting more releases out, primarily on vinyl. We want at least four solid releases out of this year. So heaps to look forward to for sure.
YCO will be proudly showcased in the Cardiff pop-up come late Spring. In the meantime, head over to the Fifth Quarter interview with Alex Sullivan, graphic designer and creator of the CityBass artwork.
Kakauwi ko lang. At sana pala di na lang ako pumasok! Haayss. Kase ganto, 8 am start ng design subject ko, hanggang 12:00 yun. At sa kasamaang palad, yung room namen, gagamitin pala sa orientation ng mga freshmen, ode mula 8 hanggang 12, nga nga. Tas next subject ko 3:30 pa! At saklap lang, naghintay kami hanggang 3:30, di naman pala papasok yung prof! Ang saya. At eto ang mga pictures kanina habang naghihintay sa wala. Maghapon si yco kakwentuhan ko. Ayun muntanga Hahahaha
After what seems to have taken forever (and I’m still not completely finished), my next mini comic, Princess, is finally nearing completion and I’m at the stage where I can start posting pages online. Hooray! From now and for the next 25 weeks there will be a new page posted each Wednesday alongside the regular comics and illustrations I normally post.
If you’d like a hard copy of the comic I’ll be getting a printed version made up for the middle of October that will include a few extras too like early sketches and possibly even the original 1,000 word story I wrote and adapted into this comic - I haven’t figured all that out yet! So look out for that but until then, I hope you enjoy the story of Princess.
When the Swedes defeated the Finns 3-2 in 2006 to win olympic gold, Gabriel Landeskog was just 14 years old, probably watching the gold medal game from his home in Stockholm, Sweden. It is every young hockey player’s dream to suit up for their country and help them win a gold medal.