Behind The Label Extended: Black Butter
Nardene Scott goes behind the label with the unstoppable Black Butter...
Above: Black Butter’s Gorgon City
Over the last few years the power has shifted across the musical landscape, where major labels once dominated, there has been a fresh injection into the UK music scene of music lovers releasing artists they love independently. Not because they were ticking boxes to send their artists straight into the Top 10 but because they were passionate about the music and wanted to take control of a scene without it being watered down and multiplied by the majors. Nardene Scott hears how Black Butter, PMR Records, LuckyMe and Butterz are spreading their sounds far and wide and what it took to get to this point.
Words by Nardene Scott (@NardeneScott)
We’ve literally featured everybody on the Black Butter roster, Rudimental, Gorgon City, Clean Bandit, Kidnap Kid, etc. so it was only right that we spoke to one third of the brains behind the increasingly important music label Olly Wood about their meteoric rise.
I was working with Rack N Ruin… he suggested I meet his mate Henry, and we hit on the idea of starting a new label because the others were genre specific and also had another mate called Joe. We had £5000, Rack N Ruin was the first artist to release via the label, Jessie Ware did the vocals on that track, a couple of releases after that, we signed some of Rudimental’s music, (they were Henry’s mates) and we were focusing on the management side of things, and then we got Feel The Love and all of our lives changed.
It was important… to get a strong brand from the off. The simplicity of the Black Butter name happened to be staring at us one day when I opened my fridge and then the two BBs; maybe the secret of a logo is no matter what size it is, you’re gonna recognise it. What we did really is employ radio pluggers because there wasn’t a direct scene to tap into; still to this day we put all of the money back into promoting. So with the management company, publishing company and on the whole, the record label is an advert for the acts, and adverts cost money, so we breathe a sigh of relief if we get that money back.
“Even though it was only four years ago, back then the majors were all asleep at the wheel, they didn’t have a clue that the tide was changing and I think that we were just perfectly positioned.” Black Butter – Olly Wood
The other one that put us on the map… was the Ho Riddim. We got Swerve to remix it and Henry got P Money on it and it turned into that anthem. Even though it was only four years ago, back then the majors were all asleep at the wheel, they didn’t have a clue that the tide was changing and I think that we were just perfectly positioned. Every time the labels have got involved in any underground scene, it’s like 6-12 months before they destroy it. You can see it coming, untalented people are starting to be promoted heavily and that is the beginning of the end. It’s when they think there’s a formula that it’s becoming calculated rather than artistic. I guess our mantra is that we just keep it about the music.
The commercial stuff isn’t important… the thing about brands is they all say we don’t have any money. Not to tell you how to do your job but if you want a cool artist to make your brand cooler, you should have a budget. I don’t know why the attitude is music should be free or the artist is the least person to be recompensed for their craft. There might be a few brands that have got their hearts in the right place but I doubt it.
It took something my dad said to me… (laughs) when we had the demo and we knew it was gonna be big. I was like, ‘Dad, abundance is coming’ and he was like, ‘Oh, you do talk a lot of boll**ks’ and then it went number one, I was like, ‘In your face!’ He went, ‘Well, it did take you 12 years though, didn’t it?’ Immediately, I was like oh yeah, so my advice to anybody out there is if you can’t face the idea of doing it for twelve years without any recognition, do something else. I don’t think everybody is built for it; they’ve got to be up for taking risks and have ridiculous passion, like, the idea of doing anything else hurts.