Label Profile: The home of Justice, Metronomy and Kap Bambino

Illustration by Eleanor Dunk

Label Profile: The home of Justice, Metronomy and Kap Bambino

Oh shit, we√¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢ve been found out. All of us! Quick, hide your shoegaze t-shirts; discard your nu-goth satchel; dump your limited screamo 7√¢‚Ǩ¬ùs. Now Wikipedia Metronomy, Justice, Uffie, Kap Bambino and all other Because bands; this French label is on to our British slackness. √¢‚Ǩ≈ìThe journalists tend to be a lot more read up on the artists,√¢‚Ǩ¬ù exposes Jane Third, head of Because Music UK. √¢‚Ǩ≈ìY√¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢know, they spend a bit more time with it than here. And also over there people are far less scene driven √¢‚Ǩ” it√¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s far more song driven.√¢‚Ǩ¬ù
Jane herself isn’t a Parisian sent to London to panic us shallow, scene-lusters, but a Brit herself, sharing her noted differences between music here and on the other side of the Channel. More than qualified to uncover just how comparatively under-researched the UK media is, Jane spends nearly as much time commuting to the French capital as most of us do on the tube around town.

√¢‚Ǩ≈ìThere√¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s good sides and bad sides on both,√¢‚Ǩ¬ù she continues. √¢‚Ǩ≈ìThe French music scene is really progressive on the electronic side of things, and always has been, but when it comes to bands and √¢‚ǨÀúindie√¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢, they√¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢re a little bit behind us in the UK. They like The Strokes and White Stripes and garage, whereas that√¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s died a bit over here. It√¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s a grass is greener thing √¢‚Ǩ” we think Paris is amazing and Parisians think that London is.√¢‚Ǩ¬ù

Founded by one-time head of Virgin/EMI Europe and UK, Emmanuel DeBuretel, Because Music is like few other labels that are completely independent. With the exception of Beggars Banquet, its size is unheard of, with headquarters in Paris and a London office in an unassuming converted townhouse in Notting Hill. In reception, a four feet high picture of Bob Marley hangs, presumably owned by the publishing company on the top floor of the building; a boutique operation owned by Chris Blackwell, founder of Island Records and continuing publisher to U2.

Similarly, Because Music UK √¢‚Ǩ” situated on the ground floor of the grand, white building √¢‚Ǩ” is a small operation with big ideas, continuing DeBuretel√¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s mission to support the underdog and help smaller labels compete on an international scale. √¢‚Ǩ≈ìWhen you√¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢re an indie, licensing music in other countries is really admin heavy and difficult,√¢‚Ǩ¬ù says Jane √¢‚Ǩ≈ìand so [Emmanuel] took The Label System model √¢‚Ǩ” an international headquarters for indie labels, which he√¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢d set up √¢‚Ǩ” and started Because.√¢‚Ǩ¬ù

Today, this Label System that Jane speaks of is perhaps best illustrated by Co-Operative Music √¢‚Ǩ” an umbrella group to Wichita, V2, Moshi Moshi, Dance To The Radio and more √¢‚Ǩ” but as Because started 6 years ago, DeBuretel proved his model effective by supporting Ed Banger Records to begin with, allowing Busy P√¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s small label to snowball as Justice especially turned indie kids into dance heads all over Europe. And it√¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s exactly how Jane got involved, releasing the likes of Twisted Charm, Kap Bambino and New Young Pony Club on her own label, Alt. Delete, with the helping hand of the label she now heads.
The UK arm of the label is also stretching out since signing Metronomy last year to push Because UK on from being a promotional outlet to a fully formed team of producers. Kap Bambino have recently signed for a full album deal also, much to the excitement of Jane and her handful of staff (in reality it√¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s even less than a handful) who will no longer simply market a fully formed product but oversee it√¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s creation from beginning to end, such are the joys of not working for a major label. Ah, yes, major labels, they always have to be discussed when in the presence of indies, but Jane√¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s been there, done that, almost quit music altogether as a result. Those were the frustrating days before she found an ally in DeBuretel, with whom a simple philosophy is shared √¢‚Ǩ” √¢‚Ǩ≈ìrespect all music√¢‚Ǩ¬ù.
“Our roster is really international,” enthuses Jane. “We wouldn’t say World Music, because that isn’t a good term I don’t think. We have French artists, Spanish artists, Swedish artists, artists from Mali, and we like to give them all a fair chance internationally. Metronomy are doing really well in different countries because we’ve put a lot of work into that, so we think of ourselves as an internationally minded indie.”
It√¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s the deals that really set Because apart though; showing confidence in their signings more than the snatch-happy 360 agreements (within which labels expect 10 percent of everything √¢‚Ǩ” live ticket sales, merch revenue etc √¢‚Ǩ” without putting anything in themselves) found at most record companies.

“We usually sign complete deals, but all elements are negotiable,” explains Jane. “But if a band come with us on the live side, we invest in that side of things like we do the records. That’s how we’ve managed to get all of these expensive rigs for Justice shows. That obviously lost a lot of money in the beginning but it was an investment.”

So it’s Because that we need to thank for that giant flashing crucifix and the 10-metre high walls of amps either side of Gaspard Augé and Xavier de Rosnay. And, equally, it’s the label’s support that’s meant Kap Bambino’s first ever video shoot was shot on the James Bond set, with the duo flying about on wires. Metronomy could probably even claim back those pound shop lights if they’ve kept the receipts, and where else Because Music and their bands can go is anybody’s guess. Don’t ask us, we’ve got homework to do whilst weeping over a smouldering pile of Nu Rave memorabilia.


Originally published in Loud And Quiet issue 3 (Vol. 3). February 2009

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