A recently launched new feature where we hand over the playlist keys to the people who we think are good.


If you’re new to Mates With Taste, here’s the background.

Each week we hand over the keys of our Apple Music curator page to one of our favourite super independent labels.

We’ve asked a bunch of them to put together a guest playlist. It’s not just of artists who’ve released via the label but also selections that represent the sounds (current or historic) that the label is into.

Already we’ve had guest spots from Sheffield cassette label Tye Die Tapes and a classic rock extravaganza from California’s mighty Burger Records.

This time out is London-based label Tough Love. It was started in 2005 by Stephen Pietrzykowski, and has, over the years, put out releases from the likes of HEALTH, FairOhs, Let’s Wrestle, Male Bonding, Spectrals and Becoming Real. Now more recently, with over 100 releases under their belt, they’ve been putting out music from Weird Dreams, David West, Girls Names and Yung.

Over to Stephen to explain:

“In truth, the first release probably existed before the idea of starting a label did. Such are the necessities of boredom, or stupidity. That wrong-way-round approach was not just coincidental, it also became didactic – in those early days, we mostly learned what to do after doing it.

“I now run it by myself – all of it, top to bottom – and rely heavily on the generosity of strange people. If there’s anything about Tough Love you think amateurish or that could be improved, be forgiving, because I’m only one person. Tough Love is all my successes and mistakes as one. Apart from the music – that’s all someone else’s. Read that whatever way you wish. That’s hardly impressive, but it’s at least a spirit that has been shared by a good few others in music down the years. And somehow probably always will be.

“That’s a neat lead-in to talk about the playlist – it’s half a selection of relatively recent songs that have been released on Tough Love, and half a selection of relatively recent songs that could be on Tough Love were the world different. But it’s not, and I’m happy enough with it being that way. You can’t release everything.”