"The city is pretty on fire for new music"
It’s difficult to pin down why Richard Russell is famous. Ask someone who, like him, came of age in the late ’80s and they might remind you that he was one half of Kicks Like A Mule, the rave one-hit wonders whose track ‘The Bouncer’ – with its “your name’s not down, you’re not coming in” catchphrase – crash landed in the top ten in 1992, leaving Russell briefly as one of the poster boys for a scene that was deemed by John Major’s Conservative government as the most dangerous since punk.
Somebody else a little younger might point to his position as head of XL Recordings, which Russell took over in 1993 and transformed from a fairly unremarkable dance label putting out disposable 12-inches with titles like ‘Energy Dawn’ into an admirably broad church that foreshadowed modern-day post-genre musical appetites: under Russell’s stewardship, XL broke acts as diverse as The White Stripes and Dizzee Rascal, MIA and Badly Drawn Boy, Vampire Weekend and Basement Jaxx. It wasn’t all cult favourites, either: after hearing a demo on MySpace in 2006, Russell also had the foresight to phone a then-unknown singer called Adele Adkins. Ten years on, two of the most popular albums of all time have an XL logo on the back.