Pop fans Jack Shankly and Sahil Varma are the resourceful creators and curators behind emerging record label Transparent.
Describing their taste in music as “anything that’s brave enough to be really sincere and sad and beautiful, brave enough to be completely obnoxious, brave enough to be totally ridiculous and extravagant”, Transparent are one of the world’s leading blog based music labels. Boasting an impressive roster of signings including today’s most popular artists and bands, this fanzine-turned-club night, now record label, is run by long-time friends Jack and Sahil. Finding their most popular talents through endless trawling of band camp and Myspace pages, Transparent was created to offer a platform for artists who needed a leg up, to get their music circulated more widely. Carving a small niche, all of the label’s signings share a more commercial, pop-inspired aesthetic. Be the sound skewed, damaged, warped or cut, the label present a dedicated front and feel-good ethos. Currently representing breaking bands Yuck, Lonely Galaxy, How To Dress Well, Smith Westerns, Active Child and Weekend, these are two unlikely heroes with their finger on the beat.
i-D Online caught up with the influencers of tomorrow to find out what we should all be listening to today.
How do you define good music?
Sahil: It’s such a difficult thing to put your finger on but we’re suckers for a good melody. We’re pop music fans in principle and so if a song has a killer melody it doesn’t matter if it’s drenched in reverb and distortion or the biggest pop production in the world, we’ll invariably dig it.
Who are your strongest musical influences and references?
Jack: I’d say our strongest influences and references in terms of what we do as a label are actually probably our contemporary ones. All the artists we work with are inspiring, interesting, brilliantly weird people striving for great things and it’s a real buzz to be surrounded by that kind of ambition and love. A lot of friends of ours have great labels themselves and their successes spur us on to keep making records that people can enjoy and be excited by.
What are some of the barriers you have encountered whilst establishing your label?
J: We didn’t encounter too many barriers really. When we first started I think we were apprehensive about the logistical aspects of running a label and, whilst there were some headaches along the way, we actually found it quite achievable with a little organisation and determination. For the most part we found people incredibly receptive and warm to what we were doing, which has been great.
S: You need be completely committed to the music you’re putting out because there will be moments that test you and it’s easy to give up if you don’t fully believe and take pride in what you’re releasing. The end result of all the hard work is incredibly rewarding.
What are your plans for expansion?
J: The plan is to keep doing more of the same really. We both have other jobs in music that take up a lot of time and Transparent has always been intended as more of a labour of love or a hobby (albeit one we care about a lot) as opposed to a full time gig. So we’re just going to keep trying to find inspiring artists to work with and help and keep putting out limited edition records we can be proud of.
What are some of the up and coming D-i-Y record labels you tip for 2011?
J: Some of our favourite labels include: True Panther Sounds, Merok, Tri Angle, Olde English Spelling Bee, Underwater Peoples, Acephale and Forest Family. All are entities run by amazing people for all the right reasons. Totally inspirational!
How do describe the aesthetic and ethos of the label?
J: “Do it big and let the rest fall under that” – Lil Wayne.