Martyn Flyn of LuckyMe
Seven years ago, a collective of young artists and music enthusiasts got together in Glasgow’s Stereo and conceived what was going to be one of the most innovative and prolific independent record labels of the decade. LuckyMe’s success has grown from year to year since its birth: its artists producing some of the most exciting and experimental sounds in modern music; its creative direction camp piecing these sounds together and portraying them to the public through distinctive visual arts projects and collaborations.
Martyn, one of two managing directors of LuckyMe, took some time out to have a chat with The Reference Council about the label’s roots, its current operations and plans for the future. We met in a small coffee bar, tucked away in a busy corner of Edinburgh city. It was a day before the Scottish Independence Referendum and the underlying atmosphere seemed to suitably contextualise the fact that I was about to interview the label head of one of Scotland’s biggest, most internationally successful musical collectives to date.
LuckyMe began with an obsession with music, an admiration for “records and labels, the whole culture that related to these independent, nineties hip-hop movements,” with big labels like Warp and Stones Throw being obvious influences. However, it was the smaller labels like Fondle ‘Em Records which proved to be the cornetstone of the LuckyMe set-up. It was “Dolo and Guesswhyld – nerdy hip hop stuff but it was what I was most into at the time!”
“All of a sudden it sort of seemed as if you could to it too.” And at a time when Martyn and Dominic were involved with music themselves, involved with peers who made music – everyone immersed within the cultural entanglements of Glasgow and Edinburgh, they simply found themselves asking “What do you do with all this music?”
You gather a group of talented friends, watch them grow as artists and release their material. The A&R behind LuckyMe has always been based more on mutual relations and friendships, than it has been on sporadic demos from strangers like your old pal Soundcloud User-980666. As Martyn explains, “it makes it a lot easier when you know your artists as people; when you know you have things in common to share and talk about. We don’t have a big mission statement or anything like that, but the label’s about everyone sharing different ideas and interests in things.” Although the label’s artistic calibre has stretched a little over the borders of the UK to the likes of Norway and Canada, Martyn and Dominic still remain very close to all of their artists and their work, altogether fortifying the idea of a LuckyMe family.
In terms of creative control, the label’s artists are encouraged to develop and revel in differences of sound. “Obviously we come from a hip-hop root,” and it’s very clear when listening to artists like Lunice, TNGHT and Baauer; but the label is more than a genre, it’s an amalgamation the interests and tastes of the label’s heads and members: “I don’t want people looking at us and just assuming it’s one sound…in fact, some people have got into us because they’ve been big into HudMo or Lunice, other people from Jacques Greene, then some through Mike Slott and Claude Speeed. It’s all a development of what’s been going on…It’s a broader space we’re in”
2014 has been a big year so far for LuckyMe, with releases such as the Wedding Bells EP by new addition Cashmere Cat, S-Type’s Rosario EP and Claude Speeed’s collosal, symphonic debut album My Skeleton. And the winter months are only going to prove even more fruitful. A lot of information and dates are currently being kept under wraps, but Martyn did hint at a forthcoming release from Joseph Marinetti and two definite new additions to the LuckyMe family for 2015. As for the annual LuckyMe Advent Calendar – a month-long event where each day of December leading up to Christmas is sound-tracked by a different LuckyMe artist – plans for this year’s festive countdown are go: “we’ve done it for about five years now and it’s a fun thing for us to do! It ends up being a lot of work but it’s great and people really appreciate it, we get a lot of good feedback for it too.”
And LuckyMe is renowned for having fun whether it’s through involving its listeners in the annual advent calendar, its organised parties and events, or through little in-jokes like 2013’s riddle of DJ Yolo Bear. “You know, it was funny for us and I don’t think anyone took it too seriously…and I mean, I’m sure that there’re people out there who sometimes hate when we do things like this, and that’s fine. I like when people have fun with these things. You know, I like club records, and there’s always exciting things in that world, especially with Djing. And with rap music – that’s a culture – that’s been going on for ages, people have been making chop ’n ’screw for years! I think if you’re respectful of all that then you should be able to have fun.”
What began as a group of people sharing ideas and interests, has become one of the most successful independent labels of today in the development and production of experimental, genre-blurring music. The humility of its beginnings still echo throughout the label’s proceedings, with the core still remaining at a few who continue to be engrossed in the world of music. From organising A&R, to dealing with the manufacturing and distribution of records, and organising parties in venues across the globe, the label’s day-to-day processions seem to be non-stop. But as Martyn explains, “you have to work on these things and make your own opportunities…we are lucky at that but we’ve also worked hard to get that way. The harder you work, the luckier you get.”