Meeting WAHAM Records
Written by Jacob Cooper
WAHAM is York-based independent record label, supporting and releasing music for the finest alternative artists in the North. Since setting up, we’ve done a fair few interviews, describing exactly what it is that we do. However I thought for this article I thought I’d put a slightly different spin on things. Instead, I’ll be talking about how we got here and why now, more than ever, we thought that starting an independent record label would be a good thing to do. In September 2018, I moved into my University accommodation and met Aidan; he’d been in a band previously and, like myself, was a guitarist. After a few weeks, we started writing songs together that would eventually become fully realised through the band ‘Everything After Midnight’. During this time, I met both Tom and Andrew through studying together. Andrew was a guitarist and songwriter who’d previously produced and released music as BrunchBox, alongside friends from his hometown. Tom was a talented bassist who played with many bands throughout the time I got to know him. Over next year or so, we got to know each other well, working on different projects together, with Andrew eventually forming part of the line-up of ‘Everything After Midnight’.
Throughout 2019 and 2020, we all became well acquainted with the York music scene, seeing bands perform, playing at gigs and getting to know the people who work so hard to make everything run behind the scenes. It’s fair to say we all begun to love the sense of community within York’s music scene and it was great to a feel part ourselves. The work done in the past by Lucky Boy Records (run by Tom Gulliver) in supporting and sustaining independent artists in York was something that all of us greatly admired and respected. It was clear to see how much this meant to the Lucky Boy artists and there would definitely be a hole in the local music scene without it. In mid-2020, York saw its first singing to a major record label since Shed Seven in the early 1990s with a genuine talent in ‘Bull’. This was a really big deal for artists in York and showed that there was hope for future bands to come out of this small city. Not long after this, the four of us began chatting about the possibility of setting something up ourselves, a way of helping artists to develop with limited finances but good music! We came up with a plan for what we thought would work and applied for a grant. After 5 weeks of waiting, we were told that we would receive the money we needed to establish our record label. This was a huge deal for us, we were all really excited about the prospect of running our very own label and Aidan instantly seemed to think he was Alan McGee.
Following this has been a lot of work behind the scenes to set the label up, get artists on board and sort the boring side of things out! It has been really important for us that we could create a platform to do two things; the first being to help support and sustain local artists. As musicians starting out in a new city, it took us a while to find our feet, understand how to get our music heard and get the money together to fund the things that we wanted to do. With the knowledge that many artists experience frustrations, we thought that this is something that we could potentially help with. The second, and perhaps most important thing that we wanted to do, was create a sense of community between these artists, sharing contacts, gigs, etc. in order to help each other to develop within the local scene. Ultimately, we saw it as a really nice way of getting to know more artists in the local scene.
We now have 6 artists signed to WAHAM and are really looking forward to seeing what follows. 2021 is sure to be a big year for us, if you want to keep up to date with what we’re doing through the year you can head over to our socials. WAHAM Records could not have been set up without the help and support and we have received and for this we are truly grateful. We would like to especially thank the following people: Ben Levy for unwittingly coming up with the word ‘WAHAM’ whilst in a radio interview, a word that we kept going back to as the name for our label. Stephanie Ornithari Roberts for setting up this brilliant platform through which creatives can come together. Tom Gulliver and Frank Wilkes for answering all our endless questions, ensuring that we could actually do this in the first place. Jorvik Radio, Nouse York and everyone else who has helped us to spread the word since we have started. University of York for bringing us together and providing us with the grant to get us off the ground.