Leftroom Records opened its doors in August of 2005 in Nottingham, England as the creation of Matt Tolfrey. Musically, it was one of the first labels of its kind in the UK, showcasing the off centre sound of house, disco and techno.
The first Leftroom release surfaced the 5th of December 2005 and was entitled ‘The Extended Family EP’ encapsulating the spirit of Leftroom, a place where a core set of artists could grow and experiment with their sound. The Leftroom family consists of a few key artists including Laura Jones, Huxley, Gavin Herlihy, Sam Russo and Matt himself, but has also featured the likes of Alexi Delano, Brett Johnson, Circle, Fuckpony, Geddes, Inxec, Jay Haze, jozif, Kate Simko, Kevin Knapp, Land Shark (Lance De Sardi), Lee Curtiss, Lil Mark, Maceo Plex, Neil Parkes, Ryan Crosson, Shall Ocin, Shaun Reeves, Signal Flow, Simon Baker, and Waifs & Strays.
Flash forward a decade as Leftroom celebrates 10 years in the game with ’10 Years of Leftroom’ – a selection of exclusive tracks, remixes and collaborations from the label family. The ten tracks of ’10 Years of Leftroom’ neatly encapsulate what the label is and has been about – underground music that reflects the discerning taste of its curator. There’s new material from label boss Matt Tolfrey, who collaborates with Route 94, Guti and Hearthrob, there are updates on career defining cuts from Audiojack and Kate Simko plus heavyweight remixes from Chez Damier, Optimo and Mr. Fingers.
With that, we continue our new series here, and in conjunction with Deep House Amsterdam, highlighting some of our favourite labels from around the world, we thought we would catch up with Matt Tolfrey and get the scoop on all things Leftroom Records as their decade celebration tour goes full swing.. Here, you will find information on the label’s history, ethos, releases and future. As you can probably tell by know, we are asking each respective label owner the same questions. With this approach, we hope these showcases will be as educational and informative (for all you aspiring label heads out there) as they are entertaining.
Also, at the end of the article you will find an exclusive mix from Leftroom Records’ Audiojack, giving readers an idea of the Leftroom Records sound as its meant to be heard…in the mix!
“No one understands how long it takes to put out a record until they run a label themselves.”
What does Leftroom add to the dance music spectrum?
That’s a hard question to answer as I am sure it adds something different for everyone. So it adds whatever you want it to really. Hopefully some music that keeps you on the dance floor, rather than talking in a dark corner.
When did you first think about launching Leftroom?
I was working quite closely with a few other not to be named labels about releasing and working with them, and something just didn’t feel quite right. I had to many questions to ask all the time. So I thought it would be a good idea to do it myself. Then I only had myself to answer to. I had just nearly finished a business degree in Nottingham, so it was probably best to put some of it to good use.
When did Leftroom actually launch?
It launched at Stealth nightclub in Nottingham in October in 2005, the same week the company became official.
Story behind the Leftroom name?
Original the name was Legroom, as in ‘room to dance’ and the logo was designed and decided on. We then got a few stray letters from a country and western label in Texas called Legroom threatening to sue us, so we had to think fast. The logo looked like a paid of legs leaving a room, the music was very leftfield and had been described as left of centre, so Leftroom was born.
What was the most difficult aspect of launching the label?
Knowing how much money you needed, and finding a way to borrow that money. But the main problem to get to grips with is working out time frames for everything. No one understands how long it takes to put out a record until they run a label themselves. Your basically relying on other people the whole time, so it can become a bit frustrating.
What qualities do you look for in a Leftroom artist?
Originality, and knowing that their heart is in the right place. I only sign people that are into their music and are dedicated to it. I don’t sign people that once the contract is signed then ask how much money they are going to make and how many Leftroom parties they are going to be playing over the coming years. Let’s just say I learnt the hard way with a few artists in the beginning.
Describe 3 seminal moments in Leftroom existence?
1. My parents lending me the money to start the label.
2. Releasing Audiojack – ‘Robot’, Laura Jones – ‘Love In Me’ and Kate Simko feat Jem Cooke – ‘Go On Then’.
3. Releasing my debut album “Word Of Mouth”.
(4.) Getting to ten years….