"Step Together" With London's Greco-Roman Crew
Plants. Children. Happiness. Fresh air. You can talk about PLUR all day, but the Greco-Roman crew are legitimately into positivity as a lifestyle. If you don't believe us, then just watch this video, which features the record label's whole posse positively reveling in the everyday pleasures of life in Britain. Hot Chip's Joe Goddard has a sing while his daughter Edie plays synths. Label co-founders Alex Waldron and Dom Mentsch eat ice cream. Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs cools out in front of a caff, while David E. Sugar eats an apple on a rooftop. There are also totally rad cameos from Baio, the bass player of Vampire Weekend, plus Grosvenor, Boris Dlugosch, Ross Allen, and several more—find them if you can!
All of this happens to the soundtrack of "Step Together," a pleasant house jam by Goddard and German producer Boris Dlugosch that is so outside the landscape of raging, neon, and Twitter beef you might think it was made by aliens. You might be saying saying to yourself "Yo, these dudes are soft as hell," but the Greco-Roman squad are no strangers to debauchery, as we can attest after seeing them party (and afterparty) at various festivals around the globe. (Hell, even the name itself seems to imply an orgy of sorts... or at least some homoerotic wrestling.)
The label itself grew out of cult-status warehouse parties that Alex, Dom, and Joe began throwing in offbeat locations around London, playing records no one else knew. Through these parties, the trio met the artists that would initially be responsible for the first releases on the label. “It’s the sense of unity that’s really important in a night out," explains Alex. "Everyone takes their drugs at the same time and listens to the same music, then they all go home with each other. Considering how badly organized and shambolic our parties were in the early days it’s amazing to think that 1,000 people turned up at our third rave in a vault underneath London Bridge station. Honestly, that’s probably the most amazing party I have ever been to."
Alex, Joe, and Dom
It wasn’t long until David E Sugar showed Alex, Joe, and Dom a song he wrote about the early Greco-Roman parties, which became the hit single "Oi New York, This Is London." From that day forward, the party and the label were inherently intertwined. The label’s artists make DJ appearances at their parties, and all of the parties’ DJs have released on the label. “Musical experimentation and spontaneity is key. You can’t grow up in a place like London and not have broad taste. Complacency drives me crazy—you should try living in Berlin for seven years! We like discerning music, from pop to club tracks, and yes we sit somewhere in between,” Alex states, as he reminds me of his “no genres” mindset. “The golden rule at Greco-Roman is that Joe, Dom, and myself all have to like something in order to release it," he continues. "We are an electronic label, but we release songs, not tracks.”
Alex says the best place to listen to these songs is the backseat of his Saab 900 Turbo. If you can't make it there, than you can still listen to them while you cook brekkie thanks to a new compilation that features all the label's top songs. It's called We Make Colorful Music Because We Dance in the Dark and it's divided into two discs: Colorful Music, which is on the poppier side, and Dancing in the Dark, featuring more club-friendly selections. The release neatly tap-dances between mainstream and underground, a comprehensive selection of unpredictable, vocal-driven house and sunshiny pop that includes releases by TEED, Dixon, Disclosure, Soulwax, Baio, Four Tet, and Joe Goddard himself.
Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs
From its beginnings, the label has focused on having fun rather than hustling to death—of building a family first, rather than immediately trying to attract a massive fan base. But with huge releases like Disclosure's debut EP, The Face, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs' Household Goods, and Joe Goddard's "Gabriel," plus a stage at this year's Glastonbury Festival, Greco-Roman have managed to attract a bunch of fans anyway, despite insisting that they still don't know what they're doing.
Of course, they do sort of know what they're doing—the main three Greco-Romans have day jobs in the music industry. “I work for another record label, Dom is a music supervisor, and Joe is busy with Hot Chip and his own music,” Alex says, explaining that Greco-Roman was just a love child they looked after when the workday was through, but it soon turned into a priority. “We lost money on all of the records until Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaur’s second EP and that’s when I decided to take the punt and focus on Greco-Roman," explains Alex. "You know, get an office and stuff... and a logo and a lawyer.”
"There is no such thing as an average Greco-Roman day really," he continues. "It’s at night when we all come alive. I think it’s important that we do all these things at the same time as they all rub off on each other. It’s really important that we all have other jobs. Do not start an independent record label and try and live off it. Honestly, don’t bother.”
Alex stresses that the only reason to do a label is for the love, and six years into Greco-Roman's life we can definiely feel that emanating from the crew. And if you get down, he advises that you just go party. “It’s not always easy, but sometimes one amazing unique night out rights all wrongs."