Local Action is Living Local, Thinking Global

"DJ Q's album is next," says label head Tom Lea. "It pisses all over all this pop-house in the charts."

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Mar 14 2014, 6:58pm

Imprints brings you regular profiles of the most exciting record labels the world over, with input from the movers and shakers who contribute to their local electronic music communities.

Name: Local Action
Vibe: Organically-farmed bass mutations, served with a side of jack and R&B garnish.
Founded: 2010
Location: London, England
Claim to fame: Who wasn't singing along to T. Williams' smoky, pop-inflected UK house anthem, "Heartbeat" in 2010 and 2011?
Upcoming releases: "DJ Q's album, Ineffable, is next," says label head Tom Lea. "It pisses all over all this pop-house in the charts." You can also expect a white label 12" from DJ Q, with remixes by Rabit, Compa, Inkke, and Major Grave.
By the numbers: So far Local Action has released 15 singles, three white label records, and three albums, including the forthcoming DJ Q full-length.
Artists-to-watch: Slackk, Lil JaBBA, Throwing Snow, DJ Q

What's the deal?
Label owner Tom Lea is one of electronic music's unsung heroes who quietly maneuvers backstage and connects the dots for the rest of us. By day he is a blogger, editor, and all-around tastemaker sheilding us from the torrent of bad music that constantly threatens to overrun our Downloads folders. By night, he presses records and throws parties, supporting a loyal roster of artists that includes former BBC 1xtra selector DJ Q, Rinse.FM future house head T. Williams, and NYC footwork madman Lil JaBBA.

As the name suggests, the label's catalogue initially launched with an emphasis on the mean streets of England, before Tom began making links on a more international level. "It started as a project with Phonica," a widely-revered record store and label based out of London, "and they wanted a label that was more about underground UK shit, I guess. When I grew enough balls to start putting out things like footwork and grime albums, I didn't think it was fair to start lumping that burden on them, so I turned it into a solo thing." We reached out to Tom to learn a bit more about the label.THUMP: What was Local Action's first release?
Tom Lea, Local Action: It was T. Williams' debut EP. He was the catalyst, really—I'd chatted to a few bigger names about doing the first release, but you know you're not getting their A game. Meanwhile his mate Sef was sending me incredible music and they were just gonna put it out digitally themselves—and with all due respect to what they were doing, I think it would've fallen under the radar a bit. Four of the first eight Local Action releases were by T, so he really was at the core of it then.

Can you tell us about the meaning of the name "Local Action?"
No meaning, but if the label ever goes tits up, I can always trade as a captcha.

What makes you want to press vinyl records in this day and age?
The pig-headed sense of pride you get from saying, "Yeah, this record lost me a fuckload of money and I'd do it again"? The opportunity to feel more legit than labels that make more money than you—and quite possibly release better music than you—just because you cling to a format that you rarely buy yourself? Something to frame on your wall at the end of it all? Fuck knows. At least people know you're serious.
What is 2014 all about for you? Is there a 2014 Local Action mantra? There's no mantra beyond putting out records you believe in and would want to buy yourself, and not being a nob and bucking to trends—whether that's musical trends or releasing limited-to-100-vinyl-only records where you magnify your own hype but you're limiting your artists' reach in the process.

Tell us about your upcoming releases.
DJ Q's album, Ineffable, is next. It's how our generation of UK pop music should have sounded, and I will ride for this record forever. There's also a white label 12" with Q remixed by Rabit, Compa, Inkke, and Major Grave, four of the best artists to emerge in the past couple of years. After that, there's a six-track EP by Inkke, the debut 12" by Finn, who is like Blackjack reincarnated, EPs by Shriekin' Specialist, and Lil Jabba and Slackk's album, which is almost done and is brilliant. If you don't know who Inkke, Shriekin', and Finn are, then listen to Slackk's monthly mixes, because they're all over them. Then an album from someone who you almost definitely haven't heard of.
What are your favorite labels besides Local Action?
I dunno, past Night Slugs and some other obvious ones. I don't know which established dance labels are really holding it down at the moment. Oil Gang, Glacial, Her, Crazylegs, Coyote and a few other younger ones are doing it way more for me.

- @maxpearl