Red Bull’s Kate Hutchinson meets a new label collective that have their eyes on good food from around the world and their ears on talent from the Red Bull Music Academy.
Terence Teh, Alex Stevenson and Tom McCarthy, who run crucial new label and party Earnest Endeavours, have their own language. As internationally travelled DJ trio Patchwork Pirates and friends since they were 12 years old, they are one part east London cool and one part Los Angeles hip-hop swagger. But, sonically, their label speaks volumes of their dedication to shining a light on their friends and family’s talents from the international beat scene. Some great friends to have, you’ll agree…
Refreshingly, Earnest Endeavours are also about pushing the idea of a label family beyond just music. Their first artist release is from San Francisco-based producer B.Bravo, himself a former Red Bull Music Academy student, but they’re also expanding into books and art and they throw parties from Shoreditch to Sonar, all of which you can hear about on their show for cult Dalston station NTS Radio.
And they also really, really like food. Ahead of their next label party at London’s Plastic People on November 16, we caught up with EE’s Terence, who gives us a guide to their tasty family. Tuck in.
'Starting a label was always a dream…'
What’s the ethos behind Earnest Endeavours?
“To build and be a part of a culture and community that we genuinely love and respect, to be the new wave of all the music cultures we grew up with, to celebrate the insane talent of our friends who all share a similar hustle, mindset and imagination, and to introduce an inimitable aesthetic to music – and vice versa. And to have fun in the sun, if possible.”
How do you run things?
We work across vinyl and digital, produce screen-printed CDs and use artist giclée prints [fine art digital prints made on ink-jet printers] but were planning to do more video work and books too.
How did Patchwork Pirates evolve into Earnest Endeavours?
It was definitely a logical step. Starting a label was always a dream, but it seemed, weirdly, very intimidating, as we all have stupidly high standards and expectations. Manufacturing physical products is also crazy-expensive, especially when you’re trying to create something special and collectible. We still DJ as Patchwork Pirates at all our parties, but the Earnest Endeavours project is just a way for us to bring our worldwide family under one umbrella and celebrate everybody’s art.
What kind of music do you represent?
The music that makes up Earnest Endeavours is pretty diverse, but, to us, it’s the natural evolution of an all-encompassing culture that is hip-hop and British electronic club music. Whether its an old ’90s ‘Cream Live Vol. 2’ mix by James Lavelle that Alex dug out again the other day – one of the top five mixes ever, by the way – through to the surreal, storytelling raps and dastardly drums of Widows, which is playing in the office now… to us, it all sounds like a none-too-distant musical future.
'We’d like to play a role in raising awareness of the value of music'
How are you going to change the world?
We’d like to play a role, however small, in raising awareness of the value of music among the general public.
Do you think it has been devalued, then?
Yes, the whole digital revolution has drastically changed the way that the industry operates. In many ways it has levelled the playing field for newcomers to the game but it has also critically devalued the music itself, rendering it disposable. There seems to be general lack of appreciation of the blood, sweat and tears that goes into creating music, be that on a laptop in your bedroom or in a recording studio with a band. We’re joining the fray because we think we can make a positive contribution to our scene and there’s a lot of music that our friends are making that warrants an official release.
You describe Earnest Endeavours as a family. Who else is a member?
Out in New York is Aerosyn-Lex, who is our Art Director. Also Stateside are Danna "Takako" Hawley, who works on A&R and label strategy in addition to running all our press and online biz, B. Bravo holdin’ it down in San Fran, Widows [aka Bobby Evans and Jams F. Kennedy] in LA, Selfsays in Detroit and mfp in Tokyo. And that’s not forgetting Darkhouse Fam in Barry in Cardiff. Then we have the other visual crew like Teddy Fitzhugh, who works on the pics, Shaniqwa Jarvis and her inimitable steez, illustrator extraordinaire Max Spencer, James Hamilton on web and digital, and Carlos Carneiro and Shane McNamara on the video tip from London Sessions.
On your Soundcloud it says that your collective even boasts a chef. What label has its own chef?
We definitely count Dante Fried Chicken as Earnest Endeavours fam – we hosted the Dante Fried Chicken summer BBQ in London in August. He is an OG [that’s ‘original gangster’, kids].
Is food the new rock ’n’ roll?
Food is definitely an artistic and creative endeavour and, to us, equals music, art, film and photography. It has a personality, a story and a heritage, all of which transcend cultures. The best events combine food and music, right? You can actually read all about it in the upcoming ‘Dante Fried Chicken Ride or Fry’ book that we’re co-authoring with Dante – it’ll come out next year. So, yeah, food is rock ’n’ roll, punk and, most of all, hip-hop to us. And the best parties are in your mouth!
What’s an Earnest Endeavours party like?
Primarily it’s about the music – we place a lot of importance on the sound at our parties – but the vibe and the feeling of community is equally as important. It’s fair to say that the whole instrumental beat flex is a common thread but we’re not averse to other sounds too. So far this year we’ve featured Hudson Mohawke, B. Bravo, Darkhouse Fam, Lando Kal, Machinedrum, The Gaslamp Killer (pictured above), Dorian Concept (also pictured), Teebs, Daedelus, Lazer Sword and loads more.
Who’s up next on the label?
Weirdo drums ’n’ rap from our good friends Widows. Then we unleash the force that is Darkhouse Fam and then some UK issue that we’re super-excited about but can’t announce yet. Plus stuff from mfp, Selfsays and loads of other amazing music as it rolls in.
Earnest Endeavours are at Plastic People on November 16 with Samiyam, Tokimonsta, Kutmah, Free The Robots, Patchwork Pirates. B.Bravo’s ‘Kiss ’n’ Tell EP’ is out now.