Transgressive // 10 Years of Madness

Toby Tattoo Face big

By Tim Dellow, founder and partner of Transgressive

Picking 5 moments in a career that’s been shaped by so many incredible artists is impossible – and we’ve racked our brains from favourite shows (Johnny Flynn at the Scala, Two Door Cinema Club headlining the O2) to signings (Gengahr in their local pizza restaurant, Graham Coxon over pizza in our office, Songhoy Blues in our local pizza parlour…. hey, we like pizza) to surreal moments (At The Drive-In contacting us to release their greatest works, Gil Norton talking through his ideas for Pulled Apart By Horses, The Noisettes getting a number 2 single)… and so have decided to pick 5 at random for you today!

The Signing Foals Saga….

Signing Foals should have been easy – I was friends with Yannis and Jack from their previous band, and we’d just secured our first deal offering us real funding as a label. What followed was an arduous courtship process which, with hindsight, helped to form the bond which keeps us friends to this day. A relentless testing of nerves and winding up which saw them move into our office to rehearse, blasting us all day with their brilliant noise, before going off to showcase for rival labels.

And breaking in to Toby’s house when they had no where to sleep.

And “borrowing” money at every cashpoint we passed.

But inevitably, this was all foreplay, and we were always going to work together, and the records that followed are certainly some of the best music we’ve released, and a great place to start.

The Tattoo Gambit…

Lee Vincent, of Pulled Apart By Horses has a passion for tattoos. Many key moments in his life are documented on the canvas of his body. And some strange things too… like the caricature that lives opposite ODB on his right leg.

We were in the courtship process with PABH (see above), and over some drinks Lee declared that he now had so many tattoos that “he’d get anything done…as long as he didn’t have to pay for it”. Lilas, partner at Transgressive, made a suggestion and before you know it we were signing the band in a tattoo parlour whilst Lee was indelibly scarred with the image of Toby Transgressive’s face. (see the above photo for proof)

The “Pinch Me” Scenario

If you had told me that one day, I would be sitting in the studio with Damon Albarn, Brian Eno and Two Inch Punch, helping to choose the track-listing for a record in which they flew to Mali to celebrate and bring together local musicians following the banning of music by the Taliban, I would never have believed you.

The Eel Pie Revue

Genius attracts genius. So many of our signings have been friends, rivals or recommendations of other artists on the roster. And perhaps none more so than the Mystery Jets who built their own scene.

For a few glorious shows, we would gather in their rehearsal room on the legendary eel pie, as friends of friends sprawled into a genuine happening, growing each time, to watch early performances from The Noisettes, Jamie T, Dr Filth, Jeremy Warmsley (now of Summer Camp) and many more, and of course the ‘Jets themselves. Anything seemed possible.

The “This Weekend” Tale

We count our blessings, that something great is always happening. Of course, that means that there’s always something bad happening too, and running a music company is certainly no picnic. But focussing on the good parts, after hosting our own stage at Reading and Leeds Festival this weekend, witnessing astonishing main stage performances by Dry The River and Pulled Apart By Horses as well as a jaw-dropping debut from Marika Hackman, our very own Flume HEADLINED THE DANCE STAGE. And it went OFF.

Watching a rammed tent, dancing and singing along enthusiastically – being lifted up by the same passion we genuinely felt when we heard him for the first time, makes it all worthwhile.


Celebrate Trangressive’s impressive 10 years of existence with them, by grabbing a ticket to their anniversary show:

Barbican Centre – Tuesday 30th September