Featured Label: IRL
Already a successful management company in the early noughties, Dave Jaymes and Tom Haxell found themselves at a crossroads. They knew they had a raft of exciting projects on their hands, but the idea of offering an alternative way forward, taking control and fashioning a record label tailored to the artists they managed had become too irresistible to shake, and so, they decided to form IRL. Independent Records Ltd would put out releases from a unique roster of talent, whilst the acronym IRL would neatly suggest a key A&R focus on the many acts they managed from the Emerald Isle.
The label announced its intentions from the outset with its first three releases. Two were frontline quality projects from established Irish stars Sinead O’Connor and Sharon Shannon, which generated immediate and obvious interest, attention and acclaim. Meanwhile, the third took everyone by surprise – and the world by storm! Festival In The Desert, one of the decade’s most iconic world music releases, proved to be the start of a highly fruitful relationship with nomad Tuareg guitarslingers, Tinariwen, which led to the label putting out two further groundbreaking artist albums.
Another hugely successful artist relationship which has been a bedrock of IRL’s success from the earliest times came about when the label talent-spotted a young, emerging Damien Dempsey. Now one of Ireland’s favourite and most revered musical sons, IRL has been delighted to have released every one of Damo’s albums from Seize The Day and Shots to the brand new Best Of “It’s All Good”, which is coincidentally number one in the Irish charts this very week! Equally key to the label’s development has been its long-standing relationship with one of the UK’s most talented songwriters and performers, Miles Hunt, and the projects he’s brought to the label under his many guises. IRL was especially delighted to release the most recent Wonder Stuff album Oh No… It’s The Wonder Stuff in 2013.
With over 80 albums to its name since first taking the plunge, and having released artists as diverse as We Start Fires, Terakaft, Lo’jo, Altan and Two Spot Gobi amongst many others in the past, to offering recent releases from vibrant and emerging acts such as Lumiere, Tupelo, Alasca and Nife, IRL has proved itself to be one of the most noteworthy, consistent and distinctive independent record labels of the past ten years.
And now, moving from strength-to-strength into 2014, Tom and Dave find themselves with arguably the most exciting release schedule in IRL’s history. In addition to the Damo Best Of, there are imminent releases from two of Ireland’s most promising up-and-coming acts. Dublin indie fourpiece Raglans – who’ve put in the hard yards in recent times, are now all over Irish and UK media, have become radio darlings in both countries, and this month opened the NME Awards – will release their self-titled debut album in March. Meanwhile Tallaght troubadours, Morrissey & Marshall, will take twin acoustic guitars and harmonies on the road and look set for big things this year. Their debut album, And So It Began, will hit in late March. Another imminent release is a new album from fusion fourpiece, Imed Alibi, who will look to do for contemporary Arab music what Gotan Poject did for tango and latin! And very much anticipated also is Dirt Is Good, a new project from last year’s breakthrough stars of Womad, Malawi Mouse Boys, their follow up to last year’s debut He Is Number 1, another timeless African song cycle, referencing gospel and soul in their own unique style.