“There's still this idea of what an artist should look like; we’ve never fit into those boxes,” expresses Dirty Freud, the Leeds-based electronic musician who has co-founded the new record label No Such Thing.
Music is a reflection of our culture - diversity in music and media is needed now more than ever. There have been recent advances in the music and creative industry: with the representation of Black, Asian and other ethnic minorities in the music industry standing at a record 30.6% - up from 25.9% in 2018. However, people from marginalised communities still battle stereotypes within the creative industry.
Founded by Dirty Freud and contemporary artist Ruby Tingle, the Leeds-based label No Such Thing aims to promote artists from marginalised Northern communities. With a commitment to championing diversity through its roster and fusing music with the visual arts, the label aims to challenge the status quo in a time of great industry and societal flux.
Label founders Dirty Freud and Ruby Tingle
“What sets No Such Thing apart is our commitment to giving a voice to artists from under-represented groups - whether that’s ethnicity, sexuality or disability,” Dirty Freud explained.
“We’re passionate about levelling the playing field in the music industry. That’s why we’ve set the ambitious target of 70% releases to come from LGBTQ+ and Black and minority ethnic artists. As a Black artist myself, I know that doors don’t always open that easily if you don’t fit the mould. Or if they do, you’re expected to fit into a stereotyped box. We’re here to challenge that, to empower our artists and give them back creative control.”
“Being a Black electronic artist comes with its hangups. I make music that can be seen as not stereotypically ‘Black enough’ or not the type of music that fits my face.” Dirty Freud added, commenting on how his music was consistently pitched to Radio 1 Xtra for the colour of his skin - not his music, which gravitates more towards a Radio 6 sound.
With an already impressive roster of artists such as Szou, Leftwinter, Iora, Kaspa, Off Noise and Jaayns - No Such Thing provides an exciting platform to bring Northern minority artists to the front.
Freud commented on the label's goal to not only deliver to the metropolitan Northern cities such as Leeds, Manchester and Sheffield - but also to less known areas too. “We want to provide for the north in general. We don’t just want to hit the big cities - we want to make it inclusive for other Northern regions.”
Co-founder, Ruby Tingle, a bisexual musician and visual artist, stressed that the label won’t just be confined to music but wants to “Form a community around it as well”.
She continued, “We’ll work with contemporary visual artists across the North, things like sound installation, visuals, music videos, EP artwork - all made from actual contemporary visual artists working across the North. We’re trying to bridge that gap between the two industries.”
Above all, the label is harnessing creative talent to combat ignorance and bigotry: bringing together a collective of underrepresented artists, from different mediums, across the North of England. Dirty Freud mentioned that, on many occasions, the source of such ignorance towards these groups comes from “People not knowing enough about it - people just making their assumptions. People read these tabloids, like The Sun or Daily Mail, and take what those papers say as the truth.”
“Getting involved in these communities, creating music can help combat those stereotypes. We want it to get to a point where people don’t even think that minorities are releasing on the label - it’s just great music. That's the goal: I don’t even want ‘minority’ to come past peoples lips.”
Find out more about No Such Thing Records here
Words by Jack Ramage