Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1098

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Feature

Jalapeno Records 20 Years Of Turning Up The Heat!

Trevor McNamee Jalapeno Records @BluesandSoul
Trevor McNamee Jalapeno Records @BluesandSoul Trevor McNamee Jalapeno Records @BluesandSoul Trevor McNamee Jalapeno Records @BluesandSoul Trevor McNamee Jalapeno Records @BluesandSoul

Any independent record label that reaches the 20-years of releasing tunes milestone should be congratulated, especially in this day and age. Anyone who runs a funk and soul label for 20-years which, shall we say, is trendy but not 'on trend' pop/chart-wise and doesn't have the adolescent free-spending pound to thank for its existence, should not only be commended for taking the longer route to success but such news should be shared and celebrated - lucky I'm here then!

Jalapeno Records have come a long way since it was founded by Elliott Ireland and Alex Rizzo - Trevor McNamee joined a year later - Ireland and Rizzo went on to become dance DJ/producers Skeewiff & Icon and left for new pastures after a relatively short tenure, leaving McNamee as sole owner and he and Jalapeno Records haven't looked back since. As the figures for this lively label show, a lot of graft has gone in over the years and now makes for impressive reading with 350 releases from 53 acts, 64 feature artists, 330 remixes, 50 albums, 34 compilations and spawned 4 sub-labels. And they still have time to roll out their Jalapeno Sound System DJ sets at festivals (they have played every Glastonbury since 2006)

Recently, I was lucky enough to get to speak to this funk and soul releasing anomaly via Zoom, as UK independent label head-honcho Trevor McNamee took time out of his busy release and PR'ing schedule to share the Jalapeno Records story. I find out where it all started, discuss the label's evolving artists, how Jalapeno has maintained it's constant assent to independent greatness and all the info on a very tasty 20-year celebrating set of tunes, which would complete any funk and soul loving or genre appreciator's library.

First question for the buoyant label boss is simply… does it feel like 20-years?

You know what? It doesn't feel like 20-years, it's flown by pretty quickly. Well, in some ways… some ways it feels like a lifetime ago and sometimes it's yesterday - it's always been fun to do - it's been something that's not been a hard chore to live with.

And, I expect, it’s been quite a journey so far…

It's been a lot of fun… There's been a growth over time. We started with a lot of DJ made records, a lot of producer made records, a lot of sampling going on in the early days. Then, as times went on, that just morphed into working more with bands…working with bands that were able to go out and tour and play live and record live - much more original music. There were still producers making records for the dancefloors and stuff like that but there's been a movement over the life of the label, being creators, rather than something that's fully focused on dancefloor and producer-led records.

It seems to have been a good year for the label.

It was a very strange year, to be in this position that we had pretty much lined ourselves up with the busiest year we've ever had… We had 6 albums to release and we spaced them out as much as we could, but everybody kind of wanted their album out in the first half of the year because of festivals and touring and all that stuff, so we weren't really in a position to change tact that much because we had put International campaigns into place and we'd booked people to do stuff.

Some people the pandemic affected worse than others, one of the greatest shames was that Izo FitzRoy never got to do the European tour where she had sold out Melkweg [venue in Amsterdam]. She had a really good European tour planned and it was all happening for her. We had great radio in Holland, she featured on a Kraack & Smack record and that had been play-listed on national radio in Holland, it was all set up for her there. We were getting great press in Spain and we were doing loads of touring there. Belgium and Germany were just starting to pick up nicely for her and then… boom! Her album came out on (not the luckiest day) Friday the 13th of March and I think lockdown was the 16th… Bless her, that was one of the hard things.

@TrevorJalapeno
Words LEE TYLER

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