A label with a difference.

Anyone who's followed hip, unusual electronic music over the past few years will already be familiar with Greco-Roman. Originally starting out as an opportunity to put on sporadic parties across London, the musical collective's recent acceleration has almost driven them to the point where they are - whisper it - a proper record label. From sweaty, intimate club nights in Plastic People, the Greco-Roman name is now one that has now become associated with interesting and forward-thinking electronic music - the likes of Disclosure and Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs have both called Greco-Roman home - not to mention some seriously memorable festival performances over the past few years.

Of the project's three lynchpins, most will already be familiar with Joe Goddard; his experiences with Hot Chip proving invaluable in terms of production and the label understanding where their artists are coming from. The other two thirds of Greco are Dominic Mentsh and Alexander Waldron, whose backgrounds lie in A&R and marketing. In reality, though, it's clear from speaking to Dom and Joe ahead of their debut compilation LP that they see the project as a musical family more than anything else.

"The whole point of the label is that people effectively stay with us; Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs and Disclosure may have gone on to bigger labels and bigger situations but we're still essentially in business with them." Dom says. "I mean, when we throw a party now, Orlando (T.E.E.D.) will come and headline, that's the whole point and part of our ethos at Greco. If you're an artist we don't want to see ourselves as a stepping stone to bigger things in your career, there's always a place for you because we're signing artists that have come from the clubs and will always have a place there - whether they're playing huge stadiums or what have you, there's a love of the same kind of music and vibe. I love that it does still have that collective spirit because there's loads of friends involved and doing things with us all the time." It's an interesting concept, and one which sums up the group's approach to the 'music industry' in general. Greco aren't a clique, nor are they driven by money or commercial success. They are simply a group of enthusiastic music lovers - and more importantly, friends - doing what comes naturally.

That said, it's perhaps fortunate that they are in a position to be putting out a compilation album at all. Joe recalls the 'record label''s early days, "There was a long period where it was all just very shambolic; every now and then we'd put on a party in Newington or East London - this would have been around eight years ago, maybe even ten - that went on for like two or three years, and it didn't feel like a very serious thing. It was a lot of fun and we were working hard at it, but it was us messing around, pretty much. There was kind've like an 'Oh God' moment when we got the first track through and we thought 'Well, we might as well put this out'. It was like a lucky accident."

Those parties became an important part of the Greco identity; intimate club nights with no-one on the door ("..it was more of a social thing"), plenty of friendly faces and great music. As the pair explain, it's clear that none of the clubs around at the time seemed to fit ("We thought 'Let's throw our own party'!"). A decade or so on and with things seemingly progressing for the label, do those nights still hold the same appeal for the duo?

"We don't really throw as many parties in London now - I would love to go to a party again with that kind of ethos, you know: slightly shambolic and just about being out with friends. Those things don't tend to happen so much to us anymore, just because it's very hard to convince any of our mates to go out clubbing these days, so times have changed and we don't end up partying in quite the same way." Joe explains.

It's not the only way in which times have changed. From once infamously having a release schedule of four records in two years, the label are now at the point where their schedule is packed and where, more importantly, the quality of their output shows no signs of dipping. Goddard's impressive Gabriel and Step Together EPs were impressive forays into garage and house/disco respectively, and the recent I'm Not Dancing EP from Tirzah - the title track of which is a subtle, sinister sliver of a song - has been met with near universal acclaim. Do the pair sense that things are gathering pace, then?

"Yeah, it definitely feels like that purely because of the workload. Again, it was a lucky accident - we never set out to be a record label, but after doing this now for six or seven years a label, we're really happy with what we've achieved; going from, as you said, a really small amount of releases - and putting a huge amount of time and energy into a small amount of releases - we're suddenly at the point where we feel like a proper label. We have a release schedule - we can talk about the releases that are going to be coming out up until November and December, and we have quite a few. We're putting out more records this year than we ever have, which is kind of daunting but also pretty exciting."

The label's first compilation LP - Greco-Roman: We Make Colourful Music Because We Dance In The Dark - feels like an apt showcase for these "exciting" times. Split over two discs, the album offers an up to date summary of the label's output thus far, whilst also putting things in a clubbier context. Disc 1 features tracks that most will be familiar with; the aforementioned 'Gabriel', 'Step Together' and 'I'm Not Dancing' all appear, as well as tracks from T.E.E.D. and Disclosure. Disc 2 is where the collective aspect of Greco shines through, with an assortment of friends pitching in with remixes. Typically, Greco's line-up of contributors is none too shabby; with Four Tet, David E Sugar and Soulwax all contributing to the compilation. Joe explains, "The Soulwax thing was really nice, we've known them through Hot Chip. They were at one of our shows and liked it and took us on tour - they've always been really lovely guys to us. They asked me for the parts to 'Gabriel' and did a remix without charging us - I didn't even know that they'd completed the remix until I turned up at Brixton Academy for one of their shows before Christmas, and their remix of 'Gabriel' was part of their audio-visual show. I was just watching their show at Brixton academy and suddenly their remix came on with this massive video screen behind it with the artwork for the single moving and distorting on the screen. It was just amazing, I was so happy. Then they gave us that remix to put out. It was a pretty good Christmas present."

With such high-profile admirers and things undoubtedly gathering pace for Greco, the 405 was keen to find out if the group's attitude towards the label had changed. Previous interviews have always seen Joe, Dom and Alex declare the label as a 'side project'; something done for the love of it and not something which would ever come close to seeming like a 9-5. Surely with things now getting a bit more serious, Greco-Roman will start to take a more central role in the lives of our three protagonists?

"To be honest, it's still very much our side project. I think that's really important for Greco-Roman. We've seen labels come and go, and we've seen labels in the last few years come and blow up and become commercially massive - maybe before their time. I specifically speak for me and Joe here, but we come at this with the attitude that this is our 'posh hobby' in a way. We put time and energy and love into this, and it's not about making money, and it never has been about that, and I hope that that comes across in the ethos of our releases, and I hope we're artist friendly. That's what it's about for us, because we're lucky to be in that position." Joe continues, "We don't have to rely on it to provide our income, so we don't have to release records that we don't want to. It's valuable to us to remain friends throughout the whole thing, we don't want it to get to the position where it's very stressful and causing our friendship to change. Part of it is being able to work on a project with your friends on something you enjoy doing, so I think it will continue to be like that. Maybe it'll get slightly more serious if it needs to and we want to put out albums and things like that, but hopefully it's going to be something that we just continue to enjoy doing."

It's refreshing to find a record label with an ethos as interesting and unique as their output.


We Make Colourful Music Because We Dance In The Dark is out now via Greco-Roman.