You're a dreamer when you're young. That's why the actual population of working musicians in ratio to those childish aspirations you have of being a rock star when you're ten are tellingly disparate. The older you get, the more willing you are to take the consolation prize; dilute your dream - a cup of water sprayed as unrepentantly over your thick leech-like dream, as a rejected demo. Those would be rockstars who became bankers and lawyers turned full circle, but others sought a genuine and equally as satisfying alternative.

Chess Club is the brainchild of Will Street, Peter McGaughrin and Chris Dashwood - music lovers, who over time, decided to not just ruminate over songs they love or helplessly peer over liner-notes to check out who put the release out, but become the liner-note themselves.

We had a chat to the label owners about the roots to the excellent year they've had. From its early incarnations as a club night, in the last 7 years as a label (including the first singles from the likes of Wolf Alice (whose EP Blush was released in 2013) folk superstars Mumford and Sons, Aussie crooner Chet Faker and alt-pop duo MS MR.

Their most recent and reverent success story is that of critical and commercial darlings Jungle whose debut single 'Platoon' was released in June 2013. Now signed on an album deal to XL, it's fair to say that Chess Club helped lay the foundations that ultimately spawned the success of their self-titled top 10 release. While not part of what the label owners call a family, they're still inextricable parts of the fabric of the label - both personally and professionally.

Not ones to rest on their laurels, it's safe to say that Chess Club will be a go to label when you're wondering what records to buy on pay day. Their current roster includes the Danish pop-star , who has taken the live circuit by storm with her abrasive, unfiltered stage presence, Mancunion producer Oceaán, and Birmingham's indie rockers Swim Deep, whose debut album Where the Heaven Are We was released on Chess Club - spawning the dream-like indie balladry of their hit song 'Honey'.

As you can tell, there was much to discuss…

So how did Chess Club start?

Will Street: It started just from me really. When I was 17, I used to be a resident DJ at Frog night club with two other friends at the Astoria. We needed a name to be put on a flyer and plucked Chess Club out of the air.

Then we set up our own club night, booked our own bands - we did the first Bombay Bicycle Club show, The xx, Florence & the Machine, Noah and the Whale, Laura Marling, Mumford & Sons, MGMT, Bon Iver, Yeasayer, Lykke Li - all of their debut UK shows came through us. Eventually, I met Peter, who had the idea of starting the label alongside the club night in 2007.

The first release was Jay Jay Pistolet - who's Justin from the Vaccines now - and it all sort of rolled on from there. And then Chris got more involved on the marketing side. It's been a steady grow since then - 7 years of the label, about 8 or 9 of the name. And now with the guys more heavily involved in the last 12 months, we've got a new publishing side, we co-run a club night again - I co-run a night called New Shapes with the labels National Anthem and Neon Gold.

We're now at SXSW, CMJ and The Great Escape - I guess Chess Club and Neon Gold all started roughly when we were the same age; roughly the same time - we all followed our own paths and worked with different artists but retained a friendship.

Chris Dashwood: We all support each other.

WS: And it's nice to have that supportive community - when our bands are in America, they might play their shows, when there's are here, ours will do the same.

How did you go about making your first signing? Did you know them, had they played one of your nights…?

WS: That was Jay Jay - there was a scene around West London at the time - Mystery Jets, Jamie T. We were the kids that were going to those gigs and then we all grew up a little bit and some of use got into bands - there were the early incarnations of Mumford and Sons, Laura Marling and Johnny Flynn. When Pete came up with the idea of doing the label Justin was playing the circuit playing Jeffrey Lewis inspired folk stuff - he was a friend and he wrote great songs

Peter McGaughrin: "So you want to do a single?"

WS: Yeah! It was a simple as that really - 'we've decided to set up a label, I'll put a song out for you'. It was a "learn as you go" scenario.

What would you say you've learned from putting out those early signings to now? From A&Ring, working at other labels, how you approach bands…

PM: I think it's just the same as at the beginning - put out the things you love, and when you have a relationship with someone it's a case of 'do you want to put out our next single as well?' You start to learn how to work with people longer term. A couple of years ago we learned to work with people even longer term, first putting out an album with Post War Years and then with Swim Deep, and MØ third. And now we've got the opportunity to work with people not just with singles and EPs but with albums - and that's the really gratifying bit - getting involved with people when it's your private passion, and then you turn that into guiding people towards them.

CD: The most gratifying bit is coming with the next Swim Deep record and the next MØ record - continuing that relationship; building a roster of artists that we can nurture.

WS: But at the same time, the purpose of the label was about finding new stuff and getting out and that's still very much it - not taking our eye off the ball and just focusing on albums - although that's a strong arm to what we do, but always looking for new stuff that we can put a single out for and help them get on their way.

PM: It's nice to have that flexibility; work with people brand new, help them in their first stages, and maybe help them in their next stage.

CD: For example, we're getting ready to put out Oceaán's next EP.

WS: Yeah, that's really exciting. We actually found him last year on a remix he did with Mø and he said that he actually had his own stuff and he sent it over. And it was amazing so we put it out, and now we're getting ready to put our this next one.

I love Oceaán and his new EP is amazing. His latest track 'Grip' shows him in a great late as a producer as well as a vocalist.

WS: He can do everything: he can remix, he can write his own stuff, he can sing - he's annoyingly young.

What's his live set up going to be?

WS: He's got a European tour, he's supporting Lykke Li, playing Les Inrocks and no live plans for the UK until next year as it's in its early stages. Like Jungle, he's meticulous and wants it to be perfect.

What's the A&R process like at Chess Club once you've started working with a band?

WS: It's the same process as if you were at another label - you have to pick the studio, whether the band can record it themselves - mixing it to mastering. We put them in with the right people to make it as good as it can be. Chris, with his marketing hat on, can think about the artwork, visuals, the roll-out of the campaign, the right dates - making sure that everything is put in, in the right way. Although it's just three of us, and on a much smaller budget, it's still the same.

One of the great things about working at Chess Club is the opportunity to be hands on because it's just the three of us - everyone's involved in music, the artwork, promotion... It's as great to have a close relationship with the band. We have a close knit team.

PM: I think it makes a difference to the artist; they can ask 'what do you guys think' rather than 'what do 85 people think' - you get a much more coherent discussion.

Do you think it's important to work with acts that don't just think about the music itself but the whole package - how they want to present the music, like in the case of Jungle?

PM: Very much so yeah, it's part of the whole vision.

CD: MØ is the best example of that. Even for the next record she's already got the vision for it and there's only a few songs in their early stages for it.

WS: She does all the collages for the artwork, hand writes it - everything that goes on the album.

CD: She's such a joy to work with, and by the end of the process, it's just refining her vision, rather than having to create something out of nothing

WS: We had that with Jungle as well. They came with the whole imagery, the first two videos we did with them was down to them, the whole aesthetic of that campaign came from them. We just had to help get it in front of people It's part of why I think it works so well - and it's not something that's changed since they've signed to XL. Those artists are the most exciting to work with; they've got more to say that just a song.

There's only so much stuff you can do with an act if they don't care about how they are perceived, the opportunity to work with a band on all levels - what they wanted to talk about, press shots...

WS: We didn't do any interviews on Jungle's first single campaign. For me, it's the first time there'd been no promo behind a release. At first we were like 'how do we work this' but it did more than doing all the interviews that get offered to you. Doing none of them was actually more effective.

I think it helps that people thought the music was good, and there'd already been this hype about their live show, even before they'd played London. All you had was that - you didn't know who they were, what they looked like.

CD: It makes you want more doesn't it?

WS: It wasn't a fluke, it was meticulously planned out from them, and it's quite a gamble. You have to have faith in yourself and your music and hope that people will stick around. It's quite a risk, especially since they'd already been in a band and it hadn't quite worked out - most people would have been desperate to get as much as they can. So it was a brave step for them and it's worked out.

Were you not a bit like 'guys can we please do a few interviews' or did you have complete trust in them?

WS: They came with their vision; they were like 'this is what we're going to do'.

CD: The whole plot linked into the video and the artwork.

WS: And they weren't just doing it for the sake of it, there was a real purpose to it - there was a long term plan, so it was easy to trust them.

Do you think it was good for them coming out of a major label deal, and being older and wiser and realising that they could have the creative control that they didn't before?

PM: I think they learned a few lessons. We get a lot of emails from bands saying 'here's the music, do you want to put it on Chess Club' - and some of those we'll love, some of them we won't. The way they did it was really interesting. They learned from their old experience - how to approach people. If you put just enough amazing-ness there to get people excited and don't ram it down their throats then they'll trust you enough to follow you and get more.

WS: They let the limelight chase them. It was great to work with them, because I'd never worked with acts that had had that kind of approach to their output, it was definitely refreshing. With people we've worked with since, we thought about not being so upfront as much, maybe don't chase everything so hard - have a bit more faith in what you're doing; allow people to come to you. So good to see them team up with XL, have their top 10 record, Jools Holland. It's awesome to have been at an early stage with them.

Finally, how would you describe Chess Club in 5 words or less?

Collectively: beginnings, support, family, future, beer!


You can visit Chess Club Records by heading to their official website.