Record Label of the Month: HQ FamiliaBack
In the latest instalment of our series showcasing the best upcoming independent record labels, we caught up with the managing director of HQ Familia, Yasin El Ashrafi, to find out how the label is supporting and promoting exciting upcoming artists, the challenges he's faced getting the project off the ground and much more.
Watch the video above or read on to learn more about HQ Familia.
Hi I'm Yasin El Ashrafi. I'm the manager and director of HQ Familia Record Label and HQ recording studio in Leicester.
The main ideas and goals behind the label really discern, showcase the best upcoming talent in Leicester. I made a studio here. We've been here for five, six years now. So we've had quite a lot of artists over that time. There's a lot of talent but it's not really being heard so we have a lot of stuff just on the computer and on the SoundCloud that I thought was just too good to not be heard so we ended up setting up the label so that we could help people get their music out there. The goal to be honest was just to make it as big as it can possibly be just to blow up and get music heard all over the world and get tours.
We just want to aim for the top. Biggest challenge I'll be honest is budget. Everything costs a lot of money in the music, like promotion, marketing, everything like radio covers, it's all a really expensive game. Obviously the people we're up against have got big budgets. They may be better connected than we are.
If I had a big pot of money we'd get there quicker. We're on the flip side. Everything else we've got at our disposal. We've got the studio, the mixer, the master.
Record label in box had been good because it was a really fast way of starting a label. We bought the record label in the box, then we got the contracts. We've got the database and we've got the platform just to release music really easily. The way that it incidentally works with setting up your releases you can manage your artist you can get your contracts for different types of deals, 360 deals, signing artists. That aspect of it it's just all there at your fingertips.
It's been good to know that we can email Ditto and get advice. Have something a bit more recognized and established. Maybe also give us better credibility in what we're doing rather than just starting a label and not really knowing too much about it.
First artist I signed was Asher X. I met Asher through a project. I do a project work with the lottery and Prince's Trust and stuff. And there's a project called Talent Match. She joined that because she was a poet basically, and she came in as a poet and she decided to give it some hip-hop beats to do poetry over. She was basically, she was really good, we really liked it. Her time came to an end so rather than just sending her on her way basically we offered to sign her so that we could keep getting her in the studio. That was last October, we've been working with her ever since. She's got one of the tracks on the debut EP which was day one, and now we've done a charity single, True Romance for Headway. She got an EP dropping on the 11th of December.
I started off as a poet so I guess it's poetry and music but I do different genres like hip-hop. I had time when I wasn't really leaving the house much, I was a little bit depressed and anxious. I started putting my poems up online.
Someone that's involved in the hip-hop scene in Leicester a long time ago saw my poems and was like, "That's really good. Can you send me some something in that's more like done over music?" So I sent him something in and he put me in touch with Yasin in HQ. After that we just decided to make an EP. And then I just stayed on.
Working with HQ's been brilliant. They've been really really patient with me because I was quite nervous at the start. They just work with me and helped me evolve as an artist. Everyone's so sound, we are all just really good friends as well. I think aside from me I think HQs really really exciting at the moment. It just seems like everything that's going on with Leicester's music scene is centered around HQ. And there's just so much beats that are coming out of it. I'm really pleased about it.
Charlie Georgio, the other signed artist, he's the cousin of one of the producers who worked. I just heard one of his songs and it was really good so I just thought yeah, I just wanted it. I was like, I want that track. So I managed to talk him into giving me that track. And then we've signed him up as well. Everyone else met through the studio, through doing projects and the music scene in Leicester.
The EP basically, that was a compilation of five tracks that we had. We didn't really know what to do whether we wanted part of EPs or albums. Before what we did, we do a compilation. A kind of show, a bit of diversity we're working with, so there's hip hop and then there's grime on there, there's stuff a bit more like R and B. There's singing. Thought we'd just start off with something that shows a bit of everything that we do.
So basically I've been doing events in Leicester for years, about seven years. Doing showcase events for upcoming artists. We started, since we've been doing the label I've started an event called HQ Familia and Friends. So that's basically so that we can do events every six to twelve weeks for our artists so that they're always performing to stay sharp and keep perfecting the craft. And then we invite a few of the people, the friends to come and perform.
We went to not BBC, not England, we had an interview with Dean Jackson. He really liked the music and what we're doing and asked how that converts into a live show. So we told him basically into a really good large show, everything we do is pretty good. So that now BBC Introducing East Midlands are co-hosting.
We boosted the line up so we've got I think 13 acts on this one. It's just around the corner at the Shed which is perfect. Because it's just around the corner, and it's a great venue as well. It's something that's ongoing but hopefully this will be one of the biggest and best ones yet.
So next year we've got quite a few projects underway. We've got I think two or three singles coming out with the signed artist Charlie Georgia. We're probably gonna do another compilation album because we still got quite a few bits that don't really fit into their own EPs or singles but it would be nice as a compilation. And events, want to keep doing more events and stuff. Just keep raising the profile of the label. Because when we started in, beginning of June, so we're still really new. It's just about getting as much stuff out there as we can. Making it, keeping the quality all really high. I wanna start making some bigger moves next year. This year was about building, next year is about progressing, just want to keep the plan going.
Do you want to set up and run your own independent record label? Record Label in a Box was created to help budding music entrepreneurs like you start their own label. Find out more about Record Label in a Box.