Local Action Celebrates a Decade on the Dance Floor in 10 Tracks

BP 10 Years of Local Action in 10 Tracks Beatportal Header 1920x897 1
May 19, 2022
Tom Lea
Local Action label boss Tom Lea walks us through a decade of dance floor magic from his essential UK imprint with the stories behind 10 of its most critical tunes.

It was hard enough condensing the last decade of releasing music into a 15-track compilation, so here’s one better — 10 tracks that loosely tell the story of this label’s last 10 years. Endless thanks to everybody who trusted us with their music this last decade, here’s to the next one.

Local Action’s anniversary compilation Do What You Want Forever: 10 Years Of Local Action is available now. Check it out on Beatport.

Local Action Beatport
T. Williams – Heartbeat (Mosca Remix) [2010]
Local Action effectively launched to release T. Williams’ music — I’d been planning to start the label for a while, but hearing his demos was the “eureka!” moment where I knew we had our first release. He’d come from a grime background, but was making house music that tapped into both the raw rhythmic energy of UK Funky and the production values of European and US house and techno, and even dubstep — it just encapsulated everything I wanted from club music at this point. “Heartbeat” wasn’t the first music we released by T. Williams, but it’s his bonafide classic from this period, and remains an anthem to this day.
Slackk – Blue Sleet [from Raw Missions, 2012]
DJ Q and Slackk usher in what I’d loosely call Local Action’s second chapter after T. Williams signed to PMR, and it’s hard to overstate Slackk’s importance to the label for the next few years, both as an artist, as a DJ (his monthly mixes showcasing new grime talent from this period are an unfairly downplayed and hugely important part of club music in the mid-2010s) and then later, as a founder of Boxed, a club night that Local Action enjoyed a close relationship with in this period. “Blue Sleet”, from his Raw Missions EP is a clear influence on the wave of instrumental grime music that would add some much-needed vibrancy to the UK underground in the years that followed.
DJ Q – Get Over You [from Ineffable, 2014]
We’ve released more records by DJ Q than any other artist on Local Action, and after 2012’s “Brandy & Coke” (vinyl-only, so sadly not on Beatport and thus ineligible for this list!), we started working towards his debut album Ineffable. This period marks the start of one of the label’s longest-lasting relationships — Q is one of the most important and influential UK artists of the last 20 years, and his talent as a DJ and musician still regularly blows my mind.
Yamaneko – Fragrance Transmission [from Pixel Wave Embrace, 2014]
A brilliant album and more influential than people give it credit for — just look at how few records pre-2014 were taking influence from grime, new age ambient and video game soundtracks, and how many have since. Obviously, this is the start of a long-running relationship with Yamaneko, but also an album that gave us the confidence to release records that don’t fit neatly into a club music context — in fact, it was a fairly last minute decision to strip a lot of the drums away from this album and focus more on atmosphere and melody, which ultimately defines Yamaneko’s sound.
Dawn Richard – Not Above That [2016]
Still blows my mind that we released two Dawn Richard albums. I’d been a huge admirer of her for years, and I reached out off the back of her 2014 album Blackheart purely as a fan, with no real aim beyond expressing my admiration and maybe putting her onto some of our artists for future production. We spent the next six months talking, and at the end of 2014 she suggested working together on her next record. I basically dropped everything, and focused the next year on improving our label infrastructure so that we could do her music justice — Dawn was comfortably the biggest artist we’d worked with at that point, and the whole experience really forced us to up our game in every aspect of how we operate. This label owes a lot to her in that department.
Finn – Sometimes The Going Gets a Little Tough [2017]
Local Action’s last six or seven years look very, very different without Finn. He’s not only become one of our key artists, but 2 B REAL (our Manchester-based sibling label, which Finn operates) has become an incredibly important part of our operation in recent years, and the source of some of our best and most successful recent records. More than anything, Finn is someone whose approach to music is a constant inspiration — a frequent reminder to try and fight the good fight, and why we’re doing this whole label thing in the first place. I don’t think I need to reiterate what an anthem this record became.
Anz – No Harm [from Invitation to Dance, 2019]
A classic record from a generational talent, and the release that really kicks off 2 B REAL as a label with its own identity – the point where it goes from a functional sibling label intended to release some no thrills club records to something that stands alone, and is obviously specifically intertwined with Finn’s home of Manchester. Seeing Anz’s rise in recent years has been a pleasure – a genuine national treasure, and an artist where the amount of thought she puts into each move she makes has paid dividends.
India Jordan – For You [from For You, 2020]
Speaking of classic records from generational talents! We’ve known Jordan almost as long as we’ve known Finn — they first came with Finn to a party we threw in 2014, we started speaking semi-regularly and from then on they seamlessly integrated into the family, long before they were even producing music. When they started making music, it was a natural move for both parties to start releasing it together, and witnessing their ascendence from their first demos to the point they’re at now has been so fulfilling and affirming. For You, for me is a perfect record — not just musically but in terms of the meaning behind it that Jordan worked carefully to express through the titles, the visual side, the whole package. Full of energy and emotion, just like T. Williams a decade before, “For You” encapsulates pretty much everything I’m looking for in dance music.
E.M.M.A. – Into Indigo [from Indigo Dream, 2020]
E.M.M.A. is someone else who was part of the family long before we ever released a record by her. We originally spoke about her second album being on Local Action back in 2015, and she delivered the final tracklist about a week before the first lockdown in 2020. In fact, the afternoon she sent it would be the last time I worked from outside my apartment for a long, long time. Despite it taking five years to come to fruition and despite it being almost a decade on from her first album Blue Gardens, it was received brilliantly: the wait didn’t affect the response at all, and I think that’s testament to Emma’s talent, personality and the visual world she’s able to build around her music.
UNIIQU3 – Microdosing [from Heartbeats, 2021]
UNIIQU3 is someone I’d admired hugely for years. We’d booked her for parties five or six times before even talking about working on a release together, and we’d always joked that she was like our North American cousin, so when it came to finally turning that relationship into a label one it was very natural. She spent the best part of two years building and fine-tuning Heartbeats, and listening to it you can really tell — she was determined for it to be her biggest and best record to date, and she quite clearly achieved that. UNIIQU3’s the sort of personality and artist who really makes you bring your A-game when working with her, and I think she’s destined to become a bigger star with each passing year. I feel hugely privileged to call her a part of the family.