“There’s a few more catalysts in London to trigger [stress],” Bobby Connolly (aka DJ and producer Bobby Pleasure) explains softly in his Essex twang as we sit in one of Dalston’s many bars, chatting above the noise of a Madonna album with the busy London roar of traffic passing by. He’s not wrong. It’s estimated that 1 in 6 people in the past week will have suffered from a common mental health problem. Living in London can be tough- the endless struggle to pay rent, the constant late nights and parties, and the pursuing of careers that can be seemingly unobtainable. In the music industry, the issue of mental health seems to be particularly prevalent.
As label manager for Leeds based 20/20 Vision, Bobby is using his wealth of experience and vast knowledge of the industry to launch his own label- Needs. But this is going to be a label that aims to make a difference. The first release will be raising money for mental health charity Mind. “The label is about giving back, rather than taking,” Bobby tells me as he explains the ethos of his venture. “With Mind, [mental health] is something that has affected people very close to me and it’s also very closely aligned to dance music. I thought maybe it was a good place to start.”
With the full support of Mind, the launch will be taking place this coming Saturday down at popular East London haunt Grow. The event will run from day to night and will feature DJ sets from Bobby and some of his closest comrades alongside Hubie Davison whose track features on the first release. As well as the music, there’ll be talks and mindfulness workshops during the day. “There’s a lot to be said for mindfulness,” Connolly laments. “Being happy is like this big secret. What have we got to do be happy?”
The first release features productions from Bobby, Hubie Davison, DJ Swagger, and Johannes Albert, who’s gained great notoriety this year thanks to his inimitable B2B set with Move D at Gottwood. But with the music industry, and notably record sales, being infamous for not exactly raking in the money, how will Needs help charities such as Mind? “It’s not just about the money,” he assures me. “Everyone who works in music knows there isn’t tonnes of money in it. As with every industry there’s the top 5% who are cleaning up and the 95% who are scratching around…I’m doing it to create awareness of that charity and to spread the word of giving back rather than taking.” Wanting to give back is something that is clearly important to the producer as we later continue our chat walking down Ridley Road Market and is apparent through his interaction with the market stallholders and a homeless gentleman who approaches us asking for change.
The next release will be one supporting a homeless charity, he tells me. “You can never judge someone ‘cause unless you’ve walked a mile in their shoes, you’ve got no idea what that person’s been through.” For this record, he’s handed the production mantle to Tilman -who co-runs Frank Music with Johannes Albert- Jonny Rock, Lucky Charmz and Pletnev who’s recently released on Meda Fury. Homelessness is an important issue that needs greater attention as it’s becoming ever apparent that this country is facing a crisis in this area, but one that we, and our government, are evidently choosing to turn a blind eye to.
So with two big releases and fundraisers imminent, where does Bobby see the label heading? A chance encounter at a festival earlier this year has laid the foundations to take Needs global. “I met this amazing woman who takes UK DJs on tour to India,” he recalls excitedly. “She’s taking me on tour to India next May and then we’re going to do a Needs record in Mumbai.” For the record, they plan on recruiting all Indian artists who will then play at the party they’ll be doing out there. Not only this, but the pair are looking to start a charity that will be all about getting young people a foot in the door in the music industry. They’ll be running talks and production workshops and all proceeds from the event out there will be put straight back into the charity.
In an industry where there are some who are in it merely for the glory, it’s refreshing to see someone who’s passionate about wanting to give something back.
Bobby concludes: “Through the medium of music I want to spread this idea of giving back and hopefully we can make a real change and can spread this concept and this idea as far as we possibly can. That’s my idea- to go as far and as high as we possibly can so we can make some real change.”
Main image credit Jennifer Wallis
Needs 001 (in aid of Mind) launches this Saturday. For tickets to the event head HERE.
The record will be released 23rd October. To pre-order from Juno head THIS WAY.
For more info on Needs check out the FACEBOOK PAGE.