The last time we spoke, Kouslin had just celebrated his first vinyl release on Jacob Harrison (Jay Club) and Joe Sagar’s (Don Found) MDNGHT Records. Since then, he has succeeded in not only establishing his own label, but securing growing credibility amongst artists within the UK underground scene.
‘Le Chatroom’, a pun on the French translation of ‘cat’, has grabbed the attention of a number of illustrious selectors, with promotions raining in from the likes Moxie, Marcus Nasty, and Peverlist.
Speaking on recent becomings, Kouslin, AKA Sam Ross-Laye said: “I never thought it would get so far. I knew the tracks were great but thought we’d struggle to get them out to bigger DJ’s and press/radio without any PR. It just worked well without involving too much marketing; I’m very proud of what we’ve achieved with just one release.”
Although he currently resides in London, Ross-Laye actually began his musical career in France, after moving there aged 10 with his parents. He initially found his way onto the scene through playing the guitar, with Sparklehorse frontman and multi-instrumentalist Mark Linkous inspiring him to venture into music production for himself, along with laying the foundations of the name ‘Kouslin’.
His work now centres around the concept of synergy, combining elements of different genres to produce an entirely unique sound. Following on from his world and bass music amalgamation ‘Suga’s Drums’ EP, Ross-Laye continues to display his artistic endeavour, with three powerful tracks forming his ‘LCR001’ debut.
“I’m not sure there’s a genre really at the moment” he said, “I think after a few releases we’ll be able to recognise a sound unique to the label. Right now it’s mainly bass music, around 120-140bpm, which incorporates sounds from other genres of music from around the world.
“Some tracks have a more obvious use of world music samples, but others may just use rhythms less common in western music; or even just use the sound of an unusual instrument, uncommon to European culture.”
‘LCR001’ features Kouslin’s own ‘Brothers’, an eloquent, percussion-packed tribal cut, the haunting, hissing hi hat ambience of Sheik’s ‘Oxram’, and the ominous, yet seductive sounds of Galtier’s ‘Gyals’. Speaking on the selection process, Kouslin said: “I really wanted to avoid putting a bunch of tracks together and releasing them just because they were all good individually.
“Galtier and Sheik are both good friends of mine and I knew they understood the sound I was trying to push with Le Chatroom. They both sent me a few demos which we narrowed down to the two that came out on LCR001.
“I’m really pleased with the variety of styles on the EP; the tracks are all very different in mood, tempo and style, but they still have that common vibe; they work really great together as a whole.”
Since his first release back in 2014, 21-year-old Ross-Laye has been forced to overcome obstacles laid out by different labels. Now, after starting his own imprint, the freedom to control every ingredient of a release is in his hands.
One component deemed pivotal by Ross-Laye is artwork; speaking humorously on the origins of Le Chatroom’s trademark, cat in a hoodie logo, he said: “I met a guy called Adam Reeves at Bloc festival; we were pretty mashed when we were talking about it, but in the end, after a few conversations on Facebook, he managed to put into image exactly what I was trying to describe to him from what I was visualising in my head.”
The responsibility of owning a label has not been all smooth sailing though, Ross-Laye says. “It’s been a big headache admin wise, with loads of forms and emails back and forth to the distribution company etc. However, I have enjoyed being busy with it all at the same time; I’ve been learning a lot about how the industry works behind the scenes.”
The label, which accustoms itself to “Promoting musical diversity, open-mindedness, and experimentation at a time when unity between cultures is crucial”, saw its debut EP hit renowned record stores across the globe following its release on 28 October.
In high spirits, Kouslin said: “I’ve always wanted to have my music on vinyl, as I feel like I’m leaving something behind me on earth. The fact it’s been selling all around the world, from Japan to New Zealand, to Canada, to China, is really, really exciting. I’m overwhelmed that physical stores, such as Hard Wax, Idle Hands, and Container Records are stocking it too.”
For Kouslin, the success of Le Chatroom’s debut release has only driven him to work even harder; “I’m writing as much music as possible” he said, “I’m trying to do something completely different on my next tracks; same vibe, but different tempo and style.
“I’m also moving to a more creative area of London, much closer to a lot of my producer friends, so hopefully that will really push me to collaborate more, and generally seek inspiration via them.”
An exuberant as ever Ross-Laye rounded off by informing us of his upcoming plans, he said: “We’ve got a few events lined up, including a live streamed private event, which should be really good. In terms of the label, there will be a few more split EPs, which feature some really great tracks, before we move on to full length releases by individual artists, with remixes etc. It’s exciting times ahead!”
‘LCR001’ is available now from all good record stores, and online at lechatroom.bandcamp.com.