Lucked Out: LuckyMe at 15
Record label and design studio LuckyMe celebrates its 15th anniversary this year, so we looked back at its history, from its early days on MySpace to its game-changing releases
Cast your minds back to 2007, an undeniably huge year for pop culture. It was the year the first ever iPhone was launched, Preston walked off Never Mind the Buzzcocks, Britney shaved her head, and Ross Birchard – better known as Hudson Mohawke – launched his Valentine’s Slow Jams series with then little known record label LuckyMe.
Birchard revived the series in February this year, following a five-year hiatus and marking its 15th anniversary. The series began and continues to be presented by LuckyMe – the record label and design studio co-founded by Birchard alongside Dominic Flannigan, Martyn Flyn and Mike Slott – which has gone on to become one of the most influential record labels of the last decade.
LuckyMe’s roots date as far back as 2002, when Flyn first came up with the name, and it existed in different guises in the years following; as a club night in Glasgow and an EP title for a joint project between Birchard and Flannigan. But LuckyMe officially became an entity on 7 July 2007, when it launched its first website. The label’s first official release came in October that same year with Hudson Mohawke’s Ooops! EP, released in collaboration with Glasgow’s Wireblock Records – which later went on to become one of the three labels that formed Numbers – and Rub A Dub.
During this time, the label was also showcasing its artist roster through a series of club nights across Scotland. Some of its earliest club nights took place at Edinburgh’s Octopus Diamond – now known as The Mash House – as part of the label’s brief LuckyMe: Drums party series. It’s at these parties in Edinburgh where Flannigan and Flyn met close label affiliate Russell Whyte, better known as Rustie, who co-founded LuckyMe’s club offshoot in Glasgow, Ballers Social Club, alongside promoter Joe Coghill.
From the off, LuckyMe had a distinct visual identity, incorporating Flannigan’s art school background. The chopped and skewed visual aesthetic mimicked the wonky electronic/hip-hop hybrid sounds the label was producing. It felt like an underground take on the stuttering productions pioneered by Timbaland, who was riding high in the charts at the time and whom Birchard has cited as one of his favourite producers.
Making its way up during the age of MySpace, LuckyMe was ‘internet’ before it became a subculture. Before the birth of SoundCloud rappers and TikTok sensations, there were MySpace bands and Tumblr girls. As the very first social media platform to reach a global audience, MySpace allowed the label to put out releases whenever and however they saw fit and enabled them to transcend location; to not be bound by one genre or place.
And as LuckyMe’s presence started to grow online, so too did its artist roster. With a quick glance at the label’s discography over the years, you’ll find a who’s who of experimental electronic artists from Scotland and beyond. Jacques Greene, Lunice, Baauer, Machinedrum and S-Type are among those with multiple releases on the label, but it’s Birchard who is perhaps LuckyMe’s biggest success story.
After signing to Warp Records to release his debut album Butter in 2009 – for which fellow LuckyMe alumni Konx-om-Pax designed the artwork – Birchard began to gain more mainstream success but kept close ties with LuckyMe. So when it came to releasing his debut EP with TNGHT – a collaborative project between himself and Canadian producer Lunice – in 2012, the two labels joined forces.
TNGHT, quite literally, changed the game, and the big names came knocking. Birchard was swiftly signed to Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music imprint as a producer and enlisted to produce tracks on West’s 2013 album Yeezus and its 2016 follow-up The Life of Pablo. This brought about further interest, and he went on to produce more tracks for some of the biggest names in hip-hop, including Drake, Lil Wayne and Azealia Banks.
In the meantime, Flannigan and Flyn were being made offers to sign over the rights to LuckyMe from some of the biggest record labels going, but they refused. Since then, the pair have continued to run LuckyMe between offices in Edinburgh and London but with an artist roster that spans across the globe, and the label has been responsible for some of the most interesting and innovative releases of the last decade. It has also expanded its work in the design world, branching out further into photography, videography, installation, creative direction and fashion.
Over the last 15 years, LuckyMe has set the standard for independent record labels across the world and helped define the sound of a generation, without ever giving up what it stands for and always remaining two steps ahead.
Hudson Mohawke releases his third album, Cry Sugar, on 12 August via Warp Records