Originally started as a club night six years ago, record label Communion – founded by Mumford & Sons‘ Ben Lovett (second from the right) along with Kevin Jones and producer Ian Grimble – has just released a compilation New Faces showcasing songs from established artists it’s championed, including Gotye, Michael Kiwanuka and Ben Howard, to newcomers like Will Nott who was discovered while he was interning at the studio next door to where Mumford & Sons were recording. In a guest column, Mumford keyboard player Lovett explains the ethos behind the label and its latest release.
It all started with a compilation. Compilation one was called Communion and it was a way we thought we could showcase everyone we’d been promoting at the club night we set up six years ago. It was a big step up launching the label. We wanted to work with artists who connect with people, so the gigs were the best testing platform. If they could get the room – either silencing it or getting everyone really going – then it was clear there was something special about that artist and we had to get that on record so people could take that home.
Kevin Jones, one of the other founders of Communion, and I have very particular tastes when it comes to music, so whatever goes through both of us – our filtration system – we’ll agree on. Over the last few years it feels like there’s been less focus on songwriting and more on style over substance. All we’re trying to do is shed light on all the artists who are still trying to write good songs, songs that will stand the test of the time. We haven’t ever done anything apart from wanting to support the music that we love. It’s mental, one little club night in London has evolved into 15 nights worldwide, promoted shows at Brixton Academy and released 25 records. It’s all just snowballing.
Running the label and being in a band help each other, definitely. I’m constantly reminded how fortunate I am with Mumford & Sons by all the struggles we go through daily with the artists we work with.
This new compilation is probably the best thing we’ve done yet, both in terms of the quality of the music and how all the artists compliment each other. It’s a bit of a mishmash, it’s broader than just acoustic or folk, it’s got more genres and more international characters on there. It’s a cross section of everything out there that we think is great. Some of it is more established, like Ben Howard and Michael Kiwanuka and then there’s some stuff no one’s heard yet.
Communion is an international musical community. We don’t just pick artists, everyone is loosely connected with each other and there are lots of little stories of artists coming to us via my band and from friends and family. Recommendations is the best compliment an artist can get, I think, whether it’s from a magazine or your friend. If someone you trust tells you something is good that’s amazing and we’re hoping that Communion, like say Factory and other labels used to be, will be trusted too.
Ben Lovettwas speaking to Paul Stokes
For more on Communion and New Faces head to Communionmusic.co.uk.