“There has never been a time I can remember when I wasn’t involved in music in an intense way,” says Richard Russell, who is both a record producer and co-owner of London-based record label XL Recordings.
Founded in 1989 by Russell in partnership with Beggars Banquet Records, XL is renowned for the creative freedom it gives its artists, leading to some of the most significant music releases of the last three decades. The list of artists on its roster is eclectic: the independent label’s first major success was The Prodigy, among the best-selling bands of the 90s. After this came releases from, amongst others, The White Stripes, Dizzee Rascal, The xx, FKA twigs, Vampire Weekend, Radiohead and, of course, Adele.
Russell has also gained his own success as an artist: in 1992, he scored a Top 10 hit – when such things still had major significance – with The Bouncer, as one half of rave duo Kicks Like a Mule. He initially produced rave and hip hip in his teens, and has recently returned to producing, working with Gil Scott-Heron on his first new material in decades for the album I’m New Here (released by XL in 2010), co-producing Bobby Womack’s The Bravest Man in the Universe (XL, 2012), and producing Damon Albarn’s album Everyday Robots in 2014. Most recently, Russell produced Ibeyi’s eponymous 2015 debut album, and launched a new collaborative artist project, rLr, the first single of which was a collaboration with Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry.