Illustration by Beth Nicol
Trash Like You Records is run by Tallulah and Ava, a formidable duo that are making sure womxn and non-binary artists are getting the space they need in the music industry. Trash Like You is a record label with a twist, as they only release artists first singles as a means to provide a platform to those who are often denied it. They also curate events which have as much flare as their personalities and a strong message at their core – for example, their ‘Menstruation Matters’ gig, the profits of which were donated to women's charity Irise International.
We spoke to Tallulah and Ava about creating space for artists and themselves in such a cut-throat industry.
Hey guys! So - tell us a little bit about Trash Like You, how did you come up with the idea?
Tallulah: - I originally started ‘Trash Like You’ on my own. After working in the music industry as a songwriter and artist for many years, I was in a new phase and had wanted to perform some new music I’d been working on. Rather than sending stuff on and trying to play at someone else’s event, I decided to just create my own. It was in the basement of a Saki bar on Kingsland Road, I sung and had a few friends DJing. It was loads of fun and straight away I knew I wanted to continue doing it. I then linked up with Vice at Old Blue Last and began a residency there. Ava had already been a good friend of mine for many years, so I reached out to her for her excellent skills in website design, graphics and flyers. Super quickly Ava and I realised we loved working with each other and that the collaboration of much more than just the visuals was naturally forming; we decided to join forces and expand all things ‘Trash Like You’ together! We are now equally involved with everything. I originally named ‘Trash Like You’ after a line in one of my favourite films ever Gummo, the character Dot - played by Chloë Sevigny - is sexually assaulted in her car, when the guy gets out of the car he shouts “Nothing new for trash like you”. I guess I wanted to claim back the phrase. He was trash not her. I’m also just quite a Harmony Korine nerd, I’ve got “Life is great without it you’d be dead” tattooed on me, which is another quote from the film.
How long have you been running Trash like You and what have been your highlights so far?
Tallulah: - The events have been going for almost two years, and we began the curation side of things and launched the label in January. I guess one highlight for me would have to be signing our first song to the label last month. ‘Fear’ by Geneivah if anyone hasn’t heard it! It really was so special the moment Geneivah signed the contract and working with her has been such a pleasure!
As well as that I’d say our first event with The Circle was also really special to me. The Circle is an all womxns network that support different womxn’s charities around the world. We put on three events for them at the end of last year to raise money for Irise International, an organisation that raises awareness and money for period poverty across the UK and Uganda. The first one we held was at The Curtain in Shoreditch and I think both Ava and I were so overwhelmed with how moving the whole evening felt. We had a number women speaking and singing and all of them were so engaging and honest.
Ava- So after I got involved, we had our first night at the Old Blue Last in September 2018 and I had designed the flyer for the event and started working on branding with Tallulah. This was really the beginning for me and everything after has been a highlight!
There have obviously been some great moments but setting up a business is never smooth sailing. What are some of the problems you’ve faced?
Tallulah - I guess like with all new businesses it can be a long time before you make any profit. It’s hard - but you make it work with what you can. I think probably the hardest thing we’ve had to face is other people not always being perhaps as organised as us. There have been a number of times we’ve had to magic instruments out of thin air and switch set times around at the last minute. We even arrived at venues that have posters saying wrong dates before! It is what it is though, it just teaches us to think on our feet.
Ava - I guess the biggest problem has been people's attitudes. You’re dealing with different venues and various people and I can’t tell you the amount of times people have walked straight passed me and Tallulah to whoever the man in the room is at that time to ask technical questions or ask about money. Or when people just assume we are acts performing and not the people organising things because of how we look! But really nothing has ever been that bad, we are an amazing team!
You run the business together, is it hard putting so much faith in someone else? How do you work as a team?
Tallulah - Honestly, it might sound cringey but there is no one else I would rather work with! I think firstly it’s so important to get on super well with one another. Ava’s one of my bestest best friends as well as my business partner. Secondly, we both really value and respect each other's opinions; for the most part we agree on how things should be or should look. On the very rare occasions we disagree, we will always listen to each other's opinions and make joint decisions. I think most importantly neither of us have unmanageable egos when it comes to ‘Trash Like You’, we both believe whole heartedly in what we're doing and really enjoy it.
Ava - Luckily, we are essentially two halves of one person! We’ve known each other for about 13 years now and we have very similar ideas so it’s easy to work as a team. We always say how lucky it is 99.99% of the time we have exactly the same opinion on things. I think it would be hard for me to trust anyone else totally and there’s no one else I could do this with so successfully!
You mainly support womxn and non-binary artists, why is it so important to celebrate and support creative minorities?
Tallulah - I think for both of us we have faced a lot of sexism with in working in creative industries. People have tried to take advantage of us and often I’ve been spoken to like I’m stupid. We so desperately want people to be able to create and perform music freely without being encouraged to sexualise themselves or be pigeonholed into their gender or sexuality.
Ava - Having grown up modelling I understood how it felt to be manipulated and made to feel uncomfortable by older men at work and I know Tallulah went through a lot of the same things when she was signed to a label at a young age, so that’s really where the initial want to create a safe platform for womxn started. But then the more we’ve developed our live events and the brand the more we’ve just felt a real need to celebrate and support creative minorities as they simply do not have the platform that more ‘mainstream’ male artists do, who have the world as their platform already!
Running your own business is tough, especially as young women, how do you navigate the industry?
Tallulah - We both started working when we were young and entered creative industries pretty early. I think experience does naturally give you more confidence, but I think also you kind of just have to fake it until you make it. Be assertive and go after what you want.
Ava - By staying tough and professional. We are both pretty strong women if I say so myself and it’s just remembering that. We also don’t let ourselves be put down and stay focused on our goals. Also having fun helps things along too!
With all the problems at the moment and the government's current lack of support for freelancers, what is your advice to women in the same position as you?
Tallulah: - It’s a very odd time but try not to panic. I would say take a couple of days to chill out and readjust to what's going on. Listen to music (we made a staying at home playlist for you on our Spotify) read books and eat healthy cooked food. Once you're feeling more relaxed speak to other creative and freelancer friends and see what you can do together. This is a horrible situation - but we are all in this together, reach out to people and think outside of the box in terms of new projects and things you could do.
Ava - Keep fighting, keep shouting and remember you’re not being difficult or crazy, you are just doing what any man would do! Also - in a more practical sense - we are thinking about support ‘Trash Like You’ can offer to any freelancers who are facing a very scary future because of the struggles ahead so stay tuned for more from us via @trashlikeyourecords on Instagram!
Trash Like You's quarantine playlist, 'Home from TLY' is out on Spotify for all your isolated ears!
Follow the girls on Instagram to see what they have been up to, and watch their 'Trash Talks' at 6pm every Friday.