Wah Wah 45s started in the late 90’s as a string of underground parties which were the brainchild of the late Simon Goss and his brother Chris. In ’97, they were offered a residency at The Jazz Cafe and the rest is history. The last twenty years have seen Wah Wah 45s take shape as a genre-defying record label, whilst hosting regular club nights and live events. Co-run by Dom Servini and Adam Scrimshire, the label have released forward thinking music transcending the genres of funk, soul, jazz and beyond – playing host to the likes of Hackney Colliery Band, Paper Tiger, The Milk, Dele Sosimi, Medlar and many more.
Sitting down with label head Dom Servini, we threw a few questions his way about the origins of the label, their defining moments and future plans.
Take us back to the ’90s. How did the label begin?
It’s all a bit misty but the label started off the back of the club sessions that founders Chris Goss and his brother Simon had been running in and around London, and finally at The Jazz Cafe – a venue that’s still our spiritual home. Their weekly Friday party was a celebration of feel good, soulful music past and present, and the label was a reflection of that. The first releases were 7-inch only, with the idea of releasing old and new music side to side (or back to back!) and although this didn’t end up always being the case, that was the ethos. I was invited to join the club night as a resident DJ in ’99, the year the label started. Soon after that I joined the label too, and alongside Simon (with Chris busy with his Hospital Records imprint) we started to sign more young and upcoming artists who wrote original music. This continued to the next level when Adam Scrimshire joined as co-director of the label later in 2010.
What have been some of the label’s highlights over the years?
So many… Our first Radio 1 play (Alison Crockett – Like Rain); a heavily pregnant Alison playing the set of her life to a packed Cargo in Shoreditch; putting on very early performances from artists like Jamie Woon, Corrine Bailey Rae, Michael Kiwanuka and even Emeli Sande; our Simon Says events that ran for ten years at The Jazz Cafe, following the sad and untimely death of Simon Goss in 2010, which have raised over £60,000 for The Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation; Hackney Colliery Band warming up the crowd at The Olympic Stadium for the opening ceremony of the Olympics in 2012; signing Afrobeat legend and Fela Kuti musical director Dele Sosimi; and every time we hear one of our artists’ songs being played on the radio!
What are the label’s plans for the future?
Even with the uncertainty of COVID, we’re pulling all the stops out into 2021! We’re really excited to have a powerful new album from Afro-dub stalwarts Soothsayers dropping this November, as well as a couple of 12s courtesy of a very unique hook up between Dele Sosimi and Medlar. Then next year we’re returning to the reissue world with a very special and rare12-inch out of early 90s North London, complete with a couple of re-works from a pair of our favourite producers; smooth movers TALC will be back with one final single (and another re-work from a disco edit superstar!); we’re looking forward to a new EP and LP from the magical Isaac Birituro & The Rail Abandon; plus there’ll be a couple of new albums from two of our most beloved artists; more from Dele Sosimi x Medlar; and the small matter of a new sub-label on the more electronic tip! Phew. Sounds exhausting now that I write it all down.
The label’s next release is a unique collaboration between the U.K.’s very own Afrobeat Ambassador Dele Sosimi, and a producer who’s been at the forefront of the South London electronic music scene for a decade now, Medlar. The Full Moon EP is released on vinyl this Friday 30th October – pre-order here.