Micro-label bringing the world's nichest music to borough's earsLewis set up his own label to champion unique artists without worrying about profit margins
A tiny music label in Walthamstow - operating out of soon-to-be-regenerated Blackhorse Lane - is bringing the indie darlings of far flung countries to the borough's ears.
Mais Um - which means “one more” in Portuguese and is how Brazilian audiences call for an encore - was set up by Lewis Robinson, who previously worked for a label specialising in Brazilian music.
His own label, started in 2010, originally operated out of his Walthamstow home before moving to a shared office space in Uplands Business Park and boasts only one other “on and off” employee.
The tiny size of the operation, however, is what allows the 46-year-old to champion some of the most innovative artists around the world, without having to worry about their chances at mass appeal.
He told the Echo that, in his previous job for BBC Worldwide, it “eventually got to the point where the things I wanted to do were too niche to get approval”.
He said: “That’s why I decided to just do it myself. I figured I could sell enough to get by, whereas a bigger label needs bigger margins, which is why small projects get pushed to the side.
“The idea has always been to show what’s happening on the fringes of music. I like finding music that’s unlike anything I’ve heard before and that’s probably why I didn’t work with artists from the UK - because I sort of knew their music.
“It’s quite nice to introduce work to a new audience - when you see people enjoy it, it’s really rewarding - but it can be a lot of work. You are essentially starting from scratch sometimes.
“But I think Walthamstow has a great audience for this kind of thing, it’s very inquisitive. There’s a local record shop Dreamhouse in Francis Road who have been really supportive, they have got all of our records there.”
The label represents around a dozen artists, many of whom hail from Brazil, but their biggest success story is Japanese band Minyo Crusaders.
Lewis said: “They take folk records from Japan but reimagine them as genres like reggae or salsa. They were going to play at Walthamstow Garden Party in 2020 but then, of course, Covid happened.
“With the last two years, touring has been complicated, which is unfortunate because it is still the best way for bands to market themselves.
“The pandemic did make me think Mais Um should start working towards repping some local bands… We’re quite well-connected internationally but less so locally.”
The label recently put on a series of events at nearby Exale Brewery, which Lewis said had been a great way to form new connections with local artists.
While he has enjoyed his time in Uplands Business Park, where he has been based for the last decade, it is unfortunately coming to an end, thanks to the area’s regeneration.
Uplands Business Park is being redeveloped by owner BlackRock, meaning he and the other offices in his building will have to be out by the end of 2023.
However, regardless of where he ends up next, Mais Um will continue to bring new sounds to the people of Walthamstow - and beyond.
Find out more on their website