Swedish independent music company YEAR0001 has been managing the Yung Lean and Bladee entourage since the early days. Lots of trailblazing acts have joined the roster since. Founders Emilio Fagone and Oskar Ekman are on a constant hunt for the exceptional in music. Their main asset? It’s their different musical background, allowing them to be flexible, eclectic and contemporary. We’re happy to have pinned down the boys for their first interview ever, for a chat about how it all came together, Yung Lean and the liberating feeling of organic music.

Interview by Dennis Meersman
Photos by Fredrik Andersson Andersson, shot in Stockholm


I would love to start a gaming company where artists we work with would make the soundtrack of games

What is YEAR0001?
Emilio: It’s a music company based in Stockholm. Three and a half years ago, me and Oskar started the management, mainly managing Yung Lean, Gud and Yung Sherman, but also DrainGang with Bladee, Thaiboy Digital, Ecco2K and whitearmor. We felt that there wasn’t a fitting spot for them to drop their music, so we started a label.

Oskar: It started out when me and Emilio realised that it would be better to work together than apart. Back then, we ran separate management companies but we shared a studio space.

How did you meet the Yung Lean and his entourage?
E: I’ve been managing them since day one. I met them in early 2013. Back then, I was a club promoter and I was running a music and arts festival in Trädgården, Stockholm. Apparently, Yung Lean asked an artist from the UK I had booked to collaborate with him. So, he asked me if I knew him, but I didn’t. I wanted to book Yung Lean and the Sadboys for one of my club nights but they were too young at the time. I had to book them in another city where their age was allowed. It was after that first show that I started booking all their shows and became their manager.

Where do you place YR1 in the musical landscape of Sweden?
E: I would say we’re standing kind of alone there. I don’t think there’s anyone doing what we’re doing.

O: In terms of musical landscape it’s just an independent music company. We don’t try to chase any genre. It’s just more flexible rather than to tie yourself down to a single thing. Mine and Emilio’s backgrounds lay in different genres. It was just natural for us to be completely independent instead of being tied down to one genre.

The theme of the summer issue is ‘iAy que calor!’, which is Spanish for ‘Oh this heat!’. Next to the artists on YEAR0001, who’s bringing the heat in 2019?
E: S/o to Palmistry, his sophomore album, Afterlife, which recently came out on Mixpak, is truly a modern pop classic. Oli XL has a bright future ahead with his debut album coming up. Holly Herndon’s Spawn project is quite astonishing and Objekt’s live A/V show with Ezra Miller is something you shouldn’t miss this year.

Technology was advancing and after a while, the whole technology behind recording a live band became more and more irrelevant as bedroom recording became more accessible

There’s more guitar-oriented music coming out on the label (Viagra Boys, Död Mark). What do you think about the present or future of rock music
O: I think we’ve had a period where people considered guitar music to be less important. Technology was advancing and after a while, the whole technology behind recording a live band became more and more irrelevant as bedroom recording became more accessible. I think guitar music will always be relevant and needed, especially in times where people are looking for something with more of a live element to it. At a time where a lot of electronic music is completely on the grid, listening to something more organic can feel liberating.

E: Oskar comes from the Swedish hardcore scene and I grew up on ’90s, ’00s indie/avantgarde music, which were all guitar-oriented genres. We also share a lot of musical references with the artists we work with so it came naturally, I believe.

What do you seek in a potential artist to release on YEAR0001?
O: We’re looking for something exceptional. With the increasing accessibility of recording technology came a lot of mediocre music. We’ve been fortunate enough to find musicians that are completely genius in what they do. And we just want to amplify that. When you already have four or five guys who’re considered afraid of challenging the status quo, you start attracting similar artists. We’re trying to work with people who are constantly pushing the edge of what music can be in 2019.

What’s the thing you definitely want to accomplish with the label?
O: I don’t think we have a goal with what we’re doing. Rather, we have a drive to do things. I always considered drive to be stronger than having goals. Me, Emilio and the whole staff go to work every day wanting to do something better and bigger and continuously push the boundaries for what we can do as a music company and to form a cultural hub.

E: I always try to explore what other fields you can use music in or mix it with. I would love to start a gaming company where artists we work with would make the soundtrack of games.


Bladee plays Different Class 
10 Aug – DOK, Ghent
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