HITS Daily Double
"We want to be a springboard for developing Canadian talent and building this company into a marketing powerhouse."


Last Gang’s Chris Taylor is a Musician-Turned-Lawyer-Turned-Label Head
The latest, actually first, entry in HITS’ intermittent series spotlighting Canada’s great music executives is Chris Taylor, a law school grad who took off six years to play with the Juno-nominated reggae band One before launching his own entertainment legal firm, Taylor Mitsopulos Burshtein, in 2006, where his list of clients includes Nelly Furtado, Avril Lavigne, K-OS, Daniel Powter, Sam Roberts, Hot Hot Heat, Three Days Grace, Skye Sweetnam and Sum 41, as well as newcomer Justin Nozuka.

“I was always the business guy in the band, dealing with the agents, the lawyers the managers and record labels,” he says. “I tried to learn as much as possible along the way.”

With the help of Canadian government agencies like FACTOR (Foundation to Assist Canadian Talent on Record), designed to promote the country’s bands through funding for tours, videos, showcases and online support, Taylor launched the in-house label Last Gang Entertainment with partner Donald Tarlton.

“We started it to help Metric, a band I’ve been working with for the last 10 years,” says Taylor, whose roster includes Canadian bands MSTRKRFT, Chromeo, New Pornographers, Death From Above 1979 and Crystal Castles, as well as Berlin electronica act Boyz Noize and Kingston reggae performer Terry Lynn. The label is distributed by Fontana in the U.S. and Universal in Canada, with PIAS in the U.K., JVC in Japan and Shock in Australia.

“It’s about substance more than style,” he says of his signings. “They have to be able to sing. I’m attracted to strong front people who are amazing songwriters and creative minds. Live performance is a huge part of it. Our acts tour all over the world all the time.”

With the Canadian music scene invigorated by indie success stories like Arcade Fire, Broken Social Scene and Death from Above 1979, Taylor is confident his approach is the right one.

“The various levels of government funding to the bands and labels are instrumental in supporting these new bands,” he says. “It’s at the core of why the independent scene has been so healthy over the last four or five years.”

He’s also happy with the level of support he’s received from UMGD’s indie arm Fontana and Ron Spaulding.

“Since Ron arrived, they’ve matured as a company,” says Taylor. “Guys like [VP Marketing and Label Relations] Bryan Mead and our label rep Kevin Engler have been incredibly supportive with what we’ve been doing.”

And now that bands like Metric and Crystal Castles have shown the potential to crossover with mainstream radio airplay, Taylor is ready to pull out the stops.

“I think any number of groups on our roster can mature into those kinds of acts,” he says. “The doors are more open to Canadian bands succeeding in America, thanks to the Internet, which has lowered barriers on a marketing and information level.

“We want to be a springboard for developing Canadian talent and building this company into a marketing powerhouse,” Taylor continues. “We provide value within the framework of an infrastructure to get these bands going. We’ve proven that over and over again.”