Contort yourself! The mutant disco mayhem of New York’s Ze Records
‘It felt more like a repertory company than a record label’ … Ze Records’ Lydia Lunch on stage in 1981. Photograph: Angie Coqueran/Corbis/VCG/Getty Images
Disgusted with Britain’s ‘cruel’ aristocracy, Michael Zilkha left to champion a generation of party-starting punk-funk bands. As he returns as a book publisher, he remembers that wild scene
John Peel once said that Ze Records was “the best independent label in the world”. The Face magazine called it the “world’s most fashionable”. Between 1978 and 1984, the New York record company’s incredible roster included Kid Creole and the Coconuts, Lydia Lunch, Was (Not Was), Lizzy Mercier Descloux, James Chance and Suicide, who were mostly rather extreme characters.
“It felt more like a repertory company than a record label,” says the co-founder Michael Zilkha. “We’d have these crazy showcases, with everyone except Lydia, who was outside picketing because she felt I hadn’t given her enough tour support.”