Why the hell would anyone want to start a label? Why would they want to spend their every waking hour wondering whether Spangle Sparklytrousers fanzine was into their latest three chord thrash wonderteens? or whether the boss will notice them running off another 10000 flyers on the photocopier? or if the NME will slag them off in an even vaguely amusing way this week? or if they can squeeze another box of unsold records ("ahead of their time, mate") into the *ahem* back catalogue stored under their bed? Can they go without food three days this week to get a bit more studio time for their latest proteges? Will hiring the Camden Falcon on the same Monday night as the UEFA cup final turn out to be a financial disaster? Can they stomach another trip to the post office to send this record to another 20 journos who'll claim it's shit now but love it in 3 years when the band's huge on Sony?
All will be revealed as we speak to the people behind labels ranging from the might of Beggar's Banquet, through the credibility of Che, the anti-music biz of Org and the fledgling tape-only labels Crash the Luau and Best Kept Secret. The same four questions were put to everybody:
why did you decide to set up a label?
If you run a label and want to answer the questions yourself, feel free to email your answers to me firstname.lastname@example.org cos this feature is intended to grow over time.
1. i decieded to start my label primarily to release my own project (99cent dream) i was shown a little interest by a few labels, but at the time, the volume and urgency at which i was writing and recording wouldn't be realistic for any other labels to handle. due to this urgency i was feeling, it made perfect sense to release things myself at my own pace. that's how it all started.
2. i've been most pleased with the first comp on the label called lunch with a bouncing space vol. 1. it felt really good to put out because it was the first thing many of the bands had been featured on and i felt a moral obligation to place these songs out into the world. it was also a great experience for me because some of the artists have been close friends of mine for at least half my life and i was really excited and inspired by what they are currently doing musically.
3. after a lot of thought about a dream release, i am very intrigued by the idea of releasing a split 7" with brittney spears and the flaming lips, which one important catch. the flaming lips would perform and produce miss spears' song and vice versa. in a way, it would almost be like an experiment for me and others to evaluate a relationship between musical structure and context or style. i think the flaming lips could do a dynamite job on a brittney spears song, and i would just love to see the reaction from spears when confronted with their set of criteria. i think the release would be infinately interesting.
4. the most crucial thing for me and others i'm sure is taking advantage of the internet. i know that sounds like a no brainer, but i can't stress it enough. get a web site with streaming audio, and spend lots of time surfing through the endless amounts of sites to see and learn from other people in the same situation as you.
Tamago, A-ZAP 2-11-13-102 Midorigaoka Chofu Tokyo 182-0001 Japan email@example.com
1. To change the situation around us.
2. Of course, it is MELT-BANANA's CHARLIE.
3. John Lennon's harsh noise work.
4. Our first release was 5 copy cassette. 2nd was 10 copy cassette. 3rd one was 200 copy cassette, 4th one was 1200 copy cassette. We copied them by ourselves. We changed name from Iguana Coax Records to A-Zap Records. The price of first release was 70 cent. Second one was $2.5 . 3rd one was $5. 4th one was $8. We started like this.
1. I'd thought a long time about having a label, but it wasn't until I met P.E.E. that I had the impetus to actually start it up. I couldn't stop listening to the rough mixes for their first album and after they made me weep with joy one night (sounds ridiculously sappy, but true), I offered to put out a 7". Two days later, it evolved into a 10" and several months later it became a full length.
2. Well, there've only been two and I'm incredibly proud of both the P.E.E. and Virginia Dare albums. "The Roaring Mechanism" was my first and that means it'll always hold a special place in my heart, but not to the detriment of my other records - kind of like your first love. I'm also excited about the upcoming releases and still have that feeling of exuberant disbelief that I'm actually putting this stuff out.
3. My dream release is an Al Green record of songs I've selected for him by all sorts of folks. Closer to Earth, I'd really like to reissue the Yojimbo soundtrack and put out the Putney Swope soundtrack. Also, a Neutral Milk Hotel, Smog or Cat Power record would cause me to levitate.
4. Do the research before you spend the money. Of course, you'll learn things as you go, but it's enough of an uphill battle without going into it blind. People will respect you more and treat you better if you have at least a basic idea of what you're talking about.
Sid, Abuse PO Box 2168, Reading, Berks, RG1 7FN
1. A mixture of because we had the money and it was a natural progression of our fanzine. Also sort of fed up with helping/discovering bands and seeing them going on to tour the world, hang out with famous people and basically making money out of music.
2. All of them, but personally I think the debut 7" by Vyvyan contains two classic songs; if they sorted out the production at least one of those songs could be a top 40 hit.
3. At the moment, the 3rd Atari Teenage Riot, because I reckon it'll be a classic/ground-breaking record and will sell over 500,000 copies and hopefully millions more. Just for the sake of it---and a band who need a kick up the arse---Mika Bomb from London. I'm a huge sucker for bubblegum punk rock. They are great but if they keep waiting they will just fade away. Anyway, I know 1000 people who would rush out and buy a 7" by them. Equally as great as the Chicks and really as cool as the Donnas.
4. Know your audience, but don't be too anal about it. Be prepared to encounter a lot of thick people, especially band members. Love the music, and believe that a lot of people will love it too. Don't release any old shit, too many bands release their own records because no-one else will, and why? 9/10 because they are shit. There are no rules and be mad enough to believe that you bands will one day sell millions of records and be on the covers of music magazines worldwide. It helps if you are slightly mad and have a fuck you attitude. I'm really, really happy that anal fuckers believe Vyvyan are shit---lame arguments---Vyvyan will be signed by Christmas and then let the majors sell 000's of records to the real kids. Or something. I reckon that if you are stupid enough to start a record label then you should be clever enough to spread the word to every record buyer in the world. Some of my best customers are in their 50's! Cool
Finally, be prepared all the time for new customers and never turn down and press/radio/TV. I can't be cool, we got a bit of shit from one or two anal fuckers about Vyvyan being in Just 17---four colour pages is 8 grand in advertising. You can achieve anything on surprisingly not that much money. Though it helps!
JC, Active Suspension firstname.lastname@example.org c/o JC Baroche, 27560 Lieurey, France
1. after a first collapse with another record label, I just knew some things I will have to do and some other things I would have to avoid... I just mean that I knew I was needing enough money to do a proper label, something that can last... and that's it... as soon as I got on with enough money, I just did it, as there are so many great bands in france, who don't really know where to send their recordings to...
2. I don't think I've been most pleased with one particuliar release... but with all of the releases (I don't talk about artwork, only about the music released)...
3. there are too many to do a list I think... and it changes so regularly that I won't like to mention something I will regret afterward... I just can say that some of may favorite bands include New order, Galaxie 500, Cluster, Kraftwerk, Slowdive, Stereolab, Aphex Twin, Mouse on Mars, labradford, Piano Magic, Pilote, Isan, Scanner, Tef, Gastr del sol, Hood, Autechre... and so many more I can't about these all (including jazzy and hip-hop stuff)... considering my favorite record labels, I wil say wurlitzer jukebox, earworm, kranky, most of domino, darla, clear, magnetic and diesel combustible... and also many more...
4. just keep in mind that the artistic part is not the one that takes more of your time... keep thinking that there are many other boring things to think about like having to discuss all the time with big distributors, the bank, having to set up an account system... but there are also very good things without wich I won't have done it!
1. There are lots of labels that put things out on CD and records, and my CD player at work kept skipping. I'm building a race of atomic monsters to take over the world in the lab, to suck blood from the puny humans. I need inspiring music. The psychadelic web radio kept playing Van Morrison at me and it was driving me round the bend. I thought, what we need is a clearing house for experimental and original music. Then I could listen to it in the daytime. The WWW offered a chance to put out records that wouldnt get released any other way because theyre misunderstood. It also offered a chance to put out stuff by better known bands who do release stuff to a slightly wider audience, but where possible, outtakes etc that you wouldnt normally get to hear. The better known bands help to suck people in to the site and then they (hopefully) listen to the wierder stuff and get brainwashed. There is a huge credibility gap for a lot of experimental music because it is too often seen as a competition to see how clever musicians are (and is often is so far up its own arse in terms of it's highbrow cerebral approach, that it's too boring to make people think anyway), and the really good stuff gets dismissed as barmy or non-serious by capitalists! Who is barmy and thinking in the short term there? WWW gives struggling bands an opportunity for wide exposure even if they are not on the Scene (i.e. if they live in a relative backwater like Leicester, South Woodford or Belgium) In the face of such a cynical music business, I had to try to redress the balance, as dictated by Karl Marx and Our Lord Buddah.
2. So far, hmm, it's always the last one. Americans in Europe by the 22 metre band. It's a laid back instrumental trip hop number about a US Businessman whoi gets lost in Athens and discovers a Petrified Forest.
3. Several! Having the mighty Alan Jenkins on the site was pretty groovy, I'd like to see Awful get back together one day and record Boiling Chips in Lard, It'd be nice if I could get some Milk of the Stars on doing thier Groovy Analogue Bubblebath THANG which I like lots. Negotiations are underway with the Mighty LAURA MAES in Belgium for a collaboration with the 22 metre band and Fish Protein Vindaloo, an internet supergroup! I dream a LOT.
4. Start a collective instead, it's less hassle and is a better Scene for universal life energy-flow. You can do it without hardly much money. Get old computer parts from a skip and teach yourself to put them together, get a freeserve disk from dixons, and a modem. Then you need cooledit (free) and a CD player. Then get bladeenc (free) to make mp3s, some free space somewhere on the web, and sell your legs to pay for the phone bill. Use old netscape (3.04 gold, free) to make the pages and they'll always work. Voila! Online record and film THANG.
Ken, Aesthetics P.O. Box 577286, Chicago, IL 60657 USA email@example.com
1. Well, alot of reasons. I was a Music Director of my College radio station, and learned alot about the music world per say. I knew that I really respected all the smaller labels for so many reasons (initiative, honesty, hard work, a dream, and basically, they put out the best music!) I knew that one day I wanted to be doing my own thing as well, and as I learned more about what these others were doing, I became more and more interested in tring to do my own label. I wanted the bands and artists I worked with to be treated fairly, and not screwed around with 20+ page contracts. I mean, to me, being a teenager, nothing seemed cooler to me than having your own record label!
2. This is hard to say since I have only release three things thus far (although I have five more records coming out this spring). I would say the Sorts record "The Hawaiian Bronco" AST05 lp/cd. It will be the first one I break even on. But besides that, the band has been really good about meeting deadlines, and keeping a good comunication channel between us both. Also, the Sorts record has helped me with getting better distribution around the world. They just did a six week European tour, and I now have distribution in the UK, Germany and Italy. A close second would be a record that's coming out in March by 33.3 (from Connecticut) "33.3" AST11 lp/cd. They too have done a great job being on the ball with getting everything done on time. But this question is hard, cause nothing will ever match the feeling I had from the first one (The Lune "Sill" AST03 cd)! I was like, "man, this is really happening!"
3. This is incredibly hard to answer... maybe a collaboration of several different bands and musicians? My favorite rock band is probably This Heat. Maybe This Heat playing with the David S. Ware quartet engineered by John Mcentire? There is just something amazing intense about these three parties. Although I have never seen This Heat live (since they were recording around the time I was born...), their records are amazing!
4. This all depends on what you are tring to achieve or looking to do. Some friends of mine just do 7" labels, and that's all their looking to do. Where as I am doing full lengths, so for what I am doing, requires alot more time, and frankly, although it sucks I have to say it... money! Ya, in this day and age, when basically any can, and has started their own label, to get ahead of the rest, you need money. Either that, or a hell of a lot of hook ups. It takes alot of money to do a full lenght, especially if your doing it on both formats, lp and cd. Plus promotion, posters maybe, mailing costs, mastering... the list goes on and on. I am glad I have started mine, however, I have lost a little bit of my social life to say the least. After practice with my band, they may all go out for a drink, or to do something, and I will end up coming home to email people, pack boxes, return calls, etc... It's really exciting, and alot of fun, but it's also, ALOT of work! More than I thought. I guess what I'm trying to say, is just really think about it first if you are going to take it seriously. Cause so many labels come and go.
Sean, Airborne Virus PO Box 16207 San Diego, California 92176, USA firstname.lastname@example.org
1. I decided to start a label after being inspired by a local label called Gravity. I didn't particular care for all the music or the ideas on the label, but I was struck by the do-it-yourself packaging and the low-fidelity sounds. I had also been listening to lots of early Sebadoh, so at that point everything started to sound radical and abstract, and I found myself getting off on the hum of loud machinery and distorted HAM radio recordings. Also lots of Korean folk music. 2. The Airborne Virus release I'm most pleased with is Minmae's "I'd Like to Apologize for Last Night" 7". At some point glue-sticking the covers on 500 records helped me achieve an altered state. It was bliss-or glue stick.
3. I am in the process of releasing a compilation which features one of my dream artists, Steward. Other dreams would be a Captain Beefheart 7" and a Supremes one-sided 12".
4. I would recommend that you be polite, persistent and ultimately perservering. Um, yeah. No, really. As the world-renound southerb Californian skateboarder from Hell, Natas Kaupas once said "Believe everything you see and read, and listen to whatever people tell you."
Howard, All City email@example.com 2414 Medill Chicago, IL 60647, USA
1. to document certain things. besides the actual music there were friendships, time periods and different levels of understanding involved. it seemed like the best, most logical and cost effective manner in which to do these things I held important.
2. all of them have been rewarding and while each has taught new things only one has been what your parents would refer to as a "learning experience"
3. couldn't quite say, too many to list.
4. ask lots of questions at each turn. expect to lose money, that way if you break even or make money you are pleasantly surprised. do right by your bands and before you now it you'll have people asking you to put stuff out.
1. We were looking after a band called Dakota Suite, and despite the fact that every label we talked to were like "Oh yeah, we love it..take it home ..have a smoke...blahblahblah...." but they didn't want to bet on it. So we thought fuck you, we'll do it ourselves. We got great reviews, some radio and sold them all.
2. The next one---it just means we've survived again! or the Triumph 2000 7"s we just did---it was quite neat to release 3 double A sided bits of vinyl, plus having one of them being a really long song in two parts. it's just a bit different, and I think the music deserved that.
3. The tape of unreleased Brian Wilson stuff I have in my car...
4. Before you even think of it, find out about distribution---take tapes to distributors and get feedback. There's no point in having a finished pile of records and no-one to sell them. Other than that, "Don't..."
Allan, Andmoresound PO Box 16103, Glasgow, G11 7YA www.andmoresound. co.uk
1. I was inspired by a character in the book "Our noise" by Jeff Gomez. As I recall, things didn't actually go too well for Dave and Violent Revolution records, but it sounded good anyway.
2. Of the records we've released so far, it was great when Steve Lamacq made "The tenth of always" by Mac Meda single of the week in Melody Maker. However, the forthcoming Camera Obscura single "Your sound" is almost exactly what we wanted the label to sound like.
3. This sparked a bit of an argument but I think we agreed on Nancy Sinatra singing "Consolation prize" by Orange Juice b/w Syd Barrett singing "Astral plane" by the Modern Lovers.
4. Find a band you really love before you do anything else. And if you can't find a band, form one yourself (that's what we did).
1. It seemed like everyone we knew at the time was playing in a bands around Sydney. However, none of them were getting known outside of Sydney because they had no recorded output for radio. Record companies are really conservative here and generally wont release anything by any band that is not already established in a wide area...catch 22. We decided to try to help the situation by releasing a bunch of local compilations of cool, young bands and retailing them at rock-bottom prices.
2. Last year we released a killer tribute to The Replacements with all Australian artists such as You Am I, Brad Shepherd (Hoodoo Guru), DM3, Love Me, Challenger 7, etc... This was a co-release with Tomboy records and it's a fair bet they'll also nominate it as the release they are most pleased with.
3. It would be cool to release an album by The Young Fresh Fellows.
4. If more than one person is involved, draw up a clear financial plan detailing where the money will come from and exactly where it will go as it starts to come in. It's pretty easy to forget to worry about such mundane matters when you're having fun, but you might find you pay for it later.
1. AON started in 95,and the reason i started it was that i felt like i can do something good with it and i am the first and probably the longest still working underground label here in Bulgaria. And first,it was like fun,then turned out more serious, but i still love doing it.
2. Probably with the BULGARIAN ARCHIVES 7"..the first underground vinyl to come outside of Bulgaria!!!
3. Hi hi..i dream to release more vinyl, i would gladly do some boots (vinyl)of some great 60s Bulgarian garage/psych roch...like SHTURCITE or SREBURNITE GRIVNI or THE VOICES..
4. It is too complicated,just a good advice.."quit" it if you feel it is turning you into a money maker...the fun has already gone...
1.To release our own music.
2. That must be the 7"-releases by Tabata and Dipsomaniacs.
3. Hmm...we have more than one dream-release, but a double collaboration lp with Brother JT and Mr. Hageman would be pretty close to the top.
4. Expect no income!
1. One reason is that we were impressed and fascinated in our teenage days by labels like el or creation and their musical vision. Another reason is related to the band Brideshead. Martin and Hanns-Christian, two in apricot, are with Brideshead and we wanted to start a cool label to release their songs on it, so we (Johannes, Hanns-Christian and Martin) started apricot.
2. Every release on apricot is really special and we enjoyed every 7'', album and CD. Our favourite release is still the Airpop compilation because in my eyes it is just perfect - just to be topped be the sequel called Airpop Terminal 2 (soon to be released on apricot)
3. Something by Everything but the Girl, Momus, New Order and the Jazz Butcher with Max Eider - maybe a record with all of them playing christmas songs ... ?
4. Believe in the music you really love and don't release something just because it could mean good sales. Be authentic!
2. Like most of the other labels filling out this questionaire, I have to say all of them - if I didn't love it I wouldn't have released it. This is quite easy as I have only released four CDs - two compilations,debut eps from Peabody and Meaneither, as well as distributed for Flyspeak.
3. This will mean absolutely nothing to 99% of the people reading this, but a local Sydney band called Something Urban is my dream release, they are unequivocally my favourite band in the universe. They are truly brilliant, and are being courted by such luminaries as Mushroom at the moment (part of Sony... the part that gave the world silverchair!) They seem pretty keen on remaining independent though, so maybe there's hope...
4. Without going over what everyone else has said too much, ie don't expect money, love what you're doing, this all goes without saying I guess, but just be super friendly in everything you do. My label has garnered a much bigger rep than it probably deserves from the amount of time I put into it (I also play in/manage a band, write for a music magazine, work a few casual jobs, do merch for lots of bands etc etc), but because I'm always at shows (every night of the week) and willing to talk to people about local music then everyone seems to have at least heard of my label or the bands on it. Networking is what we're talking here! Also, when organising compilations, tell the bands that the deadline is about a month before the REAL deadline... trust me on this... I guess this is all easier in Australia as well for the sole reason we're much smaller than everyone else I've read on here so far, the whole music scene is probably a bit tighter and compressed.
1. Prospects for getting signed not too good; music not terribly "commercial." Might have happened over time, but I didn't want to sit around waiting for a deal before I could put a record out. Got way too many songs for that.
2. My new one: "The Odd Side of the Street"
3, A really difficault, challenging record that goes triple-platinum.
4. Get distribution. Get a budget together. Make sure your acts tour and have an audience that would be interested in buying the release. Work your ass off.
Mark, Artists Against Success 3 Kirby Rd, Leicester, LE3 6BD firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. Because i was fed up waiting for other people (i.e. Sean from FPop and/or Dave from Sorted) to get round to putting out one of my records, and also because i felt guilty about having to keep harassing them about it. I didn't want to do my own label for ages because, if it was just me putting out just me it would feel stupid like vanity publishing, but eventually i realised the double standard (i.e. if a band does it [which loads do and pretend they don't] it's "initiative", if a solo person does it it's sad) and did it anyway.
The thing that pushed me over was getting pissed at a John Sims gig and talking to Mat Whitaker, who used to do Sorted and is now 0.333 of AAS, who wanted to do a me single, then talking to Rob Fleay (the other 0.333) and deciding we'd do a split between me and his band. It was such good fun, and the way we do things money-wise seemed like such a good idea, we just carried on...
2. They're all my babies, but i guess it's AAS012, the Stumble/Lazer Guided single, because it's NOT any of us who run the label, and thus feels "proper." It's also Heart Warming to go and see them being brilliant, and know that you're a part of it, that yr helping people do something they believe in. Thus doing that record has been ace, especially as Rob did most of the work and the rest of us got to swan around Being A Record Company.
3. I'd like to release the last ever Stereolab record. As soon as humanly possible.
4. Don't do it on your own! Being a record company is like being a band, except the more pissed you get the better you get at doing it... playing a gig on yr own's easy to organise and practice for, but is no fun for leaping about afterwards and saying "We were great!" Doing a record company's the same---the best bit of AAS is having Lengthy and Official Meetings, and the fact that there's 3 of us means there's always _someone_ prepared to listen to yr long and dreary whinge about the pressure of sorting out distribution dates. The work's cut down drastically, and you're more likely to _do_ stuff if there's two other people hassling you to get on with it.
BUT i'd also say, if anyone was doing this, that you should keep really strict records of stuff (we take minutes!) just to make sure everyone knows where they stand, ESPECIALLY if money's involved - loads of bands i've known and/or been in have split up and never talked to each other again because everyone thinks they're doing more work or paying more than everybody else. Keeping things official and noted down means this doesn't happen, and by being STERN and BUSINESSLIKE in the bits that really really NEED to be Stern and Businesslike, you get to do more of the things that are actually FUN, like listening to the records you worked for months to put out, or going to the gigs you spent ages organising.
And finally, write yourselves a company song for the end of meetings. It is a morale booster...
why did you decide to set up a label?
1. Back in 1990 there were several labels doing some really cool electronic music, then overnight all of them started doing regular rock music (go figure?) so I started ADSR Musicwerks to be an ALL electronic EBM-Industrial label........
2. Hmmmmm.......the Noxious Emotion SYMBOLS CD is one of my favorites.........but there are many of them that I hold a special place in my heart for..........hehe
3. I would LOVE to get Skinny Puppy back together and have them release a new album on ADSR...........**when you dream, dream BIG**
4. Persistance is the key...........do it the way YOU want to do it..........and don't follow the rules.
1. Well, we just wanted to release our tracks the sooner possible. As they're was nobody who want to do it for us, we just did it. At the same time, there was a couple of friends (Moko Blues) in the same situation, so we decided to release the 2 recordings under the same label name. But we are not a real label in the "classic meaning". We don't really want to manage a label (with distribution and so on...). We imagine Aspic Rec. as a structure to release small projects as collaborations, side projects, solo projects, v/a... etc. We would like it to be a support for anyone who wants to release some tunes they wouldn't necessarily put on their own album (because a little different, or for any reasons, who knows).
2. The "Esprit III Aspic Project". It is a Cd-R compilation in 5 volumes.It is first a way for us and the 2 bands of Aspic Rec (Darky & Blue Baboon) to release our tracks regularly. Then we asked to people we like if they want to give us a track. We are very pleased with this project because we met some people (subscribers or bands). And we are very happy to welcome on the issue 03 Jad Fair (we really respect him) and Electroscope (their music is very strong, and they are very nice people). Not forgetting all the others bands involved in this project...
3. Maud: "On fire" Galaxie 500, "Pod" Breeders, "Evol" Sonic Youth
FRZ: "Instrumental" Mouse On Mars, "Psychocandy" Jesus & Mary Chain, "Suicide" Suicide, and hundreds of others...
4. We have no tips, just, a label is not a business, it is just music and people...
Marc, AudioInformationPhenomena email@example.com
1. We decided to start AIP after countless friends told us about their horror stories they had from working with other labels. We wanted to prove that you can put records out by great bands without ripping anybody off. We try hard to incorporate the Apple records philosophy of "a label were artists don't have to beg."
2. I am most pleased with the Aspera Ad Astra album because the quality of the release far exceeded our expectations. It is by far our most over looked record
3. The new Talvin Singh album "OK" is probably the most innovative albums I have heard in a great while..so I guess that would be my dream? release.
4. I would tell anyone who is starting their own label to keep things realistic. We made the mistake of working way out of our means and doing ten releases our first year. This almost cost us every ounce of enthusiasm we had for 99'. Keith from silvergirl gave me great advice when we were starting AudioInformationPhenomena, and that was don't take things so seriously. Good Guy that Keith.
1. In order to keep with the latest developments in experimental music.
2. None yet, but there is one promising release coming up yet! Namely a CD-R compilation will nothing but unreleased tracks from BAD SECTOR, HEID, XABEC, HYBRYDS, DEAD BODY LOVE, THE URGE WITHIN, AH CAMA-SOTZ, ....
3. Don't know actually. Too hard to say.
4. From the moment that you hate running a label, then stop! Second, and most important advice. Always try to be as personal as possible with your contacts. Don't (oops!) send too much junkmail. A little bit is allowed though!
Alan, Bearos P.O. Box 7179 Birmingham B29 6RA www.bearos.freeserve.co.uk
1. I'd seen loads of brilliant local bands that deserved attention outside Birmingham but no-one took any notice and they all seemed to fade away as they ran out of energy/patience/money. In 1996/1997 there was a real buzz around Birmingham with bands like Plone, Novak, Broadcast getting attention and putting records out. The magazine "We brought our friends" (named after the monthly lo-fi/experimental night run by Magnetophone) was my attempt to capture that sense of a musical community. Jameson, Avrocar and Magnetophone were the first line up for the monthly nights and at the time were all looking to release a record. The original ides was to release a single split between the three bands. When Avrocar and Magnetophone were snapped up by Earworm Records Jameson and I decided to go it alone. This sold so well that I decided to continue the label. My original intention was to do split singles between a known band and an unknown band - hence the Jameson/Starries split. A Magnetophone/Oedema split never materialised but by that time the demos were pouring in (Grover, Los Planetos, Epic45). I've always tried to keep it a Midlands thing and go for stuff that no-one else will release.
2. Due to limits on finances and time I can only put out stuff that I'm fanatical about. The track that really grabbed me was "...like a bunny" by Grover (www.mp3.com/grover) Arrangements to release that track were made within hours of receiving the tape! Some things I'll play over and over again in the car but at the end of the day I love them all!
3. I'd always been keen on a Magnetophone release. I was particularly drunk at a Broadcast gig and ended up introducing them to Geoff from Static Caravan who seems to have monopolised them since. I'd love to do "the best ever unknown Birmingham band album in the world...ever"
4. Work with local bands. Cargo might only take 1/2-1/3 of your records and at the end of the day might send some back when sales drop off. With local releases you can sell them at gigs and through local shops. I've been organising Bearos showcase gigs for bands as well. It's nice to support your local musical community as well - you do tend to get dragged into band politics and management issues which can be difficult.
1. well, you'd have to ask steve, the other half of bedazzled, that question (since he started the label), although if i might take the liberty of reading his mind..."i started bedazzled to put out my band's records"...there you go!
why did i get involved? well, i was a big fan of steve's band (strange boutique) and thought it would be cool to help out with the label...and it's been madness ever since!
2. like i'm really going to step into that hornets' nest! just like parents (not to sound parental---it's just a bad analogy!), we love all of our bands and have been very pleased with everything we've released so far. for us it's about working with artists we respect. the discs bedazzled releases are discs we'd buy if we didn't press 'em ourselves. there's no doubt we've been happier with some discs than others---financially speaking---but when it comes to the artistry, they're all top notch.
3. anything by st. etienne. i'm a hopeless fan.
4. okay, since that response is already taken... :-) how about: have realistic expectations. or better yet, when you're drowning your sorrows in a bottle of jack daniels, wondering why the amazing new cd you just released isn't even selling a 1/10 of 1% as many copies as the latest pile of sh*t from oasis or the spice girls (what's the difference, you ask? good question...), just remember: never underestimate the public's bad taste!
Martin, Beggars Banquet 17-19 Alma Rd, London, SW18 1AA
1. We never actually did decide to set up a label---we decided to put out one record, then another record by the same band (The Lurkers), then another record by another band, and so on. A series of happy accidents!
2. Mercury Rev "Boces" album, because they're genius.
3. Dylan's "Live in '66", Electric Tour album, just released by Sony.
4. Do it when you've got nothing to lose.
why did you decide to set up a label?
Alessandro, Best Kept Secret Via Biron di Sotto, 101, 36100 Vicenza, Italy firstname.lastname@example.org
1. Music has always been everything for me. It has kept me company, has been with me throughout the roughest moments in my life, has given me a lot of inspiration when, until a few years ago, I used to do a lot of writing. I have always wanted to start a label or to get a job in the music industry someday (as a matter of fact, after fraduating from Law School here, I would like to move to the U.S. to study for a Master that may help me in that respect). Starting a "proper label", though, was definitely out of reach for me. Then, about six months ago, I started digging into the underground world of tape labels and was totally amazed by how many great things one can do despite having very little money. So I quickly made up my mind and, thanks also to the help from Kim at Bliss and Rik at B.R. International, whose support and advice have been simply invaluable so far, started Best Kept Secret.
2. there has only been one release so far, but the joy and excitement that it has brought are unbelievable. A lot of people seemed to have liked the tape, which is good, but it's not just that. It's the simple idea of having put some music out there, of having contributed to the cause of indie pop, even if just a little bit, that makes me feel very satisfied. It's great to receive letters from bands that sound just great and nobody (including myself) knows about, who ask me if I am interested in releasing their music on my label. I am glad to be in the position to give them some exposure that they would not have otherwise, to bring them to the light of day, where everybody (well, not everybody...but you know what I mean) can find out about them and listen to their music.
3. well, I have been a huge fan of the Australian band The Church (check their new fab album out now!) for a long time now and I know that Steve Kilbey does loads of home recordings on his own. As a matter of fact, he has also had a considerable solo career starting from the mid-Eighties. I would love to release some of those recordings. Don't know if you're into his music at all, but if you are, I am just mad about those beautiful home recorded pop gems, such as "Out of this world" and "Judgement day", that are featured in his "Unearthed" solo album. Pure lo-fi pop bliss. Check it out if you don't have it. It's hard to find nowadays, but it's definitely worth the trouble and the fatigue!
4. if someone intends to start a label, they definitely must be sure they have some spare cash and can allow to devote some time to the label throughout the day. The Internet now makes it easier in regards to the ordinary correspondence, as you don't need to rush to the post Office as often as it would have been necessary a few years back, so you can save a litle bit of time there. But getting the tapes done, figuring out concepts for compilation tapes (if, like I do, they like to put together in a tape songs about the same subject), keeping up with the schedules, meeting deadlines and dealing with bands/artists who never reply the letters/e-mails you send them requires quite an effort and an awful lot of patience. But it is absolutely worth it. It's a very rewarding experience, at least for those who like music.
Kim, Bliss 68 Barlich Way, Lodge Park, Redditch, Worcs, R98 7JP
1. There were lots of bands I wanted to help get heard and a tape label is the easiest and cheapest kind of label to run. I also wanted to try and change people's views on tape labels because many of the ones around back then released a lot of shoddy, talentless stuff which even a five-year-old could do. I wanted to show people that tape labels which release good quality, proper music with tunes do exist.
2. Difficult to say, there's so many. I don't release anything I don't like, so I don't think I can single out any particular release. I was very pleased to get permission to include a couple of tracks by the Bardots on the Cyan compilation though, as they're my 2nd favourite band of all time.
3. My absolute ideal release would be by Delta; any song because they've never done a bad one.
4. The main thing is that you've got to be 100% committed because it will take up all your spare time. Also, don't expect to make money. It's not only impossible to make a profit from running a tape label, but money-making shouldn't be the point. The point should be exposing music to people who may not have heard it before. It's unfair to make a profit from tapes when the people on them aren't getting paid for contributing tracks.
1. I started it about ten years ago, to make cassettes of stuff my cousin and I were doing. We'd make a couple copies, and call it a 'release'. Two or three years ago, I decided to make it a 'real' label because I wanted to release cds and vinyl by bands I loved, by my own band Drekka, and by my cousin's band Tiltmaster.
2. I really love the last couple. The 'Low videos' compilation is really amazing and has been really intense to do. The In Gowan Ring cd 'The Glinting Spade' took FOREVER to get together, but it was worth all the time and headaches.
3. If you mean as in future release, I would say I would love to work with Current 93 or to release a Movietone record. If you mean as in 'would have loved to have released...', I would love to have released 'Pornography' by the Cure, 'Laughing Stock' by Talk Talk, or to have been the one to do the first few Incredible String Band records.
4. Don't try and do it to make money. It'll take a LONG time before you make any for yourself. Don't be afraid to ask bands you love to release something on your label, they can only say no and might say yes. Think about what you love, not what will sell. Selling is important, but not as important as helping bands you love be heard.
1. because all the bands I like haven't got record deals (the record industry being the stupid, short-sighted, weak-minded sluggard that it is) so someone had to put the records out. And since I'd just started a mind-numbingly dull, but reasonably paid office job, why not do it myself?
2. well there's only been one single so far (in fact it's not out til December 28th), a split single featuring Jolt and Mariachi, but it sounds fantastic and I'm dead proud of it. Though I have plans for many more...
3. I hope to be able to release the first solo record by Chick Graning (ex Scarce) which will be amazing---he's so cool & a fantastic songwriter. Watch this space...
4. Save up lots of cash as it can be pretty expensive. And bear in mind that if you set a release date when you start out, the record should be ready to come out about 3 months later, if you're lucky.
Tom, Bosque PO Box 16069, Glasgow, G12 8JY email@example.com
1. Vanity and desperation. I was in a band at the time, we had been led to believe that a local label would release our stuff; it turned out that our recordings weren't zeitgeist enough for them. I do adore the late 80's Butthole Surfer sound but...we felt no need to kowtow to their assimalatory processes and, did it ourselves.
2. I am extremely proud of every Bosque release. The Starstruck 8" is the best record in the world though I imagine that the Gilded Lil LP will surpass that and become the best rock LP of the 90's. This is not irony nor self delusion.....
3. "Trout Mask Replica" by Captain Beefheart & the Magic Band, "Collosal Youth" by the Young Marble Giants and the debut LP by Gilded Lil.
4. Make sure that you are absolutely commited to the music; no compromises on this score, you are going to have to sell the stuff and fake hyperbole sticks in the throat. Valium and earplugs are helpful. Take as much advice from as many different people as you can absord. In my experience, blah blah blah.
Vini, Botchit and Scarper Vacant Pig Ltd, Unit 207, 134 - 146 Curtain Road, London, EC2A 3AR firstname.lastname@example.org
1. Decided to start label because we could musically see a space that fused all genres using a common link with jungles Break beat & Sub bass, thus Botchit
2. Nightmare by Raw Deal, Organic Technology EP (Botchit & Scarper), Shara Nelson with Kasha - U, Botchit Breaks 3
3. Dream release myself, freQ Nasty, B.L.I.M with led zepplin, Robert Johnson, Omkoulthoum & Nurstrat Phate Ali-Khan. Dream song= fuck knows what that lot would come up with!!!
4. Understand that this is a business first and foremost!
1. we heard about so much good music at that time (especially from Japan) that we couldnt buy anywhere so that we had to do it ourselves. Becaue we needed a vinyl copy of many of those CDs to deejay. To license these records for the world seemed the easiest way for us. Sell a few and keep the rest for us and our friends.
2. impossible to say. we only release music of musicians we personally like (as characters). We are not typical label-people and don't want to struggle with people after some time. thats why we choose bands very carefully. so we have a very friendlike relationship with all our bands, which makes every release like a new birth. you love all your children, dont you?
3. Serge Gainsbourg plays the Sushi 4004 compilation, sung by Brigitte Bardot orchestrated by Roger Nichols, destroyed by The Pop Tarts.
4. do it! (haha) and don't take yourself too serious, and sign only bands who sound like Oasis and if you did, chose a good doctor, resign and end your life in the caribbeans.
Nigel, Butcher's Wig P.O Box 16313, London N16 OED email@example.com
1. I set up Butcher's Wig because I loved a lot of the UK and US garage / punk / blues and didn't see that many outlets for it in the UK---is one way of looking at it...but really I set it up 'cos I was working for a label called World Domination and it was the best way to get a band called Penthouse signed---I got into them in April '95 and went on and on about them for so long they eventually let me put a record out (WD that is) and I set up BW as a part of WD to do it. When I left WD I took the BW imprint with me (since they had provided only the money it was my label anyway...) so since then I've put out other great UK bands (gilded Lil, Dick Johnson) in the Garage/Blues vein and am looking to expand above and beyond this---I have releases from France planned (Petit Vodo---crazed and diminutive garage rocker in a JSBE, Doo Rag, Hasil Adkins stylee) Have since set up another imprint titled Narwhal on which I release stuff I love that's not in the garage punk & related vein. First release is Scenic / Dirty Three split single followed by a 7" by Rothko (think Labradford, Tortoise and beyond)...plan to release all sorts of stuff on the future with no particular thread in mind...
2. Probably the 1st Butcher's Wig single cos it was the thing that got it all rolling for me and proved to me that it wasn't really that difficult to get a label going---plus I love those two songs a hell of a lot...
3. Suppose a Nick Cave or Mark Lanegan single would be nice..I'm a big fan of both of those people but I think it's probably out of the question on both counts...a split single of Son House covers by both those singers...now that gets me thinking......
4. Stick with music you love since when things don't work out (and sometimes they certainly won't) you can still hold your head up and be proud to have been involved with making the music available purely because you love it. Don't work with bands that act like wankers 'cos lifes to short and there are plenty of bands making good music that are also decent people who will appreciate your efforts. Don't over stretch yourself finacially early on---try and do things cheap and build up within yer means.
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