persepolis records
(September 2007)

We've been doing interviews with the people bands interact with over the past few months. Best Badges and Marg The Photoist kicked things off for us and we've got one with a bedroom distro coming up. We were wondering about getting a label to talk to us to when Persepolis dropped us a line saying they were about to kick off. Synchronicity.

So you're setting up a new label?

It's called Persepolis Records after the piece by Xenakis. It's been launched by Mark Valentine and Ray Russell and we want to find and release up to four recordings this year. We say we're interested in distinctive and exhilarating music. We're aiming at being a small label for listeners willing to be taken to new domains of sound and expression. We're open to demos and proposals and we're willing to give anything a try.

No-one makes money at a label these days!

Because we've heard a lot of great music from labels like this - the sort of thing Robots & Electronic Brains covers. Our favourite artists of the moment are Plinth, Neutral Milk Hotel, Alessandro Stefana, Coil, David A Jaycock, Jim Fox, La Bradford, Lustmord, Mole Harness, Oophoi, Rachel's, Fulborn Taversham, Jasper Leyland, Nalle, Netherworld, Sir Richard Bishop, Rameses II, Riftmusic, Tin Hat Trio, Xenakis, Zadik Zecharia. But we also know there's a lot more out there struggling to get a hearing. We first thought about setting up a website to review all the things we like, but then the idea came - no, better still, let's get more of it out there.

But no-one even breaks even!

Well, we'll see. It might sound idealistic, but the music will be reward enough.

You say that now, but wait til you've got 3000 7" singles in the bottom of your wardrobe!

Been there before! Well, that won't happen, now because we're going for limited numbers on each release to start with. That also helps with the collectable aspect.

Are there other labels you admire?

Type Records, they have really interesting material, elegant presentation and a straightforward style and approach. Early Winter are excellent too. And we like the Sustain-Release's hand-crafted pieces like the recent Box of Birch

Have you run labels before?

Ray was a founder member of The Bollweevils, who came together in Sheffield in the late 80s-early nineties. Ray was acting as their manager when they got their own record deal in 1990 with Vinyl Solution.  Mark was on Deleted Funtime, one of the early indie cassette compilations, as one of The Mystic Umbrellas, and later released tapes of his own, including The Sound of Pendeen Watch, 90 minutes of lighthouse foghorn and the sea and the wind, sadly now lost.

Also, we've both had wide experience with independent, fine press book publishing. We think we can bring some of that to the label.

How will it help?

It helps knowing how to run a creative outfit aimed at a specialist audience. It should help us with design and the associated literature. Also, just the basic business stuff.

Will you be running the label as a business?

No, more an enthusiasm and an informal approach. But with a proper business-like approach where it's needed.

Do you have experience of labels that you want to make sure Persepolis copies or doesn't copy?

Yes, you have got to be excited and committed about what you do otherwise why bother? And you don't need to be part of the big machine. The camaraderie, creativity and just sheer energy of the original indie scene left its mark on anyone who was part of it. We want to keep that.

There aren't too many musical rules - we lean towards the weird/avant-garde edge but we're not ruling out something accessible and lilting, for example. One thing we're clear about is we're not tying performers into anything - we're just agreeing a release and taking it from there. We want to be professional but informal.

What should bands do to give themselves the best chance?

Just try us with the tracks you feel good about. We promise to be open-eared and open-minded. You'll find us straightforward, keen and competent. If you've got music that moves, we'll help you move it on out there.

Send your music to Mark Valentine, Stable Cottage, Priest Bank Road, Kildwick, Keighley, BD20 9BH.

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