Future records: We meet 8 young record labels pushing vinyl forwards in 2014

Future records: We meet 8 young record labels pushing vinyl forwards in 2014

Share

Share

future-records-we-meet-8-young-record-labels-pushing-vinyl-forwards-in-2014

cover34

In an increasingly competitive, low-margin industry, there are a handful of record labels still committed to making the most of the original music format.

These are labels who often work for love rather than money, and yet have still opted to push their form forwards, investing admirable amounts in the pursuit of ever more beautiful records. With no time for gimmicks (last year’s ice record comes to mind), they are the labels returning to the simple things – taking care to produce substantial, often hand-made vinyl records, with their attention to detail in both music, artwork and distribution setting a new standard for vinyl in the 21st century.

From origami sleeves to innovative pricing methods, these are the labels who refuse to believe that vinyl reached its capacity for invention with the novelty 80’s picture disc. While there are countless small imprints doing just this, we’ve begun by picking eight of the most innovative and interesting, all of which were born in the last five years (barring A Future Without, who despite forming in 2006 sneak in for having released their first vinyl in 2012), and who have carved out a distinct identity for their records, whether releasing new music or reissuing old.


tst

vlek_2

Name: Vlek Records
Founded: November 2010
Location: Brussels, Belgium
Represented by: Julien Fournier

Could you tell us a bit about the label – when you started, who’s involved, and what your motivations were behind starting a label?

We started the label in November 2010. All three of us (Thomas, David & I) had been involved in different organizations before, directly connected to or hovering around the music field (label management, radio, art direction…). When we met we realized we had a common idea and that we developed complementary skills over the years, so we wanted to put them together and start a new structure, all of our own, to promote Belgian artists (well, friends basically), our way.

Why has it been so important to you to continue to work with vinyl?

Besides the technical advantages of the medium, our will to work with vinyl is mostly driven by the idea that we want to make a ‘complete’ object of each of our productions and that vinyl, for now, is the most adequate format to do so.

VLEK06

What’s the hardest thing about continuing to work in this format and have you seen the upturn in general sales reflected in your own?

Vinyl has its advantages, but it definitely has its weak points too. As we have to produce every cover in-house, we can’t press 2000 copies of each release, and thus it’s very hard to break even. Downloads are a welcome additional income but not a reliable source for maintaining a label. Luckily, we are helped a great deal by the Belgian authorities. No-one gets paid in the label, but we’re not losing money.

Do you have any reservations about the current trend for vinyl and what’s the best way to keep the industry sustainable?

There’s definitely something to be done about the sky-rocketing demand/insufficient supply problem the industry is facing. It can postpone projects by several months and no-one likes that.

‘Keeping the industry sustainable’ is a subject way too vast to tackle here but at our level we’re trying to make every vinyl part of a precious and valuable object.

We have to count with a low overall sales level like everyone else, but we’re doing small amounts of objects, they are basically funded by the authorities and we’re all working for free, doing the art direction, a bit of booking and most of the promotion in-house. Also, having a good distribution with Kompakt definitely helps a lot. We’re conscious that it’s not a globally replicable model though.

ssaliva

ssaliva2

Could you talk us through a few examples of releases on the label which give a good representation of what the label’s all about?

As explained earlier, we are producing all our covers in-house, with ≠ techniques – mostly letterpress, but used in a lot of ways.

To name a few of our favorite productions: the EP with the word Ssaliva’s soundwave embossed with typographic lead pieces (VLEK09) and the Lawrence Le Doux recent letterpressed sleeve and poster for ‘Terrestre’ (VLEK16), printed out of cork bits. The 8-pass letterpress of Aymeric de Tapol’s Winter Dance (VLEK15) is also something to remember.

Pictures are worth a 1000 words on this one.

front

Do you work with specific cover artists? If so who are they and why?

Yes, all our productions are designed by Dimitri Runkkari (David), one of the co-founders of the label. It helps us keep a coherent design throughout the catalogue, and Dim is always working in close collaboration with the released artist to embed their intentions in his output.

 

 


 

 

stellate2

stroboscopic artefacts

Name: Stroboscopic Artefacts
Founded: September 2009
Location: Berlin, Germany
Represented by: Luca Mortellaro aka “Lucy”

Could you tell us a bit about the label – when you started, who’s involved, and what your motivations were behind starting a label?

SA officially started in September 2009, with the release of SA001. But actually I moved to Berlin from Paris one year before that, with an idea in mind since a while already: creating a platform for a group of ‘beautiful minds’ to articulate a common approach to art and expression of the self. It wasn’t so clear to me that the best shape would have been a record label, until I actually moved to Berlin, looking for a welcoming place to make that idea real.

Why has it been so important to you to continue to work with vinyl?

I’ve collected vinyl since I was 14, and it’s very clear to me (depending on the kind of music, of course) that certain things need not only the ethereal sound as a shape, but also a physical shape that you can touch, preserve, scratch, lose, find, use, abuse or consecrate. A physical frame for it to express its possible meanings at full strength.

stroboscopic 1

What’s the hardest thing about continuing to work in this format and have you seen the upturn in general sales reflected in your own?

Probably only the fact that each format has its own rules and ‘habits’ from the consumer perspective. As I usually tend to damage ‘habits’ and to go against them as strongly as I can, sometimes it’s not easy to have big sales. This happens only until when your public don’t get the point of your personal little revolution. After that, all is a reward.

Do you have any reservations about the current trend for vinyl and what’s the best way to keep the industry sustainable?

The best way to keep this tendency sustainable is one simple rule; respect your public, which can be translated into this: remember that your fans buy your releases because most of the time they are consciously supporting you, they are allowing you to keep on feeding their brain hunger. Do that, feed them. And a obvious consequence of that is the label-to-fan direct relationship, an immensely important factor.

Stellate1

Could you talk us through a few examples of releases on the label which give a good representation of what the label’s all about?

With the Stellate Series we went wild. Meaning we really didn’t care about the efforts (economical and handwork) needed to keep the original audio/visual idea as close as possible to the real object that we created. We managed to find this old cinema tapes containers, which we modified and recycled to our needs, printing them in 4 different offset direct printing on metal and reinforcing their lids. Then we placed 2 clear 10-inch vinyls inside each release (4 episodes in total), separated by a thin paper divider. All to give this dual idea of a Kubrikian side-reel object coming from the space (meaning the deep distance from any ‘everyday’ musical influences or industry trends) on one side, and of a secret screen that must be carefully opened to drink from its essence (the music inside). Given the very intimate and surprisingly unique nature of the approach that every artist had on the music for Stellate, I like to consider the series a success.

stroboscopic MONTAGE

Do you work with specific cover artists? If so who are they and why?

I work exclusively with Oblivious Artefacts, since day 1. It’s collective of artists run by my brother Ignazio Mortellaro. I guess it’s easy to understand that we don’t really need to talk much, as the understanding is at telepathic level. All my interests for arts, humanity and getting off the predefined lines of a ‘working bee’ life in general, started with him when I was a teenager. So the mutual understanding we have is a unique driving force. I’m a lucky guy…

If there’s one thing you’d like to do with a forthcoming release what would it be?

If technology would allow it, creating a generative pattern that is pressed differently on each copy. Like taking the vinyl’s main attribute (each copy actually sounds different, being an imperfect physical item), and amplifying it to the unthinkable. So each vinyl would grab an instant of an eternal and always transforming sound. And each owner would hold in its hands a unique and repeatable piece of art.

 

 


 

 

BK007 by Kraftwood

Bokhari

Name: Bokhari Records
Founded: 2012
Location: London, United Kingdom
Represented by: Angus Paterson

Could you tell us a bit about the label – when you started, who’s involved, and what your motivations were behind starting a label?

Bokhari was formed in 2012 by Angus Paterson and Paul Crognale. The name Bokhari translates as ‘unknown tribe’ which loosely describes our main mission. Although we have worked with some ‘named’ producers, Bokhari was created as an outlet for unknown producers around the world.

Why has it been so important to you to continue to work with vinyl?

Although we didn’t know each other in our teens both of us grew up in or around Oxford and there is no doubt that Mo’Wax influenced us from an early age. The beauty of Mo’ Wax wasn’t just the music, it was the ‘package’. There was that great artwork by Futura, plus club nights and collaborations. We are both huge fans of vinyl, and always have been. We have nothing against digital, but have always preferred the physical.

BK009----Lino-Printed-Version

Do you have any reservations about the current trend for vinyl and what’s the best way to keep the industry sustainable?

We are all for the trend for vinyl as long as the music retains its quality. This is where record stores come in – going into your favourite record store is great because they have done a large part of the sieving for you… Beatport probably has 2 million tracks listed under the label of ‘deep house’. How anyone can think about going through them is alien to us.

The only problem with any trend is that the majors have to dip their toe in and they should not be encouraged – this year on Record Store Day a One Direction picture disc (yes, those little turd peddlers) was sold out by midday and on discogs for £80 that very afternoon. Come on people. Cue the Ministry of Sound presents the vinyl lounge collection… available only on CD, coming to a store near you.

flavour

non

Could you talk us through a few examples of releases on the label which give a good representation of what the label’s all about?

As we mentioned the label is about working with unknown producers, but as we are both huge fans of design we like to work with people who want to keep pushing the boundaries with vinyl releases. We try to do alternative versions of the releases where feasible. A couple of examples include:

Our 4th release with Mark E also had a limited edition run of 50 individual covers, all with a completely different design. Big thanks to the cheeky Mr Ian Stevenson for taking the time to do this for us.

Release number 7 had an additional run of 10 made up with bespoke wooden covers, playing on the track title of ‘Prototype’. We are super proud of this project, and thanks to Kraftwood for coming up with such a great design.

BOKHARI-02-copy

Do you work with specific cover artists? If so who are they and why?

We try to work with a new illustrator/cover artist with every release to keep it fresh. We simply contact them, show them the music and let them do as they please.

Some of the previous illustrators have been people who’s work we really admire such as Andy Potts, Ian Stevenson, John Slade and Ben Cook. We are currently working with these guys again to come up with artwork remixes of each others covers to celebrate our forthcoming 10th release.

BOKHARI-01

A special big up to Ben Cook who brought his artwork for BK002 to life. We are always open to submissions so if you have an idea for a cover or a release we are all ears.

If there’s one thing you’d like to do with a forthcoming release what would it be?

Hmmmmm… Give away 10 dub sirens of our own design. Get a cover designed by heroes Adam Neate or Conor Harrington.

 

 


 

 

Diagonal-Records-COMBINED_X4.LO

Diaognal records

Name: Diagonal Records
Founded: 2011
Location: London, United Kingdom
Represented by: Oscar Powell

Could you tell us a bit about the label — when you started, who’s involved, and what your motivations were behind starting a label?

It started in late 2011. I’d been making music for a long, long time, as a hobby more than anything else, but then a few things happened that made me think I should do something with it. That’s the way it goes, I guess: circumstances conspire in such a way that you start to believe someone out there might actually give a shit. It’s very hard to believe in yourself without some kind of affirmation from somewhere else.

That led to me putting out my first EP, the rather pompously titled ‘The Ongoing Significance of Steel and Flesh’. God, if I could re-title that now I would! I was working on my own then, but since then Jaime Williams, a very close friend, has come on-board, along with Guy Featherstone, who does all the art and visual direction for the label.

Motivation-wise, it was pretty simple: I didn’t want a life spent consumed by music to amount to absolutely nothing. I mean, if you’re reading this article it probably means that you’re more than a little bit into music. I felt like I wanted something to come of that interest, you know? At the time I never anticipated it growing into much. It was very much a case of ‘let’s do this one record and see what happens from there’. There were no grand plans at all.

Diagonal-Records-COMBINED_ShitShineLP.LO

Why has it been so important to you to continue to work with vinyl?

It’s quite straightforward really: it’s the format we treasure the most. I don’t buy music in other forms. I mean, the odd CD, yep, and occasionally a download, but really all my own personal money goes on vinyl. It’s my world, so it was always gonna be front and centre. When you spend a life buying vinyl there aren’t really too many alternatives when it comes to putting out your own music.

All the same qualities that people espouse re: vinyl are true for us too. The physical thing is the most commonly talked about I guess, but it’s true: there’s a completeness to putting music out on vinyl that you just don’t get with digital. This is a product that we believe is worth something. I think that’s important for our artists too. It costs money to put things out on vinyl, such that you rarely really make much from it. But that’s important for the artists too. It’s us saying that we believe in the music, that it deserves investment, love, effort. When you put something on wax it immediately earns a place in the world — in shop racks, in personal collections, on turntables in clubs. It exists. We want our music to take its place in the world and not just exist in the ether.

bronze-teeth_si_02

Do you have any reservations about the current trend for vinyl and what’s the best way to keep the industry sustainable?

Not at all. How can you have reservations about such an upturn? I really don’t understand it at all. I mean, fine, you get all these bigger labels and stuff who do Record Store day things and all that, and totally fuck the plants, but that’s good isn’t it? Vinyl doing well?

To keep it sustainable, you need people to just buy the stuff. Artists and labels contribute to what we all love by putting the music out there, but that will only continue to happen so long as music lovers keep buying it. Also, people need to stop complaining about the cost of vinyl. There was an article not long after I did an EP on Death of Rave, which was a plain black slab of vinyl with no art and a plain transparent sleeve. I think it was actually FACT who ran a piece about the cost of vinyl, and it lamented the price of the record — like £9.99 or something. Is a tenner really that much for four tracks that you love? I just don’t get that. I’ve never once felt any kind of guilt or apprehension about investing in music that I can’t live without. I’ll pay what it costs. I think the artist and the label deserve it. When you know, as both artist and label, what goes into making a record, it changes your view on what music is worth. No one who balked at the price of that record could know that we spent a lot of our own money mixing that record on a beautiful old desk in a studio to get exactly the sound I wanted. People too easily forget the love and sweat that goes into these things.

If the music is good, if it stands out from everything else, then rest assured the artist and the label put their back into. Remember, no one is really making anything from sales. When you buy something, it just limits the damage and makes it easier for people to put out the next round of stuff that’ll put a smile on your face. So help a brother out . . .

Screen Shot 2014-08-06 at 11.55.12

Could you talk us through a few examples of releases on the label that give a good representation of what the label’s all about?

Musically, we love everything we put out equally — of course! But I think my favourite release from a production point of view is probably the Russell Haswell 37 Minute Workout LP. It always starts with the music on any piece of production, and we felt that Russell doing this more rhythmic, club-oriented stuff was almost like him revealing another side to his artistic self without abandoning that deadly, angst-ridden provocation that he’s built his name on. So creatively, we wanted to show that a little bit, which is why on the front you have this abstracted number 37, something that feels almost poppy with its toothpaste colour and white background, contrasting with the visual ‘noise’ on the back. It’s like new and old Russ in the same fucked-up package.

We also like to leave little details on records that not everyone will notice. On this one, if you hold it up in the light you’ll see there’s a spot UV finish that outlines a clock-face, almost like a pie chart, that reads 37 minutes. This shit doesn’t change the world, but when you’re working with vinyl you have more opportunities to do things that keep you interested. The artwork becomes a canvas, a platform for trying things, and you just don’t get that with digital art. There are restrictions in that world, but when you get all physical with things then all of those restrictions slide away.

Do you work with specific cover artists? If so who are they and why?

Guy does it all now, and I work closely with him. He’s such a brilliant designer, the kind you just don’t get all that often. He’s very conceptual, and that’s important to us. It’s too easy to be a stylist today — much harder to be an artist. So for me, he’s like one of the musicians we put out. We depend on him like we depend on the brilliant people who write the stuff. They make our job easy. This is their label as much as it is mine or Jaime’s.

If there’s one thing you’d like to do with a forthcoming release what would it be?

Sell 50K copies and make our artists rich and famous.

My biggest regret about all of this comes back to the artists. They put their life and soul into making this stuff. We put it out, but what do they get in return? Hopefully the reputation that their music deserves, but rarely much more than that. I just wish we could promise them stuff beyond that, you know?

 

 


 

 

cover_DEVO_Hardcore

Superior Viaduct_square

Name: Superior Viaduct
Founded: 2011
Location: San Francisco, California, USA
Represented by: Steve Viaduct

Could you tell us a bit about the label, when you started, who’s involved, and what your motivations were behind starting a label?

Superior Viaduct is an archival label based out of San Francisco. We offer a wide range of releases: Devo’s early demos (1974-77), The Residents, French icon Brigitte Fontaine, Fluxus figure Henry Flynt, as well as first albums by Alice Coltrane, Martin Rev and Phill Niblock. Most are available on vinyl, although we have put out a few select CDs, such as The Gun Club’s Fire of Love, and so far one book by punk photographer Ruby Ray.

I started the label in 2011 out of my apartment in North Beach. Advice to anyone starting a label: make sure you don’t live on a hill – vinyl is heavy!

My initial focus was on San Francisco artists, especially from the late ‘70s SF punk scene. I had been researching local underground music for years, and one day it dawned on me that most of this amazing music was either long out-of-print or sadly unreleased. The label still has this historical approach, although we expanded our focus to include artists from around the world.

Why has it been so important to you to continue to work with vinyl?

I love records. There is something special about their warm sound and nice 12-inch sized artwork. It made sense to have Superior Viaduct produce vinyl because that is the format that many of these recordings came out on originally.

cover_Peter_Jefferies_Electricity

cover_The_Flesh_Eaters_A_Minute_To_Pray_A_Second_To_Die

Soon the label grew too big for my apartment, so friends and I decided to open a record store in Oakland, called Stranded. It may sound like a daunting feet to start a brick-and-mortar vinyl-only shop, but you never know who is going to walk through the door. From local or touring bands to collectors who want to commiserate about Blue Note pressing variations to neighborhood kids who have never seen a turntable.

What’s the hardest thing about continuing to work in this format and have you seen the upturn in general sales reflected in your own?

The hardest thing right now is that records take forever to be pressed. Just a couple years ago, you could get records in 6-8 weeks and now it seems more like 12-14 weeks, which means release dates tend to be moving targets.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad that vinyl is back, and Superior Viaduct definitely sells more vinyl than CDs. The problem is that, while vinyl manufacturing has increased, there is a finite number of machines to press them. Every time a major catalogue like The Beatles is repressed or every Record Store Day, all the pressing plants are completely backed-up.

SV_blog_solaris1_grande

Could you talk us through a few examples of releases on the label that give a good representation of what the label’s all about?

We really outdid ourselves with the soundtrack to Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris. We took different film stills and made three unique front cover designs. The photos were printed separately from the LP jacket and pasted on the front. The final touch was debossing the jackets around where the photo goes, which gives it this reverse 3-dimensional feel. It cost a fortune to print, but Tarkovsky is one our all-time favorite directors, so it was worth it.

Another project we did recently was with The Residents. We wanted to do an exact reproduction of their debut double 45, ‘Santa Dog’, that originally came out in 1972. The original sleeve was varnished, so all existing copies have turned a brownish yellow color after 40+ years. The band has the original drawing, which is white, but we decided to make the reissue slightly brownish to make it look more like an original Santa Dog would look today. The band loved this idea! Only a few hundred copies were made of the original release, and they were all given away to friends. In the tradition of Santa Dog, then, we had an event where we gave away a couple hundred free copies to fans.

Residents_Day_at_Stranded_photo_by_Kevin_Brown

If there’s one thing you’d like to do with a forthcoming release what would it be?

Right now we are working on a reissue of the soundtrack to La Planète Sauvage, which will feature remastered audio and new artwork. This is a very surreal film and beautiful soundtrack that was been sampled countless times by J Dilla, Madlib, DJ Shadow, Caribou, etc. We will also do a deluxe version on translucent blue vinyl. The packaging looks awesome, and we are excited to get it out in time for the holidays.

 

 


 

 

cover2

dark entires2

Name: Dark Entries
Founded: 2009
Location: San Francisco, California, USA
Represented by: Josh Cheon

Could you tell us a bit about the label – when you started, who’s involved and what your motivations were behind starting a label?

It was probably around 1999-2000 that I knew I wanted to have a record label. But first I wanted to have a record store, as a high school kid going to New York and record shopping, I was like “I want to have a record store” and just have my own records because I’ve always been a collector. At one point I realized the circle kind of stops and I want to give back so I want to open my own record store-that’s a way for me to give back the records, recycling-keep it going.

But instead I got a radio show at Rutgers University and that was my way of putting the music back out there. At the same time I stared interning at record labels in Manhattan, and that’s when I said “ I want to do this.” I saw how it’s happening. People just release records. I never quite understood what went into it but I knew I wanted to have my own record label and put out my hard to find records and underground bands. The label is just me taking care of all production and management.

BART_detail3_905

Why has it been so important to you to continue to work with vinyl?

I love handling vinyl. There is a strong psychological connection too since I have been listening to vinyl since I was born thanks to my dad’s huge record collection. I was always raiding his vinyl and playing it as a kid. I love how it sounds and the physics behind the process of pressing vinyl.

What’s the hardest thing about continuing to work in this format and have you seen the upturn in general sales reflected in your own?

Weight! Shipping records adds up, especially internationally. Carrying 20 or more orders to the post office each trip is also heavy. Storage is also a huge factor and cost prohibitive. I have seen a gradual increase in sales but that could also be to more exposure and press in general.

Do you have any reservations about the current trend for vinyl and what’s the best way to keep the industry sustainable?

I usually stray away from colored vinyl, to me that is more of a vanity project. I strive for the best sounding vinyl, which is why I use the best mastering engineer in California as well as the best pressing plant in America. Right now the pressing plants cannot keep up with the demands so they are cutting corners and working 24 hours a day to satisfy the needs. My plant has the highest quality control and has never sent me a warped or defective records.

Could you talk us through a few examples of releases on the label that give a good representation of what the label’s all about?

I’ll let my designer Eloise Leigh talk about her 3 favourites:

img_5901

img_5906

DE-068 Sumerian Fleet – Just Pressure

This jacket was offset printed with gold pantone metallic ink on raw uncoated French Black paper. The gold is earthy and ancient feeling. The focus is on the custom type mainly on the front, which is slick and decorative in itself. The blurred out ovals convey old UFO photos, like a “fleet” of them in a row, providing a mysterious grainy background for it all with alien intentions. A diamond frames the shapes and alludes to the ziggurat on the back, like viewing that from above, more simplified and abstracted though. The concentric nature creates a bit of movement, like rising “up” to the center and friction between the lines, and also adds a visual “pressure” to go with the album title. There is a double-sided lyrics insert, cut and printed in the shape of a diamond on Vulcan Green paper with occult imagery too!

bart2

DE-013 Various Artists – BART Bay Area Retrograde Vol 1

A compilation of underground synth music from San Francisco and the greater Bay Area in the 1980s. The title plays off the Bay Area Rapid Transit transportation system, and the cover features an original illustration from a vintage BART map. Other design elements reflect Bay Area quirks like earthquakes and sunny California vibes. All images were sourced from vintage printed ephemera of the bands or Bay Area.

NeonJ_front_905

NeonJ_insert1_4_905

DE-007 Neon Judgement – Early Tapes

A compilation of the first two cassettes of the Belgian band Neon Judgement, originally released in 1981 and 1982, and remastered for vinyl. The early industrial sound of the band evokes gritty and aggressive electronic imagery. A double-sided sleeve insert and replica of an original flyer is included in the package, along with assorted neon red synthmap cards screenprinted by hand on found, pre-die-cut paper.

Do you work with specific cover artists? If so who are they and why?

Eloise Leigh has been my in-house designer since early 2010. She is also passionate about the music and has an appreciation for the DIY aesthetic of the 1980s independent record labels. Some of the projects require completely new designs for compilations or releases that did not have a design before. Other projects are straight reproductions of the original releases, but with new inserts and printed ephemera designed to accompany them. In all cases, we strive to be as resourceful as possible to work within low budget limitations. Paper is often sourced from the local recycling center [S.C.R.A.P.], designs are often created in 1-color or 2-color with lower ink usage in mind, and layout sizes are often determined by what works best with local printers and their most cost-effective options. At the same time, quality of content is never sacrificed, and it has been an honor to help so many talented artists and musicians resurrect their amazing music in the most independent and authentic way possible.

If there’s one thing you’d like to do with a forthcoming release, what would it be?

I would love to have a jacket made with a special texture like Talking Heads’ Fear of Music or The Durutti Column ‎The Return Of The Durutti Column.

 

 


 

 

main

AFW LOGO Vinyl Factory 1

Name: A Future Without
Founded: 2006 (first vinyl release in 2012)
Location: Bristol, United Kingdom
Represented by: Will Plowman

Could you tell us a bit about the label – when you started, who’s involved, and what your motivations were behind starting a label?

We started back in 2006 after myself Will Plowman and Ross Tones (Throwing Snow) met working in a healthfood shop in Bristol. We spent our working hours geeking out over music, listening to old tapes from our youth and any new tunes we’d discovered while in a basement kitchen making all kinds of salads, sandwiches, quiches, chilli etc. We just clicked musically and were both on the same wavelength about what was happening at the time in terms of the rise of the bedroom producer and the state of the music industry. I think Ross had the initial idea of starting the label during the end of his MA at Bath Spa and I quickly jumped on board!

As we are both musicians the motivations for starting the label are very artist centric. We wanted the main focus of the label to be all about the artist, giving them full creative freedom creating a platform without boundaries. This comes from a strong belief that if our artists are happy and in a comfortable creative environment/headspace they will create great music. We also wanted to create something that allowed our artist to have a broader freedom encouraging collaborations and working with other labels. All our contracts are non-exclusive with the majority percentage going back to the artist. We are a big believer in things being mutually beneficial.

AFW EP Covers

Why has it been so important to you to continue to work with vinyl?

We are personally both very passionate about the format and we have been all our lives. From exploring the intriguing artwork as a young child to collecting vinyl from teenage years. Vinyl is a music format that you can really get involved with in a tactile sense as well as a sonic one. This makes it like no other format adding genuine passionate value to a product.

Even though we started life as a digital label our goal was always to move into releasing vinyl. We are very proud we have been able to achieve this goal funding it through the sale of our digital releases. We both feel it’s very important to continue working with vinyl to pass on our passion for the format and keep people interested in physical music products.

What’s the hardest thing about continuing to work in this format and have you seen the upturn in general sales reflected in your own?

Because of the way we work with vinyl which is finding new and or interesting/innovative types of vinyl/sleeve design it is always hard to think of new ideas that standout in their own right as a quality product and not just a gimmick. Financing a project is always tough especially when making specialist products that have a high dealer price, but it’s worth it and we’ve never made a loss enabling us to finance the next project. With the addition of vinyl in our catalogue we have definitely seen an upturn. It has a knock on positive effect on digital sales and helps to establish the label as a serious entity. It’s a shame we couldn’t afford to finance vinyl for some of our earlier releases which might of helped get them the wider recognition they deserved a lot sooner. But a lot of these artist have been snapped up are doing very well now which we are very please and proud of.

Could you talk us through a few examples of releases on the label that give a good representation of what the label’s all about?

Exif_JPEG_PICTURE

Our first adventure into the world of vinyl was a couple of years ago and was a vinyl postcard. I managed to find a company that were able to manufacture this product and we went for it with an artist called ‘With Joyful Lips’ doing a very limited run of 40 I think. We struck an exclusive deal with Boomkat to sell them on their online store and within two days they were sold out. It wasn’t until after the release of the record that I found out the fascinating history behind vinyl postcards. They were manufactured in communist Poland in the 60’s and 70’s as a way of getting hit records to the Poles when vinyl records were very hard to come by. They are quite small about 6” x 4” with a max of 3.5mins on one side only, the reverse side is laid out exactly like a normal postcard.

halfunfold

The latest vinyl release we did also had an unconventional feel. We wanted to produce something that gave us the opportunity to put a whole EP on yet have a unique feature of some sort. After a fare amount of research we came up with the concept of using an origami based approach for the sleeve design. Neither of us are the best folders in the world so we contacted squared-roots.com a great company in Bristol we had used before for some T-Shirts. Ben at Squared Roots was a great help in making this project a reality quickly coming up with a prototype that we were all happy with. We then decided to go with a screen printed design on the inside so when you open up the sleeve you reveal the artwork. As the sleeve design was so intricate we chose to leave the vinyl as a white label. The music for this release was by myself entitled ‘Will Plowman – Ahamay Grove’ it was a limited run of 100 which is very close to selling out now!

If there’s one thing you’d like to do with a forthcoming release what would it be?

We’ve chatted about a lot of things and one thing we would really like to do is make a book of flexi discs. We’ve looked into it and it is possible but it would be very expensive to make so we still have to work out a few things there but hopefully one day that will come. We are also very interested in merging physical and digital products, using new technologies to get the best out of both mediums.

 

 


 

 

cover

Mondo logo

Name: Mondo
Founded: 2011
Location: Austin, Texas, USA
Represented By: Justin Ishmael

Could you tell us a bit about the label – when you started, who’s involved, and what your motivations were behind starting a label?

I think it was probably 2010 or 2011, and Rob Jones, one of our art directors said we should look into doing soundtracks. Rob has continued to be the art director and I’m still creative director as far as a lot of the stuff on the record is concerned. Like the coloured vinyl, what kinds of variants we do, or whether Man Bat should have wings attached. But we all pitch in and all have ideas, it’s a big group effort.

ghiblivinyl2

Why has it been so important to you to continue to work with vinyl?

I think one of the things we’re most known for is our art and the art can really be played with a lot more and seen a lot more on vinyl, as the area you see is larger than in any other form of music.

For vinyl, it’s a different experience. It’s like saying I watch the movie on Blue Ray or I watch the movie on film, it’s a different thing, at least it is for me. The whole thing is a different ritual. To me it’s not necessarily passive. I can put music on my computer and work and not really listen to it but whenever I put a record on I tend to listen to it more or read the liner notes. I don’t learn anything when I’m listening to music on iTunes.

Could you talk us through a few examples of releases on the label which give a good representation of what the label’s all about?

open-pink-vinyl1

One of the big ones for me was – the first one that I was kinda nervous about – was The Deadly Spawn, because it’s one of my favourite movies. I have a tattoo of the Deadly Spawn on me. I was really really excited about the art and I think it all pieces together really well and it really was representative of that movie. And I remember going to Amoeba in LA and one of the Deadly Spawn records was on display and it made me so proud to see that in Amoeba. And I had people coming up to me saying I’d never heard of the movie’ and to have people take a chance on it was really special. And the best thing was they would listen to it and they would actually go and watch the movie and that’s something which has always been one of our goals at Mondo.

JurassicParkMcCarthy4

And I think the other one was Jurassic Park. Those kind of cover the different ends of the spectrum, where you can have something quite obscure followed by one of the most respected, huge movies you can get. I think that shows that we can work with both sides.

Do you work with specific cover artists? If so who are they and why?

We switch round every time. Obviously some guys will do more than others. We had Kevin Tong do Gravity and JC Richards do Jurassic Park, we some upcoming stuff from different artists that people like a lot. We try to take the same approach we do with posters for records, we are very versed in the movie that we’re putting out and then we can talk to the artist. We always want the people working on it to be excited about it.


Bokhari Records, Vlek Records and Stroboscopic Artefacts are featured in Stuart Tolley’s new coffee table book Collector’s Edition: Innovative Packaging and Graphics, which is published by Thames Hudson and is available to buy now. You can also visit the exhibition, which is open until August 31st.