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Indie Label Roundtable
Once again, we’re talking to independent record labels about their beginnings, challenges they face along the way, their take on streaming/Spotify and more! Volume 7 includes conversations with Bricolage (UK), Tye Die Tapes (UK) and Moone Records (US).
You can also dive into ILR archives and/or  listen to a label mix that Bricolage made for IHN. Suggested reading includes reviews of Retcon compilation (via Scot Gelinas / Julius Orange) and Midden by Tashi Dorji / John Dieterich (via Nick Panagakos).
[nextpage title=”Bricolage”] Bricolage - Label Logo
What made you start a label?
The original concept and idea for Bricolage came to me around almost 10 years ago now. I’ve always loved mixtapes and curating mixes. Bringing eclectic sounds from producers of various genres together. So I started an online collective known as “Are Friends Eclectic?”. It was mainly myself and friends from the Glasgow area. This particular collective didn’t last long. Unfortunately, myself and the others involved had no idea of how to run or promote such a thing at that time. In my defence I was much younger then! So myself and the other people involved decided to call it quits on that project rather quickly. I then focused more on honing my own music skills over the next 3/4 years and released on various independent labels under my Fragile X alias. I felt refreshed and more aware of the industry cycle after that period. Releasing on these labels and gathering/studying little nuggets of knowledge from the people behind them inspired me to have another go at creating something of my own. I plucked up the courage to ask a few artists that I admired if they’d be interested in releasing on a label launch compilation and the rest is history. Here we are almost 4 years later with a musical hub that I’m very proud of. It’s grown and developed over the years from a small collective to an underground label and we’re now slowly moving into the physical release realm. Possibly even some live shows next year.

What are some of the challenges you see as a label owner?
Time. Time is the main challenge. I can pretty much 100% guarantee that time is a big (if not biggest) obstacle for most small label owners. As my day job I work in the vehicle construction industry, Mon-Fri 7am-6pm. It’s a physically demanding job so some weeknights it can be a real struggle to find the energy to do promo or maintain contact with our artists. I try my best to utilise my breaks at work for such things. My workmates would tell you I’m not exactly the most sociable person at lunch time! I’d hate to come across as being whiny in that sense though as Bricolage is genuinely one of the most fulfilling things I’ve created. There are some nights after work when I’m actually looking forward to getting home so I can get cracking on with label stuff.
But then, to be completely honest, the weekends are where I can put most of my energy into the label. Early mornings on Saturday and Sunday are my peak times. Thankfully my family, friends and my girlfriend are all supportive of what we do at Bricolage and my girlfriend even helps out with email stuff from time to time. She’s been a big help in so many ways.
In a sense, Bricolage is my second job. It doesn’t pay me in money. But it does give me immense satisfaction. The main aim of Bricolage was to shine a spotlight on artists I appreciate and spread their sounds around. I’d like to think we’ve done that to an extent.

What is your take on Spotify and streaming services?
Personally, I prefer to buy my music in either physical or download format and then listen to it offline. I’m probably pretty old school in that sense. That’s not to say that I don’t listen online. I do that about once a week. After all, you have to find the music first before you can buy it and when I do stream then YouTube and Soundcloud are my own personal go to places. I always enjoy spending a few hours each week scouring through for hidden gems and have found a few artists from the label through those mediums. I also use Soundcloud on a weekly basis to keep in touch with associated artists and check what they’ve been up to when I can.
As for the likes of Spotify, Deezer, and iTunes…well I’ve just never really been into them that much. I have accounts but they’re all lying dormant. Spotify in particular is something that we’ve never aligned ourselves with at Bricolage. I can see the advantages of the platform in a sense but overall I don’t see any great benefit for smaller artists or labels from being on there. There’s no purchase or artist links allowed next to tracks/EPs for a start. Again, it maybe comes back to me being pretty old school in my approach but I prefer the idea of people actively finding/seeking out/being recommended the music from friends instead of stumbling across it in an over inflated electronic music playlist that’s been placed on shuffle mode. As things stand, Bricolage is available to stream on Soundcloud, Bandcamp and YouTube. I understand that some people may frown upon that but without sounding cliched, we like to keep things “underground”. Like the days before ‘one click instant access’ was a thing. I don’t want Bricolage to just be a word that pops up in someone’s paid for promo playlist, I want it to remain organic. It’s a method that has worked so far. We move and work in a small but fantastic electronic community with like minded groups and individuals. I wouldn’t change that for anything.

Is there a specific focus as far as genres or local/regional aspect of music you’re releasing?
Our first release “VA1” was a melting pot of electronic music. Ambient, electronica, IDM, techno, house, instrumental trip hop, drone, glitch. Everything. Since then we’ve released a little bit more of all of those genres. But in the last year or two I’d like to think that I’ve found a nice esoteric sound that the label focuses on. I can’t really put my finger on what I would call that particular sound which is a nice feeling. If I was pushed for a proper answer then right now I’d say that we’re releasing a lot of stuff that combines broken beat, techno, IDM, glitch and ambient. Those are all my favourite ingredient so that tells it’s own story really.
In terms of regional/local aspects then there are no barriers. We’ve released music from artists from a multitude of countries. Japan, Canada, USA and literally all over Europe.
We have however always liked to accentuate local producers too. 6 of our last 12 standalone releases have been from Scottish artists. With many more before that too. In fact, this August we’re releasing a special all Glasgow compilation called “0141”. Every year we like to release an anniversary compilation. The last two anniversaries have saw some unique albums. 2017 was our “Dyadic” release (a collaborative album and our first ever physical) and 2018 was a mammoth collection called “Retcon”. I think “0141” will be another special one. It’s titled after the Glasgow area code and is set to exclusively feature Glaswegian artists. We have 7 or 8 acts from the label already on there good to go plus we have submissions open for any local artists who would like to feature. We’ve received a decent amount of submissions so far and are currently listening through and deciding which ones will be on the release. Full info for “0141” can be found on our blog.

Do you believe that music could bring about social change?
This is a difficult question but one that I find very interesting. I believe that all art can eventually bring around social change to a certain extent so I guess that’s a yes from me. Awareness can be raised on various subjects through the medium of music. Sound brings people together. It’s a positive art form in what can sometimes be a negative society.
I try to stay optimistic and believe that change is always happening somewhere. Society is moving forward in my eyes. Slowly but surely. If music can play a part in that then let’s embrace it.
[nextpage title=”Tye Die Tapes”]
What made you start a label?
Much like many people, we wanted to release our own band. We were in a band called “bhurgeist” that was too scrappy for anyone else to want to release and so we did our own thing. It quite naturally developed from there to split releases with other bands and then, finally, releases by other bands. We thought tapes were a bit cool and novel at the time (2008ish) so that’s what we went for.

What are some of the challenges you see as a label owner?
I have always found the key challenge to be generating excitement about what you’re doing. Things like active social media help but, unless you’re some kind of genius, it’s difficult to maintain excitement if you aren’t releasing anything. Maintaining momentum is important and, if you’re releasing regularly you can take some of the momentum from previous releases into your next one. We’re at a point where we only release when we have the time or willing and so we’ve had to scale back from editions in the 100s to editions in the 10s to make sure we don’t have stock lying around.

What is your take on Spotify and streaming services?
They’re the future. As a label owner I know that I should be all “old man shouts at cloud” about it but I predominantly listen to music on Spotify now and it is shifting to be the end goal of a record for me, rather than that being a physical release. I think about this often in my other hobby which is recording, mixing and mastering records and it has an impact on the way that you approach making a record itself. Obviously it would be nice if Spotify et al actual paid artists…

Is there a specific focus as far as genres or local/regional aspect of music you’re releasing?
Early on there was. We were primarily focused in Sheffield, UK and released a few bands from Ohio. We had a bit of a pen-friend thing going on with Marty Brass, Shiny Penny and others in Cleveland and put out some of their stuff. In typical internet fashion it then spread out to some other areas and a few releases (and some that never got off the ground) were actually sparked through podcasts; eg Bare Mattress through the “Overnight Drive” podcast and Advance Base through Yoni Wolf’s “The Wandering Wolf”.

Do you believe that music could bring about social change?
I am sure that it can. I think of things like the Motor City 5 and Stormzy’s Grenfell comments at the BRIT Awards. Whilst very different, they seem effective in raising the issues of a culture or people. I’m sure there’s been many books written about this stuff. My interest in music is more from the perspective of having a means to express myself. Maybe I’m selfish.
[nextpage title=”Moone Records”]
What made you start a label?
We initially started Moone so we could catalog and release extremely limited editions of CD-R’s and home-dubbed tapes of personal efforts, hoping others would want to be a part of it too. It since has blossomed into a love-affair.
What are some of the challenges you see as a label owner?
Beside the fact that it is financially very difficult to release even a small fraction of what I would like to, it would be just being seen in the sea of information on the internet. While there is so much being shared and created (which is fantastic!), it has been
difficult to find our way to like minded people.
What is your take on Spotify and streaming services?
The quick (and boring) response is that I just don’t know what my take fully is, quite yet. But I won’t just leave it at that. The idea of making vast libraries of music readily available at our fingertips is a complete “no-brainer”, right? Well, I don’t know
the full extent of what I am giving up yet in the name of ‘convenience’.
Modern consumption of art removes anticipation from the equation- sorry for the generalization, but I think we can agree that the majority of humans ‘want it all immediately’. When we remove anticipation, I think we can lose a special component in our relationship with the artist and their art. When we binge, we absorb a lot quickly and move on to the next. We retain very little, I think. I tend to want the general idea and conclusion over a unique relationship with the content. When we don’t commit to saving for and buying art and then setting time aside with the body of work, we can miss out on deep connections.
As of late, modern life has caused me to evaluate and then re-evaluate what I should be allowing to occupy space in my life (physical and mental). With the rapid decline of earth’s resources, should we be rejecting physical mediums? Then articles are released about streaming causing more carbon emissions and are potentially more harmful for the environment. The fact that we have to debate the existence of such a vital part of my life is just a bummer. The sheer fact that we are made to contemplate the importance of physical artifacts and the future of it as being seen as a potential waste of earth’s resources is enough to send me spiraling.
On the other hand, people have the ability to know and experience things that would have not been possible otherwise. This too is a wonderful sentiment.
I am leaning more towards it coming down to the individual. Some should stay away from it because it may cause more harm and could be a roadblock to a more enriched life, whereas to others, it will be enlightening.
Is there a specific focus as far as genres or local/regional aspect of music you’re releasing?
We have not focused on genre or location thus far and don’t see that as becoming a focus. From the outside, I think we could be viewed as being all over the place. But for us, it all feels very connected and cohesive. Maybe in ethos?
Do you believe that music could bring about social change?
I don’t think music in it of itself can bring social change. However, it can be a tool or bonding agent for communities that could, in turn, bring social change.

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