Next up, Brainlove Records, marking out their territory since 2003 in offbeat, largely DIY alterna-weird pop. Four of their finest - Napoleon IIIrd, Pagan Wanderer Lu, Stairs To Korea and Mat Riviere - start a label tour tonight, part of which is our night at Leicester Firebug on Friday, and we expect to see you there. John Brainlove gave us the requisite answers:
Why start a label?
In our case it was because the quality of the music we were being sent to review on the old Brainlove 'zine was so abjectly low. We knew people in better bands who'd never receive the same type of attention as the wishy washy indie crap that was pouring out at the time. So we decided to do it ourselves, to articulate our taste, and our scene.
What's your ethos?
It's about using imagination, intelligence, heart and melody to make something amazing. Not just walking in the footsteps of other bands, making something intensely special that really matters and means something and succeeds artistically.
Have you been influenced by any labels?
In the early days, Sonic Mook Experiment was an influence. In terms of where they go press-wise and business-wise, I keep an eye on a handful of other labels to see how they progress. Musically, I always like the output of Tomlab and I like 4AD, Good Tape, Domino, Fat Cat, Bella Union... I also feel some affinity with Tigertrap, Akoustik Anarkhy, OIB, Upset The Rhythm and Cherryade.
What do you initially look/hope for in a prospective signing?
I always hope the people that really stand out will turn out to be nice people, and almost without fail, they have - some of our artists are amongst my best friends now.
What else should people looking to send you a demo know?
That we are operating at capacity already, if not past it, so we'll be super unlikely to start work on any new projects in the near future!
If push comes to shove, what would be the most satisfying thing you’ve done through the label to date?
It's always really satisfying getting played out on national radio. Hearing Stairs To Korea interviewed by Lamacq was nice, and Napoleon IIIrd playing Koko was huge. But I think the best thing we've done was going out to Iceland Airwaves in 2009 as a massive gang for a couple of shows. That felt amazing. We're doing it again this year.
What's your biggest selling release to date?
Pagan Wanderer Lu's Fight By Battle For Me, I think, or Napoleon IIIrd's first record.
Anyone notable that you’re willing to admit you passed up on?
¡Forward, Russia! sent around early demos, but it's not my kind of thing really. There were opportunities with a lot of that wave of bands.
What is the future of the common or garden record label?
I think labels have a massive role to play. Bands trying to do it themselves is great, but the workload to do it properly is huge. It requires a lot of knowledge and expertise in lots of different areas, as I have learned the hard way. It's a bit like trying to start a stock exchange instead of buying shares.
Do you still believe in the physical product?
People are still buying stuff, for the time being, and in decreasing numbers, but yes, for now. It's good to have merch and it's nice to have something to hold. It will remove an oppressive cost when we don't manufacture any more though.
One thing you've learned about being a label boss and can pass on to anyone looking to do likewise?
Don't forget the 3mm bleed.
What have you got coming up?
Napoleon IIIrd's new album Christiania is amazing. We have a new Pagan Wanderer Lu single called Chemicals Like You, a Stairs To Korea 7", a Bastardgeist album, the We Aeronauts EP and a new Mat Riviere single. Busy like bees.