Always Check the Label

picture-7Glasgow is famous for the quality and quantity of its musical output. GUM presents a selection of Glasgow based record labels, showcasing some of the most exciting and progressive labels working behind the scenes to keep the hordes of Glasgow musically satisfied.

NUTS AND SEEDS | Laura Doherty

Nuts and Seeds is a name which will already strike a chord with the avid gig-goers of the city: for the past few years they have been continually bringing some of the most exciting, innovative and fresh line-ups to Glasgow ’s venues. As well as offering an appealing platform for local acts to play on they have attracted some larger touring bands (such as Field Music, Ex-Models) with their not-for-profit, independent sensibilities. The collective behind the promotion machine will be shifting gears and releasing several split 7” records in 2009. Susan Berridge of the septet explains their transition from promoters to label: “We had a club night called Meowmix in Sleazys once a month; we decided to keep it non-profit and cheap like the gigs so that it was accessible to anybody who wanted to come. We ended up with loads of money and we didn’t really know what to do with it: we didn’t want to take it for ourselves, we wanted to put it back in to music, so that’s when we thought we could bring out the records.” Again, same rules apply with the records; they’re cheap so they’re readily available to those who want to hear them. The main thing is that the music is out there being heard – “any money raised from the records will be put straight back into producing more. It’s good for karma: it’s about trying to keep music fun, inclusive and to make it possible for great bands to visit Glasgow and keep coming back.” The split records that will be emerging this year feature: Tattietoes/7Hertz (crazy bass-lines and rhythms and wonderfully warbling vocals pressed against Leeds jazz improv); Marla Hansen/Wounded Knee (gentle, mesmerising folk from Brooklyn next to gentle, orchestral meanderings from Edinburgh) and Mucky Sailor/Poultergroom (thrilling baroque three-tiered keyboard sounds next to Dalston surf-punk). The records will be available to buy at various Nuts and Seeds shows throughout the year or from Monorail and will be priced at £3 each.

LITTLE ROCK RECORDS | Liam Arnold

Little Rock Records was launched at seven minutes past seven, on the 7th of July, 2007. This saw the simultaneous release of seven 7” singles (Lil 1-7). They’ve released full length albums, EPs and singles, and produced a Subcity show, which showcased new music, particularly from the Glasgow area. NO RAVE was their largest project to date, featuring Fox Gut Daata, Hudson Mohawke, Gay Against You, Blood Moon (Manchester) and EYES (Illinois). The brief was to create non-dance music, and the diverse tracks across the compilation represent Little Rock’s open-minded philosophy.  They’ve put out abstract hip-hop from Copyleft, Discofied re-edits of everyone from Hot Chip to the Bonzo Dog (Doo-dah), Band by Disco Beard, and Horror soundtracks from The Evil Eye. “We’re not interested in putting out some easily pigeon-holed music” explains Liam Arnold, head of Little Rock PR. “We strive to collect our favourite artists together and showcase to the world the vast quantities of good music coming out of Glasgow.  We began by releasing free downloads and occasional limited edition hard copies, allowing us to put out some seriously experimental stuff without having to negotiate the tricky business of pressing, distribution, and all the other industry bullshit. We’re now looking at distributors, to try and get records and digital copies made available for sale. Art and entertainment become more and more reliant on technology every day, and digital convergence continues at a rapid rate; by involving ourselves in changing mediums such as ‘net labels, we’re looking to the future of the music industry.” Whilst a lot of what Little Rock does has been based around fun and entertainment, they’re also interested in the intellectual questions around art, and 8046 (featured on NO RAVE) are an experiment in anonymity and the ownership of music. “Basically, it’s an anonymous collective – anyone can record a track, or work with others to create an 8046 track, but the ownership of that track is only 8046. People can’t claim works as theirs or reveal their membership; the art is a product of an idea alone.”

DROPZONE RECORDS | Gerry McKeever

Founded by Scotland’s biggest ever selling Hip-hop artist, Eastborn, Dropzone Records represents artists who he felt deserved more exposure. Mantis Chapter, Project Mayhem, and Dark Craftsmen are all part of the roster with Loki and Respek BA both set to release EP’s through the label.  “The general ethos of the label is not only to support and release good Hip-hop but also to support good causes and charities. Drop Zone Records supports the Dnipro Children’s Orphange (Ukraine), Footsteps (Liberia), and other orphanages around the globe. Not to mention the support they give to War Child, and more recently a relief fund for Gaza, to help the humanitarian crisis in Palestine.” (Riz, Dropzone) Eastborn has also recently been mentioned by Tommy Sheridan in the Celebrity Big Brother house and has been asked to film a “Video Diary” for Tommy to be used alongside Celebrity Big Brother. Eastborn is currently recording his new album “Global Warning – 13 Bloodlines” alongside some of Americans biggest “Revolutionary” Rappers as well as some UK greats. Label newcomer 13th Tribe is set to tour South America with Eastborn this year. This tour will see them play Peru, Columbia, Brazil, Argentina and even possible appearances in Cuba, with the chance of a meeting with Hugo Chavez in Venezula, a mutual hero.

SHOESHINE/SPIT & POLISH RECORDS | Gerry McKeever

Shoeshine Records is the brainchild of Francis McDonald, the current Teenage Fanclub drummer, began in 1996 while he was a member of BMX Bandits.  Originally planned as an indie pop-rock 7 inch label, albums followed from a selection of mainly US artists (Major Matt Mason, Ben Vaughn, The Beauty Shop, Michael Shelley). Francis founded Spit & Polish Records in 2000 with the debut album by Laura Cantrell, and the subsequent years saw a host of Country/Americana releases (Amy Allison, Jason Ringenberg, Paul Burch, etc.)  Spit and Polish has evolved into more of a Scottish Folk label nowadays, championing some of Scotland’s foremost young artists in that genre, including the likes of Scots Gaelic singer Julie Fowlis and Dumfries & Galloway singer Emily Smith. While Spit & Polish veered into Folk territory, Shoeshine has remained faithful to its indie roots, leading to the management of Emily Smith, Attic Lights and Camera Obscura.

BUZZ RECORDS | Gerry McKeever

The bizarre and deeply entrenched proliferation of Scoticana (Scots playing Americana) that has existed since the 50s is represented in our selection by a small Glasgow label.  Buzz Records describes itself as “a niche label focusing on what could be loosely termed as alt. blues.” Since its conception in 1993, the label has hosted a variety of artists purveying “blues, country, folk or cajun-based music that has an insurgent twist and an original angle, dragging old-time sounds kicking and screaming into the 21st century.” Among the artists currently signed to Buzz are Radiotones and Dave Arcari. As both the head of the label and its foremost artist, Dave Arcari represents the heart and soul of Buzz Records. Though only a small outfit, the label has moved to embrace the development of music sales, with tracks available for download through various suppliers on the internet.

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