02 September 2010

Scottish DIY Labels #1 - Wiseblood Industries

Would you care to introduce yourself?

My name is Adam Stafford, based in Glasgow, I run a predominately digital download label called Wise Blood Industries.

What inspired you to start your own label?

Two notable influences on the way the label operates are Glasgow imprints Winning Sperm Party and Cry Parrot. Both are DIY co-operatives whose main concern is offering music to the people for free, with no regard for commerce whatsoever.

Who do you have signed to your label?

At Wise Blood, we don't really do signings, it's really more of an online distribution service for artists who have approached me because they like the music on the label, or they like the ethics behind it. I really think the days of labels and A&R are over. On the roster we have Jocky Venkataraman, The Kays Lavelle, my own group Y'all is Fantasy Island, The Radio Trees (Michael John McCarthy from Zoe Van Goey), Jamie Sturrock, Paws, a couple of singles from Burnt Island and some garbled solo releases from myself, which was really the main reason why the label was started.

Being based in Scotland do you only sign Scottish artists?

So far, yes. If you discount Radio Trees/Michael John, because he's from the Republic of Ireland. But all of the acts are based and working in Scotland. That's not to say I wouldn't like to issue some Sardinian throat music in the future though.

Jocky Venkataraman and Jim Megaw - Brains, Buses & Trains

Is this something you do as a hobby or can you make a living from it?

I don't make a profit at all from hosting (I say hosting because it's a better word to describe how the site works than releasing) any of the acts on the website and they retain all of the copyright of their own recordings, publishing and artwork.

Do you have a certain type of sound that you look for in a band?

I wouldn't say we have a certain sound at all, the music on the label is quite diverse. For example, the Paws single that was uploaded last month is pretty jangly toe-tapping pop-rock; Jocky embodies a very colloquial and personal angsty type of folk, and the Size of Kansas releases and my solo stuff are quite avant garde and experimental. What I would say I do try and put forward is certain look, or identity, being quite a visual person, so you will find a lot of the picture artwork that goes along with the releases are found-photos with no typography. I like that kind of thing, just like a Jandek cover or something!

Burnt Island - The Moments Before

How do you go about deciding which artists you want to work with? How do you go about approaching them?

Most of the artists on the label are good friends, I couldn't have it any other way really! A release is usually decided over a drink or a light swim, but if all of the bands on the roster left I'd be quite content just releasing YiFI albums and solo stuff even though not many people would download them. The whole approach is quite relaxed.

What has been you personal highlight from running the label so far? What has been your biggest success?

I like everything we've put out really but as far as stand-outs are concerned I think The Kays Lavelle LP is great - it just has this huge sound with a very delicate structure - a midnight feel that's missing in a lot of recording at the moment; The Jocky Venkataraman "Introduction" collection is amazing, mainly, I have to add because I compiled it myself as a massive fan and that's only really the tip of the iceberg of Jocky's songwriting talents, and The Radio Trees mini LP as it was one of the label's first releases. In terms of successes, Burnt Island's singles are always really popular and my new covers LP Music in the Mirabel is doing nae bad (shameless plug!).

Paws - Violent Vicky Violet

If you could give one piece of advice to someone wanting to start up their own label, what would it be and why?

I would say, if you're not doing the Internet thing and want to release physical artifacts for commerce, make the format interesting like tape or vinyl or little things in wooden boxes with 80-page booklets, I really admire labels that have that dedication. Those are the real labels, taking financial risks on beautiful little products, labels like Winebox Tapes, Dust-To-Digital and Constellation. Honestly, if I had money I would turn Wise Blood into that kind of enterprise.

What can we expect to see and hear from the label in the future?

Well, Jamie Sturrock and I are in the middle of prepping his next EP which is sublime! There's something hopefully coming from Radio Trees pretty soon, Jocky is working on a new EP and single (one which will be released on New Year's day) and there is a new Y'all is Fantasy Island LP which we're rehearsing at the moment called "Summer on Elm Wood". That will be out next summer for sure.

Wiseblood Industries

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