As a result of a slightly intense email exchange with Andy ‘Hobbes’ Richardson, DJ and promoter of, amongst other nights, the consistently smart Limbo nights at Edinburgh’s Voodoo Rooms (together with partner Dave Cumings) I felt inspired to explore just how I really felt about the music business. The exchange was triggered by a small review on my blog of a talk given, on the day of Malcolm Maclaren’s death by Gavin Blain, a Scot who faked an identity as an American rapper in order to scam a major label record deal and has recently released a book about his experiences. My view was that he appeared to be ungrateful and unnecessarily harsh about the Sony employees he hoodwinked.
This is what Andy thought, though: ‘perhaps McLaren’s death has coloured your interpretation of (the talk) but i see the death of the arch manipulator as heralding a new dawn, the beginning of a more genuine and authentic music industry with less cynicism and more integrity all round….i see Gavin Bain equally as a harbinger for this change. his bitter-sweet experience emphasises the need for more authenticity and underlines the soulless vacuum offered by (more or less) anything else. ‘
To help me get my own thoughts in order I thought I’d ask several people from different areas of the UK music business what they thought, first, including whether they thought there was any evidence of the onset of ‘…. a more genuine and authentic music industry…’ Following will be email interviews with various people, starting with Matthew Young of Song, By Toad Records, followed by producer Pascal Gabriel and more. Those I have asked are inevitably busy bees so I’ll post as and when and if they get back to me.
Personally, I feel torn between the emotional attachment I still have to my teenage self, who studied and wanted to be in part two of Guy Peelhart and Nick Cohen’s book, Rock Dreams. When I hit 16, punk rock came along and added to the desire for fame, love of performing and writing songs the need to maintain self respect as well as a kind of hatred for an industry I needed in order to make a living. Since then, I’ve had to work and think dualistically, like many people with some kind of a conscience who work in the music industry. The question I ask myself often is: ‘how is it possible to love the single releases of Girls Aloud or Rhiana, say, but hate the way they came to your ears?’
With the arrival of Tunecore a couple of years back I thought that the situation was resolved for any junior ‘me’s coming along, with distribution being added to cheap, effective recording to make an enabling package for any artists to get their shit out. Obviously, many other people thought the same way.
Matthew Young runs Song, By Toad, a label dedicated to releasing music that has one important criteria: he’s got to love it. Matthew’s tastes coincide with a small ‘anti-folk’ movement appearing here in Edinburgh, epitomised by Meursalt who have recently released an album on SBT (Pissing On Bonfire/Kissing With Tongues). It struck me that the style of music perfectly suited the new industry ”model”, although, personally, I have a fear of accordion based folk music, instilled by compulsory country dancing classes at primary school, (evidence of the potentially fascistic possibilities of the people’s songs)… Thankfully for me, accordion players are rare amongst the charming and eclectic roster of artists, elegantly curated on Song, By Toad.
It’s a bit long for MTT so, read the interview here: www.timothylondon.tumblr.com
Tim London is a producer/writer/manager, a member of the pop group Soho (famous for one hit wonder Hippychick). Currently working with psych hip hop boy band Young Fathers and electrorockabilly wild cat, Her Royal Highness. More at www.theelectricmachine.com.