Monday, 26 May 2008

One Inch Badge Records Label Profile

Brighton based record label and gig promotions collective One Inch Badge (OIB Records) put out their first release at the end of 2006, after a slow and steady build up this year they are about to come further out from the underground with a string of new signings and key releases scheduled for the next six months. Speaking to OIB mainman Alex Murray we discussed the story behind the label’s inception and where this group of intensely committed individuals plan on taking their passionate DIY label next.

“OIB came about incredibly organically” begins Alex. “Jim Morrison (of The Tumbledown Estate, not that one) and I met about eight years ago and instantly bonded over a mutual love of the Soft Bulletin by the Flaming Lips. We spent the next six years studying and daydreaming about starting a label. Experience wise we all came from incredibly defined areas. I'd spent nearly three years at Sony Music and two years at Southern Records so I'd got a pretty good understanding of the workings of both sectors of the music industry. Jim interned at Tru Thoughts (Successful jazz-funk-house label) and had a graphic design degree so between our business knowledge and Jim's design capabilities we were well on our way to having most bases covered. Jim and I had been friends with Tom Denney (Lonely Ghosts) for years but due to his commitments with Help She Can't Swim he didn't join us straight away. However with all the live music experience and contacts he'd gathered over the years he's proved invaluable to the label.”

Daydreaming finally became a reality in late 2006 when Alex’s friends My Device asked if they'd like to release a vinyl version of the 'Eat Lead' single they were doing for Shifty Disco. You might remember My Device winning the NME unsigned bands competition in that year – but don’t let that trick you into thinking they’re some back-pedaling schmindie outfit – they smash Melvins psychotic lunacy into a twisted party-metal power base and front it with psychedelic lyrics. Not your usual then. Starting a label is always a daunting experience, as Alex says “We had no wide scale distribution, no press team, no backing, and no hands on experience of getting a record physically made, however we did know we wanted to make the record as lavishly packaged on our budget as we possibly could. We ended up pressing the 7” on transparent purple vinyl which was white labeled on the b-side of the record and the band painstakingly stayed up all night and hand-drew a completely different image on every copy.”

Next up was the Mewgatz 'Underfelt' EP. Mewgatz is an intriguingly talented electronica artist who bases his music around scrambling the brains of old 80's keyboards and toys that he finds at carboot sales. “In true OIB fashion we decided to throw more money down the drain and press the record solely on 10” vinyl, the most expensive and equally unmarketable format around” says Alex in resolutely defiant, yet realistic terms.

The label’s next move was to begin their series of split 7”s; five records showcasing four bands per release. The first features Gay Against You (confrontational spazz-core two-piece, like Crystal Castles with a sense of humour), Munch Munch (Bristol-based polyrhythmic quantum-pop), Lonely Ghosts (palpitating electro body-shocking glam-pop) and The Tumbledown Estate (one-man avant-pop explosion). In pure fanatical record-collector style, each record came with double-side printed reversible sleeves, lyric sheet and badges of each of the bands involved. Every 7” in the series will be limited to 500 copies and is due to culminate in 2009 with an incredibly extravagant vinyl boxset and CD compilation. Alex is enthusiastic about the response to the series and the upcoming bands scheduled for the next volumes; “We've already lined up recordings by Lovvers (a punk band from the Midlands featuring members of infamous screamo post-metallers The Murder of Rosa Luxemburg), SJ Esau (intricate loopstation oddball signed to Anticon), Knyfe Hyts (the new pure rock band from Ex Models), Best Fwends (manic electro punk outfit from Texas), Half-Handed Cloud (a beautifully quirky singer-songwriter from California who was part of Danielson's band and Sufjan Steven's Illinoise band), and Casiotone for the Painfully Alone (intricate emotronica artist from Chicago).”

The label’s current and almost sold out release is the Casiotone for the Painfully Alone EP titled Town Topic. A haunting, folktronic soundtrack to the first feature-length film by cult New York/Los Angeles artist Laurel Nakadate that recalls Air’s accompaniment to the Virgin Suicides. Coming up in June is an astonishing eight track mini-album of new banging electronica from Lonely Ghosts with a full album due in August, then later in the year the full-length release from Mewgatz, a mysteriously titled “OIB Records house-bag series” and finally (for now) June will see the debut release from Brighton band Pope Joan - a politically aware Fugazi influenced post-punk avant-rock four-piece.

This collection of wide ranging sounds from both sides of the Atlantic illustrates how respected their output so far has been, the diversity of music this label is willing to front and stand by, and as the defining line that relates all these bands, how entrenched in the DIY ethos One Inch Badge are. Undoubtedly the most invigoratingly experimental label in Brighton, it should not be too long before OIB become a recognizable name underscoring some of your favourite releases of the near future.


One Inch Badge Records:
Best Fwends:
Casiotone for the Painfully Alone:
Gay Against You:
Half-Handed Cloud:
Knyfe Hyts:
Lonely Ghosts:
Munch Munch:
My Device:
Pope Joan:
SJ Esau:
The Tumbledown Estate:

No comments: