I've been pouring my musical heart out onto this blog for a little while now and while I try to keep things diverse one name seems to keep popping up. Art Is Hard Records was, until fairly recently, my local label. Set up by two friends, David and Richard, The label's love of local bands and links with the UK's extensive DIY scene helped introduce me to a whole new world of noisy pleasure.
I spoke to co-founder David about the past, present and future of Art Is Hard.
How and why did you start Art Is Hard?
The how feels sort of fuzzy thinking back, it just sort of happened. Me and Richard had been talking about doing it for ages. We used to put on gigs in our hometown of Weymouth, mainly just because we wanted to put our tiny seaside town on the map as decent place for music. Starting a label was what we decided to do when we realised no one was going to come to our shows.
You recently sold the last copies of The Black Tambourines/New Years Evil split EP, your first release. how did that feel?
We were incredibly naive and had no idea what we were doing when we put out two tiny bands from the South West on 7". When 250 copies turned up in my tiny bedroom I rather quickly resigned myself to taking them to my grave, so it's with a mixture of gratitude and sadness.
What's it been like building up a record label in the South West?
It was originally our plan to only release bands from the South West but it didn't take us long to release most the bands we would of wanted to. We then started getting exciting people from further afield asking us to release them, so we had to break our own rules. I love the south west though, bands seem quite happy just making great stuff without getting really hyped and fizzling out like they might do in other places.
One of the great things about art is hard is how you get lesser known bands heard through initiatives like the pizza club and the post card club, can we expect more to come?
Definitely, this time last year me and Rich lived together and Georgie and Jake who help us out were both close by. We've all got less time at this year so we'd agreed it would be a silly idea to do one but then a couple of weeks ago Rich came to stay and we had a couple of drinks and decided we really missed doing a single's club so hopefully we should be launching the 2015 version very soon. We've got some great stuff lined up already including singles from The Red Cords, Trust Fund and Doe as well as lots of completely new bands.
There seems to be a sudden increase in AIH activity involving bands from across the pond, what's it like working with people so far away and how do those intercontinental relationships come about?
We're in a good position where a lot of good stuff now comes to us which is how we've ended up working with people like Shunkan and Blessin'. It's good fun although it can be a bit tricky trying to organise stuff with the time difference. I keep seeming to read important emails, first thing in the morning when I wake up and then completely forget about them.
2015 marks your fifth birthday, will you be celebrating in style?
I hope so, in terms of the wider music world which we exist in it feels like it's going to be a really big year. All the bands we've been releasing over the last couple of years suddenly have their debut albums coming out so it would be fun to get everyone back together for a big party later in the year. Maybe even a festival...should probably start planning!
If you could sign any band or artist, old or new, who would it be?
I'm not too sure on this actually; it's not something I ever really consider. Sort of like how I never really got celebrity crushes, it's just a weird unrealistic thing. It would be nice to carry on working with bands instead of being a stepping-stone for a bigger label but right now we can't really support that.
Is there anything coming up in 2015 that you are particularly excited for?
Tons! Obviously the aforementioned single's club. We're also doing a Record Store Day release with a dream team of other labels, the debut Shunkan album and also the second part of our Family Portrait series.
What advice would you give to anyone looking to start a label?
Start small and simple and be prepared to spend hours emailing people without a response. p.s. try and just have fun.
Visit Art Is Hard's tumblr to brows the archives and get your hands on some epic free music.