June 16, 2022
Words by: Arthur Cross
When running an independent label or music business in general it is sometimes hard to pause and reflect back on moments which have been markers of success and the product of hard work and determination. You can get so absorbed with what’s coming next and juggling all the different aspects of working in the music industry that a myopic stress fuelled idea of what you are doing can occur. Constantly thinking that the next thing has to be bigger, better and more impactful! This happens even more easily with releases being so intertwined with social media and needing to communicate and champion music via these platforms. Ultimately I think this causes people to focus on things that aren’t the best markers of success or as important as you think they are; a radio play, piece of press or how many people interact with your post.
It is important then to take a step back and realise the journey you have made so far, how well you have done just to get to where you are and what truly significant moments have got you there. Moments for me which are focused around ideas of community, connecting with individuals and tangible objects which are all surrounded and linked by an overwhelming passion for music.
Looking around and realising the wealth in the community you are surrounded by.
The first breakthrough moment for Spinny Nights I think came from when as a new group of friends in Bristol we decided that we were going to make the leap and start putting on and promoting our own shows. This came from the fact that, to be honest with you, not many people wanted to book the bands and groups we were in just yet. We hadn’t made a name for ourselves. Instead of being disheartened we looked around and realised that we could all band together and start putting on shows and supporting each other. This led to putting on Lynk’s first show, Zebrafi and other acts our friends were in. It also then spread out into putting on bands we loved such as PVA, Drug Store Romeos, Yama Warashi, LICE and 404 Guild to name but a few. This felt like a breakthrough moment in the sense that we suddenly realised our own power to just make things happen without relying on others, how exciting all the acts around us were and how lucky we were to have them want to be involved.
Signing and releasing Grove’s Queer + Black
I think our second breakthrough moment was when we took the step to bring this independent ethos into creating a record label. One of the first acts we released was Grove who had previously played one of our nights and we felt really passionate about supporting. We saw an artist we loved and just wanted to get involved purely for the reason of wanting to elevate them as much as possible. I think remembering that you are just a means for an artist to grow and express themselves is such an important part of running a record label and this release taught us all of those lessons. It also showed us that talented artists obviously aren’t just in the capital but right under your bloody noses! This release went on to completely catapult Grove and ourselves as a label straight into new waters and we will always be thankful for that.
Releasing our first album and exploring physical releases
Our third breakthrough moment came in the form of Robbie & Mona, a beautiful glitch-pop duo called Will and Ellie. This was our first album release and also our first physical release. Being able to hold a vinyl of something you have released is a wonderful thing and to do so, so quickly after starting as a record label felt pretty amazing. It really affirmed our intuition that we were on the right track! We were also lucky enough to create three different versions: one classic black, a clear and black smoke vinyl for recordstore.co.uk and red and black vinyl for Big Love records in Tokyo. It’s great to take yourself away from DSP’s and social media content and just realise that whatever happens with your label there will always be something physical to represent your hard work. A very special moment in this is also seeing people buy the records and take them into their collections and realising the growing network you have created.
Nukuluk’s residency and contextualising an artist
Finally, recently a breakthrough moment has been managing a new alternative rap collective called Nukuluk. As part of this we have been curating and organising a residency in Bermondsey Social Club in South London (home of the collective). Each night has looked to explore the collective’s sound with a specially chosen lineup. This feels like a breakthrough moment in slowmotion and I really feel it will catapult them forward with the right ethos laced in the groups DNA. Ideas of community, giving back and focusing on what is important for the artist and what they want to take forward with them as they are flung into the future.