October 13, 2023
Words by: Factory Studios
Insights with Ali Chant
Known for his engineering and production work in Bristol and further afield, music producer Ali Chant’s discography boasts credits with Yard Act, Katy J Pearson, Elder Island, PJ Harvey and Fatboy Slim. This year has seen him launch his own label – Fascination Street Records – in collaboration with the Factory Studios team.
See below for an exclusive interview with the acclaimed producer.
1. With your extensive experience as a music producer, engineer and musician, how will your background influence the direction of Fascination Street? Is there a fundamental ethos to the label?
I guess it comes down to musical taste. There are a lot of labels in existence, operating on many different levels, catering to many different audiences, but at the end of the day.. I like the kind of music I like and the other people working at the label have similar tastes to mine, and that is fundamentally what motivates anyone to release music.
It’s the desire to help something you enjoy passionately, be given a platform for others to hear. As far as ethos is concerned, my main aim is to make sure that we do everything to a high standard.. and to put creativity and the joy of creativity first.
My favorite labels are ones that have a real ‘look and sound’ to them like 4AD and Warp.
2. As both a producer and label-owner, what factors do you consider when signing new bands and artists to Fascination Street? How do you identify potential in emerging artists and what qualities do you look for in artists to ensure they align with the label’s vision and direction?
The songs and the style of the act, both musically and visually are fundamentals. However, almost as important as the work are the people involved.
You need to be convinced that they have the motivation and the organisational skills to take their art somewhere.. to grow and to be heard and seen.
I’ve definitely encountered artists over the years who are creatively brilliant, but hopeless at organising themselves. And if that is the case, they really need a great manager to hold it all together. You need to feel a sense of belief in them as people as much as their art.
3. The first release of the label – ‘Back To Nothing’ by Oslo Twins is out on Friday! How has the inaugural release for the label gone and how did you come to releasing the music?
It’s gone pretty well actually, we got a decent amount of radio play on BBC6, and good support from So Young and DIY zines as well a lot of really good gigs and support slots for the band.
They managed to sell out Third Man Records in London for the EP launch and it feels like the EP campaign is still rolling.. as more press and offers are coming in. So I do think the EP is a really good format.
4. What role will your studio – The Playpen – have in the production, development and sound of the label, as well as the artists that sign to it?
5. Are there any production projects that have stood out for you recently and why?
I’m just finishing off a record for an artist called Wyldest. I’ve enjoyed that project a lot, because we had so many great songs to choose from, I was in the rare situation of being spoiled for choice. We probably had enough material for 4 albums, so I could really sculpt the flow of the record by picking and choosing between different types of songs and the end result has been a surprise for all of us.
I’ve also just recorded another single for Oslo Twins.
6. What do you think are the biggest challenges artists/labels face in 2023 and what action can be taken against them? Have you encountered any in your new role as a label-owner?
Oh god.. where to start?
I believe that any artist who is prepared to put in the graft and build an audience (no matter how humble), should at least be able to pay their rent for doing so.
But sadly that’s become a rarity.
I do think streaming has generally been catastrophic for art and although the music industry was a pretty grubby place in the past, you could at least find some investment for your band.
The other big challenge is how to stand out, because there is more music being released by more people than ever before, so how do you get heard?
As much as social media and working on your ‘brand’ is considered useful these days, I do think that just getting out there, playing shows and building yourself an audience one person at a time is still the best way to do it. That’s what bands like Yard Act and Idles have done and it’s put them in a stronger, more sustainable place.
7. What do you think success looks like to a record label in 2023?
Who knows!? My motivation with this project is simply to put out some cool music that I’d go out and listen to. And to help give up-and-coming artists a leg up to the next rung of their career. That would constitute success for me.
8. Finally, what else can we expect to see from the label in the next 12 months?
We have 2 more acts we’ve just signed so we’re gearing up for a couple more releases later this year and then one more at the start 2024.
Beyond that… watch this space.
More details about Ali Chant and his work can be found here.
More details about Fascination Street Records can be found here.
If you’re interested in further reading, head over to our recent interview with Seb Peters, where we discuss the importance and art of a good headshot.