In the latest of tasty’s trawl around the best indie labels in the world, we speak to Jimmy, head, and indeed, only honcho at the ever-wonderful Matinée Records.
Tell me more about how Matinée came about?
In 1996 I was running a pop mailorder called Roundabout Records and it was growing out of control. so I did what any responsible adult would do and killed it off. Before it died I was planning a cassette compilation with songs from many of the labels I distributed but in the course of contacting folks I got in touch with an Australian band called Sweet William and changed the plan to a 7″ single instead. Six months later the “Dutch Mother” EP was born under the newly monikered Matinée Recordings and I never looked back.
Had you always wanted your own label?
Not particularly. I was happy being the ultimate consumer-buying loads and loads of records and sometimes not even listening to them at first or for awhile or ever. I went to college for architecture and then received a masters degree in city planning which led me to a very serious job on Capitol Hill working on tax legislation for affordable housing. Starting the label was a creative outlet for me and happily it has been a great run so far.
What is/was your favourite label and why? Do you think that the indie-pop genre is overlooked far too much these days?
The best label of our lifetime is hands down Creation Records. As a kid I knew I was cooler than anyone because I was listening to records from the Revolving Paint Dream or Primal Scream or Biff Bang Pow! and thinking now, this is different. I dare you to name a better run of singles than Creation’s twenties: Bodines, Pastels, Felt, Primal Scream, Biff Bang Pow!, Jasmine Minks, Weather Prophets… Today, indiepop does not receive significant mainstream press so I guess you could consider it overlooked. The entire concept of media has changed in the last five years though, as magazines and other traditional media struggle to keep up with the ever-changing (and more exciting) world of e-zines and online music sites. When we were kids (in America) you had to read magazines or hang out in record shops to hear about new music but now you can type a few words into a search engine, listen to some soundclips and buy your music online from a place halfway around the world in a matter of minutes.
It seems there are hundreds of indie pop labels throughout the world…why are these successful? Especially when we see bigger ‘indies’ struggling every day?
Success is all relative. If you start something with absolutely no expectation of what you might achieve or how far it might go then everything that happens is a success. First single. first review. first radio play. first album. first release to sell 500, 1000, etc. The thing that makes running an independent record label exciting is that a cycle repeats for each release-you always start with a blank sheet of paper when planning a record and there are countless people to reach. I am satisfied when I release a record that still makes me shout six months or a year after its release, but also when I secure a review in a new magazine or receive an email from somebody new who claims to be the biggest Matinée fan of all time or have a record played on a new radio station. Compared to the so-called “bigger indies” Matinée is still quite small, but then again we don’t have an army of people to pay every week to keep things moving or get us reviewed in the papers or strongarm radio deejays to play our records. Perhaps this is part of the reason the bigger indies are struggling?
Name your dream Matinée roster, excluding current acts.
The Smiths, The Bodines, Brighter, Razorcuts, Orange Juice, Biff Bang Pow!, Brilliant Corners circa “Fruit Machine” , Jesus and Mary Chain circa “Happy When It Rains”, early Aztec Camera, Adorable, the Colourfield, House of Love. yes, all old bands. but then again I work with all the good current ones already don’t I?
How would you feel if a bigger label offered you thousands of dollars to buy Matinée out?
Delighted, assuming they afforded me complete creative control over everything I am doing now, gave the bands loads of cash, hired me a full time accountant and built a back catalogue warehouse somewhere far from my house.
Do you think that the development of Matinée has been organic, or have you steered the direction of the label in one way or another?
I’d like to think the label has grown in an organic fashion, but having a one-person label makes it pretty difficult NOT to steer it. That said, I have the honour of working with some of the most creative minds in the industry and these artists are as responsible for the direction Matinée has taken over the past five years as much as I am. I suppose the outside world may perceive a typical Matinée “sound” but to me and my merry band of misfits we think of ourselves as a rather diverse bunch.
How would not having Matinée around affect your life?
I’d have a whole lot of free time on my hands and would probably drive my wife crazy with my hyperactivity.
Next week sees release of new albums from The Lucksmiths and Would-Be-Goods, followed by debut 7″ singles by The Snowdrops and The Liberty Ship. The near future promises new releases from Lovejoy, The Windmills (including another Matinée first: a video!), Airport Girl, The Fairways, Harper Lee, the long delayed Razorcuts compilation and the first of two label comps. We’re also working on Matinée debuts from new bands The Pines, Kosmonaut and The Guild League, and there is a threat of new recordings from Johnny Johnson of the Siddeleys. Stay tuned to Tasty for the latest.