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Running a vinyl record label from Australia presents a number of tricky challenges.

There’s only one rather expensive and under-resourced pressing plant left in the country, which often forces small-time independent imprints to take their manufacture offshore. Combined with Australia’s massive distance from the major markets of Europe and the United States and you have a huge battle on your hands when it comes to breaking even. Matters are made more complicated when you factor in a relatively small and largely ambivalent population.

Despite this, the number of Australian record labels putting out wax has risen sharply in recent times. This article shines a spotlight on a handful of the labels doing it best, from long-standing imprints to a slew of new labels that reflect this recent renewed interest.

Their collective output encompasses everything from mutant funk, dissonant post-punk, new wave nostalgia and UK bass pressure to various strains of house and techno, experimental and ambient pieces and plenty more.

We spoke to each label about a number of issues, from their methods of production and distribution to the way their location impacts their output, as well as exploring the notion that Australia is culturally bankrupt in relation to other nations and whether or not it helps to have a somewhat blank slate.

Aquatic Lab

10 Australian record labels you should get to know

Aquatic Lab is recognised as being one of the first international outposts of the original dubstep sound. The Sydney label is helmed by veteran DJs Farj and Paul Fraser of Garage Pressure and was the first imprint in Australia to release strains of modern bass music. As well as delivering music from the likes of Zed Bias, Caspa and Rusko since 2008, Aquatic Lab continues to foster emerging talent (keep an eye on Cliques).

How does being located in Australia impact on the way you operate, particularly with regards to distribution and production?

Aquatic Lab has always had its engineering, mastering and vinyl manufacturing done in Europe. We use Dubplates and Mastering in Berlin to engineer and cut our vinyl, and Optimum Mastering in Bristol for our digital masters.

 In terms of distribution and sales, a large portion of our customers are predominantly overseas, so it has always been important to have a distributor who can manage our catalogue worldwide, by making sure it is well promoted and available in the record stores and digital retailers that matter to us.

After the tracks are selected, finished and ready to go off to the engineer, the longest wait might come from ensuring the test pressings sound right and proper and that the final vinyl cut is heavy so that our artists and label can always be proud of what we are putting out. Digital mastering is a much shorter process, but it is equally as important.

For the last few years we’ve had Laurens working with us from Berlin, which has helped tremendously in terms of the logistics and relationship management aspects of running a label that will always be adamant about vinyl. De-centralising our operations by having one foot in Australia and the other in Europe does help to smooth things out. It’s how we always envisaged the label to be – free from artistic and geographic barriers.

In the last five years, falling vinyl sales and rising warehousing costs has meant it has become incredibly difficult for distributors to remain solvent in today’s difficult commercial market. Many labels around the world have been affected by this in the past few years. We’re glad to now be involved with Southern Record Distributors, because they understand and respect what we are trying to achieve.

On the notion that Australia is culturally bankrupt?

I’d say its more to do with difficulties in establishing a healthy underground dance music culture in a city and country where you have a niche, late night social industry that is faced with stringent licensing restrictions on venues (early lock-out times) and a geographic isolation that can be quite prohibitive for promoters in terms of costs and cultivating a regular circuit of well-attended events.

In artistic terms, there’s nothing inherent about Australia that means its musical output is culturally bankrupt. Australian artists face similar challenges to producers from all over the world – namely crafting an individual sound that is consistent and inventive in quality. I’d say on a worldwide scale that the derivative, mass-market re-packaging of UK sound system and European rave culture has really diluted and disrupted things artistically and commercially in recent years.

These days it’s harder than ever to be original. Perhaps it’s because the cycles of rapid musical progression and sense of craft and invention in electronic music and the UK sound of the early-mid 2000s have been exhausted over the past five years. Back then the artists at the forefront had a low-key approach that was far more open-ended and creatively dynamic – it was much less commercially driven (and visible). At the time, it felt like there were no apparent boundaries for where it could go. There was more individuality and less pressure on artists to identify with or compartmentalise their sound to within strict parameters set by music journalists, consumers and DJs. In terms of new ground, things might have slowed down, but there is still room for artists to explore.

None of this means it is impossible for Australians to produce pioneering electronic music. Artists such as Paul Jebanasam and Ben Frost have done so successfully for many years. Cliques are a more recent example of two Australians making internationally minded club music that is functional, energetic and experimental.

What are your plans for the future?

To keep nurturing upcoming artists and releasing tracks that we feel will remain relevant over time, regardless of stylistic shifts and trends. Quantity is not the primary driver of what we do. Aquatic Lab is about crafting an ongoing legacy, rather than being led by commercial aspirations.

At this stage, our next release will be from the inimitable Maddslinky. This will also feature some very exciting and expansive remix treatments of the original cut. This project has been in the pipeline for a while, but we look forward to delivering it very soon.

BBW

10 Australian record labels you should get to know
BBW was founded by Melbourne house aficionado Francis Inferno Orchestra and friend Tyson Ballard as a home for the pair’s first attempts at techno. Since originally emerging as an anonymous imprint back in 2013, the label has delivered three 12″s of imperfect and enchanting maximalist techno. Operating under aliases like Deep Throat and Linda Lovelace, and releasing tracks with titles such as ‘Gag Reflex’ and ‘Gush’ packaged in a rainbow theme, the label is also poking fun at a genre that can sometimes take things a bit too serious.

What prompted you to start a label and how did you begin?

I think it was basically prompted out of convenience. Tyson Ballard whom I run the run the label with had already been running Voyeurhythm with two of his friends for a few years so he had the connection to Clone Distribution and all the other resources to turn a idea into an actual thing. But I think it really began because we talked about how we both had been making little bits of more functional music for fun without an outlet to put it out, so we just decided to do it ourselves.

How does being located in Australia impact on the way you operate, particularly with regards to distribution and production?

Well I’m actually located in London now and Tyson is in Berlin. The thing with being located in Australia is when most distributors and pressing plants are operating from EU and US, and you’re located all the way in Australia, the time it takes to get through the steps getting a record out is drastically drawn out. The time zone thing makes getting responses and surpassing problems a long-winded issue.

How does being located in Australia feed into the output of the label? Does the location or environment impact on the music that is released?

Not entirely with BBW, we’ve only had 3 releases so far which all have consisted of one track by myself under my Deepthroat alias plus another track for the flip side that’s done by either Tyson or another friend (usually someone who doesn’t make more techno-orientated music normally but did one out of spontaneity and would like it be pressed on a record). With my other label Superconscious (which I run with my other friend Mic aka Fantastic Man), I feel that this is project was a direct result of wanting to release music from the friends around us in Melbourne who may never have had an outlet for their stuff. There are friends from Melbourne (Chet Faker, Andras Fox, Tornado Wallace etc) who have gained a lot international exposure but there are also lots of artists doing amazing things that don’t get heard.

What are your plans for the future?

For BBW there is no plan – when it happens, it happens. For Superconscious we have an upcoming EP from Luis C. L who is part of the entourage of Ruff Records and is one half of the duo Zanzibar Chanel. This follows our first EP from Imhotep who is the other half of Zanzibar Chanel.

Butter Sessions

10 Australian record labels you should get to knowButter Sessions originally came to life as a mixtape series back in 2011, morphing into a record label with the release of a fantastic techno and garage-indebted 12″ from label head Sleep D in 2013. That was followed up with an excellent various artists EP last year, collecting tracks from some of Australia’s most exciting young underground house and techno producers, including Tuff Sherm and Dan White. Frankston’s finest, without a doubt.

What prompted you to start a label and how did you begin?

We like making things and we like records so we decided to do both. Butter Sessions began in January 2011 in Frankston as a mixtape series and the label started late 2013.

How does being located in Australia impact on the way you operate, particularly with regards to distribution and production?

Being located so far from the pressing plants makes the process take a little longer. At the moment we release the records on our web store and local Australian record stores a couple of weeks before the rest of the world, that way we’re hopefully supporting the scene here. It also gives us an opportunity to make sure the records look and feel OK, that’s important to us.

How does being located in Australia feed into the output of the label? Does the location or environment impact on the music that is released?

We have a personal connection with all the artists on the label so far. If it wasn’t for our location we never would have made these relationships.

What are your plans for the future?

To release more records more frequently. Dig deeper into different styles.

Cult Trip

10 Australian record labels you should get to know

Sydney-based label Cult Trip is firmly dedicated to unearthing talented bedroom producers from both Australia and abroad. With their current output currently encompassing lo-fi house and techno, the label keeps one eye fixated upon the DIY scenes of both Australia and the USA. and has ambitions to broaden its scope beyond the dancefloor.

What prompted you to start a label and how did you begin?

I started listening to a lot of Alex’s (Grey People) stuff on Soundcloud a little over a year ago and was really taken back by two of his tracks ‘Hour Glass’ and ‘Sudgeball’ which I couldn’t believe weren’t being put out. I was at the point where I’d be listening to those tracks every day for maybe three weeks and eventually I just got in touch with him to see what was happening with them. I had initially planned to just do the one record and wasn’t even thinking at that point of a release schedule. There wasn’t much thought on whether or not to start it, instead more whether or not it could even be done. Thankfully Alex turned out to be the most relaxed dude and gave me as much time I needed to get the label up and running.

How does being located in Australia impact on the way you operate, particularly with regards to distribution and production?

I was surprised at how quickly I was able to secure distribution considering how isolated we are geographically. There was part of me that felt I wouldn’t be taken as seriously as other upcoming labels based in the EU or US but it ended up being the opposite.

As for production, exchange rates have been against me from the start which has made manufacturing a little bit more disheartening from a financial point. Those extra production costs, combined with things like lengthy shipping delays to Aus for things like test pressings are always going to hold up the manufacturing process.

How does being located in Australia feed into the output of the label? Does the location or environment impact on the music that is released?

I don’t think the label has any particular aesthetic or overall direction in terms of what’s going to come out so I can’t really say that I’m in it to promote some sort of ‘Australian sound’. But since I started I’ve been focusing much more of my attention on upcoming homegrown producers and I think that finding guys like Dan White, Daze, L Neils and Patch Free has definitely helped me keep this thing going.

The best part of starting this kind of label in Australia, especially in Sydney, is that because it is such a small scene, people are quick to welcome new labels and artists into the community. It was very humbling to see how quick people were to give the label their support and I’m very grateful to everyone who as gotten in touch so far.

What are your plans for the future?

Hopefully to get a couple more releases out this year from Australian artists. I try my best not to get carried away considering the current economics of pressing records and instead will focus on one release at a time. CT003 will be out in a couple of months.

Home Loan Records

10 Australian record labels you should get to know

Helmed by Melbourne producer and E.S.P. Institute family member Michael Ozone, the Home Loan Records imprint is an eclectic hub of colourful (predominantly) dancefloor-focused music. Home Loan began with a self titled EP from post-punk outfit Total Control, backed with two remixes from Ozone himself. Since then, the label has delivered 12″s from Andras Fox, Zanzibar Chanel and mutant funk duo No Zu that traverse the realms of disco, synth-pop, new wave and house music.

What prompted you to start a label and how did you begin?

I was interested in creating a platform to push new ideas, new sounds and new partnerships. My good man Mike Q, who runs the best radio show in Australia (now also a record label – Noise In My Head) gave me some inside industry advice. Good friends of mine Ryan and Leo who run the record label Hole In The Sky put me in touch with their distributor, based in the UK.

How does being located in Australia impact on the way you operate, particularly with regards to distribution and production?

Being in Australia, we are geographically challenged to make vinyl production and international distribution a cost effective exercise. Supply and demand, baby. Through a process of elimination, manufacturing overseas became the only pathway moving forward. To make that possible, I needed distributor. After weeks of emails and phone calls to distributors based in the EU and the United States, the response I got back from potential distributors was along the lines of “we aren’t taking on any new labels at this point”. I changed my game plan and went through the back door, I called my buddy Ryan and got them to pass on the contact of their label manager, and the rest is history. If it wasn’t for Ryan and Leo then I wouldn’t have been able to secure the confidence in my current distributor Kudos.

How does being located in Australia feed into the output of the label? Does the location or environment impact on the music that is released?

The premise of Home Loan is to create partnerships and projects with artists and identities that inspire me. Most partnerships are developed in the real world – there are not many partnerships that start from online activity… apart from online dating. I reached out to existing artists and groups based in Melbourne and started a conversation about how HLR could work together with them to generate hybrid sounds and designs.

With Andras Fox’s release, he produced all the tracks which we selected together. I created the sleeve and label artwork for release, and he shot the footage for his video clip ‘Soft Illusion’. I edited the footage and put some Ozone Funk in the mix to tell a story. Don’t be fooled by any cheap copycat imitations you may find on YouTube, ‘Soft illusion’ is the OG.

What are your plans for the future?

The 4th release just dropped late in February – Medusa Music from No Zu.

I’d originally planned to make Home Loan to be an all-Australian project, but it is starting to mutate into new territory. I think it has become important to look overseas to other identities and sounds. There are a lot of unknowns for the future, but the next release will be a collaboration with myself and Moon B (PPU). It’s funny that I mentioned before about internet partnerships – that’s exactly what this is. Expect a release in late May. Other than that there’s not really a plan or a spreadsheet for Home Loan. I’ve been listening to a lot of dancehall and urban future tracks, so stayed tuned.

Noise In My Head Records

10 Australian record labels you should get to know

Noise In My Head expanded their operations into a record label earlier this year after gracing the airwaves of Melbourne for the best part of a decade. NIMH was broadcast on Melbourne community station 3RRR 102.7FM from December 2005 until February 2013. Since then, the radio show has continued as a monthly program on London online station NTS. NIMH released their first record in February, courtesy of Lucy Cliche, a longtime fixture in the Sydney DIY scene. That 12″ collected four tracks of shadowy techno, with more set to follow in the near future.

What prompted you to start a label and how did you begin?

Generally each episode of our radio show features a guest mix, so we’re in constant dialogue with artists and being sent unfinished recordings for opinions and support. Over time the idea in my mind became more and more realised, then my partner commissioned two tracks from Suzanne Kraft for a contemporary dance score which initiated the first release. I used to run labels in my early 20s, issuing psych, noise and DIY music so I wasn’t exactly going in cold.

How does being located in Australia impact on the way you operate, particularly with regards to distribution and production?

I’ve got a UK distributor on board and they actually take on all of the production. I’m a bit of a control freak and wish I could be more hands on, but they’ve done a bang up job – both releases look and sound exactly as I hoped. It would be hard running your own game from here, especially when you can count potential local stockists on one hand.

How does being located in Australia feed into the output of the label? Does the location or environment impact on the music that is released?

When I booked Lucy Cliche to open for Steve Summers, she totally blew me away and I propositioned her the next day. I felt this urge to get involved. She’s made an astounding contribution to the Sydney DIY scene for 10 years, and what she’s making now deserves to be on a global platform. I want to be more involved in what’s happening locally for the same reasons. It would be incredible to put something out for Dan White, Daze, Imhotep or Sleep D but I realise I’m not alone – there’s a lot of interest in Australian music at the moment, and rightfully so. I’ll take a ticket on these and wait 3 years if I have to.

What are your plans for the future?

I’m putting time into our reissue label, Efficient Space. It’ll be launched soon with a 12″ EP from Braden Schlager who made backroom house in early ’90s Melbourne. The main track sounds like Klaus Schulze recording for Nu Groove. A 15-track compilation will follow, collecting private press folk-pop, new wave and art music from 1968-1989.

Room40

10 Australian record labels you should get to knowEstablished back at the turn of the millennium, Room40 is by far the oldest label included in this list. The Brisbane-based operation has been at the forefront of experimental music since its establishment, maintaining a global view that has earned plaudits far beyond Australian shores. Aussie experimental trailblazers such as label head Lawrence English, Oren Ambarchi, John Chantler and Ben Frost occupy space in the Room40 catalogue alongside boundary-pushing artists from overseas including Grouper, Tim Hecker, Bee Mask and Japanese avant-pop singer Tujiko Noriko.

What prompted you to start a label and how did you begin?

The label very much came out of two interests. One to connect Australia and the artists I had encountered here with international compatriots. At that time, in the late 1990s, Australia still felt like a long way away. Email was just taking grip and web interaction was limited at best. I wanted to stimulate things here and have a label that reached outward, linking like minded communities and to create some kind of discourse. So Room40 from the outset wasn’t just about publishing editions, but also creating events, curating sound art programs and generally making things happen.

The other reason I started the label, and to this day this remains a primary interest, was finding ears for work that I categorically believe in. At the time the label started I was hearing amazing work from Australian artists and internationals that weren’t gathering the attention I left they deserved. Room40 was my small way of address that problem. I’m pleased that 15 years on, our initial Australian artists like John Chantler and Ben Frost have gone on to do such great things.

How does being located in Australia impact on the way you operate, particularly with regards to distribution and production?

Actually we don’t distribute the releases here, beyond via the Room40 Emporium. I know that might seem odd, but beyond direct sales, it’s often easier for people to access it through overseas distributors and stores. We now manufacture almost everything off shore, in the 2000s, we did a lot of it domestically. But this country is incredibly overpriced and often lacking in reasonable quality in terms of product delivery and customer service. So now we essentially drop ship from the factory to distributors to try and cut down the costs of shipping, which are utterly ridiculous via Australia Post. There’s a reason that company is suffering such a massive downturn in profit. They are trying to run a 20th century model in the 21st century – it’s embarrassing. Beyond that, there’s not too much impact. Communication and connection are so much easier than they were before.

How does being located in Australia feed into the output of the label, does the location or environment impact on the music that is released?

Not so much. Like I said we’ve always been outward looking, wanting to make connections and maintain them. That said in the early days, when it was cheap to live in Brisbane, that lack of economic strain was hugely vital for developing the infrastructure for the label. I was afforded time to work at it without the pressure of having to take on extra work. That is entirely impossible now I think for a lot of younger labels, and artists, and it’s a crime. The capacity for us to realise the full impact of what is happening here, in all creative areas, is increasingly problematic thanks to cost of living and the like. I think we have a great deal of potential here which is lost to attrition. This is a crisis which means our cultural capacity is either hindered, locally or is lost to overseas as so many of our finest depart to make their way elsewhere. It’s a shame and something grossly misunderstood at a macro level.

What are your plans for the future?

This year we turn 15. We are celebrating with a series of events including Open Frame at Carriageworks at the end of July. We also have an amazing array of new editions on the boil.

Ruff Records

10 Australian record labels you should get to know

Ruff Records is operated by Zac Segbedzi, better known as one half of irresistibly funky Melbourne house duo Zanzibar Chanel. The label was launched with the release of the duo’s super-limited Outback Jack Tracks CD-R back in 2013, followed by an experimental, new age-influenced cassette from Elevator Alligators, a brilliant mix CD and a quickly sold-out 12″ from Zanzibar Chanel. Ruff Records’ most recent release was an ambient album from Flat Static, marking the label’s first crack at the long player format.

What prompted you to start a label and how did you begin?

Not being able to get a record out! To be fair Butter Sessions approached us (Zanzibar Chanel) pretty early on to do a release, but at the time I thought they were wack because they threw this illegal party in a spot my friend was scoping. I used to have this stupid subcultural beef mentality; I would get pissed off if I thought people were biting shit. We are all friends now though, I did the artwork for BSR002.

Ruff started as a collaboration between myself and my pal Freejack, but pretty quick we realised we had completely different curatorial ideas. He now runs a tape label called Future Archaic which is more techno/harsh noise oriented, putting out some really significant stuff from a lot of lesser-known Melbourne artists.

How does being located in Australia impact on the way you operate, particularly with regards to distribution and production?

Ahh it’s difficult. I really like to handle all the production of artwork etc, and it is a headache. First time around I spent as much on postage as it cost to produce sleeves, that was a mistake. Second time around I tried to move to Europe haha.

It’s a catch-22 that most of the records are distributed in Europe. I love that the music is reaching appreciative ears and I couldn’t sell an entire pressing in Australia as there just aren’t as many people interested in buying vinyl. But I don’t really like the idea that European collectors possess so much of our cultural/musical heritage. It’s important to me that some kid could walk into an Australian store in 20 years and happen to stumble upon a Ruff release.

How does being located in Australia feed into the output of the label, does the location or environment impact on the music that is released?

I only release music made by me and my friends, so incidentally its all Australian content. I would say thats more about facilitating my community and trying to create a platform for whats going on around me. Being in Australia only motivates me to define myself in opposition to it; the music I release is an emphatic statement of resistance to the dominant cultural paradigm. I think a lot of people mistake allusions I make to Australiana as celebratory – they are not.

On the notion that Australia is culturally bankrupt?

If by “culturally bankrupt” you mean predicated on colonial genocide, then I would agree. I don’t think it’s a clean slate and as an artist it’s important to question the modes in which previous generations have gone about negotiating our history and representing our culture.

What are your plans for the future?

To keep making art for as long as possible and hopefully at some point create something meaningful.

Untzz Twelve Inch

10 Australian record labels you should get to knowThe Untzz Twelve Inch family is comprised of Adelaide artists Babicka, HVCK, Mic Mills, Freddie Norwood and Dass. The Untzz crew has flown the flag for Australian analogue house music since they first emerged with a superb various artists 12″ at the beginning of 2013. Since then, the label has provided a consistent stream of locally-sourced, machine-made house records that have become difficult to come by. Make sure you check out their Big Doint sublabel too.

What prompted you to start a label and how did you begin?

I think at the time just before we started the label we had all been individually sending our tracks to labels and label guys who we had incorrectly thought would pick us up. Without even realising I think we’d all been trying to fit into somebody else’s sound or direction and hadn’t fully realised what we had wanted to do for ourselves.

Once the idea to start our own label (or labels) had struck us I think we all found our feet and started to experiment with music that we would play in our city, instead of somebody else’s that we’d never even visited.

We threw a couple of parties and saved the cash to press up 300 180g twelves in nice sleeves and then set about finding a distributor. In hindsight we’d taken a pretty big punt pressing up records before having a means to distribute, but fortunately we landed on the right side of that risk.

How does being located in Australia impact on the way you operate, particularly with regards to distribution and production?

It makes things much more difficult for sure – our records are pressed and distributed from the UK. I know recently we’ve had to throw away a bunch of units because the distributors weren’t willing to warehouse them any longer.

If we were located in Europe or the UK we would have had the option to stock them in our houses and try and distribute the remainders ourselves, but as we’re all the way over here in Australia the cost to ship them was worth more than the value of the records.

How does being located in Australia feed into the output of the label, does the location or environment impact on the music that is released?

Sure. I think the internet definitely has an influence as well because you can soak up so much music from everywhere so easily now, but that doesn’t mean that those track work in an Adelaide environment. So I guess we’re influenced by music from all over the world, that happens to work well in Adelaide. I think you could go the other direction and be really insular and just do your own thing here as it’s quite a small city, but that hasn’t worked for us.

On the notion that Australia is culturally bankrupt?

To say that Australia is culturally bankrupt is completely writing off the hard work that is being put in here, sure Western ideas of culture haven’t been in place long here. But there is some amazing arts and music being produced in this country and this is barely the beginning.

What are your plans for the future?

Put out more records and get Adelaide a bit further into people’s minds.

Voyage Recordings

10 Australian record labels you should get to know

With three equally-sublime 12″s under their belt since emerging mid-way through last year, Voyage has quickly established itself as a quality source for warm and blissful, synth-driven house. Last year saw the release of an excellent various artists 12″ and a gorgeous EP from Melbourne’s Harvey Sutherland, one of our 15 Australian electronic artists to watch.

What prompted you to start a label and how did you begin?

Voyage was something I’d been musing over for a year or two before I did anything about it. At the time I was running, and just finishing up another label called Melbourne Deepcast. For one reason or another it was time for the MDC label to wind down, mainly so we could just focus on being a podcast again. After that happened I stepped back from the Deepcast and had a bit more time to think about what other projects I wanted to do. I missed running a label and had been consumed with space and the galaxy, working on a satellite program through university and reading a lot about planets and the cosmos. Eventually the excitement got me and started pulling together ideas for the artwork and music.

This time around it took me nearly a year to set the label up. I worked with a few different designers to come up with the branding and aesthetics but ultimately it was my friend Sprinkles Donaldson who really brought the concepts to life, all the way from the branding and logo to the artwork and imagery. I mean, without out his vision the label would definitely not be what it has become and i’m forever grateful for him and his work.

By that stage I had a few ideas for the music of the first few EPs, tracks that friends had sent me and people I knew I wanted to work with. I had seen Harvey play live a year or so earlier and was blown away. He had raw talent and the music really fit with the concept of the label. After some A&R work with a few of the tracks, we had our first record down and my old distributor Prime Direct were down to make it work.

How does being located in Australia impact on the way you operate, particularly with regards to distribution and production?

I’m in a very fortunate position to have a great relationship with my distributor in the UK as a result of running the last label through them. Without that connection I don’t think I would have started Voyage until I moved to Europe. Being from Australia, you can either make records at home or get them made overseas. The quotes I was getting at home before finding a distributer overseas were incredibly expensive, it just wasn’t an option to be honest and I think that’s because there was only one place to get them made in Australia. The quotes from overseas were much more realistic, but then seeing as we were 14,000 km away we had to find someone to take care of the records, house them and take them to the distributers or straight to the record stores. It was a daunting thought considering I had absolutely no idea what I was doing or how the whole process works.

It took me about six months to speak to a lot of different manufacturers, pressing plants and distributors, squeezing as much information about the process out of them as I could, before finally meeting the guys at Prime and coming up with a deal and a system that worked. I’m not sure how different the landscape in Australia is now, this was six years ago, but i have a feeling it’s changed because there are more local labels making and selling vinyl overseas now which is awesome.

The downside to having your records made overseas is that it costs a lot to have them shipped over from Europe, which meant we never really sold that many at home. I spoke to a few of the local record stores before the first Voyage record came out and hooked them up with our distributor, but the record sold out before they could get any copies in. Great for us, but when you’re a record store competing with the European market, it’s not such a good thing.

How does being located in Australia feed into the output of the label, does the location or environment impact on the music that is released?

It does for sure. In the last 6 years or so Melbourne’s electronic music and party scene has grown to rival pretty much anywhere else in the world i’ve been to. That doesn’t happen without some phenomenally talented artists coming forward and sharing their music with the people in the city. I’m not entirely sure why Melbourne has created such a rich pool of talent in recent years but it’s moving to see how much support for each other there is. With all that going on, there’s no doubt that people are going to end up working together, which is what happened with Voyage. I met Micka (M5K) through the music scene a year or two ago. We were having dinner and he gave me a CD wrapped in a Ray’s Tent City catalogue, containing what would become his Marcy Ave EP. Without Melbourne’s close-knit scene, that probably wouldn’t have happened.

What are your plans for the future?

There are a few new artists to join the label this year, one from the States and some from Europe. We’re also planning some label shows now that Harvey and M5K will be in Europe and there’s been talk of an album for later in the year. I’m trying not to plan too far in advance because things are always changing and it’s more exciting to be spontaneous with a record label.

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