Last year I purchased a copy of Last Roadpost and Alone by Alonefold. Upon close inspection, I noticed that Somehow Recordings was behind the release. I’m a huge fan of boutique music labels and it was natural that, after starting TVE (The Vivid Expanse), I would contact Tim David Brice (hereafter referred to as TDB) of Somehow Recordings and request an interview; to which he generously agreed !
TVE: I remember coming across Somehow Recordings (hereafter referred to as SR) and Twisted Tree Line (hereafter referred to as TTL) last year when I picked up Alonefold’s album: Last Roadpost and Alone. Apart from the offering of quality music on both labels, I’m rather intrigued by the fact they are run by yourself (Tim David Brice) and your son (Nico Brice). What sparked your interest in setting up a label together and do you both have very defined roles in the running of them?
TDB: The interest was started by a few brief conversations between us in the early part of 2010, but was aided by a mutual friend, Andy Lomas, whom asked me outright that I should give it a go. We then realised that we openly wanted to move sound artists into the physical mode. We felt it was important for SR to be openly part of this process. We hope that it’s moved that way. As for the defined roles of the label, well Nico runs both of the websites and most of the technical aspects; eg: music files, etc. I basically look for the artists that I feel can be congruent with what the label’s beliefs are within music. We also combine efforts with the artwork, photography and design of a large percentage of the releases we place out.
TVE: In this age of digital music distribution (‘music on digital tap’ as I call it), I think that limited run physical releases have a very distinct appeal. Your statement about combined efforts when it comes to the artwork and music really strikes a chord in me, as I like the idea of music as a ‘total artistic package’. Clearly, the economics of a small label will usually mean limited run physical releases, but do you feel that this kind of exclusivity is significant in the context of our ‘music on digital tap’ world; especially when only offering digital downloads on the website would be cheaper?
TDB: I think we probably do, yes. I mean, I am personally not a great fan of digital releases, but that’s not to say we don’t have them on the site. In fact, we could have them all as digital releases, but choose not to. We almost feel as though it’s a cheap option, when in fact the combined work efforts of both artist and label to produce a physical release is something that is so special. That said, net labels like Audio Gourmet and Resting Bell (etc) are wonderfully fluent in what they achieve. The media world changes so quickly and I think that keeping a more traditional feel to music, for us anyway, is vital.
TVE: Are there any differences between SR and TTL? Do you think that they cater to different audiences?
TDB: The main difference between the labels is that SR is more traditional with regard to releases in that they are mostly full albums. At the start, we had some good advice from Hibernate and we decided to go for full album releases. TTL is really dedicated to the postcard series, firstly with the small card based release; but now we have chosen the A5 card size which I feel gives more to the purchaser. However, we try to come up with different design patterns for them both. Julia Dewhirst has recently joined us and has had several artworks/photographs commissioned by us. I think the audience is the same really as we have a very small customer base but whom are very very loyal in what they purchase from the site. It is important to note that both sites are non-profit, so this really helps with the amount of new music that is placed out.
TVE: I notice that there are a number of well known artists and musicians associated with both labels. For example: Taylor Deupree has done the mastering work on Pascal Savy’s new release; you are about to release a digipack featuring Celer; and the talents of Kyo Ichinose grace the packaging for Atlantic Coral’s latest CD. It must be truly exciting to work with these artists ! Has the trajectory of your labels so far surprised you in any way, considering the talent involved?
TDB: Yes, I believe it has. Having people of the calibre of Taylor Deupree, Ian Hawgood and Kyo Ichinose associated with the labels is simply terrific news for us. We are a little cheeky on occasions with whom we ask, but so far most artists have been graceful enough to help in any way they can, for which we are truly grateful. With the Celer release, this will be a first digipack for us and will be out later this year. Will has been very kind in his dealings with us and I hope this will lead to possibly larger releases for 2013. As for the talent involved, we are committed to releasing with the lesser known artist also and I really hope that has come across with the releases that have been made available from us.
TVE: I respect the model of art as a community experience. Being non-profit, I would assume that your aim at this stage is self-sustainment and that all profits made simply go into the next release cycle? Is it difficult to balance running the labels with ‘paying the bills’, so to speak?
TDB: Yes all of the ‘profits’ go back into both labels, and on occasions it has got near the edge of stopping altogether. I think that the main problem we encounter is postal charges, which are astronomical for us; and also keeping the price to a minimum has been difficult. Also, we do not sell out often, but have a reasonably large catalogue of releases still on hand. Generally, any DIY label (I dislike the term, but it’s a fact I guess) will tell you that bills are sometimes a concern, but we are here to stay for a while yet, we hope.
TVE: What sort of process do you normally go through to prepare a physical release?
TDB: The process is really quite simple I think: I scour the internet and through friends searching for artists that I feel can contribute to all of this.On occasion, we have been told ‘yes’, and then ‘no’. As disappointing as that is, it has never put us off. The preparation is always good fun and can be very rewarding. Having someone’s work printed or heard gives me, Nico and Julia great heart in what we are trying to achieve. We have also tried to bring in as many unknown photographers into the label as possible. There are lots of people out there that take beautiful shots.
TVE: There’s clearly a lot of talent out there and many people willing to help. Do you receive a lot of unsolicited music for demo purposes?
TDB: I would say we receive probably as much as other labels, and we do try hard to give everyone a chance, but sadly that is impossible to do. But everything is listened to and talked about before a commitment is made to the artist.
TVE: Do you or your son, Nico, make music yourself?
TDB: Yes we do make music and have released in the past year. But Nico is here smiling and wishing to remain anonymous 🙂
TVE: Thank you very much for your time Tim. I hope that you get the support you need to keep quality sounds coming our way. Can you give us any clues as to what’s in the pipeline for SR and TTL?
TDB: And thank you for asking me to do this. I certainly hope it makes a difference and more people find out who we are. We have a beautiful debut release from ‘elintseeker’ out very soon on SR, followed by Adam Michalak – Cloudy Days (this will be a double CD/DVD release); and is also Adam’s debut release. Also we have the Celer release to look forward to and Izumi Suzuki, a first vocal album from us and a project from Fernando Carvalho and myself here at Somehow that is almost finished. On TTL we have just had Pascal Savy, Sleepeland and PJE releases out and look forward to the Fabio Perletta release and a new piece from Monoceros. So lots to look forward to and some bits that I cannot mention just yet. I would just like to say a huge big thanks to my son for all the help he supplies me with and to Julia for her artworks and continued support.
Please visit SR and TTL at the following links and support their endeavours:
- Interview conducted by Steven James Elgrove 2012
- Edited by Steven James Elgrove
- All images and sounds used in this post by kind permission of Tim David Brice, of Somehow Recordings