Happy Birthday – Paper Recordings Is 20
Another new series in the world of R$N where we light a candle to institutions marking significant points in their evolution, kicking off with Manchester's Paper Recordings who hit their 20th anniversary this year. Originally set up by Miles Hollway, Elliot Eastwick and Ben Davis over the years they've released pieces of house wax for everyone from Crazy P to Salt City Orchestra to Deadstock 33's.
They are 20… we blew out the candles with Ben from the label them.
20 years at this is good bloody going for anyone… both musically and mentally. Top tips for survival in running a label in this day and age.
Move with the times and keep up the quality control. When we started 20 years ago a fax machine was a novelty and looking back it all seems pretty simple. We would get some vinyl pressed up, send about 50 records in mailers, wait for the reactions and that was about it. Now there's an endless stream of social networking to make your voice heard and if you don't do it you get left behind.
Don't put anything out that you're not happy with as you're only good as your last release. Plus we only work with people we like! On a more boring level, make sure you stay on top of business and accounts. The creative side is the most fun but if you don't look after the other side it comes back to bite you!
I’d imagine you’ve worked your way through a fair few distribution companies over the years?! Any nightmares we should know about?
We've actually been very lucky with our distributors while other labels I have been involved with (Shaboom) ricocheted from one bankrupt company to another.
Are Elliot and Miles still involved with the day to day runnings of the label?
No, its just myself and Pete Jenkinson these days as they are off doing other things.
Describe how the label has evolved over the years.
I'd like to think that it has stayed pretty much true to its original ethos of releasing quality dance music that's got something more about it than just being DJ canon fodder. I guess if you look back on the music we're releasing back then compared with now the BPMs have dropped and there's more of a disco element. In the early days we wouldn't really look beyond the next 12" while now we think in terms of building our core artists with the aim of releasing an album. We've always tried to keep things interesting musically by being about more than just the 4/4 and have started sub labels for more leftfield stuff (Repap / We Are Woodville). Its probably easier for somebody else to answer but I'd like to think the Paper sound is still present and recognizable.
Ever thought about releasing one of Elliot’s musical bingo’s on a 12”?
They're probably best left to a pub environment!
Whatever happened to At Home With… radio show?
Unfortunately Kiss 102 got sold so we moved to Atlantic 252 where we lasted about a year. We had great fun doing it but I listened back to a show the other day and we don't stop talking! I think the highpoint was doing a roadshow at the Trafford Centre with about 5000 teenage girls in the audience. We thought we'd run on stage and pretend to fall over to hilarious effect but instead were greeted with a combination of silence and bewilderment!
Elliot now does the morning show on Revolution in Manchester and I do a monthly show on Cowbell Radio called The Sunday Joint where I play everything from afro to folk and krautrock to shape note singing. I also do a quarterly Paper Radio podcast, which can be found on our Soundcloud which has guest interviews and mixes that has included Terry Farley, Horsemeat Disco, Psychemagik, Ashley Beedle, Sleazy McQueen and Bjorn Torske as well as our latest releases. For the latest one there's a super good mix from Tal M. Klein and a Lindstrom interview.
What’s coming up in the world of Paper?
We seem to be gathering pace! When we re-booted a few years ago it was like starting from scratch and a lot of the artists we signed are starting to make waves as they get more established. Also Flash Atkins, 2 Billion Beats, Ralph Myerz and Daco are doing us albums that should see the light of day in the next 12 months. Look out for Richard Seaborne, Leon Sweet, Chris Massey, Kit Tacchini and Joe Morris who will all be releasing EPs.
We launched Paper Disco last year (see below) and are making a documentary called "Northern Disco Lights : The Rise & Rise of Norwegian Dance Music" that should be out next year. Paper has always had a strong connection to Norway with artists like Those Norwegians, Ralph Myerz, Rune Lindbaek and Kahuun up to newer producers like Proviant Audio. They have a really strong legacy of disco and house so we are trying to find out why and how it happened. We have been on the road with Lindstrom and are headed out with Prins Thomas next month. We are about halfway through filming and so far have interviewed people like diskJokke, Bjorn Torske, Mungolian Jetset, Smalltown Supersound, Annie, Bill Brewster, Rune Lindbaek and the Idjut Boys amongst others. We'll also be telling the story of Erot who sadly died at just 23 but left some amazing music behind and inspired a generation.
You can catch the first teaser here
You’ve gifted us an excellent Cottam remix to give away. It’s lifted from a compilation you’re releasing. What’s the premise behind the compilation? Talk us through it.
It's the best of our recent output and is a nice way of bookmarking the label. It's proper forward thinking grown up house music and has exclusive tracks from Ralph Myerz and Richard Seaborne plus unreleased mixes from Psychemagik and Pete Gooding. There are artists like Flash Atkins, Space Coast, Richard Seaborne, Research, Leon Sweet and Daco as well as some older faces like Ron Basejam and Hot Toddy from Crazy P(enis), Terry Farley with Stretch as Farley Silvester and Ralph Myerz who also did a live DJ mix of all the tracks. We did a Megamix that you can hear here.
The Cottam mix you've got to give away is a dub of the mix he did for Jamie L and can't be found anywhere except on Ransom Note!
Why does Paper Recordings redirect to Record Label Services and what is RLS?
It’s a boutique promo service we do for like-minded labels that we also run. We've spent years building up a brilliant mailing list so it’s a way of putting it to good use.
What is a Paper Disco for fear of stating the obvious?
It’s a label for our more disco leaning stuff. We've just released Proviant Audio's second album Drift Days & Disco Nights that was too disco for Paper so we started a new label to release it. From there it has snowballed as we just put out Volume 1 of a compilation of original music called Trash The Wax that went straight to the top of the Juno charts and had Todd Terje charting Richard Seaborne's Is This Acid that featured. We've also got EP's coming from Research, Pablo & Shoey and Keep Schtum and are currently compiling the second Trash The Wax.
Not to live down memory street but as it’s 20 years can you pick 20 musical or other highlights in the world of Paper.
Good Lord, who's marking? OK, I'll give it a go!
1. The Name – After a long night in the pub we came up with the name for the reasons that it was a blank canvas and had no connotations. Others in the running included Elvis!
2. Timing – We started at the perfect time, as there weren't that many labels around in 1994. Pap001 was a humdinger (see below) so we hit the ground running and followed it with a slew of very good records that put us on the map.
3. The Book – I think our first release was probably the label's highpoint so it was all-downhill from there! It still sounds amazing and helped kickstart a new kind of house music.
4. Nu Brit House – It's never great to be labeled and lumped in with a movement but there were other labels like 20:20 Vision and Nuphonic doing a similar thing and that's what it was called. We were making music that could compete with US house music and there was real confidence in the quality UK labels.
5. Robodisco – Our flagship night that spent time in pretty much every club in Manchester and there were some bllinders. It gave us an excuse to put on the DJs we wanted to hear starting off with Derrick Carter and looking back now its a pretty amazing role call: Lil Louis, Les Rhythm Digitales, Dimitri From Paris, Faze Action Live, Josh Wink, Romanthony, Ian Pooley and on it goes. We worked out how much money we'd lost on it all told once and it was an eye wateringly tidy sum that could have bought us a nice new car instead so professional promoting was never our strongest suit. We nearly always just about broke even and then got the bar bill!
6. Air Raid Siren – I went to the Junior Vasquez's Sound Factory where they had an air raid siren so robbed the idea for Robodisco. We'd crank it up though out the night and it was bloody great! Apart from when punters with their eyes going in different directions would come up pleading to have a go. We went through three all together.
7.Design – All our graphics were done by Paul Cleary who defined what the label looked like. We wanted to follow in the footsteps of Factory and the image of the label was super important.
8. Manchester – It always felt good to us to be based there and it became a strong part of our identity.
9. Getting Shitfaced with Johnny Vegas – We went to see him for an article for Jockey Slut in Romily and had a great night on the tiles although I think he wondered what we were actually doing there.
10. Crazy Penis – They were and are an amazing talent and the perfect fit for Paper. They showed that you could do a cohesive dance music album that hung together and worked at home as well as on the dancefloor. It was great helping them start out, putting on their first gig and now they're deservedly selling out Koko. They should be massive but never quite had the luck of a breakthrough pop single like Moloko’s Sing It Back that would have knocked them in to the mainstream.
11. New Zealand – We used to do Paper tours there every winter for a month or so and always had a great time. We made some good friends and ended up putting out music by Soane who is Tongan royalty (or something)!
12. Repap – The sub label we started to release leftfield music. It included a 12" by Herbert who made a track out of a load of stuff we sent him anonymously in the post and 0898 Dave who's songs were called things like Rubbish Monkey and Kill Phil Collins. Plus of course it released Rune Lindbaek's amazing Søndag LP.
13. Financial Management – More of a low point really as we spent more than we earned but didn't realize until it was too late, compounded by a hefty MCPS bill. It was a long way back!
14. The Digital Age – When we re-launched it was totally different to the old pre-internet way of doing things. Not necessarily good or bad, just different.
15. 2 Billion Beats – The heir apparent to Crazy P and the mastermind of two lovely lads Tom and Col who are headed on to big things. We put out their first EP and they have just kept on getting better. They are killing it live with a fantastic new singer in tow. Check out Noise In Your Eye (https://soundcloud.com/paperecordings/2-billion-beats-noise-in-your) for the best slept on monster of a dancefloor detonator from last year and I can’t wait to get cracking with their long player.
16. Family Vibe – As I mentioned, it’s really important that we like the people on the label and without wanting to sound too cornball there's a real family vibe with a lot of mutual respect and friendship between the artists.
17. Norway – Our relationship with Norway keeps on getting stronger. It was re-ignited again when we signed Proviant Audio's modern classic Real Love Tastes Like This! and has just kept going. We're super excited about releasing a Ralph Myerz album early next year as he is an amazing producer and we've got some super good Norwegian remixers lined up.
18. Paper Pete – The person I run the label with who rarely gets the credit. He has held the back end together from the beginning and without him there would be no Paper.
19. Paper Vision – The film company we set up to make documentaries about the more interesting corners of the music world. We've already got the idea for our next one but need to get Northern Disco Lights done first!
20. The People – Everybody for buying our music meaning we can keep doing the do!
21. Phew – Finished!
What are you obsessed with at the moment?
There's never been a better time to be a music fan as there's so much good stuff out there and it can all be found online. I'm especially loving all the afro that's being re-issued on labels like Soundway and Dust To Digital. Having said that I go through stages of being obsessed with Fela Kuti and Johnny Cash, playing nothing else for a few days.
What's your answer to everything?
A large glass of red wine with breakfast every morning.
Anything else we should’ve discussed?
I'll let you know when we hit 25 years!
Joining The Circus
What to do for British politics?
Solidarity with Ukraine
URL vs. IRL
Do DJs Today Need Social Media to Be Heard?
I Hear (Borusiade Remix)
Mother of MarsShop Now
Hologram TeenShop Now