Label Love #21: Relish
Relish Records have been releasing the waxy goodness for over 10 years now. Robi Insinna records a.k.a. Headman has been at the head of this label for that time. Started in 2001 Relish first functioned as the home to the Manhead alter ego and has mutated into many different forms since releasing the likes of Daniel Avery, Gina X, David Gilmour Girls, Heretic and reissuing cult releases from Liquid Liquid’s Dennis Young, The Units, Fred Ventura’s State of Art banda and A Certain Ratio over the years.
The aesthetic of the label has always remained key to its evolution. With a new Headman album about to drop and the excellent rising star that is Heretic just released on the label we caught up with Robi to hear all about its history.
Can you tell us a little bit about Relish and what the original blueprints for the label were?
I started Relish in 2001, originally to just release my own music – mainly the Manhead project in the beginning. Vinyl was the main focus, especially 12" formats. I was a Heavy vinyl digger in the mid to late 90s and the early 2000s. I was constantly discovering music in the record stores in Zürich. There were 3 shops that I was mainly digging in. One was more post-punk, one more disco-balearic and one had loads of vintage 12", disco, dub, electro and early Chicago. I was also buying all sorts of styles. That was the main idea, to do something like the records I was buying. There were some other labels at that time that had simillar ideas like DFA or Output!
What sparked the idea and kicked it into gear?
There were not so many interesting labels around at that time. The music was very homogenic and boring. So I thought "I want to do something like the records I was buying, in sound and look!"
What is the Relish manifesto and how has it changed since its inception?
It hasn't really changed that much, I always wanted to put out quality music that was more orientated on the dancefloor, but not exclusively. If I like something I put it out, regardless of hype or trends. I wanted it to be raw and underground!
Can you name any key releases on other labels that were instrumental in you starting Relish?
It was mainly the records from the late 70s and early 80s, from labels such as Sire, 99 Records, Y-Records or Fetish.
How do you decide what gets put out on the label? Is most stuff submitted to you or are you actively on the look out for the very best sounds?
Loads of stuff gets submitted but most of the time it's something I hear and like. I can't really cope with the demo submissions. Sometimes it's also through releasing the records, you get a remix that you really like and then you end up putting the original material out. I also like to work with people I know.
There have been plenty of excellent artists releasing their work through Relish, which release got you the most excited?
Daniel Avery's Airstrike E.P., the remix of Reverso 68 from Manhead "Doop". Then when I got contacted by The Units and I was able to put out High Pressure Days with my remix and Rory's. The original was one of my favourite tracks. Also, all the collaborations with artists that were very inspiring for me such as Dieter Meier from Yello, A Certain Ratio and Dennis Young from Liquid Liquid. What I also enjoy is to forge the past and re-release tracks with remixes. Gina X remixed by Red Axes and my remix of The Unknown Cases on Relish Ep V was also a very exciting release.
What have been the biggest challenges in running the label?
To keep it going and have the motivation to put out music. As I'm more a creative person, I don't really like the business side of things so much. You have to be careful that you have enough time to still be creative and do designs and music.
How do you think the music scene has developed since you started out? What are your thought on the state of the industry at the moment?
It changed a lot. When I started, vinyl sales and CDs were still essential in selling. Now it's all social media and making sure that you are visible in that world. Vinyl became an extra Bonus tool, something that adds to the release and gives it some substance. When I started it was more "let's put a record out and see what happens". Now you really have to make sure the plan is right and you have enough action online. There's also a rise in Vinyl again, which I see as a good sign. I don't think it will be as in the past but it's nice to see that people still want to go to record stores and discover something.
Is there an element to the music on Relish that you feel keeps you one step ahead of your competitors?
I don't think there is an element as such, but maybe I was never really pay too much attention to what is trendy and always tried to release what I liked and thought was interesting. So maybe that makes a label more special.
How do you promote stuff? Gone are the days of an expensive vinyl mailout to corners of the world but then you’re now faced with a different problem of getting heard above the noise of the online. How do you get heard above the noise in this sea of promotional music and soundcloud links?
I belive in putting out strong quality Music is a way of getting heard. The good thing of today, is that you can spread quicker and easier as in the past. At the same time you have to make sure to not go under in that online world. I'm trying to be visibel in the online world, but at the same time keep the older values present, as i call them, like Vinyls and create extra tools such as Artbooks, Shirts etc. Sure it helps to have budgets, so you can use PR agencies and have a stronger potential in that online field.
Release highlights from the label’s 10 year life?
Manhead: Doop (Reverso 68 Remix) and Sister (Volga Select Disco Disco Mix) (RR 005)
Gina X: No G.D.M. (Red Axes Remix)
Manhead: Birth, School, Work, Death.
David Gilmour Girls: Crackhousewarmingparty (Rub n Tug’s “Did Somebody Say Crack?” Mix)
The Units:High Pressure Days’ Remixes
HEADMAN FEAT. SCOTT FRASER & DOUGLAS MCCARTHY: Noise
Relish EPV: The Unknown Cases: Masimbabele (Robi Insinna/ Headman Rework),
The Units: High Pressure days (Headman Dub)
HEADMAN: It Rough re-release including (Chicken Lips Remix)
HEADMAN/ ROBI INSINNA: 6 Album
What has been the label’s happiest accident?
On the first David Gilmour Girls 12" i spelled the name wrong on the Cover. We had to repress all the Covers. I have one copy with the wrong name, guess that's the collectable one!
Do you think you'll still be providing the same level of service in 10 years time? What are your predictions for the future?
I don't know, some things would have to change so that running a label is a bit easier. It all depends of how things develop.
What's the best thing you've heard this year?
Red Axes and Manfredas
Why do you think there are so many independent labels out there at the moment?
I guess because people still want to release good music and you really need a real motivation to run a label these days. That is good for the Music, as you really have to put good stuff out!
What will we be hearing from you in the next few months?
First of all my new Album 6, then 6 EPII Vinyl and another remix single later in the year also taken from 6. I'm also gathering tracks for Relish EP VI with various artist that should come out later in the year. I wanted to also do a Remix Album, a collection of Remixes i have done of other Artist from the past. Then Re-release some older Relish Material that was released or licensed to other labels, Manhead's BSWD will be released again later in year on Relish. Also some tracks from the past with new Remixes, working on that aswell.
Which record labels have been the most influential in your own musical journey?
99, Y, Sire, Fetish, Transmat, Creation, Factory,
Which artists would you most like to release on Relish?
Describe the label in 5:
Orginal, underground, style, listenable, danceable,
Pop-Art, David Hockney, Jackson Pollock, Basqiuat, Gerhard Richter (see images throughout)
Anything you'd like to add?
6 E.P.I Vinyl is out now. 6 Album Artbook will be available together with digital Album on the 19th September