Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Choose My Music (Label Interview)

As a brief introduction, I’ve known Dom for just over 10 years now, with him having been my store manager at Andys Records in Ipswich. Back then Dom was in the middle of a major reggae phase and personally I wasn’t much into it until a few years later (Dom, you would be proud of my collection now, trust me!). Through social media we found each other again about a year ago, and I am very pleased to have been witness to Dom’s commitment to musical discovery...

DDMB - Hi Dom welcome to Dr. Dan’s Music Blah. How are you doing?
DP - Hi Dan, Thank you for having me. Obviously with these current temperatures here in England I should be full of the joys of summer. Lucky for me hay fever has another plan.

DDMB - So tell us all a bit about the Choose My Music website (why you decided to start it, how long has it been going and what was the original aim?)
DP - started originally in March 2011 on blogger, but it became apparent quite quickly that people were enjoying my ramblings so I moved the site to its own domain.

The site started during a rather difficult time in my life when I suddenly got made redundant from a job I held for 5 years and loved dearly.  It was just something to pass the time and give me something to do in-between job searching.

Initially the site allowed my Twitter followers to randomly pick music from my 1000+ strong CD collection by selecting a combination of letters and numbers. I would then write about what ever album it was they picked. Then one morning I stumbled upon old timey styled musician Pokey LaFarge, and since then my main focus has been mainly on sharing new music from unsigned and indie label bands. The majority of times these features will consist of an interview with the band, mainly because I am terrible at reviewing music.

DDMB - And the project you have just finished is called the State of Music, what’s that all about?
DP - The State Of Music was something that popped into my head one day in July 2011. I was supposed to be doing the vacuuming at home and at some point I wondered if it would be possible for someone to find one unsigned or indie label band from all 50 US States.

Within an hour I already had a list of the US States and found myself noting down bands that I could approach. I was quite lucky that a lot of the first bands I approached were very open to the project. Looking back now if the first few would have said no I would have most likely scrapped the whole thing.

DDMB - And this led to the creation of a record label. That’s quite a bit leap isn’t it?
DP - To be honest it all felt like a very natural progression. The bands I was discovering out in the US were of excellent quality and I wanted to find a way to be able to get their music out there.

This realisation and will also coincided with me speaking to Alexis, who runs the London based community group Camden Calling. This organisation specialise in supporting homeless and ex-homeless musicians. They had fallen on hard times as they receive very little funding outside of the money they raise through their own efforts.

With these two factors buzzing around my head – the connection was soon made. So on 30th January 2012 I released ‘The State of Music Vol.1’, the first in a planned series of 5 albums, with all profits going directly to Camden Calling.

‘The State Of Music Vol.3’ is released on 29th June 2012 both physically through or digitally though Itunes, Amazon and so on.

DDMB - Also a showcase at the SXSW festival in the States...
DP - Yes, it was all very weird to be honest and came totally out of the blue. I was put in contact with a promoter based in Washington DC towards the back end of 2011 who was putting on a show at SXSW and booked a couple of State Of Music bands. In late January 2012 he contacted me and said he had two venues in Austin who really wanted to put on a State Of Music Showcase.

We landed up with 26 bands playing The State of Music Showcase across 2 venues over one day. I think it is safe to say there were mixed results due to various factors that were very much outside of my control (I was actually in New York at the time) – but it was a great opportunity and a wonderful learning curve for me and the bands.

DDMB - Why should people follow your site/label?
DP - Crikey, I don't know...I am not very good at selling. I guess if they enjoy the excitement of discovering new music and supporting unsigned and indie label music then they should hopefully like the bands I present.

DDMB - If your label was a shape what shape would it be?
DP - Perhaps a dodecahedron? Lots of different faces and angles.

DDMB – Finally, what’s coming up next for Choose My Music?
DP - Well I have ‘The State of Music Vol.3’ out on 29th June, I then need to work on Vol. 4 & 5 as I am hoping to have the whole project wrapped up by the end of the year.

I am also working on signing a couple of State of Music bands to my label and getting some bands some shows here in the UK. Sadly I cannot say much more than that at this stage. I have a couple of promoters interested and a couple of bands who want to sign with me so watch this space.

As for the website, I am about to start a European indie music adventure based around this years’ Euro 2012 competition. I have bands from all 16 participating nations on the site and we are running a very friendly knock out competition between them.

I am also working on a project about a particular city somewhere in this world that has this amazing local music scene. Things like that always interest me, and I am a strong believer that having something that creative and supportive at such a local level can only mean good things for bands and the creativity of the local community.

The city in question has a population of just 121,000 people and a host of bands and venues. When you compare that to my closest city just 10 miles away – it has a population of 230,000, hardly any venues which put on and support local, national or international music and very few bands. I couldn't even name one band in the city right now.

DDMB - Thanks for sparing us some of your time Dom.
DP - Thank you for having me. I'm always interested in speaking to people with an interest in music so it has been a pleasure. If any of your readers want to keep in touch then they can find me at @choosemymusic on Twitter or Choose My Music Records on Facebook.

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