DiS' regular column from Kev Douch of independent label Big Scary Monsters.
As I've mentioned once or twice before, 2008 ended in slightly unfortunate circumstances. The recession was taking hold everywhere you turned and Pinnacle - a partner of our distributor, Shellshock - went into administration, causing one or two sleepless nights and some difficult decisions to be made. However, by the time the clock ticked over to 2009, my glass was back to being half full. A romantic sense of the hard-working creatives rising to the top - whilst the by-numbers, copycats were falling off the bottom - prevailed. Everyone knew it would be a long, hard twelve months ahead but I had an image of 2010 being the shining light at the end of the tunnel. The promised land. And now that we're on our way there, be it the Utopian paradise I dreamt of or not, I'm going to remember this year for one thing ahead of anything else: the DIY uprising.
Big Scary Monsters Records has always been a very do-it-yourself setup. I, like many others in the surrounding, similar boats, sign the bands, run the website, help book tours, organise press, post out mailorders and everything inbetween. But this year things just seem to have taken a step further into the unknown. I'm looking around and seeing everything as a blank canvas; a world of possibilities, fun and new challenges.
For instance, a few months ago I was dragged to an arts and crafts show at the NEC in Birmingham, which I came away from with hundreds of small, CD sized envelopes that later became compilation sleeves. This past weekend, I went back to my parents house to finally clear my junk out of their garage. In amongst the rubbish I found boxes of forgotten old BSM CDs, which can be sent out free with mailorders, and 90's cassette albums which can be recorded over with selections of our new favourite bands for anyone who cares to take one. Next month, we're releasing an EP from Calories which will come in a sleeve made of denim, ripped from old jeans out of own wardrobes and bags of unsellables from charity shops in the Midlands. Suddenly there's no such thing as trash, everything has a purpose and potential.
Shoes And Socks Off
SASO is the solo project of former Meet Me In St Louis frontman and Shield Your Eyes bassist, Tobias Hayes. Since December 2008 we've already released two albums; the first was recorded acoustically one afternoon whilst sitting on a chest of drawers in his bedroom, the second (a re-working of the debut) featured contributions from friends across the country, lending their time and talents for free. Before this year is out, a third record (another full band, multi-location piece of work) will surface. All three releases are made to order. Toby designs the artwork, a friend of ours handles the printing, then I cut, fold and package them. This project isn't about magazine coverage, radio plays, first week sales or worldwide tours, it's simply making music and remembering why we first chose our respective jobs. When you take the (often self-inflicted) pressures away, you start to realise that things aren't so bad after all.
With recording equipment, printing and manufacturing facilities, digital distribution channels, a wealth of promotional possibilities and a 24/7 online connection with anyone, anywhere in the world at your finger tips, there's no longer a need to rely on anybody else to help you out, let alone pay out frightening and risky lump sums of hard-earned money. It's the perfect time to do it yourself.