Label Profile: Art Is Hard
Art Is Hard are one of our favourite labels. So much so that we asked them a few questions, then the interview kind of got lost somewhere within the bowels of our hard drives and slipped from our minds. After an unfortunate delay, here it is…
Hey David and Richard, how’s it going? What have Art is Hard Records been up to this week?
Hey. Not bad thanks, we’ve been doing the standard stuff. A mixture of part-time employment (making popcorn & pizzas), putting together the artwork for 300 7″ records in my back garden (got pretty sunburnt) and trying to remember to reply to all our emails (mainly forgetting).
Do you think the DIY scene has changed much since you first stepped into it? If so, how?
I think it seems to have grown hugely, maybe it’s just because we didn’t really know what we were doing when we started off, but there seems to be a ton more people starting labels and putting out things now. It feels more than ever that people are doing things DIY and have independently created a whole industry, completely separate and irrelevant to whatever the mainstream music industry is doing. It’s probably always been like this, but it just feels really strong at the moment.
Are these changes for the better?
I’m not sure, actually. I hope I don’t want to offend anyone saying this, as it’s not directed at anyone in particular, but just because you’ve got a bit of money and know a band with a bit of hype behind them/a couple of lo-fi recordings of them playing in their shed, doesn’t mean you should start putting out loads of tapes and call yourself a label. How are you really offering anything different to the major labels selling a standard product?
Your pizza club releases have been a huge success – so congrats on those. Did you ever expect to still be going with these, over six months in?
In total honesty, no. Like most ideas that almost seem too crazy to be good, I thought the interest would fizzle out and no way did I expect them all to sell so quickly (most of them sold out within the first minute).
It’s been really exciting getting to put out one off releases with people like Joe from Tubelord and later in the year we’re putting out one from someone I never imagined working with when we started this out. It’s not like Thurston Moore or anything, but for indie fanboys like us, it’s going to be pretty exciting.
When are you going to open your Pizza & Cassettes parlour? Just imagine the line of teenagers armed with their parent’s Walkmans!
Funny you should say that, we were really inspired by Southseas Pie and Vinyl recently and it’s always been my dream to open a music venue which also sells food and records. With Rich’s pizza making skills we’re actually looking at taking the Pizza Parlour/shop to a couple of festivals, which makes this question look a little planted now.
Big Scary Monsters pipped you to the rights for the latest Cursive record – what happened? I thought this’d be your main priority.
Haha, I’m not actually a huge fan of Cursive but I always thought Art is Hard was a fun name for a label. Kind of wish we’d chosen something else now though. When you’re telling middle-aged woman in the post office that your label is called ‘Art is Hard’ they just look at you like a pretentious loser, when really we’re just trying to poke fun at art in general.
Your tumblr is becoming more of a personal blog for the label; you’re providing a much wider viewpoint into your goings on than most record labels. Was that always your intention and should other labels be following in your footsteps?
I guess so, it’s probably a little narcissistic to think people care about what we’re up to on a weekly basis (as is all blogging). It was never a considered move to make the blog personal as I guess it’s something that just comes naturally. As a fan of labels like BSM and Sup Pop, I’ve always found it interesting to see what goes on behind the scenes. I guess it also helps people realise how tiny we are. It always makes me laugh when we get emails saying things like “for the attention of your A&R department”.
Your latest opus, Family Portrait, could well be your best yet. With so many rad artists involved, how did it come about?
As with quite a few of our releases we decided months back that we wanted to do something with all these bands. We’d been friends with Rose for ages and she helped out with artwork for a couple of our early releases. We then got to know Joanna Gruesome through The Black Tambourines and them touring together. Then it seemed towards the end of last year all these ace bands were starting to get together and appear on the same line ups so it felt only right to document it with a 7″. For some reason I just really love split releases, as a listener, it’s a really cool way to discover a couple of different bands all at once. The whole Family Portrait thing was suggested by Kristian from Yrrs (extended family.)
Family Portrait is also your tenth release. Nice milestone! How does it feel? Was the plan ever really to come this far?
It feels pretty special, we’ll be 2 years old in August and I’m already starting to feel pretty old. We’ve never really had a proper plan, it’s always just been figure out the next one or two releases and if we don’t hear anything we like for a while, we won’t put anything out just for the sake of it. The way things have been going recently, I never go more than a couple of days without hearing something I want to release. Which is nice, but also a bit of a headache trying to cram it all in.
You’ve got a lot of solid EPs, singles and compilations behind you, but no actual full-lengths. Will we be seeing any in 2012 or is a no-album policy something that’s become a niche for Art Is Hard?
Hopefully we’ll see one at some point. Up to now, it has been a conscious decision not to do an album. When we do an album we want it to be done properly, when a band records an album they put months of their life into making it as good as it can possibly be and until we can put in that same level of commitment, we’re steering clear. Ideally I’d love to put out a debut album from a band we’ve steadily worked with over a couple of years and helped to grow together. EPs and singles are more like one night stands or flings, whereas doing an album is more like getting married.
Finally; is the south west still where the best music is coming from in the UK today? GO
YES, although we do seem to have been pulled towards London and Brighton a bit recently with people heading off to uni there. The south west is still our focus though, there’s bands in Cornwall that play to packed out crowds who are truely excellent but seem to have no real desire to get stuff recorded.