Brighton’s bringing it back and the crowds are singing it back with independent label FatCat Records.
On the lookout since 1989, Alex Knight and Dave Cawley started up the FatCat record shop in West Sussex, which then relocated to London’s Covent Garden, selling techno, electro and electronica 12-inches. It closed down in 1997, only to move onwards and upwards into FatCat’s new record label incarnation, setting up camp in London-by-the-sea, the night-life hot spot of Brighton in 2001. With an impressive roster of clients past and present, including Sigur Ros, Animal Collective and current craze U.S. Girls, FatCat promise to listen to all demos dropped in their Soundcloud inbox on the hunt for the next electronic, pop-punk, post-rocker for their books. i-D online chat to James Vella about how you turn a start-up record store into a big-time music label.
How do you discover the majority of the new music you sign? FatCat has a very selective, but inclusive A&R policy. We listen to everything that’s sent to us as a matter of principle, and occasionally find something that warrants a second listen in our “demos in” box or our SoundCloud dropbox on the front of the website. We also get recommendations from friends and colleagues and other more traditional means, of course, but having four more or less independently-operating A&R staff and a public forum for incoming material means that the breadth of the music we hear is kept within a large and interesting range. Several artists have come to our attention through their self-recorded demos, and the demo site that we host on online compiles and collects much of the material that we have received and enjoyed.
Who are your strongest musical influences and references? As with our demo policy, the multitude of personal interests and histories means that FatCat never feels like the singular vision of one person’s influences and references. Dave Cawley and Alex Knight – the founders – came from an electronic / DJ / dance music background, having run FatCat Records (the record store), a renowned specialist in electronic music for years before forming the label. Combined with Dave Howell (A&R)’s interest in leftfield, experimental, unusual music and my experience with playing in bands and writing music, the influences and references start to become so voluminous and even at odds with each other that it’s a difficult to task to determine which have contributed to FatCat’s identity. Of course, we like to keep track of our peers – Warp, Domino, 4AD and similar – and feel a strong fraternity with labels like our own, but everything that I mention above is such a broad springboard for further interests that our label’s personality is much more patchwork than that alone.
What are some of the up-and-coming record labels you tip for 2013? Italian Beach Babes, Spectrum Spools, Not Not Fun, Werk Discs; Hozac; Enjoyment Records; Sacred Bones; Escho; Love Thy Neighbour; Calico Corp.; Modern Love.
What have you got coming up for the label in 2013? We’re really excited about our new signings. We have a few in the works – no-one I can name just yet – but there’s a couple of debut records that I think will be really well-received. We also have a few luxury reissue packages of past releases, some cool upcoming remix projects (Artwork’s remix of Breton, featured on the mix here, will be released as a full 12″ early next year) and one or two return albums from some label favourites. We tend to plan pretty far ahead, there’s already a lot that I’m looking forward to.
Text: Felicity Kinsella