As a label who have put out releases from two of the same artists as our own Astral Noize Records (Mister Lizard and Warren Schoenbright), it’s fair to say there’s some crossover in tastes between ourselves and London’s Hominid Sounds. Formed by people already heavily involved in the local scene, the collective specialise in eclectically weird and wonderful avant-garde, noise rock, electronic, psych and sludge tapes and records, and have been prolific in the three years since their inception, already boasting a remarkably impressive back catalogue.
We spoke to the label’s Matt Ridout to find out more about Hominid Sounds and what they have planned for the future.
Tell us a little bit about your label and how it all started.
Basically myself [Matt Ridout of Casual Nun, Dethscalator, Catalina Palms], Wayne Adams [Death Pedals, Petbrick, Big Lad, Bear Bites Horse Studios], Gordon Watson [Terminal Cheesecake, Melting Hand, Luminous Bodies] and Graham Dyer all got to talking about how we wanted to start a record label to put out some of the bands that were just starting out around us. We kept having this conversation when we’d be at gigs, and plans just sort of came together. We each invested a bit of money and divided up responsibilities, with the idea that any money we made from the releases would be reinvested into new releases. The label just had its third anniversary and we’ve managed not to bury ourselves in debt or stress along the way.
What are you currently working on?
We’ve got the new Bruxa Maria record lined up for release later this year. We’re also going to be doing a record for UKAEA as well, we’re all pretty hyped about that one too. A couple of other things we’re working on are too new to even speak about yet, but we’ve got a couple more cassette and vinyl releases lined up that are really exciting.
What was the first CD/record/tape you ever owned?
First I ever bought was a Madness cassette, think it was some sort of early compilation but I bought it because ‘Our House’ was on it. Think I must have been about six?
What is the biggest obstacle you regularly come across whilst running the label?
I guess it’s a combination of needing to be fairly conservative with money, so things like press and promotion need to be kept very much in-house, with wanting to spread the word further and reach a bigger audience for the releases we are putting out. We release records because we want them to be discovered by people who will enjoy them as much as we do, so that is always the biggest challenge.
And what would you say is the most rewarding aspect?
Every single time we get to open a box of new vinyl or cassettes and see what they look like it’s a bit of a buzz. Helping be a part of that creative process is really rewarding.
What are some of your proudest moments or achievements as a label?
There’s four of us involved so you’d probably get a different answer from each of us, but I’d say it’s a proud moment every time a new Hominid Sounds release comes out and we get to hear from people who’ve enjoyed the record, that’s never going to get boring.
How much importance do you place on physical products over digital?
For us, we’re a physical label first and foremost. We’re happy to do digital in addition to the physical releases but we’re primarily interested in having an amazing representation of a piece of music, and that’s got to be in physical form to truly enjoy the art, effort and creativity that has gone into the full package in my mind.
What do you think of the current state of underground/independent music, and where do you see it going in the future?
It’s super good at the moment, and there’s a continual flood of new releases always coming out that make it really hard to stay on top of properly (hot tip, read Noel Gardner’s columns in The Quietus as that’s where tons of my new favourite releases have come from). I think there’s always challenges for the community as a whole, and it’s difficult to say where we’ll be with social platforms in the medium term to be honest. One thing’s for sure is that DIY music always has a way to react to changes thrown at it from a technical standpoint. I guess the real threat is small venues shutting down due to noise complaints/local authority clampdowns but that’s a whole can of worms to open that can’t be addressed in a paragraph. Basically, we all need to respect the diversity of what we have, keep things inclusive, support venues, promoters, and musicians. It’s the way to keep things healthy for the future.
What do you look for in a potential signing?
We don’t sign bands as such, we work on a pretty basic level, no tying bands into any deals or anything like that. We don’t look for any particular thing outside of just being excited by the recording that we’ve been presented with. Honestly, the whole marketing or sellability thing doesn’t even come into it, if we like it we’ll put it out.
What other current labels do you admire?
Box, Rocket, Riot Season, Oaken Palace, Static Shock, Ascetic House, Alter, Sacred Bones. There’s so many. Box, Rocket and Riot Season were our go-to for advice when we started out though and they all helped us from being our own worst enemies, we’d have probably bankrupted ourselves if it weren’t for Matt Baty (Box Records) so we owe him a total debt of gratitude.
If you could have signed one band not currently on your roster, who would it be?
This one definitely would be different for each of us I reckon, but I think across the four of us we’d probably all say Lower Slaughter. They recorded their debut (and follow-up) with Wayne and we all heard it and just jaw-dropped. I deeply love No Negative and Negative Gears so either of those two I would’ve jumped at releasing as well.
What can we expect from you in the future?
More of the same really. We want to do a label t-shirt that glows in the dark too. I figure if I put this into black and white that one of us will actually have to do it now.
What advice would you give someone who’s just kickstarting their own label?
Speak to other labels for advice, honestly, there’s no reason to make the mistakes that others have when people like us are super happy to tell you about all the stupid shit we did when we got going. Other labels can point you in the right direction for pressing people, good contacts, general advice to help along the way. It’s not a competitive business, we’re all here to help each other.
What are some of your favourite tracks released on the label and why?
We Wild Blood – Haunt Yerself
The first track on the very first release we put out. Best bunch of dudes about, and easily one of the best bands in London at the mo.
Black Shape – London
It’s fucking 45 minutes long! It’s so on-point about the experience of moving to London from elsewhere.
Left Hand Cuts Off The Right – III
There’s something so beautiful about the entire LHCOTR tape, but this track in particular is just pure joy.
Blóm – Powerfrau
Total mayhem from start to finish from one of our favourite Newcastle bands.
Words: David Brand