[sic] Magazine

Label focus – Club AC30

Club AC30 is both record label and club night based in London. Here is a label [sic] loves. A label with an ethic and that ethic is to help the deserving. You will often find AC30 acts on album-by-album deals. They could have been called temporary residence only somebody got there first. Never mind, AC30 will do just fine.

AC30 first came to my attention a couple of years back when I was interviewing electronica act Jatun . At the time they were mulling over contributing something to the Shoegaze tribute album Never Lose That Feeling. (I think I suggested Hitcher? It never happened. They should’ve listened to me.) The next thing that impressed me was AC30’s support of Jeniferever after the Swedes were twice left homeless, first by the collapse of Drowned In Sound and then let down a second time by a different label (who shall remain nameless)who’d promised to release the Nangijala EP. AC30 provided the means to give that EP a release, and prove Jeniferever still ‘had it’.

The Jeniferever example was just one in a succession of interventions with bands and artists that I tend to admire myself. Whilst, over time the likes of Epic 45 , Vessels , The Twilight Sad , Hearts Of Black Science , i concur , Adam Franklin , Cranes , A Place to Bury Strangers , Chapterhouse , Engineers , Library Tapes , Televise , Pains of being pure at heart , Redjetson , Sophia and many more besides have all graced the Club AC30 live events. Together with the aforementioned i concur, AC30 can currently boast Ringo Deathstarr , Deep Cut , The Zephyrs , Dorias Baracca , Malory , Air Formation and the superlative Exit Calm as regulars. I’m sure you’ll agree that’s quite an eclectic roster.

To find out more about AC30 philosophy, artists and activities I spoke to Robin Allport from the label.

Promotional Gig Poster

Spaceman: Why did you start Club AC30?

Robin : We started Club AC30 in 2004 after going to a number of gigs in London where not only were the support bands terrible, but also the DJs between acts. We then decided to start releasing split singles along with the gigs we were putting on, and the label and live nights grew from there.

Spaceman: You have a love of Shoegaze don’t you? A lot of your acts are either the new wave of shoegazing, (nu-gaze if you wish), indietronica or the actual shoegaze artists themselves in whatever current guise. E.g. Mark Gardner, Adam Franklin etc

Robin : Aye, you’re not wrong there.

Spaceman: How does your label differ from others? Are there any distinguishing characteristics that give your label its own identity?

Robin : Like a number of smaller labels out there, we just believe in everything that we release. We only put out stuff that we genuinely love, regardless of whether it might sell or not. And because we also like really noisy “shoegaze” stuff, it sometimes pigeonholes us a bit…

Spaceman: How did the ‘album-by-album’ deal thing start? Was that a conscious policy or just how things turned out?

Robin : It’s the only way we can operate in the current climate. It is so difficult to tell nowadays if anything will sell, hence we need to be very careful about committing to anything with bands that we may not be able to deliver. If you think that roughly 100 copies of an album are downloaded illegally for every 1 that we sell, you might see why this is a necessity.

Spaceman: How difficult was it to get your label established and what does it take to survive and prosper? Is there any money to be made in running a label?

Robin : It has taken a lot of persistence to get established, persistence and money. It is however very possible to make money as a label as long as you don’t blow it all on pluggers and expensive videos. But then, as the label grows you start to realise that pluggers and videos are both necessary things – you just have to be very careful to not get carried away.

Spaceman: What’s your policy on product? Physical or download?

Robin : Both. Unless you’re doing it on a tiny scale, and vinyl only… you need the digital product to prop up the physical sales nowadays. We have never released anything digital only though – I personally don’t believe that is a product at all. A label isn’t a label if you only release digitally – it’s a blog.

Ringo Deathstarr

Spaceman: When signing new acts, are there any particular attributes or factors that you look for? Are you thinking about selling? Or is it more a taste thing?

Robin : We just all have to love it. There are 3 of us running the label, and if all 3 of us give it the thumbs up, then as long as we have time and money to do it, we’ll do it.

Spaceman: In Ringo Deathstarr and Air Formation you have two contrasting new shoegaze acts. The former are at the reverb-heavy, JAMC end of the spectrum while the latter are prettier and a bit more reflective. How did you find Ringo Deathstarr, who are Austin-based, right? SxSW?

Robin : The shoegaze community is a very small one, so we kept a close eye on Ringo Deathstarr for a couple of years before approaching them about doing an album. They are so incredibly good live too.

Spaceman: Air Formation are from the London catchment area. You must know those guys fairly well?

You made me realise - Air Formation

Robin : Air Formation are one of the reasons we started Club AC30. It was their song “Slow You Down” that made me realise that there were artists out there making great new shoegaze songs. They are good friends of ours now, and are an incredibly talented bunch.

Spaceman: Can I just say a personal ‘thank you’ for releasing Nangijala EP. For me Jeniferever are one of the few bands today worth living for. Cheers for helping them out.

Robin : You’re welcome.

Spaceman: Why didn’t you continue the relationship with Jeniferever?

Robin : Another label stepped in and offered them a deal before we had the chance. However, we were not really in the situation at the time to do anything more than the Nangijala 10”.

Jeniferever forever

Spaceman: If money was no object, which artist or band would you most like to work with and why?

Robin : Tricky question that, as I’d only want to work with bands who really want to work with us. That said, it would be rather fun if a reformed Slowdive, Ride, Kitchens Of Distinction or Adorable asked me to put out their new album.

Spaceman: No chance of Kitchens, unfortunately, according to Patrick. What advice would you give to wannabe label owners?

Robin : Don’t expect to get any money back from releasing something.

Spaceman: What do you consider to be your label’s proudest achievement and why?

Robin : Still being here after 6 years.

Spaceman: What’ll be your next release and when?

Robin : Exit Calm’s new single and album, out on May 3rd and May 17th.

Spaceman: Yes, let’s talk about Exit Calm, one of my ‘ones to watch’ for a couple of years now. When did they first come to your attention? Did you want them to sign right away?

Exit Calm - Britain needs this band.

Robin : They first came to my attention as a previous incarnation, Lyca Sleep. Since then they’ve got a new singer, and their songwriting has stepped up to a new level. We gave them their first London show as Exit Calm, and after the first bar of the first song, I wanted to work with them.

Spaceman: Yeah, Lyca Sleep were decent but now as Exit Calm there’s that x factor. [sic] is always on the lookout for a decent recommendation, who’s on the tip of your tongue at the moment?

Robin : Saw a band at the excellent by:larm festival the other week called The Megaphonic Thrift. They were superb, very very noisy in a Sonic Youth style. They will do well.

Spaceman: Finally, in five years time, where do you see the label?

Robin : Still releasing records by bands we love.

[sic] Magazine thanks Robin Allport and everyone at Club AC30. Watch for the Exit Calm releases in May. Britain needs this band. You heard it here first.

Club AC30