In the DIY scene, subculture inspired labels are one of the most important outlets for new artists. Small DIY labels like Roadkill Records hold a pure passion for new music at the heart of their brand, putting out amazing releases regularly on CD, cassette and vinyl format. They also run events in East London, and have a reputation as one of the coolest and most hip labels to work with
With a focus on garage, surf, and psych music, Roadkill Records also put out podcasts on Mixcloud, featuring exclusive in depth interviews and mixes. The label has previously hosted released from artists the like of Gaygirl, Weird Sex and Dirty White Fever, and their current roster features After London, Projector, Muertos, The Sly Persuaders, and Enemy Of The People
We sat down for an in-depth with label founders and all round legends Josh and Chris, who have also curated an exclusive playlist for your listening pleasure
Tell us a bit about Roadkill Records; what sort of music do you put out, and on what formats? Has Roadkill changed much since you initially set the label up?
Josh: Roadkill formed out of a monthly live music night and we began focused on garage-rock with cassettes and compilations. It’s changed a bit over the 4 years we’ve been doing it, I’d like to think musically we’ve diversified as well as expanded our reach. Certainly the gigs are only getting busier which is excellent to see (or at least they were). Our thing is we like to work collaboratively with our bands, so we pool our collective resources and join teams very much on equal footing, and try to provide as much guidance in any areas needed.
More recently we’ve released a selection of vinyl; both the new Enemy Of The People and Sly Persuaders records were printed to environmentally friendly recycled wax, which come in a variety of colours. We’ve also released vinyl for Muertos and Projector and we still do the odd tape as we did for our newest signing, After London.
Chris: While as Josh said the label started out leaning heavily towards garage/rock/surf/etc it’s really an open book now. We’ve both got very varied music tastes so wanted to reflect that, and ultimately wanted to work with artists we love, but we still try to retain a relatively consistent attitude or aesthetic.
DIY record companies and independent venues seem to go hand in hand. Can you explain the importance to companies such as yourself of DIY grassroots venues?
Chris: I don’t really go to that many big gigs to be honest. I much prefer DIY venues – not from some inverted snobbery, but more from a sense of belonging and community, and the excitement of seeing something fresh that isn’t necessarily a scripted tour set. Many of these venues I know as a paying customer first, and there’s something special about putting on a gig at a venue where you’ve seen some of your favourite gigs and had some of your best nights out with friends.
Josh: The relationship for us is very symbiotic, we work with these venues to create quality nights which help us to spread the word and establish a brand. Roadkill is definitely a live operation, and always will be. It’s live that you really connect with bands and as a community, and a lot of our sales and support comes from that community. We’ve been lucky enough to work with some incredible venues like The Shacklewell Arms, The Victoria, Paper Dress Vintage, Aces & Eights and loads more, and they’ve all been very supportive and trusted us.
I don’t think we would be doing what we do if it wasn’t for grassroots venues. There’s nowhere I’d rather see a band. It enforces a sense of purpose and belonging in an industry that can be cruel. Without feeling that connection with your local community (one that actively creates jobs) and having a positive effect with what you do, we’d all just be staring at Spotify stats. It would be heartless. And upcoming bands put in so much work and see so little validation, it’s important to be able to put them in front of 100 or 200 people who genuinely care about what they’re doing.
You’ve worked on some amazing releases in the past. What’s been your favourite project to work on?
Josh: That’s a tough question. I have some personal highlights. Both compilation cassettes took a long time to curate but when you look back at all the bands who pulled together to be a part of them it’s quite heart-warming. For the most part the bands involved are all thriving still too, some are success stories now. Obviously it’s always a big deal when you do a vinyl release with a band as well, the debut Sly Persuaders album was a huge success and was just a great experience all round. There was some real hype built around the debut Projector EP too. And, they’re not releases but we’ve been building up our summer weekend event for some time and they’re always massive. It’s when I feel everyone really comes together which is what it’s all about.
Chris: A big release always has a lot of work involved in the build up. All of them are satisfying and challenging in different ways. The Sly Persuaders first album was the first full release I worked on really, so that is special for me (also as the singer in the band…), but I’ve probably enjoyed working on the vinyl releases most just because there’s always a lot at stake with those and it’s really rewarding to get the finished article.
What would the dream project for Roadkill Records be?
Josh: I would love to do a much larger event, multi-venue with some big names attached that we can put our own bands next to. I think for any record label it would be something to get its bands the recognition they deserve, so maybe selling out a larger venue or playing to a massive festival crowd. Hosting a tent at a festival perhaps.
Josh and Chris have curated a lovely playlist for us, the tracks chosen a genuine testament to the heart and overall vibe of Roadkill:
Josh: So we do a monthly podcast together, so we’re used to making a ton of playlists and on Mixcloud we talk about new releases, as well as news and film, so I’ve included a handful of my favourite new tracks as well as some from our own bands too.
Chris: For the podcast I usually pull out a few older tracks – sometimes relatively obscure tracks, sometimes just stuff I’m enjoying at the moment that I want to share, so I’ve tried to stick to that vibe here.
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© Photos: Chris Patmore