Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Jon Horner

You'll know Jon Horner's work already, if not from his Sleeping In The Dirt comic strip Sidewalk magazine then perhaps from his monthly strip in Thrasher, or even his comic in music-nerd bible Record Collector. It could be that you know his art from the boards, t-shirts and wheels of John Rattray's lifestyle/streetwear super-brand The Predatory Bird. Howsoever you've been touched by Jon's wit, penmanship and imagination, you can be assured that everything he draws, he draws for fun - truly a skateboarder's approach to art. Without ever having to dabble in the dark art of self-promotion, Jon's cartoons and caricatures have found their way into magazines and skateboards here and across the Atlantic. With his profound knowledge and appreciation of skateboard history and Alan Partridge, we're lucky to have him - and since he's one of the most humble people you could meet, we were even luckier to get him to agree to this interview. As you'll see, we're very glad we did. You can find vast amounts more of his work here and here.

Jon Horner by Andy Smoke

What's your art background? Did you study art, design, graphics..?
I've got an art GCSE! That's it as far as 'formal training' goes though. My training was years spent copying things from the Beano and trying to draw the Thunderbirds.

When did you start skateboarding?
Around 2001ish I think. It was in the Tony Hawk boom. My brother skated and it looked like fun so I got a Hudson complete from JJB Sports for £20. The board had been shrink wrapped before the trucks were attached, and as I didn't know how to take the trucks off I spent hours trying to pick all the little bits of plastic out from around the bolts.

Did one lead to the other?
Not really, but it definitely helped keep my interest. I'd spend longer looking at shop adverts than the photos in skate mags. Looking back I guess it was the tail end of the hand drawn cartoon graphics boom, World and Blind had been sold but Marc McKee was still doing incredible drawings for them. Flip had some incredible graphics then too, it probably helped that most of their team were basically cartoon characters.

Mark McKee kind of dropped out not long after that, what other skateboard graphic artists did you get into? It maybe wasn't the most obvious era to be inspired by... Did you start getting interested in older stuff? You seem to have a pretty vast appreciation of the history of it all.
Enjoi was just starting back then, I think Marc Johnson was doing the art, there were a lot of Saul Bass inspired graphic s that were great, the Heroin illustrator series were always amazing too. As far as particular artists go, at the time I had no idea who actually did anything! The internet was like a little broken down hutch compared to the vast rabbit hole it is now so there wasn't really a way that I knew of to find out who actually did anything, or really to find old board graphics. Document used to interview artists, so that was always interesting. I remember trying to copy one of the drawings in the Jamie Bridson interview.

What's your day job?
I was hired to design a range of children's characters. Basically, my job was to invent the characters (how they look, what they're like, their world etc) and to work with other people on making toys, computer games, books and that sort of thing. The project is still relatively new, I've been working on it for about a year now and it's starting to come together. It's beginning to go from ideas on paper to actual physical things. Before that I worked at HMV. 

Do the people at your work know about your other life as a skateboard illustrator?
Haha, yeah! The day job's only part time and I work from home so as long as everything gets done it's all good!

'Where's Penny'. Click for bigger and more.

How long did the 'Where's...' posters take? I imagine you sitting up for nights on end surrounded by hundreds of magazines - was it like that?
They took forever! I don't really want to know exactly how long because it will probably just make me miserable. There were a few magazines but mostly it was just finding things online. I watched a lot of old videos on YouTube and logged an obscene amount of hours scrolling through the Chrome Ball Incident. That was the fun bit. Mostly they came together gradually over time but there was one all-nighter. When I did Where's Chin it was just one massive drawing on 9 sheets of A4 paper held together with sellotape so the whole thing was pretty precarious. I was moving flat and I wanted to be able to take it apart before I moved it so I stayed up all night surrounded by boxes listening to the Tina Fey audio book (which is excellent) and drawing.

What medium do you work in?
The most basic one! I plan things in pencil on cheap A4 paper, go over them with drawing pens, rub out the pencil marks, scan them and colour them in with MS Paint.

Rejected Factory Sleeve Designs. Click for bigger and more.

What artists do you rate just now?
Andy Smoke, obviously. 'His Board Had No Pop' is one of my favourite things (it's at littleliedown.wordpress.com). Everything Mike O'Shea does is amazing. There are loads of people! Phil Morgan, James Jarvis, Ryan Salter, Paul Parker, Pete Fowler, Rob Mathieson, Mr Gauky... I could probably go on for a while...  

Would you be doing what you do now if it wasn't for Gilbert Shelton?
Ha, I was never that into Shelton, his art is always great though. When I was younger it was the Beano, Thunderbirds, Asterix and Wallace and Gromit then the Simpsons and later I discovered underground comics and got very into R Crumb, Peter Bagge, Joe Matt, Art Spiegelman, Harvey Kurtzman, guys like that. Basically, anyone who draws properly and writes funny stories. Life's too short to read turgid crap about feelings. Although, having said that, Chris Ware is incredible. A bit of melancholy is fine in his hands.

 More Man Cat here.

Loads of boards get re-issued these days. Do you think that's because the graphics were better then? Rather than just logo boards...
Hmm. Maybe. I don't know if anyone will ever be as good as Sean Cliver, Marc McKee and Jim Phillips, they were the right guys in the right place at the right time. And it's true that some companies put out some awful rubbish these days (and not just logo boards), but there are still amazing new graphics coming out all the time. I think the reissue market is a lot more to do with nostalgia, there are a lot of men 'of a certain age' who have glowing memories of happy childhoods when skateboarding was all that they cared about. Now they have jobs and mortgages and responsibilities and reissued boards let them buy back a little piece of that glow and hang it on their wall. I totally get it, I bought a copy of the first Beano I ever owned from eBay! Also, it's probably pretty helpful financially for certain companies who's years of relevance are in the past.

Alan graphics.

Magazines have always been a big part of the skateboard aesthetic. You must love magazines.
I'm such a sucker for actual physical things you can pick up and hold in your hands. Obviously it's pretty indisputable that in many ways the internet is 'a good thing' and as a method for distribution it's incredibly exciting. But as a medium for holding the written word, photographs or comic strips I don't think anything will ever be able to beat a piece of paper. Going back and flicking through old magazines is so evocative of a time and a place in your life, and that ability to go back and wallow a bit is something that's much more difficult online with the constant screaming emphasis for the newest, most excitingest shiniest thing. I really hope the days of the printed magazine aren't numbered. I never had much access to American magazines aside from a few issues here and there, but between Sidewalk and Document we've always been pretty well catered to over here.

 A strip Jon did, featuring characters by Andy Smoke, and based upon the Bite My Wire interview with Jereme. Click for full size.

How did you come to work with Sidewalk, and how did you come to work with Thrasher and Record Collector?
Andy Horsley changed my life. After finishing uni there weren't really any 'proper' jobs around so I decided I had nothing to lose by just doing the thing I most wanted to do rather than something I thought would be more obviously useful in the quest to be employable. I'd tried being a journalist for a while, and it was fun but my heart wasn't really in it, although I did get to review the film 'Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus' for Time Out. That's a film about which dissertations should be written. It was also really hard to find anyone willing to pay real money, so I figured if I wasn't getting paid anyway I should be getting paid nothing to do what I really wanted to do. 

What I really wanted to do was make comics, so I made one. At the time I was horrendously naive over-ambitious, so I planned out an eleven part epic called 'Gentlemanly Conduct' about a UK skate team on tour in 2002. It was vaguely inspired by the Vans 'No Home Comforts Tour' video, which is one of Andy Evans' many masterpieces. About six months after starting work on it issue one was finished and I sent it out to pretty much every magazine and skateboard company I could think of. Andy got back to me and started giving me bits and bobs to do and it went from there. There was a Big Push DVD cover, some stuff for the Buyer's Guide and the regular strip. The pitch was 'It's like Lost, but with the history of skateboarding'. As I result, I've been making it up as I go along. Getting work from Sidewalk was the first thing that really made me consider illustration as a thing that could potentially be a job, so I started looking for part time work to subsidise my hours spent drawing. 
The Thrasher connection is all John's doing. He sends me a script, I send him a comic and he has all the dealings with them. 

Bob Dylan Supervillian. Bigger and more here.

The Record Collector strip came from a comic I wrote with my brother called 'Bob Dylan Supervillain'. He's a massive music nerd and a musician himself (look for Syd R. Duke on YouTube) and we wrote this ridiculous strip about Dylan going electric with the help of Allen Ginsberg to fight Mr Tambourine Man. It was originally written with the Stool Pigeon in mind, they had a great comics section, but when we never heard back from them I sent it out to a few magazines just out of curiosity. Record Collector got back in touch saying they didn't have space for a full page comic strip every month, but asked us to pitch a few ideas for shorter strips. We did, they liked them and it's gone from there.

Was the Crayon board pre-Predatory Bird? How did that come about? Did you skate the board yourself?
That was a direct result of the 'Where's Chin' poster. Dykie sent me an email and it was his idea to do something similar but with Korahn and his friends and famous Bristol spots. I was so stoked to be asked, Korahn is an amazing skater and Crayon have some serious heavy hitters doing graphics for them, so to even be considered was amazing. I didn't ever skate one myself, it was a bit wide for me! Having someone make something you've drawn into a skateboard is the best feeling. 

Do you art types all hang out?
Andy and I have regular important high-level executive business meetings to discuss implementation strategies for Class IIB. These often take place at the kerb bit at Clapham skatepark, the crusty old banks at Royal Oak or in the pub. 

You drew up a rad graphic for the new Blueprint. Do you think they should have ditched the spray hearts or do you reckon it's a legacy the new guys should keep up?

I'm trying my best to get hired by Bizarroprint. No luck so far though. It's all a bit sad what's happened there, isn't it? Everything I know about exactly what happened comes from internet rumours and hearsay (Myleene loves industry gossip), but it seems like the brand's been in a bit of a tailspin for a little while due to various factors and now it's crashed down to earth in the Canadian tundra. I suppose it's a good thing that what Dan Magee and Paul Shier created was seen as worth saving, but this lumbering dreadlocked Frankenstein's monster is fast becoming a cruel and incontinent taunt to the past.

In a way, maybe it's exciting that Britain can add a brand to the Blind/World legend of companies that were once great and are now a bit awful, but it must be pretty horrendous for Dan that they've not mixed up the graphics a bit. I mean, aside from the always incredible team, the first thing that Blueprint brings to mind is an aesthetic, and as far as I can tell, that was entirely deliberate and all Dan's doing. It must be pretty grim to see something you've worked so hard at and poured so much of your soul into being hacked up and shuffled about and slapped with a rasta colourway. From the graphics I've seen so far, and particularly that monstrosity of a cruiser board, it's like they've got all the pieces but they don't quite understand how they go together, why they would go together and why anyone would even want them to in the first place. But stick them together they do, with all the artistry of a drunk assembling an Ikea bookshelf. 
But maybe it's a good thing. I think we can now all agree that Blueprint is no longer worthy of our attention, and perhaps that will give some other UK companies a bit of breathing space. Now that the Death Star has been blown up, the ewoks can all dance around a bit. If the decline of Blueprint was in any way responsible for the birth of the National and the existence of those RA Brown painting decks then it wasn't an entirely bad thing.

Triangles in 2013: Post-post-modern, or tired and tedious?
I've got a theory about Palace and it's quite highfalutin (which is just a pretentious way of saying pretentious).
Plato had a theory that everything has a form. I tried explaining what this means in my own words but it wasn't working out so I'm going to do some route one philosophy student work and copy and paste from Encarta:

"Forms are the essences of various objects: they are that without which a thing would not be the kind of thing it is. For example, there are countless tables in the world but the Form of tableness is at the core; it is the essence of all of them. A Form is an objective 'blueprint' of perfection."

My theory is that Palace is incredibly close to the form of 'Palace skateboard company'. It seems like every single decision that they make is made on the basis of 'is that what we want to do?'. It sounds obvious, but it's pretty rare that you don't see something that's been second guessed in some way, whether it's to try and broaden its appeal and shift more units or to take the edges off an idiosyncratic idea that might be unpopular or controversial. It's especially rare in a company that's actually got popular and successful. There seems to be no great strategy in place at Palace other than, in the words of Nuit, "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law" and I think that's pretty admirable. 
Having said all that, they're so tempting to make fun of! As far as I can tell, there are two main reasons for that. Firstly, they've got a really strong graphic identity (and rest assured I hate myself for using that phrase) which makes them easy to parody because it's very straightforward to make it clear that what you're doing is a Palace reference. And secondly, they're massively beloved of Sugar Ape readers who are nature's easiest and most deserving target.

John Rattray bonus!

Hello John. Tell us about Jon.
Jon sent me, via Gmail, an illustration he did, fully finished and coloured, of Carl Weather's character Dillon, from Predator. The illustration depicted Dillon, screaming on his knees on the jungle floor, his arm, severed at the shoulder is being carried skyward, assault rifle still blasting, by a bold and ravenous gull.
The accompanying note said, "I've been very much enjoying the blog lately and in a moment of inspiration(?) I drew this. It's yours if you want it."
I did want it. This was the greatest piece of unsolicited mail I've ever received. So far it's a tee shirt.

Not long after that, on Instagram, he posted a picture of some graphic ideas with portraits and quotes from Bertrand Russell, Hunter S. Thompson, George Orwell and Kurt Vonnegut. I hit him up about the fact that these should be somehow manufactured. It's a project that remains unrealised - as lots do - but it showed that we were on the same page as far as heroes go.

Anyway, a couple of weeks after that there was some news coverage of Dutch artist Bart Jansen's taxidermied cat helicopter. Jon posted a picture of that and I commented that "I just can't tell if I really do like that or not", I've still never double tapped that image. Jon replied, "I know what you mean. It's the expression on his face that sways it for me. Plus, he was named after one of the Wright brothers. And it would be really fun to take it to Trafalgar Square and blow some pigeons minds." He was selling me on the idea that although morbid, it was also awesome. I already knew morbid things can be awesome from growing up watching Evil Dead and listening to the drum check with Pete Sandoval skit. I told Jon that "it certainly adds a new dimension to the whole predatory bird thing". That's when he suggested, "The villain in The Predatory Bird comic would fly around in this".
"You make it and I'll sell it and this time next year we'll be millionaires!" I said. I've never been sure if he got the Only Fools and Horses reference there but he did agree that "Unimaginable riches surely beckon".
That's pretty much it. We've been collaborating on this comic story since then. We email and occasionally Skype to talk about it. It's been a lot of fun, Thrasher's been running it and hopefully we'll adapt it into a little stand alone thing at some point.

Andy Smoke Bonus!

Jon and his pal Andy Smoke are both managing directors of the UK's leading skateboard sticker company, Class IIB. Dismantling the snobbery of the skateboard industry one adhesive at a time, their limited edition collaborative cartoons can be admired (and purchased) here: http://class2b.bigcartel.com/ You might have seen Andy's drawings illustrating our Bite My Wire music page, you might remember the board graphic he did for rooftop-preacher and self-confessed sexual superhero Jereme Rogers, or you might even have noticed the excellent drawing of Jon he knocked out to illustrate this very interview; so we asked Andy about his mate. Andy's drawings, photographs, mixes and other art can be found here.

How do you know Jon?
I met Jon through a mutual affection for Clockwork Orange banks and the Beano. I think Class 2B was born out of skating the bottom step of Southbank 7 one day. And anyway, having drawings printed up into stickers rules!

Congratulations on getting a drawing on a Jereme Rogers board.

The Selfish graphic competition was funny - the other entrants were excellent. I'm still amazed the boards ever saw the light of day. J Cass may be manically insane, but he put one of my drawings on a board. Stoked!

How did you get into drawing?

Alex Moul was getting a lot of coverage in the first magazines I bought. Moul was on Deathbox then - a company that inspired not only with their skaters, but with their twisted cartoon graphics. New Deal and World were also making great graphics - I'm still stoked on Marc McKee and Sean Cliver's art. Needless to say, I was hooked.

And how do you go about it?

Most of my stuff starts with an idea in the bath, followed by a damp paper sketch. Sometimes drawings get completely re-worked in Photoshop; other times they get inked and coloured by hand.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Mat Fowler and Spillage Fete Records

From his part as co-producer of pivotal UK skate video Playing Fields to his current role as a graphic designer with Playarea (sharing an office with legendary UK skate photographer Wig Worland, no less), and running a boutique independent record label with his friend Matt Hunt, it's fair to say Mat Fowler likes to keep himself busy. Since curating the first Blank Tape Spillage Fete event in 2006, the exhibitions have evolved into Spillage Fete Records, one of the most interesting labels - or communities - straddling the boundaries of art and music today, with artists/exhibitors/musicians all being encouraged to provide music, artwork and performance on their own terms. The DIY label releases beautifully experimental other-worldly music on vinyl, cassette and sometimes even CD, packaged in (and amongst) some very fine artwork; recently The Wire magazine described the label as "a delightful outpouring of outsider audiovisual art" while The Guardian declared it "A lo-fi celebration". Mat gave us his time to tell the story.

Mat Fowler's Playing Fields section, 1997

What did you do after Playing Fields? It must have been such an all-consuming task, what did you do afterwards? Were there other projects you could move on to, or did you take it easy?
Playing Fields was the last independent skate film I was involved in. Three years before that, myself, Mark Channer and Mike Manzoori made a film called Jello. All three of us had just left school and were studying at Amersham College on the outskirts of London, I was doing art while Mark and Mike were studying film and media. We hand duped around fifteen VHS copies and distributed them very carefully! I think Ben Powell might have the last copy left standing, my own nurtured mold in my cellar under the house! Jello documented some great footage, especially of a very young Tom Penny and Toby ShaulI. I continued skating up until my late twenties, at which point I became self-employed and starting creating design work under the name Playarea. Being self-employed allowed me to start focusing on my design work as well as playing music which had become a real passion since easing off skateboarding.

Did you feel you'd reached a bit of a peak in skateboard film-making with Playing Fields? I don't know where you could have gone from there anyway, it was quite 'defining'.
Looking back it definitely felt like a journey, a one-off project, at least for myself and I think for Ben, Mark and Frank also. My mum had passed away that same year and being involved in Playing Fields, spending time and forming bonds with Mark and Frank really helped me through a challenging time in my life. When it came to editing, I was interested in the final film, but the year spent making it was an incredible time where I had the privilege to meet some great people and get to know our small Island that much better. I met up with Frank recently to pass on the original master tape of Playing Fields - which had been in my dad's garage for over fifteen years - and it was so good to see him, he's still killing it on a skateboard!
'Snowsteps', by Bons

How far down the line did the idea for a label come along? Was it always your plan to take such time and care with the music you released - and its presentation - or was that a by-product of the artists you ended up working with? Tell us about it.
The 'Spillage Fete' record label was a result of a pipe dream both myself and musical collaborator Matt Hunt dreamt up called 'The Blank Tape Spillage Fete'. I had becomes friends with Matt while we were both studying at Norwich Art School and when we eventually moved back to London we shared mix tapes and started recording music together under the moniker of Bons. Both myself and other Matt loved the warm, and sometimes unpredictable, sound quality of tape and the four-track was our own weapon of choice when it came to recording. So we came up with an idea for an sound/art exhibition based around our passion for the cassette.
We invited musicians making art - and artists making music - to compile and create their own musical/sound material and record it onto a cassette tape, then asked them to produce the artwork to accompany their cassettes. The brief was left intentionally open, leaving the participants to explore all musical possibilities as well as creating artwork that could transcend the plastic cassette case. The varied and eclectic contributions formed the content of the first Blank Tape Spillage Fete exhibition at the Cecil Sharpe House in 2006, where visitors could listen to the cassettes at individual listening posts whilst also being able to peruse the artwork. A week long exhibition culminated in an evening of performances from selected participants. The project was a happy success for everyone involved and we ran a second exhibition with new contributors in 2009. These contributors included Luke Abbot, David Thomas Broughton, Sue Tompkins, Luke Fowler, Kirsten Ketsjer, Mike Lindsay of Tunng, Mac McCaughan from Superchunk, Merge and Half Cousin. After the two exhibitions it seemed a natural progression to release music by ourselves and people closely involved with the Blank Tape Spillage Fete projects. The name 'Spillage Fete' pays homage to the eclectic sounds of the fete, the spills of the tape, but also to emphasise a village community spirit of people making and doing.

Contributions from Luke Abbot & Marcus Oakley for the Blank Tape Spillage Fete exhibitions.

What about the other events you do?
Since the exhibitions we held in 2006 and 2009 we've also curated a number of evenings showcasing a line-up of artists who have released on the label or taken part in the exhibitions. Due to the often organic nature of these 'happenings', we label these gig nights as Spillage Fete 'Occasionals'. We've also released our first publication under the same name - 'Occasional' - which features artwork from label artists and a sampler CD.

It's a beautiful artifact, yet very few people will see it. Would you consider doing bigger runs, or do you like that it's so limited?
I think for us the small runs are almost a necessity, cost being one reason and the other is actually getting the things we make into the wider world! We don't run the label through any distribution agents, we do it all ourselves, so our market is pretty niche, at least for now. Doing limited runs also allows us to hand customise releases which we could never do if the quantities were really high. The artifact is really important to us, there is so much 'stuff' in the world, that we hope our time, effort and goodwill puts something positive out there.

Harry Deerness live recording

Do you think skate videos today have such longevity, what with file sharing and so on? Would Playing Fields have ended up such an important part of UK skateboarding if it was released on iTunes? You obviously value the physical artifact, rather than things existing just on a hard drive.
I never thought about that, interesting. Since Frank Stephens is re-releasing Playing Fields on behalf of all of us this year, I think he would have more to say on this topic, now having to reconsider the best options to get it out there in a digital age. Although a fan of physical artifacts, I think it would still have the same impact, mostly due to the collective and community driven feel of the film. It encompassed and documented the whole UK skate scene at that particular time and did so
with the pure blind faith, positivity and good will of everyone involved, void of money or sponsors. But yes, I am interested in the artifact and document, especially within music. It feels like archeology to me when rifling through record racks, and I think the artwork chosen to represent someone's music is equally significant and intriguing.

A Blank Tape Spillage Fete listening post

Could the aesthetic of modern skateboard videos ever match stuff like the old Powell videos? Or the first three Alien Workshop videos? Can that be replicated these days?
That's a hard one to say, I'm not up to date with modern skate videos but I should imagine that people could create films to rival those old classics. I think it's hard though, as skateboarding in those old Powell days was at such an early stage that those videos were introducing huge leaps in what was physically possible on a skateboard, as opposed to variations on existing tricks. Although I do think the accessibility of modern technology, like phones and internet combined with cine, Hi-8 and video could create some really interesting results. I'm interested in using 'generic' mediums in unique ways, there's a lot of potential and things seems to be really opening up.

Do you see parallels between self-producing a skateboard video and starting a DIY record label? To an extent both are based on hard work, little reward and trusting others to perform...
The motivations are definitely similar, with Playing Fields and Spillage Fete, and
the emphasis was and always will be the process of creating and releasing something you feel is both positive and authentic. When we made Playing Fields we were unsponsored, signing on and using affordable low budget Hi8 cameras, we saw it as an opportunity to create a complete scene video without any bias from the skateboard industry. The limitations of both money and equipment were often more a catalyst for creativity and ingenuity than a hindrance. The label runs off not such a different philosophy, the rewards being the creative process, the journey involved and the relationships that follow. Both myself and Matt work full time and the label runs parallel to this, it's self funded and all sales go directly towards future releases. Most of the artists and musicians involved in Spillage Fete are friends or extended family met through the Blank Tape Spillage Fete exhibitions we curated. Kevin Cormack - aka Half Cousin - is a musician we originally approached to take part in the BTSF projects, since then we have put out two wonderful releases by him, one being a mini album under his Half Cousin moniker and a second titled Harry Deerness, a psychedelic celebration of decay.

Why do you think so many skateboarders eventually move into creative industries?

Skateboarding really teaches you to pay attention to your surroundings, 
to really look and observe, then from this to make creative marks. I feel this is more relevant to street skateboarding than park or ramp skating; street skating was so much about exploration and curiosity, questioning the landscape and architecture, making it submit or release some untold secret that would otherwise be held in its everyday functionality. I remember first seeing a sequence in RAD magazine of Ged Wells doing a wallride just off the flat, and I found it hard to believe. It made me rethink the realms of possibility, and not just on a skateboard.

Half cousin

You've mentioned enjoying the feel and sound of cassettes, but why do you think DIY and cassette-culture is enjoying such a comeback just now? Ultimately, it's a very impractical medium.
That's an interesting one, the cassette tape was the first format of music I bought when I was young and the only medium
I've used in recording my own music, so although I know they are considered a retro format, to me they feel very normal.
From my point of view the cassette and four-track is a cheap and tangible home recording method. I like the limitation of having only four tracks and no computer after effects, as it's really forced me to dig deeper and uncover new sounds, textures and processes. And of course I love the natural warmth of sound that tape attracts. I think perhaps it's had a comeback as there are a whole generation of new music makers who are new to analog recording and are curious to explore, which is exciting as they will have a totally different approach to using the medium having grown up in a digital age.

Do you see this as something that's growing, developing out of just being a niche? A lot of people are deleting their facebook accounts, going back to old phones, that kind of thing. Do you think technology has gone as far as it needs to for now, and would you encourage people to embrace techniques used for decades rather than trying to keep up?

Wow, that's a good question, and it's something I think about a lot. I'm fortunate to have grown up in a time without the internet and computers. I feel this places me in a position to observe and use the technology as a tool, but not become 'plugged in'. I don't have internet or email on my mobile, for me it's a distraction from engaging with the life around me and it just suits me better. I think technology will always be pushing forward and it can be wonderful and useful for creating, but I value imagination and curiosity far more. Whether it's four-tracks or computers, either way I'm interested in scratching beneath the surface. When I make music, it feels like lifting pebbles in rock pools, that same excitement, trepidation and discovery.

'The Occasional', the Spillage Fete publication

Describe the music you put out on the label.
That's a tough one! Generally we're attracted to - and release - music that somehow fills the grey-areas between genres and styles. I've always loved the records that become definable by being almost unclassifiable, the ones you've never heard of, but are drawn to in the record racks by their curious covers. Both myself and Matt invited musicians to take part in the BTSF whose music we'd discovered through years of second hand record shopping. Some of these records being the unknown gems of our collections, prime examples being Half Cousin's Function Room and Position Normal's Goodly Time albums. We like the label to have that same diverse feel, to echo the eclectic and experimental nature of the exhibitions.

You discovered Half Cousin through second hand record shopping? That's really cool. Was it easy to get him involved in the BTSF stuff, and get two full length releases out of him?
My friend Matt first introduced me to Half Cousin, he would make me the most incredibly obscure mix tapes, and one featured a few tracks off the Function Room album. Following this, we both went to watch a Hood gig and Half Cousin played support and blew us away! After one of his gigs we passed him an invite to contribute music to the first BTSF exhibition and he kindly obliged with a track titled after fellow Orcadian George Mackay Brown. Since then we have become great friends, sharing a similar aesthetic and collaborating on musical projects. Myself and Kevin - Half Cousin - are collaborating on a project called Jam Money, which is recordings I've made to four-track then re-recorded onto Kevin's four-track for him to work with.

How did Spillage Fete move from being an idea to a fully formed label/project/community? How did the first few months of it shape out?

In the words of my fellow cohort, Spillage Fete is a slow burner!
We started it with a viewpoint to creating something that both ourselves and - hopefully -
other people would enjoy being involved in. We see it more as a community or vehicle for friends to create and release interesting music and art. So releases on the label generally only happen as and when they are fully realised and ready for the world, no deadlines or schedules. One release that has been threatening to grace the record store shelves is Medallions by Bons; a collaborative album by myself, Matt and a sound artist called Benji Fox.
Our original recordings made using four-track, keyboards, guitar, pedals, voice and percussion have been reappraised and removed from their analogue context, then reconstructed, destroyed, tampered with and ultimately redefined to create a curious bedroom-pop-post-punk assemblage. All being well this should be completed and out by end summer, there is a taster on our site!

Would you recommend building a project like Spillage Fete to the curious creative types out there?
Without a doubt; creative projects are a rewarding and healthy release, be it music, art, writing or anything else. And involving and engaging with other artists in a community based project really expands, colours and feeds you imagination.

Outside of Spillage Fete stuff, what are you listening to just now?
Maher Shalah Hash Baz, Flaming tunes, Tall Dwarfs, Dustin Wong, The Books and Broadcast to name just a few.

More to listen to at the Spillage Fete SoundCloud

Get all the info at spillagefeterecords.com