The fight to save our bricks and mortar institutions is not over. Hideous Mink Records explain why #SaveOurVenues is a longevity project.
Words by Karl Johnson
The global pandemic showed us how fragile our existence on planet earth is. How we spend our time, money and treat the people and the environment around us is incredibly important. With the unlocking of society and the return of socially-distanced live music, it’s time for us to fully appreciate the bricks and mortar institutions that bring us live music. Wetherspoons threw their workers under the bus just when things got tough, so why do we support them by buying their beer? Spotify DO NOT give a damn about paying artists fairly for streaming, so why do we support them (come on Bandcamp)? Anyway rant over, but the fact is that so many people have helped raise money via the #SaveOurVenues campaign in the past year that it has enabled us to hang onto some of our most loved music venues – we also lost quite a few along the way, and the fight isn’t over yet.
The latest harebrained idea to help force an ideological shift to supporting music venues comes from Brighton/ London label Hideous Mink Records. Released Friday 21st May, the label brought together ten artists to contribute tracks – demos, live recordings and gorgeous offcuts – to an album entitled Hideous Mink Collective VOL.1. The stellar sounding compilation record is out now on cassette and arrives with a zine, you can also purchase the album digitally. We got in touch with Jed at the label to dig a little deeper into the project, and to shed some light on another fantastically crafted idea to raise money and awareness for grassroots music and community-led projects. Vol.1 features: BULL, Opus Kink, BUGS, Fake Turins, Truman Dinosaur, Beige Banquet, Strange Neighbours, Heartworms, Baby Vanga and Black Bordello.
Hi Jed, Hideous Mink Records have just released their first compilation album, and in aid of #SaveOurVenues too, how did the idea come together for a full album’s worth of tunes from new artists?
“Hey! The collective idea has been in the back of my mind for some time, and I think because of Covid it meant a lot of people, ourselves included, had a bit of a break in release schedules so we thought if we’re going to do it, now’s the time. We like being able to offer something back to the industry, and who better than Save Our Venues, who have been working every day to try keep the industry moving forward.”
You’re releasing the album on cassette with a zine too, was it important for it to be a physical as well as a digital offering?
“I think it’s always nice to be able to offer a physical product, the current industry is now built so much on digital that it always feels nice receiving something in the post. I’ve had a lot of people tell me they’ve ordered cassettes without even having a way to play it, which is great but you should probably go get a tape player at some point. It was also very fun for us to collaborate not just with musicians but designers too, Eddi Combes designed the Tape and Zine – I feel it brought the whole collective together as a project.”
There are unheard cuts from brand new artists as well as special recordings by more established bands yet the album on the whole actually sounds so coherent as a full-length record, did the process of getting things together come easy or was it a lengthy process?
“Once the ball started rolling, the process kind of ran itself. It’s so nice reaching out to bands and having them be as excited as the project as you, a lot of the bands I approached are ones I’ve seen live and loved when I saw them. I tried to keep the styles different enough but also on the same track to sound together as a collective when you listen. Once we had all the tracks donated, it was just a case of listening through and picking which ones work off each other the best. Every song and artist on the album is fantastic so it wasn’t hard.”
I know with Hideous Mink Records you have a strong sense of community which ties in so well with this being a fundraiser for #SaveOurVenues – how worried and aware were/ are you with the fragility of grassroots music scenes and venues with the current covid-crisis?
“Thank you, we’re building a little mink family and it feels great whenever anyone wants to be apart of that. It hit home just how much the industry was taking a blow when you started hearing about all the venues, that you’ve been to so many times, wouldn’t be coming back after the lockdowns. Some great venues in Brighton unfortunately won’t be returning so we hoped with the collective we could contribute in a small way to make sure it doesn’t happen to the lucky ones that will remain. Music Venue Trust and #SaveOurVenues are the ones putting in the effort continuously, we should all be grateful for them.”
I imagine the process of getting VOL.1 of the Hideous Mink Collective together has been a discovery of new music for yourself and the label too, what do you want to achieve with this particular initiative and with further Hideous Mink ventures down the line?
“For me, the best thing about putting together The Collective was reaching out to all these bands and giving them the opportunity to release something that probably would never have seen the light of day otherwise. You get to hear all the B-sides, the demos and one-take gems that would have just been stored on a hard drive and forgotten about. For future Hideous Mink, we’ve already got Vol.2 in the works and we’ll be announcing soon a Hideous Mink day festival for the end of the summer. We’re also excited to announce that we’ve signed Fake Turins and Black Bordello, both featuring on the collective and we can’t wait to give the world even more of their music – some very exciting stuff coming from both of them and the whole Hideous Mink family over the next year.”
Hideous Mink has an audio-visual and management arm to it too which is incredible, how did the label start and what are your aims for the rest of 2021 and perhaps next year?
“As a label, we’re still learning to walk. We started it a couple of years ago with Opus Kink, we released the first double A-side on vinyl and since then it’s grown quite nicely. As you mentioned, we’ve now got the artist management side, which you can expect some good things from in the coming months, and Hideous Mink Studios – We’ve been working closely with some great videographers; Kyle McCarthy and Rueben Lindley. Don’t tell anyone but you can expect a very exciting audio visual event coming up soon from Opus Kink, Fake Turins and Black Bordello with the help of our good friends Max and Rob at Egyptian Elbows.. but you didn’t hear it from me.”
What do we need to start/ continue to do in your opinion to make the future of grassroots music more concrete in terms of longevity? Has the pandemic been a wake up call that we’ve all needed? Are we so focused on streaming and social media that we’ve forgotten how important grassroots music and our bricks and mortar institutions are?
“We all just need to be going to as many shows as possible, supporting the industry and buying tickets. If you’re at a show, go over to the merch stand and buy a record, it’s hard to believe how much that can help an artist, it might be the difference between a band being able to go back into the studio or not to bring you their next release. I think it’s also important that we abolish the idea of playing for exposure. Promoters and venues should be paying each and every band they put on. But other than that just be present, make a noise and support the people around you, artists, designers, promoters, directors etc – if everyone does that we’ll be fine.”
You can listen to Hideous Mink Collective Vol.1 and order the cassette and zine here via Bandcamp.