The Null Device

Birth of a record label

Will Hodgkinson, Guardian columnist and early-1970s folk-rock enthusiast, has decided to start his own record label, and is writing about it:
The plan is simple: in the space of one year, I'm going to launch a record label. I have a name for it (Big Bertha), enough of a loan to get going, in a modest sort of way (£5,000), and a philosophy (Big Bertha's releases have to fit into my existing record collection: somewhere between 1968's Chelsea Girl by Nico and 1972's Moyshe McStiff and the Sacred Lancers of the Tartan Heart by medieval folk-rock obscurities Cob).
The unabashedly retro focus sounds like it could constrain the label somewhat; then again, perhaps in this day when most "indie" music one hears about that's not whorishly commercial and artistically moribund is describable as "hippie-folk" (with, perhaps, the odd laptop), it could work. Perhaps Pitchfork will pick up their releases and break them?

Hodgkinson then describes the next step of his adventure: the talent-scouting process.

My evening at the boozer in the official role of Big Bertha talent scout did not get off to a good start. First up was a woman who insisted on explaining what each one of her painfully literal songs was about. "This song's about the Iraq war," she said, before singing a song called The Iraq War. Then came a middle-aged woman in thigh-high leather boots who looked, in a rather disturbing way, like my mother. She took tambourines and miniature drums out of a Tesco carrier bag and passed them round the audience, insisting that we bang along as she jumped around the stage and yelped discordantly. I shook my tambourine weakly and tried not to burst into tears. The next act was called Scrotum Clamp. Further comment is surely superfluous.
The article is the first in a monthly series, which will chart the progress of newly-formed Big Bertha Records.

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