TMF looks back on 2011 with Audio Antihero Records
This year saw Audio Antihero Records busier than ever, with no less than eight releases under their belt in 2011. Essentially just a one-man operation, TMF thought we'd meet up with Mr Jamie Halliday, the man behind the label, and see what keeps him going...or not as it might be.
So first off introduce yourself and Audio Antihero.
Audio Antihero are London’s premiere Specialists in Commercial Suicide. Pissing monies and kissing honeys since 2009 - waging a one man war on success and all the benefits it may bring. Well regarded, briefly, in 2009.
When you first started the label, did you ever think what you'd be like two years down the line?
I never expected the label to last two years, which probably accounts for why I’ve made so many bad decisions. I’ve approached everything as a last chance and just released what I wanted at every opportunity - which would be why I have no money left for 2012. But you know, I’m a pretty unremarkable and charmless fellow so I was kind of just going for it before all my ‘contacts’ wised up and cut me off.
I guess I might have envisioned that I’d be doing less sucking up to bloggers by now, but hey! Some of them are nice.
Is there anything you might have done differently?
I might have paced myself a little. And sucked up more.
You've had a fairly busy year for a small one-man operation, with a series of EPs that have come out. Tell us a little about the thinking behind that and the artists you worked with.
That EP series thing evolved and devolved and then just stopped. It was handled ridiculously but still turned out pretty well. One rule I set myself was to never flatter myself enough to believe that people care enough to notice when the label changes its plans unannounced, so I just did what felt like it would work at the time.
Jack Hayter and Paul Hawkins & The Awkward Silences aside, releasing these EPs really was starting from scratch. These were their first official releases and they’d no press profile at all, so it’s been a year of swimming upstream, releasing records no-one’s heard of on a label no-one cares about – but it’s overwhelmingly satisfying when it does go our way.
There wasn’t much tactic to any one release, they all just happened. I saw Jack Hayter as a prestigious artist with beautifully original songs; I really wasn’t looking to put out a folk record at that time but it came a-knocking and I’d have been an idiot to pass on it. I’d literally be cursing myself in my old age. “I Stole The Cutty Sark” is one of the greatest songs of all time.
Paul Hawkins & The Awkward Silences was an exciting proposition as I’d been a fan of theirs for a while and being approached by a band you own records and merch from has to be a landmark moment in any label’s life.
Wartgore Hellsnicker, Fighting Kites and Broken Shoulder were just great bands that I was friendly with. In the case of Wartgore Hellsnicker, I was just desperate to get them off their hiatus and back on a stage – it was well worth it. In the case of Kites and BroSho I was trying to help give these guys a little of what they deserve and take the credit for exquisite instrumental numbers while I’m at it.
It’s been rewarding, having someone like Jack compliment my work ethic knowing that he’s released records with people 100x my better and it’s been equally delightful getting Fighting Kites on BBC radio for the first time. My roster are frequently a nuisance but they’re soulful gentlemen and it’s truly lovely to be a part of their creativity, their enjoyment and the public’s response to it. This is something that better men than I will never experience, so I am thankful.
One of your first releases was by Benjamin Shaw, and you’re just about to release his album. Tell us a little about how you came to work with him.
How I met Benjamin Shaw isn’t particularly exciting: we met in a warehouse. But I’d like to think what we’ve released is pretty interesting. The EP was a great release and an even better learning experience for us both; we thickened our skin, lowered our expectations and he upped his game. The new album is something I’m incredibly proud of. I shed tears of joy, while he remained cold and distant.
Just as my approach to the label debuting with Nosferatu D2’s album was ‘if I could only release one album, I’d want it to be this’ my feeling for Shaw’s album was ‘if I had to finish the label with any album, this would be it’ – and when the time to close the doors does come, I want Benjamin to be the man who does it.
A recent review said “You wouldn’t want everyone (or, frankly, anyone else) to sound like Benjamin Shaw – but I’m delighted someone does” and that nails it for me.
As well as the release of Benjamin's album, you're also going to be celebrating your second anniversary. Are you going to be marking the occasion anyway, and how do you feel about the last two years? .
We threw a wee party up in London; we had our artists and friends DJ and live sets from Benjamin Shaw Band, Fighting Kites, Jack Hayter and Broken Shoulder. It was a pretty special evening. I lost money, as ever – but I had a blast. I wish the label could turn two every Friday. 21 forever!
I’m proud of the last two years, I’ve lost a lot of money and I know I’ve done some things wrong, missed opportunities and probably underachieved, given the roster’s quality – but I’ve made some money for various charities, made people happy and put good music to disc, so that’s something to think about. I just really want to put my name on some things I can be proud of before I die of some embarrassing form of cancer.
What's the future looking like for Audio Antihero, and is there anything exciting in the pipeline?
I’m hoping that we have another year of running at full capacity left in us. Currently I have enough money left in the bank to do one more release properly, so I’m looking hard for something special for 2012 while I re-mortgage my skin for extra funds.
Our dead certs are an imminent single from Paul Hawkins & The Awkward Silences (which is positively furious); a charity compilation to raise money for Babes in Arms, helping to fund research into the awful thing that is Infant Death Syndrome and we’re hoping to have a bit more beauty from Jack Hayter. But there will be something big and loud on top of that, I just haven’t found it yet. I hear Faith No More might be doing a new album?
What three albums/songs/events have made your year?
I always sort of dread this. I’m only 24 but I’m aging terribly and clearly only make a very casual effort to ‘keep up’ with what’s going on. I guess mine would be:
Los Campesinos! – Hello Sadness
Darren Hayman – January Songs
Johnny Foreigner – Vs Everything
Yuck – 'Rubber'
Kurt Vile – 'Baby’s Arms'
M83 – 'Midnight City'
Comus – The Borderline
Glassjaw – HMV Forum
Twilight Singers – Electric Ballroom
Thanks guys, Never Say DIY!
Audio Antihero have just released the debut album by Benjamin Shaw. Pick up your copy and show support for independent labels here!