Flying Vinyl has created a global community of new music enthusiasts who receive a monthly box of the best new indie music on vinyl. We chat to Craig Evans about his love for music and what he thinks people can learn from the OTR conference.
What made you be involved as curator for OTR?
We get quite a lot of offers to help curate things because of the nature of what we do and we took this one because the ethos of the event is fantastic. I like that it encourages people to go to an event and have no idea what they’re going to hear, just trust the curation, a bit like what we do every month with Flying Vinyl. I think people should be encouraged to take more risks in what they listen to and bands they go and see, so Off The Record really connected with us in that respect.
Manchester has recently been ranked as the ‘best city in the UK for live music’ – how do you think the music movement has changed in Manchester since the early 80’s?
Obviously the whole Madchester thing was a brief but incredible scene and when it started to die a death it feels like the city struggled for cultural relevance for quite some time and only really recently has it become a place to go and see good indie music. People’s focus flips around all over the place and it only takes one band to spark that. Like Arctic Monkeys drew focus to the North East for a while, Peace to Birmingham and so on. I really think Blossoms are doing that for Manchester and Stockport, though the scene’s of course much bigger than just them.
What do you think people can learn from the OTR conference?
Well first off I think any forum that brings together labels, artists, media, promoters and management companies together is always going to be valuable for networking and sharing experiences. Some of the sessions that they’re running sound brilliant, we’re really looking forward to it.
What advice could you give to bands starting out in the industry?
First and foremost you have to write good music, if you can keep writing good music that connects with people everything will gravitate towards you. Then stand on your own two feet and don’t let anyone try and distract you from that, there’s really too many people trying to take out of art and change artists to make them sound like whatever the fad of the moment is, just keep making music that’s true to yourself and everything will happen when the time’s right.
What inspired you to get into the music industry?
I think it’s the most exciting industry in the world. Being at the heart of culture is a huge adrenaline-rush and it’s really inspiring to exist in such a creative environment at a time when so many people are working in jobs they hate, we’re very fortunate in that respect. Also with all the digital disruption that’s happened since Napster-days I can’t think of an industry where there are more issues and problems right now – I see this as an opportunity to build better distribution models and find new ways to make the business work, especially at a grass-roots level. A lot of people don’t see music as a career because of the problems that there are but purely entrepreneurially it’s great because businesses are essentially just tools to problem-solving and we have plenty of work to do to.
How important is it that new bands are recognised?
It’s everything right now. If we aren’t all collectively bringing up the next wave of culture then we don’t deserve to exist at the centre of culture. I think most people would agree that over the last ten years the industry on the whole hasn’t done a good enough job of breaking new artists and maybe because of cuts in revenue are more inclined to sign ‘safer’ artists and market them or constantly reissue older material. A big part of the reason that Flying Vinyl exists is because of this frustration ultimately.
What is your favourite music venue in the UK?
Personally I like Moth Club in East London, it’s kind of deliberately retro. Also I’m a big fan of The Sunflower Lounge in Birmingham simply because they have a really good eye for the next generation of talent that’s coming through. Also The Haunt in Brighton, it’s got really good sound and is a nice space for bigger gigs.
How can artists get their songs featured on Flying Vinyl?
We’re one of the few outlets in the industry where anyone can submit music to us and we’ll take a listen, which they can do by emailing in. This has led to the Flying Vinyl boxes having amazing mixes of stuff that very few people have heard about sitting right next to records from huge hype bands. The only thing that really matters to us is the quality of the music we’re putting out.