Coinciding with Cassette Store Day, this month’s label is the wonderful Sad Club Records. Previously home to TMB faves Honey Moon and the powerhouse behind excellent compilation series The Music Will Save Us, the small tape label have recently added another edition (Vol. 2) to the string of solid gold. We caught up with founder and sole full-time Sad Clubber Tallulah Webb to talk origins, obstacles and unsigned acts.
For those who don’t know, who is Sad Club Records?
A little DIY cassette label bringing joy to the world, peace on earth and goodwill to all.
Where are you based?
For the moment, I am living in my parents house in London! I’m on a year out from university in Leeds, so part of the time we are based up there as well.
When did you realise you wanted to start a label?
I remember sitting on the bus back from school when I was about 16 after having just bought a lottery ticket, discussing with my pal what we were going to do if we ever won it. I said that I wanted to start a record label, she said she was going to buy a big house and put it all in the bank. Anyway, those thoughts kind of passed me by during school as some distant dream of mine. However, I took a year out before university, and I was doing quite a few internships and work within the music industry but nothing creative whatsoever, which really frustrated me. It was only then when the idea really started sticking that I should do it.
How did the label start?
You know what, without sounding too cliché, I think it actually came to me in a dream. A lot of things come to me in dreams, like the idea of bringing soup in a flask to work rather than a Tupperware container and heating it up, or that I should put some salt in my morning coffee and it might taste fancy. However, I actually had a non-mundane dream amongst the rest that I actually COULD start a label, without winning the lottery. Once I had actually decided to start one, it was pretty simple. I made the decision that it was going to be cassette-only pretty early on, I think that was the breaking point in which I thought, yeah, this can be fun and not even too stressful. I decided on who I wanted to release first and second, and they were all for it too. As I started it as an 18 year old, pretty much knowing nothing about starting a label, there were quite a few rocky mountains to pass by. If I started it now knowing what I do now, it would obviously go a lot smoother – but it was such a fantastic learning experience.
Where does the name come from?
Oh god. It is a bit of a joke, I think? We’re not sad, we aren’t a club, and we don’t sell records. But then again, we could be all of them. My friend and I were sitting at the table trying to think of names that sounded cute, not too serious, and fun. We were going to go with Backseat Tapes, which is pretty cute, but I didn’t think it was as fun or eye-catching. I think I decided 100% on the name because of the logo. I was on the way to work and drew the little doodle man’s face on my hand, writing sad club records instead of the facial features and decided that I HAD to do it. So yeah, that tube journey was another massive turning point on the start of the label.
What’s the hardest thing about running Sad Club?
I mean, time and money are the obvious ones. I run it almost entirely by myself, so obviously I am pushed for time, and money isn’t exactly thriving in a cassette label. Although those are the things pulling me back a lot, I don’t actually think it’s the hardest thing about running a label. Sad Club is pretty tiny and DIY, and because it is only cassette, it may seem like a little bit of a joke to some. Mentally it’s quite straining, not in the busy times at all, just when there’s a bit of a lull. Doing it alone you don’t have someone else for motivation to kick you up the backside and tell you to carry on with it. I’m sure that’s the same for a lot of people mostly in the creative industry – it’s so easy to look at your work and think ‘eh, nobody cares about this’, ‘why am I doing this?’, or even ‘nobody cares except my mum’. So yeah, there’s a lot of self deprecation sometimes. The amount of people I’ve messaged asking ‘Is sad club good? Should I still carry on with it?’ is pretty astronomical. But then you snap out of it and realise that everything is good fun after all.
What are some of your favourite Sad Club memories?
I remember being in first year university halls, during the last week of a massive music composition deadline which I had been freaking out about. About a week before, I had been told that I could be featured with a double page spread in a magazine, with pictures of me and an interview, it was pretty exciting. However, I had left it till the last day, and realised I had NO press shots and hadn’t even answered the interview at all. My mate Emma came round, and in the space of two hours we managed to take press shots, develop them and answer the interview. That was pretty impressive. God bless Emma.
If you had to pick a favourite release, what would it be?
I can’t do that! That’s like picking a favourite ice cream flavour, impossible! Each and every one of them is fantastic in their own way, they can’t be compared or hierarchized.
What’s the dream for the label?
I think it would be cool if Sad Club singlehandedly created a world of love, where nobody felt the need to demean or discourage people. Be the change you want to see in the world, and all that. I think, obviously, that is a bit far out. Honestly, I would just love to be able to continue to release music, to help artists out, and to continue to be fun.
How did you curate such a brilliant compilation?
Thank you SO much. Guess that is just my fantastic music taste!? Nah, I’m only kidding.
I guess its just like putting together a playlist. You think of one artist, and then a few more come into your head. You send them a message and they would love to be involved but sadly their manager won’t let them, or they don’t have any songs they can do in time. Don’t be discouraged. You go through your demo emails and find two beautiful songs that you’d love to be on there. Easy. Then you remember that band you saw two months ago and thought were incredible, send them a message and it turns out they would love to be involved. What I’m trying to say is that each and every song was found out about in a different way, but it just kind of comes together in the end. There is a ludicrous amount of talent coming from the UK at the moment, namely London, which actually made it hard to cut off the tracks to only 16 in the end.
How did you sort such excellent artwork?
The artwork was done by the amazing Berlin-based illustrator Jay Daniel Wright. He designed the t-shirts we had accompanying the first compilation last year, and they were incredible! He was super up for designing the cassettes this year. He’s lovely, and so incredibly easy to work with – an absolute hero. Stay tuned and there may be some extra little JDW sad club march on your way…
Could you pick a couple of artists from the tracklist we might not know and introduce them to us?
It would be my pleasure.
Avice Caro – Elfin Grot
Avice Caro is a new name for a musician I’ve been working with for quite a while, Maria! She is actually one of the first musicians I started working with, I think I was 18 when I was managing her for a while, and we went into Roundhouse studios for practices. It was a lot of fun. Anyways, we both stuck by it. Her music is primarily based on literary texts, folk stories, poems etc, and most of the songs she has are mini stories – Elfin Grot is a two part tale of a cuckolded man, following the narrative of a woman trying to escape from his grasp. Maria’s music, and especially this song, is so fragile, yet dreamlike and haunting. The first time I heard this song, the raw nature and beauty of her voice sent chills down my spine.
Alice and the Bugs – Butthurt
Alice and the Bugs are one of my favourite new bands. They’re a five piece from from South East London, with lush harmonies and spectacular lyrics. Alice told me that ‘Butthurt’ is about her telling someone that she wanted to be just friends and they freaked out. Most of her songs are written in response to people pissing her off, but instead of her songs being angry, they’re both sonically and lyrically charming. You’ve gotta catch them live.
Do you have a favourite track?
Nah, I’m here for all of them. They’re all pretty limited edition, ABBA gold standard.
The Music Will Save Us Vol. 2 is available now and features tracks from Porridge Radio, Viewfinder, Ellie Bleach and Oscar Browne.