Record labels take commitment, hard work and an insanely silly love and passion for music that trumps everything else. Also kinda like running a blog. So here at Too Many Blogs, we thought we’d pay homage to our favourite record labels in this interview feature. It’s November and we return to chat with Blue Flowers. Based in West London, they have worked with a variety of artists from a variety of genres, always mixing it up but most importantly never dipping when it comes to quality. Find out more below…
Firstly, who is Blue Flowers?
It’s me, Chris Pearson. Hello!
How did the name come about and where are you based?
I started it with my lifelong friend Richard Brown and we were listening to a song called Blue Flowers by Dr Octagon at the time. It sounded good so that was our name!
So starting a record label is a serious decision, what made you take the leap and how did it all begin?
We began as an acoustic night in our hometown of Chiswick, West London. Not really knowing what we were doing we just went out and found people to play. Fortunately, we found Jamie T via a friends band Larrikin Love and they came and played a show together. From there it kinda snowballed and the next minute we had a bunch of great artists coming our way and we had a lot of fun! Starting a label wasn’t something I always wanted to do. It wasn’t until quite far down the line did I finally make the decision to do so. Better late than never!
Who was the first artist you started working with and are you still involved today?
Nilufer Yanya was our first artist. No, but still love her.
What’s the most difficult thing about running a label?
Puma Blue has a real crossover appeal, my indie friends love him and my hip-hop friends love him. Why do you think that is?
He’s been able to fuse a lot of different influences like Jeff Buckley to J Dilla in a beautiful way. Essentially he’s about songs but being able to implement his influences from both those worlds into the music brings it to a place different worlds can come together on it.
You seem to have that perfect balance in your roster, how do you decide who you want to work with?
Thank you! The night started as an acoustic night with tables and chairs and people standing around the back and sides. This was back when people could smoke too so it had that underground jazz club vibe. The setups of the shows evolved over the years but it was still an intimate setting and primarily about singer-songwriters being able to perform their songs in that environment. The genres of artists was something we tried to vary. The most essential part of the whole event and night, in general, was voices and songs. The label is an attempt to reflect those nights.
I think the mix is easy to see in the Gotts Street Park album with the only two features being Benny Mails and Grand Pax. Is it a struggle to market/position such artists that don’t just fit in a standard niche?
Gotts Street Park are an instrumental band and producers which is different from the rest of the roster but are a great reflection of what we do. Their music is fundamentally soul stemming from playing together in jazz clubs and are creating a platform for great vocalists with varied styles to deliver great songs.
In terms of marketing them, I think like any act it just takes time to paint the picture of who they are and what they do. There’s a lot of music out there in the digital ether so it takes time for an act to cut through and really make sense.
How did you come to work with Grand Pax? The Phase EP really made her stand out as a unique talent.
She worked with Gotts Street Park. It’s one big happy family!
We won’t ask you to choose a favourite release, but do you have any favourite memories associated with any of them to share?
I think seeing the reaction to Confirmation by Westerman has to be my biggest highlight so far. The Call & Response EP prior to that is one of my favourite EP’s but we had a tough time getting much out of it. I never had any doubt in him as an artist so it was a great feeling to see it all turn around in such a big way on that song and have that faith pay off.
How long have you officially been a label and have you had to adapt at all to the industry changes in that time?
It’s been 3 years since we decided to start a label and about 2 years since we put a record out. I don’t think there have been many major changes in that time but the industry is constantly evolving and we have to stay up to date of course. I like it. However essentially for me, it’s still all about the artists and their songs. The rest is irrelevant without.
Are there any other labels you’re particularly admiring at the moment?
I love a label based in New York called Big Crown that my friend Leon Michels runs. They know exactly who they are and what they do. I like that.
What’s your favourite album/track of the year that you haven’t released yourself?
Bottle It In by Kurt Vile. I’m slightly obsessed with this record right now. I think he’s my favourite lyricist and anyone who can make a 10-minute song seem to short to me gets my vote!
And finally, if everyone could know just 1 thing about Blue Flowers – what would you want it to be?
We’re doing a show at The Jazz Cafe with Westerman on December 12th. Come say hello!