Label of the Month: Hand In Hive

Record labels take commitment, hard work and an insanely silly love and passion for music that trumps everything else. So here at Too Many Blogs, we like to pay homage to our favourite record labels with a monthly interview feature. This month we chat with Hand In Hive in the run-up to an exciting couple of weeks including the release of Swimming Tapes’ debut album plus their big showcase at The Great Escape – details further below. Now, let’s get into it

For those who don’t know, who is Hand In Hive?
Hand In Hive is an independent label and management company setup by Tristan Wilson and George O’Brien in 2014. 

Where are you based?

When did you realise you wanted to start a label?
We were working for major labels for a couple of years and realised we wanted, and had a platform to, help up-and-coming artists. We were lucky enough to have built some nice connections through our work in music, both at labels and through editorial through which we could meet new bands and artists as well. We’ve also always had a shared love of indie music, so really wanted to build a home for bands we love. 

How did the label start?
After a few conversations over a beer or two we took the plunge to setup as an actual limited company (pretty sure we were watching football while we went through the HMRC process…) and started reaching-out to bands and artists we were liking: I (George) discovered Wyldest through writing for The Line Of Best Fit; Tristan knew the guys from Saltwater Sun from years back and our label buddy at the time started working with Alma Elste after writing about her for NME. 

Where does the name come from?
It’s a lyric from a song and we feel it loosely represents our “helping hand” in the hive that can be the music bizz when trying to launch a project – something like that…

How do you decide who to work with?
Quite simply we want to work with band’s who’s music we love. There’s something of a running theme in the sound but we try not to be too fussy genre-wise. It also goes without saying we work solely with people we get on with – the label has become something of a family and we’re always exciting to meet and work with new and like-minded indie music bods. 

We absolutely loved Wyldest’s debut album – how was the whole process?  
The band are brilliant to work with – they’re incredibly self-sufficient, creative and had a very clear idea of what Dream Chaos sounded like. It was also the first LP we worked-on as a worldwide label and we never really thought we’d be an album label – it’s always a great moment getting hands-on vinyl, particularly when it looks and sounds like this one. 

What’s the hardest thing about running it all?
Time! We’re a small outfit ourselves with two of us running the label day to day. We work with a good spread of acts and when two or some times three of our artists are in a release cycle at the same time, it can be challenging. Thankfully we play squash together every week so take any stresses out on the court…

What are some of your favourite HIH memories?
There are so many highlights, but a big moment for us was having our first signing and first release (Alma Elste “Heartmelter / Virtualism”) record a session at Maida Vale for Huw Stephens on Radio 1. That felt like the moment we knew we were at least doing something (!) right.

If you had to pick a favourite release, what would it be?
No one picks a favourite child.

What should we expect from the upcoming Swimming Tapes record?! And how has your journey with them been leading up to this?
You can expect more dimensions to the band’s sound, more dynamics, and of course the same amount of killer chorus. They’ve crafted beautiful songs for this record and we’re extremely excited to put it out. 

What does the future look like for Hand In Hive?
So long as we’re putting out music we love, we’re happy. We’ve been working a lot with partners in the US (Canvasback Atlantic, Polyvinyl, Father/Daughter) which has been a learning curve and something we’re keen to continue to do and build upon. Swimming Tapes’ “Morningside” will be only our third full-length release, so we’re looking to add to that tally too for sure.

What’s the ultimate dream for the label?
There are so many labels we look up to that it’s impossible to name-check each and every one – but we’re doing our best to build a brand and a sound that music fans can attach and associate easily with what we do as a label. A dream of ours would of course be to be able to sit alongside the very best independents of today – we’re hoping when we’ve been doing this as long as they have we may stand a chance.