Friday, 27 June 2014

Smokin records lights the way...

If music be the food of love play on!  

There's nothing better than buying vinyl or going to an amazing gig but for Richard Labran that just wasn't enough and not only he is the singer/songwriter of the rock band IONS but he has his own record label too.  

Welovebearwood caught up with Richard to find out about Smokin Records, what he thinks of Bearwood's live music scene and how much he loves Alan Warwick's pork and stuffing sandwiches.  

Please tell us why you decided to start your own record label.  

 I started a record label for a number of reasons. Firstly, I felt like there was not enough support for up and coming bands and not enough direction for them. I also realised that between me and friends, we had the right skill base to be able to provide services such as promotion, publicity, record manufacturing and producing at a cost that is far more reasonable than what is currently available or out there.

That sounds very impressive, please tell us about the bands on your label.  

The bands on our label are a mix of some of the most eye catching bands to grace the Birmingham underground music scene in the past decade. Birmingham has had a wealth of really amazingly talented bands taking to its stages and unfortunately this has largely gone unnoticed due to a lack of interest in the arts locally amongst the public.
We agree! What do you offer new local bands and what events have you got planned?
We need to be selective in what we do at the moment as our time is limited and all directors of the label currently have full-time jobs but for bands that we can take on we offer very reasonably priced studio time and a number of options for CD and Vinyl manufacturing.
We recently had a market stall set up at The Sun at The Station in Kings Heath as a wider event for record store day and hosted IONS album launch party at The Adam and Eve in Digbeth. We will have a number of events happening throughout this autumn so please visit our site

We've never heard of the term DIY music recording, what does it mean?
DIY music recording is a phrase that refers to the notion that nowadays many people are capable of recording and producing their own music at home. Technology in this field has advanced rapidly and if you are willing to put the time in and do your research you can create a top quality professional sounding record at home. IONS wake up is the first material I recorded and produced, I didn’t even have a practise run and the quality is very good in my humble opinion.
The music industry seems to be evolving all the time. How do you think downloads have changed the music industry and do they impact running a record label?
I’d say that technology has changed the music industry. Our phones, tablets, laptops etc are all designed to support digital sounds and therefore the easiest and most convenient way to access music is digitally. The Walkman, personal CD player is rapidly becoming a thing of the past. It’s possible to record a track at home in a day and have it uploaded to ITunes for download the next day, that’s fairly crazy when you think about it. I guess downloads might help a label cut down on its manufacturing costs in the long run but nothing beats having a physical copy of a record, especially in Vinyl so I guess there will always be a market for that too. Labels will have to be smart in terms of their pricing points for different format releases and working out how many numbers of a physical copy of a record to manufacture.
You must be very busy. How would you like Smokin Records to develop in the future?
Well I’d like to get to a point where the label can become a full time occupation for us all but Rome wasn’t built in a day and all that so we’ll have to wait and see what becomes of it.

We can tell you love music. Are you in a band and where do you get your inspiration from?
I am in a band, at the moment I am a singer/songwriter in IONS. I guess most of my inspiration comes from life experiences I observe and feel. A lot of my music is also a reflection of the times however it’s best I don’t go on a rant about that!
Don’t blame you! What do you think of Bearwood’s live music scene and what changes would you like to see?
Bearwood doesn’t really have a live music scene does it? I guess I have been to see live Jazz at Bearwood Corks Social Club on a number of occasions and there have been the Bearwood Shuffles but unfortunately our little town doesn’t yet have a scene as such.
So what’s your connection with Bearwood?
I moved to Bearwood 8 years ago and I did come to the town quite a bit as a boy with the family having lived in West Bromwich most of the rest of my life. I came to move here because of its excellent transport links to Birmingham and its reasonable house prices, saying that I walk to Birmingham and back quite a lot!
Us too!  We seem to be for ever walking up and down Hagley Road. 
Please tell us your Bearwood All-Star.  In other words, who, what or where makes you smile in Bearwood?
Besides my son…….err! Just kidding! I love pork and stuffing sandwiches and the ones at Alan Warwick butchers are a bargain for £1.20. I like my Russian hairdresser at  Cuts Above near Bearwood Primary School as she’s well into her conspiracy theories. I quite like an Iced Coffee too so often frequent We Are Mud in the summer.
 One final question which we like to ask everyone.  What makes Lightwoods Chippy’s chips orange?
I heard that they are deep fried in Orang-utan dripping.
Hee!  Hee!  Now that's a good answer.
Thanks Richard, it’s been fascinating!  To find out more about Smokin Records please visit here!

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