[MUSIC: Interview] Chapter Music
It’s hard to avoid romanticising the life of Guy Blackman’s independent record label Chapter Music, but with this year marking the label’s 20th anniversary, and Blackman about to play a prominent role at the upcoming Sound Summit, at least a small amount of nostalgia seems in order. In 1992, the then 17-year-old released a compilation of Perth bands via a cassette called Bright Lights, Small City. It was meant to accompany the fourth issue of his fanzine, Chapter 24, that launched two years earlier, but issue four never appeared. 20 years later, Chapter Music – managed by Blackman and his partner Ben O’Connor – has established itself as one of Australia’s longest running independent record labels, with a penchant for offbeat and unique musical discoveries. Geoffrey O’Connor, Dick Diver and Twerps are just a few notable names on the Chapter roster at the moment, and Blackman assures me that 2013 will be the year for even more exciting musical finds – although he’s not giving up any names just yet.
Apart from getting ready for Sound Summit, Blackman is immersed in Chapter’s birthday celebrations, which will include the release of a limited edition vinyl compilation. “It’s 20 songs for 20 years on a double vinyl album,” he says. “There’ll only be a couple of hundred copies and it won’t be available on iTunes or anything, only on vinyl. There’s the very first song from the very first cassette that Chapter ever put out in 1992, and a bunch of new stuff. Everything on it is either unreleased or music from the dawn of time, from cassettes that nobody has heard in 20 years.”
With so many other independent labels appearing and then disappearing over the past two decades, some with business plans that look like an honours year economics project, Blackman explains why he thinks his labour of love has survived. “We’ve always treated the label as an expensive hobby. In more recent years I’ve realised that with the way the world is going, we need to make more careful decisions and at least break even as opposed to running at a loss. For the first 15 years I worked in jobs to pay for what was coming out on Chapter, and did things to enable it so that money wasn’t the bottom line.”
If money isn’t the bottom line, then what is? “I just enjoy it,” he says honestly. “I run the label with my partner Ben [O’Connor]. I battle with my own ego sometimes. I play music and I put out my own records occasionally, and I realise that the label’s taken over and I wonder why I don’t throw it all away and focus on my own stuff – but it’s a nice feeling. I’ve always loved record labels. I love that thing where you see a record in a record store, notice the label on there and know that it’s something worth checking out, even if you have no idea what it is or who it is. I’ve always been and will always be a record label nerd.”
Gigs: Twerps – with High Wolf, Radio People and more on Friday Sept 28, from 7pm; The Cannanes – with Lower Plenty, Ray Davies and more on Sat Sept 29, from 2pm; Primitive Calculators – with Blues Control, MIST, Mad Nanna and more on Sat Sept 29, from 9.30pm, at The Croatian Club.
Panel: 20 Years Of Chapter Music at Terrace Bar, 1-2pm on Saturday September 29
More: Chapter Music’s 20th birthday party is set for November 24 at Goodgod, featuring Crayon Fields, Coolies (NZ), Standish/Carlyon and more.
Posted: September 27th, 2012 under Brag 481, Music, Music - Interview, New.
Tags: 20 Years Of Chapter Music, Chapter Music, Coolies (NZ), Crayon Fields, GoodGod Small Club, Guy Blackman, High Wolf, Krissi Weiss, Lower Plenty, Newcastle, Radio People, Ray Davies, Sound Summit @ The Croatian Club, Standish/Carlyon, Terrace Bar, The Cannanes, The Croation Club Newcastle, Twerps