Five questions for Boltfish

Murray Fisher took some time out to answer five questions regarding hybrid-label Boltfish Recordings and their day-to-day operations, past, present and future. Dip your feet and ears into this UK-based collective creating electronic canvasses for their musicians to frame.

Igloo Magazine :: When did Boltfish Recordings start up and what was your inspiration?

Murray Fisher / Boltfish :: We set sail in January 2004, partly as a result of our own personal frustration with some labels we’d encountered and knew that we could improve upon. Also, with the line between netlabel and traditional label becoming blurred, we saw a good opportunity to present a hybrid label that appealed to people’s love of digital and physical product in varying proportions. We used to offer quite DIY packaging and one release every month but we’ve changed things a bit since then.

Igloo :: Who were some of your initial artist relations and did your physical location hinder any progress?

MF :: We certainly didn’t encounter any geographical issues – that has always been the joy of what we do as a label; we can communicate with artists across the globe, who we’ve never physically met, and still get the music out there.

As artists ourselves, we began with a small roster that included the two of us (Mint and Cheju), some collaborative projects and like-minded individuals like UK-based owner of Rednetic Recordings Zainetica, Joseph Auer (Japan), Richard Houghten (USA), Ochre (UK) and several others for our first compilation Region Zero which still stands up as a great album.

Igloo :: What were some of the challenges (if any) starting up a label? How did you envision the label to stand apart?

MF :: Initial challenges were merely establishing dialogue with reviewers and stockists to gain exposure for our releases and to sell the physical products. We also wanted to run the label without shelling out lots of our own money so everything was done on a shoestring. We still only cover our costs now, but things run a little smoother since we’ve learned a lot.

When we set out with Boltfish Recordings we wanted to be a label that stood apart in a few respects. Primarily we saw ourselves as a hybrid label at a time when labels were either just offering free downloads (netlabels) or physical products (traditional labels). We bridged that gap. It doesn’t sound so unusual now, but back then it was a slightly different offering to provide our fans with downloads and physical versions of every release. In tandem with that ideal we also made sure we responded to every demo enquiry, no matter what it was, as we felt it important to retain a professional and responsive approach, even to artists who didn’t fit our genre. It just seemed courteous. We did all that in a non-profit way, so any money we made went straight back into the label.

With the line between netlabel and traditional label becoming blurred, we saw a good opportunity to present a hybrid label that appealed to people’s love of digital and physical product in varying proportions.

Igloo :: What is your motivation in keeping the label moving forward into the next decade?

MF :: Well, we have both enjoyed learning so much and progressing with the label from our early beginnings to our current situation. Back then we wouldn’t have envisaged that we’d be selling properly produced products both physically and through all the major digital retailers, nor imagined our artists (us included) would have played gigs at home and abroad at major events and festivals. So for the future it’s simply a case of continuing to learn and stay inspired.

Igloo :: Tell us more about how you (and your staff?) take the label’s “sound” to the listeners and fans. Distribution, campaigns, word of mouth etc.

MF :: Well, since we’re still just a two-man operation it falls to us both (along with our artists) to promote our releases and get the sounds out there. Like most businesses and individuals out there, we try and leverage social media to gain exposure, through Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud, Mixcloud, LastFM etc.. Since we have a digital distributor they enable us to promote via selected blogs and such, which is handy. Our artists obviously play gigs in various parts of the world, helping promote us all in the process, and we offer simple things like free stickers with each purchase to hopefully get our name and website address seen by potential fans, as do links and banners on other websites (like Igloomag!).

Finally we offer occasional special sales of our physical releases to perhaps introduce new listeners at a more appealing price point. In fact we’ve got a sale coming up where our first compilation (Region Zero) will be free with every purchase. We’re always trying to promote things somehow; usually if we can get a new fan into our music without unnecessary expense then it’s worthwhile.

Visit Boltfish Recordings at www.boltfish.co.uk.

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