Being a lover of music, I've always wondered what it took to start your own label. Where can you source your inspirations from? What aims or goals do you work towards? How can you manage future projects? My curiosity led me to the guys at Honey Glazed Records, a new record label based in Bristol whose ethos is defined by a like for "warmth, soul and groove in any genre.” I got to speak to the label's founders Joe and Sean about how the hive of Honey Glazed came to be.
What were the inspirations for setting up the label, and why the name Honey Glazed?
Joe: Not too sure what the inspiration was, I remember listening to music one morning before going to work and thinking it would be cool if I didn’t have to leave the house, and I could continue just doing this all day as my job. So I told Sean that I was thinking of starting a label and he was on board straight away. The name Honey Glazed started as a club night we used to run in Bristol a few years back. We thought it would work well as a label name as it has a sort of warm feel to it, which we knew would sit well with a lot of the music that we would want to put out.
Sean: Setting up a label is something I’ve been interested in doing for years; as a huge fan of music, it's sort of the inevitable next step! Joe had been producing and sending tracks over for my unfiltered feedback for a couple of years and was producing some really cool stuff at the time. We’d been good friends for years, promoting and DJing some silly parties for a while. So it just made sense really!
What differs you from other labels - what’s your niche?
Joe: Its hard to find a niche when there’s so many labels out there. We want to be quite versatile in genres and sounds in our releases which not that many labels do. It’s a lot harder in a way as I think it may be easier to get your name known if you stick to one style of music. But we both have quite varied tastes and we want that to show in the label. Sean once did a Bieber vs Slayer DJ set, so you get a rough idea of how eclectic his music taste is.
Sean: Eclectic mate, I’ve got an eclectic music taste for sure -as does Joe! I think for us, we both had a shared love of the same funky/disco releases, DJs like Floating Points & Jackmaster, labels like Numbers & Sleazy Beats, finding new tunes & producers, and having a fun time… so we wanted to roll all of those influences and tastes into our own label, putting out music that makes sense to us, and seeing how that grows and develops.
There have been some physical releases for your label already, are physicals the main goal for releases on your label? How do you go about choosing releases?
Joe: I imagine most of our releases will be physical from now on. We started out with a few digital only, just so we didn’t spunk loads of money down the drain whilst we didn’t really know what we were doing. We still don’t really know what were doing, but you’ve got to just dive in at some point. We're not really at a point where we can ‘choose’ releases. When you’re a small unknown label it can be very hard to find quality unsigned music - most music that we like of a certain quality will be signed to a bigger and better known label - so at the moment it's really a case of digging deep on places like Soundcloud and hoping to come across some undiscovered gems. We also don’t want to just settle for anything just to get a release out, we would rather do 3 or 4 quality releases a year than 6 or 7 slightly less quality just for the sake of making it look like we are more active.
Sean: Yeah, I agree. There’s something exiting about putting out physical releases! We love vinyl, and I think it says a lot about the music we ‘curate’ as a label that we want to pull it out of the ether of the internet and physically send it out into the world. It’s sort of like, ‘We love this music, hold it in your hands & listen to it!’. It's fun to be helping artists we like join the world of physical releases too, all our favourite ‘legendary’ producers & bands had no choice but to put out physical releases and put their money where their mouths were so to speak. Also for us, quality over quantity is key to developing the label.
What’s been the biggest hurdles you guys have faced in establishing the label?
Joe: I went to South America for 4 months like a week before our first release came out, so that didn’t help things much. Apart from that the only hurdle has been time. We both work full time jobs and so it can be very hard to get the energy and time to do what needs to be done.
Sean: Also the learning curve of stuff we have to research and find out about: how PR works, what different types of vinyl pressing techniques there are, different weights of vinyl and the multitude of options you have for how you want to package a release, the costs involved and researching different businesses to get the best service and rates, looking at contracts, how licensing & publishing works, web development for our website, social media accounts, how to structure a ‘business’ as an entity, accounting and tax etc… Basically for the last 18 months it’s been about balancing our lack of knowledge and limited free time against what we want the label to achieve. It feels like we’ve got to a place where it’s now easier for us to put the jigsaw pieces together and get a release out, so we can concentrate more on finding & pushing the music we love – which is the whole point!
What are the day jobs?
Joe: I’m a science teacher at an alternative provision (school for expelled kids).
Sean: I work for a national (and international) event promoter, book and promote clubnights around the UK, and a few other bits and bobs. I love to be busy!
What does the future look like for Honey Glazed both releases wise and moving the label forward?
Joe: We are very excited about the next release. We’ve got a Zapp inspired, vocoder/boogie funk EP lined up by a well known Bristol producer, who is starting a new alias for this funkier stuff. That’s pretty much ready to be sent off to get pressed so should be seeing the light of day in spring. Then we’ve got a few more instrumental hip hop projects in the pipeline that should be out at a similar sort of time. Aside from that we will be putting on our first label club night for the launch of that EP. That’s something that we will hopefully start doing 2 or 3 times a year.
Sean: Yeah, basically going funkier and going further than we’ve gone already. Keep building & exposing great music in many ways!
Why was Ramu’s Nightflight EP the first release you guys chose? Did this set out identity of the label?
Joe: It was our first release because I made it and we didn’t have any other music to choose from at the time. It was also a similar ilk to the kind of stuff that we knew we would want to sign.
Sean: Haha, you make it sound so bleak Joe! This was the first set of music that Joe had sent over to me as a mate where I went ‘Wow, he’s seriously stepped his game up’ – something a few of our friends also felt. It seemed to me like he was going to continue producing and developing his sound and I wanted to help him along the journey to get his music heard and get recognition for (what I consider) his talent.
What were the motives behind the release of Jansport J’s For Love, and why on cassette?
Joe: We are both big hip hop fans and so were keen to get some beat tape type releases on the label. I've been a fan of jansports music for some time and was aware that he's one of those producers who’s never really got the exposure he deserves. So we got in contact and he was keen to work with us. We decided to do a cassette as we knew that he’d done a few cassette releases before and that in the beat tape scene there’s quite a few tape collectors out there. It worked out well as we sold out of the few we got made pretty quickly and so it’s something we will definitely look at doing again.
Sean: That was pretty exciting for us as a label, getting a producer from another country released by us! The beats were dope, and we dug them.
Words: Tai Kolade