this was hoofed from PLATFORM… one of the more insightful/useful things i’ve found on there – it ain’t so bad when it’s not desperately trying to ape vice. more stories less vice. thanks.

Jodie & Victor might sound like a 70s gay porn studio but it’s not, it’s a new independent record label set up by chirpy Halifax lad Jodie (Victor) Ingram.

I’ve known Jodie for a good while now and he’s always been, as he would say, ‘well into his records’. A vinyl man through and through he’s the kind of guy that takes great pleasure in tracking down some obscure shoegaze band no one else has heard of and adding their limited 7″ to his ever expanding record collection. Thinking about it now it’s no surprise that he started his own label; in fact, the only wonder is that he didn’t do it sooner.

On January 18th, months of sweat and toil will be repaid as Jodie & Victor’s first release, a limited edition 7″ of Calypso Gold by Californian four-piece Princeton, will finally be available to buy. Over the past few weeks Jodie has had records pressed, distributed, and stocked in Rough Trade and Pure Groove, but a week today is when shit gets real and J&V001 will be unleashed upon the free market.

To celebrate this I went round to Jodie’s flat/Jodie & Victor’s head office in Stoke Newington for a chat. I wasn’t there just to pat him on the back – trust me he doesn’t need any more encouragement. I wanted to know how difficult it was to start form scratch and build a label form the ground up, by skill of his hand and by the sweat of his brow. I also thought that if another young label bosses out there amongst you might read this and see how it’s done, learn for Jodie’s mistakes, and maybe even follow in his footsteps, that would be nothing but a good thing.

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So Jodie, what made you want to start your own label?
Well since I was about 14 I’ve been listening to Factory Records, Sub Pop, and labels like that from my brother’s record collection. Then when I got a bit older I discovered the whole Saddle Creek thing with Bright Eyes, Rilo Kiely, Cursive and all those and I liked the way they did things; a bunch of friends growing up together and one day saying ‘why don’t we start a record label and put out records by our friends?’ In my head that that was always the fairy tale version of how I’d like it to happen and it inspired me loads.

The ‘friends helping friends’ mentality is important to you then?
Yeah it is. I can’t really speak for anywhere else bar Leeds and East London, but there are loads of awesome record labels and nights like Sex Beat and No Pain In Pop that operate like that – there’s a real community. I especially love Sex Beat because they’re mates and we help each other out all the time.

But why start from scratch instead of working for one of those other labels you admire? Was it important for you to be your own boss?
I wanted to get a job at a specific label, which one I won’t say, but they didn’t want to give it to me. So I thought I’d try and have a go myself. But it’s just fun, you know? If you do genuinely think that there’s a band out there that no one in your region has discovered and you’ve dreamt of starting a record label, then you should do it.

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And is that what happened with Princeton?
Yeah it was. They were unknown in the UK before this and now I’ve helped them build a bit of a reputation over here. This record is going to be in the Sunday Times Culture magazine next week and it got it’s first play on Steve Lamacq’s 6 music show last week, which is ace for the band.

I’ve been wanting to put a record out for ages, but the thing that takes the longest is finding the right band. You can’t go investing ‘x’ amount of money, especially when you don’t really have any money, in something that you don’t think is going to get a return to break even.

So, when it comes down to it, it’s about selling records and making your money back?
You have to break even if you want to put another record out – I don’t think I will this time. Well… I do, but you learn along the way that you could have done things better and cheaper. Because I’m doing it completely on my own and I started off not really knowing what I was doing I didn’t always do things the cheapest way. You make mistakes and pick things up as you go along.

Tell me what you learnt then. If I wanted to put out a record what would I have to do?
After you’ve done the hardest thing, which is finding a band, then you’ve got to figure out what you’re going to do for them, what record format you want etc. and agree a contract with them confirming that. Then you get down to actually getting the record made. To do that you need the master from the band, to get the artwork designed, then you need to contact a record making company. I used this company called Key Production, they’re really helpful and competitive – I won’t say they’re the best because I don’t know – and they pretty much do everything for you.

For the artwork they give you a template and you have to abide by that. Then if you can get a really good friend who’s really good at graphic design to do something for free, like I did, then you’re set. It helps if you can call in favours.

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After that you’re pretty much set with the first stage because once you’ve sent the artwork and the mp3s off to the lovely people at Key Productions you’re away. Next they send you a test pressing to check everything is cool – I got 5 of them. Don’t do what I did and get the test pressings then not reply to them for a month, they don’t like that! When you have the test pressing you say yay or nay, then before you know it you’re shitting yourself because a box of 300 records has turned up at your door and you’re thinking ‘what the hell do I do with these?’

That’s the production stage over, all you need do next is sell the record. For me that was easy because I had a really good press release for the record already written and it was just about touting that around places like Rough Trade and Pure Groove. But that’s the last stage, getting shops to sell the thing.

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How difficult was that? Was there much persuasion involved?
There probably could be, but I’ve had nothing back but positives. Every store I’ve asked to stock the record has said yes. Quite a few have paid up front, which I was told wouldn’t happen at all. It’s going really well. I got an order today from some guy in Italy who messaged me asking for 15 or 20 records.

But the best way to start a record label if you’re doing it independently is to have a club night or a magazine, because it gives you a platform to build from. Once you’ve got thousands of friends on facebook or what have you, your work is half done. Then you have a pool of people and a load of fans to market your record to, and hopefully some of them will buy it. Whereas for me it was just me, myself and I, trying to build a following from scratch. It was difficult but it can be done, it just takes a lot of hours and you have to be prepared to spend a load of time adding people and  e-mailing around to get a profile.

What is next for Jodie & Victor?
I don’t even class it as a label at the moment, that sounds a bit too established, but I intend it to be.

You’ve got your eye one your next release then?
I know what I’m going to do, I reckon. As long as I get some money back form this records, because as you know the money for this all came form my own pocket, its not like I had a club night to fall back on. But as soon as I break even, or half even, then I can put another record out. But I think that’s the only way of doing it. There’s no real point in just putting one record out. You can’t expect great things to happen stright away, you have to keep pluggin away.

What advice would you give to someone else who wants to do what you’ve done?
If you believe in the record that you’re putting out then you’ve not got a problem. Of course not everyone is going to like what you’re putting out, but if you do and if you can afford to do it, which will cost you between 6 and 7 hundred pounds for 3 – 5 hundred records pressed with everything, then you should go for it. If you find a band you like with a team of friends to help you then nothing should stop you.

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Was it important for you to do it on vinyl?
I don’t own anything but vinyl, all my music is on vinyl. I don’t preach, but I do believe in buying music and buying it on vinyl format. I think CDs are ugly. I can’t imagine getting anything pressed on a CD, I think it would be weird. I’ve not bought a CD since I was about 16.

Doing things on vinyl just looks great. With a descent designer and nice artwork it makes things more appealing. Making things limited editing and something worth having is important to me.

I couldn’t agree more, and with his first release Jodie has made something that really is worth having. If you like what you’ve seen then go buy his record, then he can get to work on the next one.

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