In our second instalment of ‘Label In Focus’ we chat to Adam Edwards and Joe Heddon of Lonely Voyage Records on the origins of the label, ethos and the records they’ve released. Fast becoming the essential go-to label for new Math and Post Rock, the independent label is one to watch. Check out their Bandcamp for all releases.
How did the record label start?
Adam Edwards: Before we founded the label, Joe had come on a few tours with my band (Lost in the Riots) as our unofficial merch guy, selling our CDs and t-shirts at shows, and I’d been using the Lonely Voyage moniker for tour booking, bits of press and my audio engineering work. It wasn’t until we started planning the release of the second Lost in the Riots’ album that we considered using Lonely Voyage as a platform to put out music. Move On, Make Trails was our first ‘proper’ release and after it dropped we began seeking out other suitable artists to be involved. We’ve been drinking beer and releasing great music ever since!
Joe Heddon: I’d been going to a lot of gigs for years (many of them with Adam), but Lost in the Riots coming into existence led to me becoming more involved with the math-rock / post-rock scene. I’d go to every show I could make it to (as well as on tour), and that meant I started seeing a lot of newer/smaller bands, as well as getting to talk to the people in them and those putting on the shows. I wanted to become more involved, especially as my own total lack of musical talent meant that playing in a band wasn’t an option. The label seemed like a good way to contribute, and help support music and people that I liked.
Most of the bands on your roster would be considered math or post rock. Why did Lonely Voyage follow this route?
AE: Our roster mainly stemmed from discovering bands at gigs or on tour, being fans of their music and in most cases becoming friends with the people in the band. I think it’s important for a label to have an identity as it means that people can trust your output – if someone likes one of your artists, it’s likely they will enjoy another artist on the roster – but we’re both huge music fans and certainly not tied to any one genre; We wouldn’t hesitate to sign a band if they sounded like My Own Worst Enemy era Lit…
JH: Yeah, as mentioned by Adam and implied by my previous answer, the label really grew out of Lost in the Riots and the people/bands we met through connections that band made. I listen to other genres just as much as I listen to math and post-rock, but I don’t have as strong a sense of what’s going on in the scene or connections with others who are involved in it. This stuff is relatively niche, so I think that also leaves more space for little labels like us to support and release some truly exceptional music when we’re just starting up.
I’m definitely open to working with bands that sound nothing like any of our previous releases. And, while the reputation we’ve built is within the math and post-rock scene, I think most people interested in those genres are likely passionate about music generally, and listen to a lot of other stuff as well.
Is there an ethos or mission statement behind the label?
AE: To release good music on a physical format for bands we think are great.
JH: …and who are composed of people we like.
It’s also important that everything we do is high quality. Obviously that goes for the music, but buying physical formats is a choice rather than a necessity, so I don’t see the point if it’s going to look like shit. You’re not going to order something from us and get a CD-R with a cheap sticker over it in a jewel case. I think it’s also important to be open and fair with anyone we work with. We’re realistic about what we can offer, and it’d defy one of the core points of the label if we didn’t have a great relationship with anyone we work with.
AE: Most people – including myself – will predominantly consume music while sitting on a computer or listening to an iPod, so it’s important to us that when people go the extra step to buy music on a physical format, they end up with something that looks and feels great, and they’re proud to have in their collection.
What key things does your label look for in a band?
AE: That we’re excited by their music and feel we have something to offer them! It’s no longer a requirement for a band to have label backing for their release, with plenty of artists successfully doing it themselves now, so it’s important that when we approach a band or they get in touch with us we can offer them something that suits their needs. That might include helping them financially to press the release on vinyl, booking them a tour or getting their album out on all the major digital stores; we’ve got to make sure the band are cool with what we can offer and want to work together.
JH: It’s got to be music I’d listen to a lot even if we were not involved with the release. I’m going see any bands we work with live whenever I can, so that’s got to be something I’m going to enjoy. I must have seen Poly-Math around 10 times this year, and it’s still great every time. I’d be excited to see them tomorrow if they announced a show I could get to.
AE: If the music is great and the band are nice, then I’ll be motivated to invest myself in the release and everything that comes with doing that. I’ve listened to every album and EP on the label roughly a billion times before submitting the order to the manufacturer, which is a good sign!
Is there anything that would make you not sign a band?
AE: Release schedule and cash flow are the biggest project killers – operating on limited resources inevitably means we have to be picky, but also ensures we can fully invest ourselves in each release. The way we work with bands is based on a loose agreement between us and them, which relies hugely on trust between everyone. Other than that, Joe and I haven’t disagreed about a band… yet.
JH: There are releases I’m disappointed we haven’t been able to do because we’d already committed what money we had available. Other than that, I wouldn’t put money into pressing vinyl or hours into firing off emails if I thought they were unpleasant people, regardless of how good the music was. That’s yet to come up though.
If you had to pick out one the signing of one band as a highlight, who would it be?
AE: Reptiles by Poly-Math stands out to me as I absolutely loved the EP from first listen and was really excited to be involved in the release. We’ve since been on tour with the guys across the UK and Europe, and it’s awesome to see how well the record is being received by people. Every time I see the guys live (most recently playing to a packed out tent on the Bixler Stage of ArcTanGent) it’s a pat on the back for our decision to be involved with their record.
JH: Too hard. As Adam said, touring with Poly-Math was a great experience. As was seeing them and Quadrilles both play ArcTanGent this year. If I’d wandered into either set having not heard of the band, I’d have been blown away and bought their music. I think the Bearded Youth Quest album, which we just put out, is ridiculously good. We were at their album launch show in London recently, and every song was fantastic live.
AE: Oh yea! The Bearded Youth Quest album is SO good!
Release wise; is there a particular you’re most proud of?
AE: Cop out I know, but I’m proud of everything we’ve released for different reasons. Move On, Make Trails obviously has a personal attachment for me (Look mum, I made an album and it’s on vinyl!) and was the starting point of the label which has allowed us to go on to do other things. It’s a great feeling to know that other band’s have trusted us to be involved with their projects and it’s super cool that people love the releases we’re putting out as much as we do.
JH: I’m going to cheat again and talk about more than one thing. It’s the Bearded Youth Quest album right now, because I just saw them and have been listening to the album so much. It feels like an instant classic for me – like I’ll be returning to it again and again years later, in the same way I have for a band like Adebisi Shank. It’s so good.
I think the combo of Poly-Math and Quadrilles is what really stepped the label up to the next level. They’re both excellent records which I’m still listening to regularly, and I think them coming out just a few months apart helped draw attention to the label and confirm that we were consistently releasing really good music (with BYQ continuing this run).
The Lost in the Riots releases are obviously special to me, because, in addition to being excellent albums, they’re vital to the creation of this whole thing and all the friends we’ve met through it. I have seen LITR live far more than any other band (who knows what the number is now?!) and got to hear the songs develop from their first live performances/early demos, hearing studio snippets (and visiting a few times), mixes at various stages of completion, and then the finished record. So, those are the releases I have the most personal attachment to.
What upcoming releases on Lonely Voyage Records are you most looking forward to?
AE: We’ve been talking to some bands about their upcoming releases, but everything is under wraps at the moment. Shhh.
JH: They’ll be good.
Anything in particular you’d like to add?
JH: Support bands and go to shows. Say hi if you see us there.
Also, check out our friends at Voice of the Unheard and Black Basset Records – two labels worthy of your attention.
AE: What Joe said.
5 key songs released on LVR
Lost in the Riots – Hey, Deathwish
Poly-Math – Castrovalva
Quadrilles – Tightropes
Bearded Youth Quest – Banana Flip Flop
And So Your Life Is Ruined – Berlino
5 key songs that made LVR come into existence
Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Moya
If I had to credit 1 song with getting me into post-rock and instrumental music generally, it’d be this one. I got Slow Riot For New Zero Kanada and The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place around the same time, when I was 16 or 17. I think 90% of what I listened to for the next 3 years was probably post-rock.
And So I Watch You From Afar – Set Guitars To Kill
Adam and I saw them open for This Will Destroy You, and were completely blown away by pretty much everything about it. I think that show and the purchase of the s/t album at it were important points on the road to us starting the label.
Minutemen – Double Nickels on the Dime
I can’t pick a single song from this album. They’re one of my favourite bands, and embody my idea of everything that’s positive about the concept of ‘punk’ more than any other band. They’re a continuing source of inspiration for me, and Mike Watt is the closest thing I have to a musical hero.
Incubus – Make Yourself
Another whole album. I think this was my first proper ‘favourite album’ – it felt like it was ‘mine’ and I knew it inside out. It’s therefore here for its influence at the time when my interest in music was first blossoming.
Lost in the Riots – Sinking Ships
Adam recorded this as a demo long before LITR existed, and sent me a couple of versions of it. The others heard the demo in advance of meeting Adam to jam for the first time, and a new version of it was the first thing LITR recorded.
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