Labels 002: Claremont 56

September 9, 2009

For the second of our label round-ups/interviews we thought we’d get in touch with Mudd, owner and recording artist, for his very own Claremont 56 label. Claremont have been steadily flying the flag for quality music, across the realms of mellow balearic disco, in a forward thinking fashion for some time now, as well as releasing some classic back catalogue material from Sal P from Liquid Liquid and the forthcoming Holger Czukay release. Add in the Originals series, so far compiled by Moonboots/Balearic Mike and Mark Seven, plus all the hand-numbered releases and you can see this is a label of love.

Claremont 56 Logo

What was the original reason/inspiration for setting up the label?
I set it up to have the freedom of releasing anything I want whenever I want and to have the option of doing nerdy things like hand numbering and matt laminated gatefolds. Mmmm.

Where did you get the name from?

It’s the address of where I grew up and also where Tom, Steve and I made the first Akwaaba album.

If you could sign any artist who would it be? What period?
Arthur Russell, 70/80s

Favourite release to date? I know it’s hard to pick one…
I’m very proud of the track I did with Ahmed Fakroun so that’s up there and Shulme will always be a favourite, but I think the Idjuts remix of Vegetable Square has to take it because it was pretty ground breaking at the time. I know they’ve since been asked by other labels to do something similar.

Fist Of Facts Sleeve

How did you hook up with Sal P?
I met him when I played APT in New York with Spun about 3 years ago and the after licensing his track for the first Originals comp, he revealed he had a few bits tucked away that I might want to hear.

Must have been amazing going through the tapes – is there more to follow?

It was very exciting as I had absolutely no idea of what I was going to hear. He sent me about 10 in all that had a huge cross section in style but sadly some were in so poor shape sonically that I couldn’t use them. Most were recorded on cassette tape and were just from live jams in the studio so they were never really intended for release.

Holger Czukay Sleeve

Another legend you are releasing soon is Holger Czukay – how did that come about? Good choice of tracks by the way and nice design…
I got the chance to see him at the Roundhouse Theatre earlier this year and he told us a story about how the original of Ode to Perfume was 22 minutes long so he had to chop the end off to fit on the LP (this is Fragrance, which will be on the B side). He then played us a different version that really made my hairs stand up and I immediately thought it needed to be released, hopefully on Claremont 56.

I spoke to him about it by email and there was a bit of confusion about who owned it, and after going round the houses it all seemed to be going nowhere. Three months later I’d almost given up hope but then his manager called me and after 40 minutes worth of questions she said she’d get back to me. Two minutes later she called me back and handed the phone to Holger, he approved and they’ve been really helpful ever since.

Future plans for the label? Where do you see it going? More albums? Own webstore?
I’d like the chance to work with some more of my heroes and I’m really enjoying the search for tracks that have never come out but the main route for the label is to release good quality new music. The originals series will continue and hopefully I’ll find some new acts to break. I’ve also started Claremont inc with my friend Simon and that will release more live band based music.

I do have a webstore on the site at the moment, it’s here.

Mike & Moon Originals Compilation

Is digital important to Claremont or is it just a way to inform about the physical releases? And where do you sell online?
Physical sales are down for everybody and I think if you ignore the impact of the digital sector (which I did for a while) then you’re going to lose out. You’ve got to move with the times to stay afloat and as the label builds it has started to become very important factor in keeping it going. Also, every track is pretty much available on blog sites as soon as you release them anyway so you might as well try and make some money out of it!

I use bagpak in New York to handle it and they seem to be on the ball. You can buy them from all the usual suspects, beatport, dancetracksdigital, iTunes etc.

What would make life easier for you as a label owner?
A trained monkey for the hand numbering, kids getting back into vinyl and people paying on time.

What’s upcoming on Claremont?
Next up is the Holger Czukay release which should be out before October starts and following that is a new EP by Smith & Mudd that goes a bit darker than the usual stuff. Originals 4 is ready and there’s a LTD 10″ (300) of one of the rarer tracks to go with it.

There’s also a 7″ coming out that will be exclusive to Oki Ni which comes with a sexy wooden middle.

Any celebrity fans? Has Robert Plant been in touch?
None that I know of and no, not yet!

You run the label full time – how did you get into this? What’s your background?
I trained as a typographer but always dreamed of being in the music business so the real job kept me fed while I immersed myself in my hobby of producing. I eventually just thought fuck it, it’s now or never and made the break with a small pot of money behind me. It’s amazing how many options open up to you when you make the move and I know that if I continued to do both, I would never be in the position I’m in now. I’m poorer, but a lot happier!

I love the hand numbered releases – who is the poor bugger that has to sit there and number them?
Just me and my silver pen.

Mark7 Originals Booklet

Who distributes the label and where can anyone interested get in touch to find out more?
I distribute to the UK, Clone handle Europe, Groove Distribution America and my friend Ban from Japonica handles Japan. They can get in touch with me through the website.

What’s been your favourite experience while running the label?
Getting the chance to make the music, design the label, manufacture it and then sell it is an incredible feeling that I feel very lucky to have. Everyday is different and can change with an idea or one email so it’s always exciting and interesting. It’s hard to pick the best bits but the photography for the Originals compilation series is always lots of fun as it’s normally beer fuelled.

Nice one! Thanks a lot for your time.

Holger Czukay and the fourth Originals album (those with keen eyes will not one is missing – Sean P’s is delayed) compiled by Matthew and Jolyon (tidy!) will be out in October.



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