State Records are quickly becoming one of the hottest labels on the garage and beat scene right now. With releases from bands of high calibre such as Thee Jezebels, The Thanes, and Graham Day and The Forefathers to name but a few. I asked co-founder of State, Mole Tozer, how it all began...
Mole: Initially, the label was formed by myself and Marty from The Higher State (hence the label name and ‘THS’ catalogue prefixes) in 2007, specifically to release a Higher State single, because we didn't want to waste time and energy schlepping demos around to various labels, with the usual lukewarm (or non-existent) responses, so we pooled a little money we had between us, and got the 1st record out (The Higher State ‘And In Time’ b/w ‘If We Don’t Realise’) ...no sleeve, no distribution at that point, but it was out!
Over time we started working with other groups, starting in 2009 with the 1st single from garage punk legend, Paul Messis (‘Stuck In Society’ b/w ‘The World Is Square’). We picked up decent distribution from Clear Spot in Holland and Get Hip in the US, branched out into mail order, stocking ace new titles from other hip labels around the globe, then in 2015, Marty dropped out, leaving me in charge of the whole operation.
Debbie: What do you get out running the label in terms of rewards? I'm guessing it's a passion rather than for financial gain?
There’s SOME financial gain—there has to be, it’s my only source of income! I do this for a living now, which is tough to say the least, but it’s just about viable. The real reward is unending positive feedback from people on each successive release, paired with repeat buyers and regular customers who basically buy everything I put out, which would seem to indicate that the label now has a good reputation for picking up interesting groups.
A massive reward for me is the sound of the records. Most of them we actually recorded ourselves, starting off on a cassette 8-track machine, graduating to a half-inch 8-track reel-to-reel about 5 years ago. I’ve got a home studio set up, crude and basic but effective. It also functions as a side-project to the label, if I record something I won’t (or can’t) put out....the label doesn’t really deal with LPs anymore (I just LOVE singles!!), so for instance, The Baron Four just tracked an LP’s worth of material with me, but someone other than State will put it out.
Releases selling out is also a buzz; although I wholeheartedly believe in EVERYTHING we’ve put out, it’s validated by people actually buying the things!
The other huge positive for me is the packaging and presentation of the releases...little things like finding a company that will press 7” records with an old-style push-out centre...having a print firm that can accommodate laminated flipback sleeves and produce our wonderful Parlophone-style company bags...the heavyweight vinyl runs we did for a while...the rubber-stamped plain sleeves...the hand-numbered postcards...
Debbie: What can we look forward to from State in the very near future?
Next on the list is a killer 45 from French garage/soul band, The Missing Souls (‘Sweet, Sweet Sadie’ b/w ‘The Alligator), due out 18th July. After that is the “comeback” single from The Embrooks (‘Nightmare’ b/w ‘Helen’), which should be out late August... other things in the pipeline include further singles with Les Grys-Grys and The Beatpack, either later in the year or early 2017.
Debbie: In terms of the garage/beat (and associated genres) scene, how do you feel it's faring just now?
Things seem like they’re in a good place right now, in terms of the ‘scene’ (not sure you can really call it that...) ...there are certainly some great groups doing the rounds now, alongside some older muckers (myself included!) who never lost faith. The ‘return’ of vinyl (I know—it never went away, but in mainstream terms) I think has had a positive effect on the smaller labels and groups, although everyone’s now fighting for pressing time/space with the majors, but we’re getting there. The various festivals in the UK and Europe (Hipsville, Franklin Fest, Funtastic, Purple Weekend etc etc) all seem to be flourishing, and there are plenty of younger people attending, hungry for something outside the narrow confines of media-fed listening.
Hoorah to that! A lot to look forward to. Thanks to Mole for taking the time out to chat. You can find State Records here... http://staterecs.com/