Image credit: Blitzcat Records
In the final edition of our DIY Till We Die article series we chat to Blitzcat Records, a DIY label operating in London.
Blitzcat Records is a label run out of the UK’s big smoke, London. Formed in 2019 by Chris and Fil, two music lovers who decided to throw caution into the wind and make their dream of running a label come true. The pair had a dream to promote and help artists who they felt deserved to be heard. In their short time, they have already proven that they have a good ear. Their debut signee Play Dead has had a multitude of coverage from blogs and publications, extensive BBC Radio 6 radio play, and thousands of streams.
In this final edition of ‘DIY Till We Die’ we catch up with the two owners of Blitzcat Records to get an insight into their label, why they started, and much more!
Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, how have you been?
F: Yeah good mate! Relieved we can get out of the house now…
C: Extremely sunburnt.
So, when did Blitzcat records come to fruition and why was it started?
F: Clichéd I know, but honestly started out of pure frustration with a miserable job. A realisation of fuck it, “you just got to do something else”. So that, mixed in with the desire to be in and around artists who I thought people needed to listen to, is what drove me to set up Blitz.
C: I tried and failed to get a job in the music industry after I left uni and had always wanted to do A&R type stuff. When Fil asked me to join, it felt like a way I could scratch that itch without having to apply for another 150 jobs. As Fil says, also a bit of a ‘fuck it, why not?’ moment.
Can you talk us through the day-to-day of Blitzcat Records?
F: Chris waits for me to get up, proposes god knows how many things.
C: Basically involves relentlessly hunting down Spotify playlist curators. Really sorry – if your real name is your Spotify account name, I have probably already sent you a Facebook message… I guess it’s chatting to the bands, sorting things out, setting things up, shaping up campaigns, exchanging stupid memes, and of late, working on a few live projects!
When you were planning the label did you have an idea of the artists you wanted to sign?
F: Guess I’ve always been into gritty guitar bands – punk/garage bordering on noise – people like Drahla, A Place to Bury Strangers, mbv etc. You can see some of that reflected in the roster, but I think we both fall victim to all sorts of stuff. Don’t think Chris has got over that Talks song by PVA yet… Suppose you need to have an idea going into it, but don’t wed yourself too much to genres.
C: I’ve always liked labels that were multi-genre such as XL, Warp, and Ninja Tune. Generally, I think a label is more about building a vibe and an identity rather than committing to a genre. I’ve not really answered the question, but I think the short answer is no. We’re keeping our genres relatively narrow at the moment, but we’re always open to dipping our toes into something different.
How do you decide which artists you want to work with?
C: Obviously, the fundamental thing we look for is a pipeline of music that we both like and think will do well. Other things do play a role too, but I think we’re happy to compromise on a couple of things if the music is killer.
How does Blitzcat work and help artists?
F: We help artists focus on making music, while we lead on all the other stuff, which, for a band, can prove to be quite burdensome. So on top of the basic distribution, we handle the press, PR, all the different things needed to best support a release.
“We help artists focus on making music, while we lead on all the other stuff, which, for a band, can prove to be quite burdensome”Fil – Blitzcat Records
C: Give us ya tunes we’ll make you famous (maybe).
F: It’s fun because you essentially work as a team, label, and artist/band, you have laughs over whats app, beers, zooms – celebrate wins, curse your collective luck at things not working out. I think in particular of Sapphire Blues and the rollercoaster release of “Daydream” back in Jan/Feb. It’s that teamwork ethic that makes it all worth it.
Was the idea to always go down the DIY route?
F: I guess when you go “Let’s start a label”, it’s quickly followed by “…now what..” – So that sort of makes DIY a foregone conclusion haha. But I suppose that philosophy, or commitment to going for it, without giving a toss about cash, just doing it for the love of, is hopefully what aligns us with a lot of artists out there who are up for a bit of help.
C: Unless you’re a trust fund kid with money to burn, it’s basically impossible to start a label that isn’t DIY. It’s a jack-of-all-trades kind of game (hopefully master of some).
What are the advantages and disadvantages of running as a DIY label?
C: What you quickly find out is that everything costs a lot of money. The plus side of that is that it forces you to learn lots of new skills you never thought you would. I edit videos now. Who would have thought? Not me.
F: Yeah I suppose budgets aren’t high, but the friends you make with like-minded people along the way – artists, designers, writers, promoters, other labels – is banging.
Do you feel the internet has made it easier for you to exist?
F: The first band we fully signed, PLAY DEAD, was only days before the first lockdown. Prior to that, we were just hosting shows in London and Brighton. So as much as being incarcerated has been pretty damn horrible for us all – for Blitz, it did help us just focus on the 2, 3 things we needed to do, without any gig distractions, or looking over our shoulder at who was doing what, to get it to the place it is today.
C: Yes, big up my man Tim Berners-Lee.
Why is it that more artists are looking to be signed to a DIY label?
F: Freedom, really. All labels like us want to do, is amplify what artists are expressing to as many people as possible. The majors try to shape the artist to their liking I guess, with all the pressures that come with that.
C: It’s a super tough industry, and ultimately I think artists are looking for all the help they can get. Whether that’s through a DIY label, management, booking agent, etc. DIY labels, a good one anyway, can satisfy all roles in one – so from that perspective it’s a well-rounded leg up.
What have been some success stories of Blitzcat so far?
C: Fil filing our tax returns. We got there in the end, mate.
F: Tax returns + Lamacq spinning PLAY DEAD’s “Shaun” on drive time.
Why do you feel there are so many DIY scenes popping up and what makes a good DIY scene?
C: Call me a hopeless romantic but it feels like we’re headed for some post-pandemic roaring twenties era (albeit probably shitter than the 1920s one). People just want to have a bit of fun – carving your own way in a DIY scene is a great way to do that. A good DIY scene is filled with good people who are nice to one another.
Lastly, what advice do you have for someone looking to get involved with their local scene or wanting to start a DIY label?
F: Go for it! Particularly if our dear pathogen friend finally buggers off, go to shows, meet bands and show them your passion. Then before you know it, you’re up, up, and away.
C: Even if you’ve got no experience doing anything, as long as you like the music, anything you need to pick up you will.