DIY Till We Die: Spinout Nuggets
Image credit: Spinout Nuggets
The short run label that operates out of Cornwall encompasses the DIY ethos into their label. Making it a personalised and passionate hub. We caught up with founder Lee Grimshaw to chat about his experiences, how Spinout Nuggets operates and much more.
Earlier in this series we covered a variety of DIY artists to get an in-depth and real account of life as an independent artist. It was clear that there were many advantages but also plenty of disadvantages. One thing that stood out was their dedication, hard work and resilience.
After chatting to the artists we wanted to open up a conversation with many DIY labels that exist to support said artists, so far we have chatted to Beth Shalom Records, Eeasy Records and now we speak to Spinout Nuggets.
Based in Cornwall, they are a short run physical only (mostly) label with a global reach (they have shipped records out to Japan). They’re open to all genres but they mostly focus around mod, Indie, punk and power pop.
We caught up with label founder and owner (as well as RouteNote employee) Lee Grimshaw to find out more about his experience running a DIY label, how being based in Cornwall has affected him and much more!
Thanks for taking the time to chat to us, how have you been?
Lee: Thanks for the shout. I’m still breathing! But it hasn’t been nice seeing so much loss along the way, and it’s been a very odd year for us all, but I do try to look to the positives. Everyone has had to adapt in our own ways. I’m usually away at weekends either DJing, supporting label bands or simply attending gigs/events as a punter, so it has been quite a change. But I have been lucky to be able to continue running the label.
So, when and why did you start your label Spinout Nuggets?
Lee: Spinout Nuggets started late 2017, with the first release going out in February of 2018. It was a kind of extension from a weekly online radio show (The Spinout Show) and club night (The Spinout Revue). It was always a dream to work within a record label environment, or even start one up, and it became possible through being accepted for voluntary redundancy following twenty-three years’ service. From a very young age I used to help out in the local record shop, and have been collecting records ever since (for their sound value, not their pound value), spending a lot of time in the record shop environment, so to actually help stock up those shops is a very nice feeling indeed.
Spinout Nuggets is a physical record label, and always will be, but we did start with a digital back-up early last year, due to some demand. Either the label or the bands will organise the digital side, and naturally I suggest using digital distributors such as RouteNote.
Would you say the label focuses on specific genres?
Lee: There’s no specific focus, and we’re open for anything, but historically we seem to be based on mostly Medway, Garage Punk, Indie, Mod Garage, Hammond Jazz, Jangle and Power Pop, with everything around those too. Mostly, DIY and passion are the main ethic. If it’s too polished, it’ll slide away.
I personally have a broad musical love, and always open to hear something different. I just guess the way it’s gone so far is what feels right, and I’m very lucky to know a fair few talented people, so what’s released is based on a friendship in one way or another.
A lot of those talented people have been in some of my favourite bands along the years – now in my current favourite bands of course!
Why does your label focus on short run physical releases?
Lee: The short run philosophy is purely based on keeping things fresh, not to make it for a chosen few, or anything else. If we sell out of the first pressings, then we’ll repress another lot if we can. Hand-numbering the sleeves makes it feel special, and I always liked that in the 90s buying the Indie/Brit Pop stuff, although they would usually be stamped at the pressing plant.
Check out Spinout Nuggets artist Armitage Shanks here:
I think for every release, we are already discussing the next one from the same artist/band, so the shorter runs assist with a continual flow. There is of course the saying ‘well, they had a chance to get a copy’.
How has vinyl’s recent increase in popularity affected you?
Lee: The recent interest hasn’t affected my side of things too much, as a lot of it is people buying back the records they got rid of years ago, but in remastered form, even though the first issues are still about. I guess in line with that, they are buying the new releases too. Most of the people I supply have never stopped buying records. Vinyl has always been the norm to them, like me. It is nice to have a bit more on offer, allowing new artists to push out physical formats, even cassette tapes.
Does running the label from Cornwall, an often overlooked county hinder Spinout Nuggets at all?
Lee: Quite oddly, of all the places in the world, Cornwall is the least supportive of the label, probably for no particular reason. I’ve tried to make it a prominent thing in Cornwall, but failed. It’s not an issue, but would be nice to have some localised support. I had planned to arrange a weekender of some sort with label bands and friends, potentially to be held in Cornwall, but the virus put a hold on that.
As well as having a UK distributor and a European distributor (also distributing to other countries such as Japan), I do sell direct through my own website, and other marvellous re-sellers in the UK too. I used to do all the pushing out, but would take up too much time. It’s nice to see releases advertised and available in far reach places such as Japan.
Has the internet made it easier for your label to exist?
Lee: There’s no doubt that the internet has helped in many ways. I do make sure I try and keep a human interaction with as many suppliers, customers, artists, etc as possible, but sending/receiving the ‘1’s’ and ‘0’s’ is a huge help.
Fortunately, mags like Shindig and Record Collector are very supportive, and are still in print, and it’s always nice to see a feature/review in a hard-copy. Equally, an online blog/review is very nice – I keep a record of what’s happened where, and always do my best to share through social media.
One thing I’ve learnt through doing the label is how to set up a website, with a Woocommerce plug-in too. Every day is a school day, and I’m constantly finding new things that the site has to offer. The site itself can be time-consuming.
“Every day is a school day, and I’m constantly finding new things that the site has to offer”Lee Grimshaw – Spinout Nuggets
Was the idea always to have a DIY approach?
Lee: It always has been, and always will be a DIY approach in many respects. Not denying that a little ease wouldn’t go a miss, but the down-to-earth, low level approach is something that’ll be held. It’s not about anything else but the passion. There’s only so much I can do, and a little help in order to get more done would be good, but that’ll come in time. Everybody seems to want to only do things for money these days, but all the label money goes back into the label.
Naturally, the label has grown in the last three years, and it would be nice to be able to grow furthermore, but always keeping grounded.
It’s important to remember that both label and artists should share any promotion and sales with the other half in mind too – label to promote band, band to mention label.
What have been the advantages and disadvantages of operating as DIY?
Lee: Starting from scratch has been a mission, and exciting. I had some good guidance from friends that have labels (relationships formed through supporting their labels), and some contacts passed over too, which I appreciated, and I was able to populate from that.
The natural advantage is that you are able to do what you want, what you like and what you feel people should be listening too. You also get the chance to get something on a vinyl record that you might want yourself.
I’m not sure the disadvantages greater than the advantages, it’s just simply having to put a lot of effort into every little bit, but with passion most of that will be natural.
“The natural advantage is that you are able to do what you want, what you like and what you feel people should be listening too”Lee Grimshaw – Spinout Nuggets
I looked to my favourite labels such as State Records, Heavy Soul Records, Hangman Records, Detour Records, Sarah Records and Damaged Goods Records, who I have spent many pennies on in the past, not to mimic, but to see what the basic working model looks like.
What are some success stories of Spinout Nuggets?
Lee: They are all successes! Which is very true. For some of the releases, I’ve been able to be part of it from inception, and able to catch the whole recording process in the studio. Being able to sit in a pub with a band and chat about what we’re doing next is always a good feeling. Helping to push the profiles of the bands is always a nice feeling too, even if they don’t need it.
The label’s success is based on the art it is providing – the musical medium. We do what we think people need. Success is when I see one of the releases in a shop, heard it played on a radio show or podcast, see it shared on social media or reviewed in a mag/blog, and that success is down to the bands.
I’ve been able to work with the likes of The Link Quartet, Graham Day, The High Span, Jetstream Pony, The Shop Window, Armitage Shanks, Thee Girl Fridays, Jarvis Humby, The Hurricanes, Billy Childish, The Veras, The Voo-Dooms, The Treasures Of Mexico, Andre M, The Luxembourg Signal and many more, and there is a very fruitful release schedule planned ahead.
Last December, the label did get featured as the ‘Label Of Love’ on Gideon Coe’s BBC 6 Music show, where he played six previous releases in a row. He’s a keen supporter, and we’re thankful for all presenters and supporters of the label. All successes are group successes, not just down to one individual.
Lastly, what advice do you have for DIY artists and those looking to start their own label?
Lee: I always say I’m purely the facilitator. It wouldn’t exist without the music creators. I’m very humbled to be working with so many talented people, many of which are musicians in my very own record collection. I’ve learnt a lot, and continue to learn as time goes on, and I’ll always try something first before I reach out to someone.
If you’re an artist, look around first to see if there is already something that suits your need – they might be just waiting for you! The whole partnership of band-label should be a very enjoyable one.
If ya gonna start a label, do it for the love and passion, not for the potential of any personal financial rewards. It’s time-consuming, and can be an isolated position – whilst looking out for future releases, pushing the current release out to radio stations/bloggers/podcasters, pushing out to social media, updating websites, overseeing the physical manufacturing, arranging artwork, assisting with recording/mixing/mastering decisions, stock-handling, packing/posting sales, arranging release campaigns and probably some other bits, you’ll also be doing something else to pay the bills. That said, with the right artists on board, it can be very fulfilling. It is for me.
Don’t be shy to try something different too if you believe in it – it might just work. Don’t have goals, have milestones!
Lastly, look after those bloggers, reviewers, supporters, gig-goers, record shops, publications, sound engineers, music studios and so on! They’re also needed to make this work!