The pioneers of aviation were never lonely
Push your shoulders and hands under the surface of the water.
Who: Polytechnic Youth..
Where: London, England What: We release predominantly vinyl only .
Cat No: DW-360
Can you tell us a bit about how and when the label started?
My name is Dom and I have run Polytechnic Youth for getting on 3 years now. It is run on something of a co-operative nature whereby artists released by us, or fans of the label, local friends you name it, can all muck in with artwork, film clips, ideas, even brewing their own PY ales in one instance recently. The logo was designed by 'Trouble in Mind' records head Bill Roe.
The label started pretty much when an old friend decided on a career change and ploughed his savings into buying a record cutting lathe direct from the guy who built it in Germany. This enables us to release anything from a single one off copy of a record up to 100 and has opened doors to cutting wackier runs like 5/7/8/9" singles. Some of these might have 'glow in the dark' spindle adaptors or might play inside out, label out. We like to keep experimenting and therefore keep fans of the label on their toes.
These smaller run releases are "released" during a designated time slot a few days ahead - on Facebook - to give everyone a chance to get one. It builds a sense of anticipation as a new one hits the racks.
We'd often tire of pressing plants being clogged up from December to April because of Record Store Day. For example, EMI are about to release their umpteenth Beatles reissue which slows things right down for those of us who press all year round. So to bypass "proper pressing plants" sometimes by pressing our own lathe cuts which can be sent off on a Monday then be out selling on a Friday and sold out by close of play that day, is quite cool.
How did the name come about?
It was suggested by Alan Outram, a close label buddy who has recorded several tracks for the label under various names and has recently set up a label himself, "Horror Pop Sounds".
Are there any particular genres that you specialise in or is it just about music that you like?
Yes, after running labels with an "anything goes as long as we like it policy", Polytechnic Youth concentrates on a key love of mine, minimal synth and the DIY/private press nature of that classic period of 1978-1982. Electronic recordings with sparse, DIY packaging. Nods to krautrock especially what I'd term the second wave (Sky as opposed to Brain, Innovative Communication as opposed to say Ohr or Pilz) and early 80s synthpop.
Can you tell us a little bit about the city in which you are based and what influence, if any, is might have on the label?
I live in Crouch End, North London. Despite members of Suede, Oasis, Feeder and Altered images living nearby it's fair to say that this has no bearing on a Polytechnic Youth record!
What formats do you sell?
Vinyl only really. Although within that we like to experiment hugely. As I mentioned above, we like to keep fans and collectors of the label on their toes and never quite knowing what to expect and when. I am a huge vinyl nut and collector of several years and I think that shows in the care and attention to details of the label's releases; ie. how they look as well as sound is key.
So varying sizes of vinyl in varying colours, right through to numbered screen prints by an artist friend of the label (Nick Taylor), PY pale ales brewed by guys in Tomorrow Syndicate, t-shirts etc, all with assigned catalogue numbers.
These days every musician can get connected to their own social-media channels and Bandcamp, etc and promote and publish their own work. Do you think this has changed the role of the independent label or don't you think too much has changed as a result of Bandcamp, Soundcloud etc?
Of course it has changed hugely, speaking from my side of the fence I much prefer it. Pointing us to an artist's Bandcamp or Soundcloud page is preferable to the old days of receiving demo CDs and tapes through the mail. It's also a good tool to discover artists whose music is in a similar vein by online links from existing favourites. So it's really a case of trawling through experimenting and you genuinely find absolute treasures sometimes....
Do you involve yourselves in any live events – gig showcases or DJ/clubnights attached to your label?
Not really. I'm full of admiration for gig promoters- I can sell 500 copies of a band's LP quite easily yet that same band I'd struggle to get 16 people into a show for. Weird. I've never fared too well so I stick to releasing records!
Swimmers Club has a focus on the state of independent culture at the moment (independent coffee shops, presses, record labels, etc). How healthy do you think independent culture is right now? How could the state of it be improved?
I think it is in a very healthy state to be honest. I mentioned living in Crouch End where we have a nice balance of independent stores outnumbering the dull chains here and historically there has always been an artistic side to Crouch End and it's residents. It has a cut off kinda feel with no tube close-by and that creates a small town/village vibe which hasn't been interfered with by hipster crowds that can often bring pricier shops, bars and so on. We have 3 record shops within walking distance, a revered recording studio at the bottom of our road, a few nice bars, independent restaurants, coffee shops and 2 cool cinemas so we are pretty fortunate!
Can you tell us a bit about a few of the artists releasing stuff in association with your label in the next few months?
Expect new releases across a slew of varying sized vinyl from the following: Faten Kanaan, Hologram Teen (Morgane ex-Stereolab), Polypores, Tomorrow Syndicate, Mitra Mitra and Volume Groop to name a few...
We release predominantly vinyl only releases either in 5/6/7/8" small run lathe cut editions right up to 1250 copy 45s (Pye Corner Audio) and 3>500 pressing LPs.
cheers, D | PY