In Conversation; Transparent Records


In Conversation; Transparent Records

Our final Independent Label Market interviewee is Jack Shankly...

As tomorrow’s Independent Label Market fast approaches and details of über-exclusives – XL Records’ “Record Label Starter Kit” for example – continue to emerge, we wrap up our series of chats with some of the label bosses involved with Transparent‘s Jack Shankly.

Currently championing the rather splendid Purity Ring and having put out early releases from Washed Out, The Smith Westerns and Yuck to name but a few, Transparent are one of the hottest labels in town, and their stupendous blog is an absolute must. We caught up with Jack to chat about tomorrows big event…

What was your inspiration for starting a label?

I guess it came as a logical extension from the other things we were doing at the time – running a fanzine, then a clubnight and a blog etc. Just a curatorial spirit and desire to share the things we loved with as wide an audience as possible.

What has been the biggest change caused by downloading to your label and the independent record industry as a whole?

I guess we embrace it really, to be honest. We’re a small, boutique operation and only sell things in limited runs so it isn’t particularly harmful for us to give the music away free digitally. In fact, we find it helps promote the records quite nicely.

Berwick Street is obviously a huge part of the UK’s music heritage, how big a loss, do you think, are shops like Sister Ray to popular culture?

It definitely really sucks because those places really were/are great creative hubs and you get a really strong sense of curation and selection within them in terms of the records `they stock and support but I guess there’s a similar kind of identity being fostered online now in terms of blogs etc. Still, it’s a bit sad and scary to think that everything might exist solely in the internet one day. Music’s a totally social thing and those bricks and mortar shopping experiences are really enriching and satisfying.

We have fond memories of trawling through stacks of vinyl on the hunt for something special, hanging around in record shops, meeting new people, and so on… How important do you think events like this and Record Store Day are in both preserving something special, and introducing the digital kids to the excitement of physical music?

It’s definitely a great way to get people energised and excited about buying music again, especially with so many great labels offering exclusives and rarities etc. I read a great article by Simon Reynolds in the Wire this month about how downloading culture has totally exploded the culture of scarcity around music and I think that totally applies here – it’s an amazing feeling discovering something special by pure chance or serendipity – one that huge minesweeping torrent download sessions will never really replicate for me.

Are you looking forward to meeting the record buying public? What do you think you’ll gain from the experience as a label boss?

Absolutely. It’ll be nice to meet people that are into what we’re doing. Sometimes being trapped in the internet can feel a bit like an echo chamber and it’s weird thinking that actual human beings enjoy the things we strive to put together.

Photograph from Vice Style