Founded in 2016 by Matt Ridout (ex-Deathscalator, currently Casual Nun, Mummise Guns, and others…) Hominid Sounds is one of the labels, along with Rocket Recordings, God Unknown Records, Box Records, and Riot Season Records at the centre of the New Wave Of British Heavy Psych. In the first half of 2020 alone they’ve released half a dozen killer albums, including Bruxa Maria’s The Maddening, Casual Nun’s Resort For Dead Desires, and Mark Dicker’s Carrier Waves with more coming. Matt was kind enough to answer a few questions via email. We talked lockdown, records, and how the UK psych/noise scene isn’t really secretly one big band. [Note: I’m not entirely convinced – NA]
What was the impetus behind starting Hominid Sounds?
I guess it was creating an outlet to release the music that we saw building up around us? There were a lot of exciting new bands and sounds coming out and it seemed like there needed to be more labels to help make sure things saw the light of day.
I had known Gordon (Watson, Terminal Cheesecake/Luminous Bodies) for years before we started, and he’d recommended that my band Casual Nun record with Wayne (Adams, Bear Bites Horse Studios, Petbrick, Big Lad) as he’d had a really good experience doing the Luminous Bodies record with him. I guess I sort of knew Wayne beforehand, but it was that recording session for the first, and second, Casual Nun album over one weekend that plans really started to form.
There were a lot of exciting new bands and sounds coming out and it seemed like there needed to be more labels to help make sure things saw the light of day…
He mentioned to me that he’d started thinking about doing a label and I told him that Gordon and I were often chatting about the same thing. Shortly after that everything just fell into motion, Graham Dyer was having a conversation at a gig with us all and expressed an interest in being involved and that was it.
The first release was a We Wild Blood cassette in June 2016, followed pretty swiftly by the debut vinyl releases from Casual Nun and Melting Hand in September the same year.
Your releases have been pretty wide ranging, from heavy psych, to free jazz, to electronic weirdness, to contemporary classical and yet aesthetically they’re very consistent. That’s really clear from the series of smaller comps you’ve been doing. What makes you want to work with a given band?
I guess just an affinity with what they’re doing and, crucially, everyone is psyched on doing it. As there’s four of us we work in a democratic fashion which means we’re putting out music that we’re all very excited about. The one ace in the hole that we’ve got is Wayne’s recording so many good bands that, nine times out of ten times, we’ve heard the recordings before anyone else will have.
How has lockdown impacted the label?
Hard to say? One thing that has definitely had an impact is the Bandcamp Fee Free days where they waive their commission to help labels and artists who’ve been impacted by the sudden change in circumstances caused by the lockdown. It seems like the community has coalesced around those dates and are spending money they’d otherwise save for gigs, or just socialising in general.
Those Bandcamp days have been the biggest single days of sales for Hominid so it’s really difficult to say what the lockdown would’ve looked like without it, you know? It’s one of the many reasons I can’t sing the praises of Bandcamp enough. They’re the one outlet in the streaming website swamp who are nurturing a relationship with artists and labels, and see artists and labels as crucial to their success.
When they’re doing really tangible, constructive things like offering fee-free days and sites like Spotify are only offering the opportunity of attaching a GoFundMe link to your artist page, you can clearly see who’s who right?
When they’re [Bandcamp] doing really tangible, constructive things like offering fee-free days and sites like Spotify are only offering the opportunity of attaching a GoFundMe link to your artist page, you can clearly see who’s who right?
It seems like there’s been a real heavy psych – noise rock renaissance, particularly in the UK, over the past five or six years. I’m thinking in particular of the circle around Hominid Sounds, Rocket Recordings, Riot Season, Box Records and God Unknown. Any thoughts as to what brought this about and why the scene is so fertile?
For me it’s been really organic. Labels like Rocket and Riot Season have been plugging away for years supporting the bands that were coming through and I guess it was bound to multiply into what you see today. As a label we would’ve struggled without the advice of Box and Rocket specifically. We tried to make a lot of mis-steps when we first got going and those two labels in particular have been really helpful in steering our ship away from the rocks. I think that’s one of the great things about the UK ‘scene’ is it definitely feels like everyone’s supportive of what each other are doing and happy to give their advice whenever it’s needed.
Is the UK noise rock scene really one giant band? Or does it just look that way from the outside?
It sometimes seems like that, but nah, it’s not quite that homogenous. There’s clusters like that for sure, Casual Nun for example share a studio with Luminous Bodies, Gum Takes Tooth, Michael and Henge so that’s a pretty tight-knit group there, but I think overall it’s a lot more broad than it’s perceived to be.
You’ve just released a really cool album by Shuck and have The Shits out in Aug. What else is on tap for the second half of the year?
Black Shape are a fantastic band we’re doing a full length release for sometime in 2020, also looks like the UKAEA record might be a part of this year’s releases too. We’ve also got a release on cassette from Russ Smith of Terminal Cheesecake under the name of Plastic Face, that’s a banger too.
What non-Hominid albums should people check out?
I personally buy pretty much everything that comes out on Drunken Sailor, they’ve got some incredible releases out like the Antibodies from Prince Edward Island, Canada, Booji Boys, Alien Nosejob, No Negative and Chain Whips. They seem to get a really good selection of stuff from across the globe.
Closer to home the new We Wild Blood vinyl is coming out on Hot Fools Records, which is run by the band themselves. That’s a label I’d keep an eye on as I reckon they’re going to have a bunch of awesome releases there. Halfmeltedbrain Records from the South Coast is another label that is pretty new and definitely doing some really cool releases. The Human Worth label from the Modern Technology guys is shaping up to be one to watch as well, they’re doing some really cool stuff.
In general it seems like there’s another new wave of labels popping up now, which is really healthy for making sure that there are outlets for artists to get their work heard. All in all, with the labels, bands, promoters that we’ve got here at the moment, it’s one of the most exciting times for underground or outsider music or whatever you want to call it in the UK.
Interviewed by: Neddal Ayad