Safe Suburban Home

An independent label from York, from the minds of couple, Em and Jim Quinn alongside long-term friend Jase. A real family feel to this label there is a sense of comfort surrounding the artists and those behind it. With a new release coming every month until Christmas there are loads of exciting things happening. A real labour of love in this label, where there is now a need to support those on the fringe of life. A pull toward online content there is an upsurge on physical music.

However, with lockdown, how has this influenced and changed the face of music? As we see more and more artists doing livestreams, how are small labels finding the strain of lockdown?

Talk to me about the label... Our label is based in our home here in York.  When we look back to our earlier year’s we used to love receiving letters and packages through the post.  I have fond memories of my teens, going into town to buy an album on a Saturday morning and spending the rest of the day listening and pouring over every detail in the booklet of the cassette or CD.  Finding out bits of information, before internet days, and sharing it with likeminded friends.  I’m obsessed with finding new music and we want to share this with other people and share that little of bit of joy when the package arrives in the post. It’s a real labour of love running a small label, to look at it simply as a business, you’s shut it down straight away.  But it’s more than that to us.  A genuine passion to find artists we love, share them and build up long-term genuine friendships with artists and other members of the indie community we work with. Who are the people behind the record label?  SSH is run by Em and I with help from a long-term friend Jase.  Em and I are married which means there’s always music chat going on in the house. What is the overall aim? I’d love label to become a proper part-time business at some point, but at the moment the aim is to find the best music we can for the limited budgets we work on.  With every release we’re getting better as a label, learning more and getting better opportunities for the artists.  I want this to continue and be get repeat custom and a reputation for quality releases no matter what the genre is. How did you start? The label started at Christmas 2017.  I’d been toying with the idea for a while and Em agreed to invest some of our savings in a 7” single.  We then had to find the right band to start the label off.  We’ve been gradually growing ever since. What was the drive to starting a record label? Our house is always full of music, and after 20 years playing in some great bands I’d realised that I’m better and organising stuff rather than playing.  I still love playing, and perform with York bands Hoogerland and Nauseous Skies but having full-time day jobs and families its easier to devote more time to the label which can be done from home. Talk to me about the artists We’ve had such a good roster of bands!  The first band we signed was The Velts from Malta.  On reflection a bit of a risk considering we’re based in York.  I still remember hearing the demo of Rollercoaster for the first time and I was absolutely blown away.  I listened to it non-stop for a week before I decided to take the plunge.  The Velts are a band that have got it all, amazing vocal hooks and a really diverse set of influences.  To top it off they are technically brilliant, hard working and the nicest bunch you’ll ever meet. Next we signed Perspex from York.  I think between us on the label we saw them about ten times live before we signed them.  I remember seeing them in a tiny pub in York, the sound was terrible, their crowd was mental, but the energy of the performance and the hooks were amazing.  This band will go on to write an amazing album, trust me, ones to watch. Most recently we signed The Early Mornings from Manchester.  I think we got the demos originally in autumn 2018 and it took us ages to finally get to see the live.  We drove across to see them supporting Porridge Radio in Salford and pretty much signed them the next day.  I love to talk to The Early Mornings about their music, it’s so well through through and executed brilliantly.  Everything sits together so well, the ethos of the band, the sound, the artwork.  Momentum was really building too and lockdown kind of put things on hold a bit.  They will be back out as soon as they can and you should go and catch them live. How have you adapted to lockdown? Lockdown really stopped us in our tracks.  A lot of the growth of the bands comes from touring and with being out on tour the label also pick up other indie collaborators to work with.  The cancellation of shows is a massive issue.  We’ve decided we need to keep the momentum up we’re putting out 6 cassettes releases this year from a real mix of artists.  Some stuff we’ve wanted to sign previously but it hadn’t worked out and some new things we’ve had submitted this month.  It’s going to be hard work but if it keep the label going and help the artists out, we’re all winning! In your opinion, how will lockdown affect the future of the music industry? I think it’s the venues that are going to suffer the most.  They are people who do the most for the industry too.  They are always there, always putting shows on and I just don’t see how it’s going to possible to put a socially distanced show on.  How important is the physical copy of music? For us it means everything, it’s the entire reason for the label.  We put our releases out digitally too, for all its issues Spotify does mean new listeners to your music, but it’s all geared to major labels.    From a label point of view, a physical release means there’s more chance of everyone getting paid. Who are some artists you gravitate toward? I can normally tell if I’m going to like something in about 10 seconds, just by the way it’s been produced and if there’s something interesting going on.  We all look for different things in music, but personally i like noise, strong melodies and a bit of weirdness. I love early Blur, Teenage Fanclub and The Lemonheads, melodic punk such as The Clash & The Buzzcocks , 90’s American alternative and recently really digging 80’s pop such as Prefab Sprout. What does your passion for music look like? It looks like an obsession.  When I’m into something I will literally spend weeks listening to it and finding out as much as I can about it. Is there a sense of longing toward the past with music? Yeah, I think there is.  I liked to be challenged by new music, but sometimes I like to just listen to a record I know and love, its easy and relaxing. When people describe music they always take about reference bands from the past! How does lockdown make spreading the awareness of music difficult for young bands and artists? Taking away shows from young bands is a killer, not only is it losing an awareness but they are losing their entire scenes too.  Luckily, I’m convinced more people are streaming music.  We’ve definitely seen more streaming of our artists going on which is encouraging. From a record label perspective how will we have to adapt to the world of online more?

I really hope I’m wrong, but I don’t think we’ll be going to shows again until next year now.  Buying indie stuff will really help the artists and labels going.  It’s weird but we’ve been selling more stuff since lockdown than before, maybe because people aren’t spending money going out.  I’m hoping when one of our records or cassettes drops on a doormat, it brings some brief joy! What other labels do you think need recognition?

There’s a load of great indie labels in the north.  Come Play With Me and Clue Records in Leeds and Bingo Records in Sheffield.  I’m a real sucker for everything Burger Records in California do. What’s next on the cards?  Loads of cassette releases.  We’ve agreed terms with a bunch of amazing diverse artists to release limited numbers of cassettes.  The first release will be in July and then there will be a new release every month until Christmas!  To say we excited about it is an understatement. What’s the story behind calling the label ‘Safe Suburban Home’? The name of the label is based loosely on the house we moved to when our daughter was born.  But it also doubles up as some of the ethics of the label.  We like to act as a kind of family here and the artists are always encouraged to call, e-mail or pop round whenever they like for a chat and to talk music.

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