Hear the sounds of Goldsmiths’ new label NX Records

Emma Gritt

New NX logo gold 25th March square copy 300x300 Hear the sounds of Goldsmiths new label NX Records Goldsmiths, the hub of artistic creativity slap bang in New Cross, the middle of South London, is to launch its own record label. Considering the reputable college counts Katy B, James Blake and Blur amongst its alumni, it’s an exciting prospect.

NX Records will be launching officially on Thursday 9 May at The Royal Festival Hall as part of the PureGold Festival. The launch evening will run across three stages: The Front Room (NX Records launch with live performances from featured acts & DJs), The Purcell Room (a combination of contemporary, classical & pop performances) and The Queen Elizabeth Hall (featuring audio & visual work from the Electronic Music Studios).

Simon Deacon, Director of Popular Music Performance at Goldsmiths, explains the idea behind NX Records, which in conjunction with Matthew Hebert’s Accidental Records hopes to help launch some of SE14’s brightest musical talents, and give other students eyeing-up a career in the music industry some real hands-on experience.

Do you have any musical background?

I trained as a musician and performer – I’m a pianist and composer. I did my second degree, in music, at Goldsmiths in fact (in the Nineties), then went on to do graduate study at the Manhattan School of Music as a Fulbright scholar.

What is your personal backstory?

Hmmm…complex: activist and political performer in the Eighties – I was in radical gay theatre company Gay Sweatshop and socialist-feminist collective, Perspective Theatre Company (amongst others) before deciding to focus solely on music; then jazz, Bloolips, Justin Bond, some theatre commissions (at the RSC, The National, with Neil Bartlett & Struan Leslie for the Manchester International Festival).

I started teaching at Goldsmiths about 10 years ago, am now a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Music and lead on performance and creative practice on the popular music course. We started working with Matthew on his big band project, ‘There’s Me and There’s You’ with the Goldsmiths Vocal Ensemble and ESKA and did shows at the Royal Festival Hall for the London Jazz Festival, the Barbican and at Glastonbury.

What is the criteria for artists/acts being able to release music on NX?

Up to this point you need to be a student on the course, or have been on the course and have some great tracks. Matthew thought the quality was strong and that everyone who submitted tracks for the mixtape should be included. After we had selected a track from each artist, Hugh Jones (Crewdson) had the somewhat daunting task of mixing them into something that speaks of the integrity, experimentation and openness that we were looking for for the label – I think he’s done a fantastic job. We are now selecting artists for our first release, which will be a compilation later this year.

Is the label exclusively for music students?

As we’re just starting, it has only been open to students form the popular music course so far. We have an extremely strong pool of talent that we are nurturing in the department, but there are bands and artists all over the campus and in the local area. We want them to be included and for NX to reach out to other music communities in the future.

Do students have to give up involvement once they graduate?

It’s officially aimed at final year students or alumni up to three years after graduation. There are some second year artists on the mixtape – who are showing fantastic promise. In practice, I suspect that once students graduate they will want to engage with the label more – having then really developed their work. The current final year students have yet to show their degree show work at the Pure Gold show at the Albany. There are lots of roles in addition to being an artist that we need to fill to run the label.

Will other students be able to pitch in to do the artwork?

We aim to focus the work on emerging artists. Many of them already have their own aesthetic and are bringing design ideas, but we very much hope that other emerging artists from different disciplines will be involved in future projects – artwork, video, styling.

What do you hope this project will achieve?

First and foremost I hope that it will produce some fantastic music. We have no stylistic agenda. I expect it be a great platform for some exciting emerging talents and for the label to be a place for those talents to be nurtured. But also a place where artists aren’t afraid of challenge or experimentation. I hate the phrase cutting-edge – but… The label will essentially be student-run and led – with the support and guidance of Matthew and the team at Accidental and Goldsmiths. A great place to learn about the processes of the industry and to create some new ones – the industry itself is changing so radically from earlier models.

What will happen during the summer when the college is closed?

The label isn’t tied to the college or academic year. The aim is for the label to be professional and commercial. We hope to host NX nights – in New Cross and at London music venues. We are planning a compilation release in the Autumn, followed by the first artist signings and album releases in 2014. There’s quite a lot to attend to!

What are the legal aspects of this, who owns the rights? If the students own their own rights, how will the label make money?

Artists will own their own copyright (unlike on major labels) – giving them the freedom to make artistic decisions themselves, but with the label’s support. But, of course, the label will take a [fair] percentage of sales.

Can you please give an overview of its business model?

We’re very much in the pilot stage of development at the moment – with the mixtape and the launch at the Southbank – supported by the fantastically forward-thinking Enterprise Department at Goldsmiths. The next step is the compilation – a physical and online release, followed by signing and releasing solo artist/band albums. We have support from Accidental – creative leadership from Matthew, but also access to their networks, distribution etc. We’re about to open a new studio and rehearsal building at Goldsmiths and, as I’ve said, there’s an abundance of talent here; we have all of the constituent elements. Profit from sales – after the deduction of artists’ share – will be re-invested in the label. A lot of artists are releasing by themselves – it’s changing the face of the industry. NX will be a little DIY – a cottage-industry, but will also continue the support and connectedness they get from the programme at Goldsmiths, whilst also offering a professional framework from which to nurture their artistic development and launch music careers – but potentially as much in production, A&R, management, PR etc as in direct music making.

A mixtape of the artists performing can be heard here

NX Records launch in conjunction with Goldsmiths’ The PureGold festival will run across 3 stages at the Royal Festival Hall on 9th May. 6pm – 10:30pm, free entry. More details on Facebook

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