Bytes

Location: London/Dorset

Est: 2019

Potted History: “It’s all Minotaur Shock’s fault,” laughs label boss Joe Clay. “I’ve known David Edwards for years. I used to work for his publisher back in the day when even bedroom producers had publishing deals.” David sent Joe some new music, which he loved. Joe tapped up his friend Wil Troup, who he’d known since they worked at Our Price in Bath together in the early 90s. He loved the tracks too, but didn’t feel it was right for his label, Ransom Note. He suggested the pair start something together and Bytes (named after the seminal 1993 Black Dog album) was born. “I was obsessed with cassettes at that point, inspired by labels like Reckno and Salmon Universe,” adds Joe. “So we decided Bytes would be a cassette label. That didn’t last long! I was a big fan of the electronic tracks that Ride’s Andy Bell had put out as GLOK. So I dropped him a line to see if he fancied compiling them on a tape. He did, and everyone loved it as much as we did.”

Mission Statement: “Put out music that we love and make nice things,” states Joe. “Everything’s got to look right and it does, thanks to our brilliant designer Graeme Swinton of Actually. We’re proud that Bytes has got such a strong visual identity. It enables us to release what we want as the artwork ties everything together.”

Key Artists & Releases: The plan is to work with a small roster of artists, rather than releasing a lot of music by different acts. “The first Minotaur Shock album is obviously hugely important,” offers Joe. “‘MINO’ was his first release for seven years. And then there’s the creative musical juggernaut that is Andy Bell. He doesn’t stop! The new GLOK album, ‘Pattern Recognition’, is incredible. We’ve really had to up our game working with Andy. He’s turned Bytes from a hobby into something slightly more professional. Most of our artists are prolific so the good music just keeps on coming.”

Future Plans: “We’ve had to slow down a bit. We released 10 albums in just over two years as well as various EPs and singles, which isn’t sustainable. But there’s lots of stuff in the pipeline. We’re working with an artist called Seagoth. She makes wonderful psychedelic indie pop, so it’s our first foray into that world. There’s a remix EP from Yoann Pisterman’s album coming soon and Franz Kirmann is working on something exciting. Herrmann Kristoffersen have been collaborating with Jörn Elling Wuttke, The Primitive Painter, and we’re hoping to be involved in that too.”

Any Other Business: “I’ve run labels before, but not in the digital age. The amount of admin was always ridiculous, but it’s crazy now.” sighs Joe. “You have to jump through so many hoops to get Spotify and the streaming platforms to even consider supporting you. But if we get one track on a popular playlist we can break even on that release so it’s a necessary evil.”

For more, visit bytes23.bandcamp.com

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