Owner Follow-Up Interview
with Steve Dewhurst of J&C Tapes
Name: Steve Dewhurst
Label: J&C Tapes
City: Nottingham, UK
Artists Roster: Komodo Haunts, Derek Rogers, Wizard Of, Rejections, Invisible Path, Lutto Lento
Original Label Owner Interview with QRD
QRD – Any major changes to the label or your general outlook on running a label since last time?
Steve – Well, I had to rename it for a start. I say “had to,” I mean I sort of chose to. I had a couple of emails in quick succession about the reasoning behind my using the word “Chinaman” - it was, as I’ve explained numerous times elsewhere, a reference to a pony on Captain Scott’s Antarctic expedition – & did I know it was widely considered to be an ethnic slur? I didn’t, actually – I thought, more than likely to my great detriment, it was really the same as saying “Englishman” or “Irishman” – but the last thing I ever want to do is cause offence, so I renamed the label J&C Tapes & kept the tribute to the ponies confined to the image in the logo.
QRD – How do you feel labels are more & less useful to artists now than they were five years ago?
Steve – Well, labels like mine are of no use whatsoever in an economic sense. I suppose tape labels provide a platform for artists who would stand no chance of getting a release elsewhere; not because they’re not good enough, but because the largest part of the world’s population is made up of tasteless idiots. My releases always sell out & end up in the hands of people who have a genuine passion & appreciation for experimental art & a desire to support those who make & distribute it. But whatever you do, don’t come to me expecting to get rich.
QRD – There are a lot less record stores than their used to be. How has that affected your model for releasing music?
Steve – Not at all, really, because I sell exclusively from Bandcamp. I have had offers from online stores & I used to sell digital through a variety of places, but the amount of work that goes into preparing that (one-sheets, metadata, & so on) is a pain in the arse & you get very little back. In terms of physical products, the amount of money the stores take out of sales is way too high for a small-scale, two-bit horrorshow like J&C.
QRD – Spotify has become an undeniable force that has reduced download sales while (allegedly) fighting piracy. In the end what is good or bad about it for you as a label & do you embrace it?
Steve – I think some of the early J&C stuff is available on Spotify, but I don’t use it & never have. Don’t need to. & piracy is alive & kicking, because I keep finding downloads of my stuff all over the place.
QRD – Most labels are making a bit less money than they were a few years ago. What have you done to lower expenses or find new sources of revenue?
Steve – Ha-ha. I think I’m actually spending more. That’s because I’m incapable financially. But my products are way better than they were; they’re super-pro now. But I make nothing out of it & never will. That’s not why I do it.
QRD – What social networks are you active on & what ones aren’t worth the time & energy to you?
Steve – I’m on pretty much all of them, I think, with varying degrees of engagement. The label has a Facebook page & a Twitter account. Also Soundcloud, which I find is a terrific way of getting music around. & there’s a neglected Instagram profile; I don’t know why the fuck I bother with that. Well, I don’t. Hence it being neglected. Facebook is the best one for engaging with listeners directly.
QRD – With the rise of social networks & trusted download shops, has your own website become less important than it was a few years ago?
Steve – The website is updated less often, for sure, but I use it for different reasons. I’ve started using it for interviews with my artists, actually, which works really well (it makes writing press releases easier too because I can use chunks of quotes), & I update it with reviews & stuff when I can. It’s a Tumblr & it can be a pain to work with sometimes, but it’s easier than pissing about with a shitload of HTML & stuff I don’t understand properly, which is what I was doing previously.
QRD – Do you think fan funding (e.g. Kickstarter) is the future, a fad, or an awful thing for the music industry?
Steve – God, I dunno. I’ve seen some really cool stuff on Kickstarter (Run the Jewels comes to mind), but then you’ll get some dickhead coming on & using it to release his indie shite because he can’t be arsed to do it himself or he’s not bright enough. Lazy. & the exact opposite of what music should be about. So he can fuck off, whoever he is. The twat.
QRD – What’s something you leave up to bands to do rather than handling as a label?
Steve – It’s fast & loose, J&C. If the band or artist wants to handle everything, so be it. All I’ll do is put it on tape, get the art printed, & do the promo. On the flipside, I don’t tell anyone to do anything. If they want me to arrange the whole damned lot, then I shall try my very best to do so.
QRD – Do you see albums, EPs, or singles more relevant than a few years ago or pretty much in the same place?
Steve – Singles aren’t relevant any more, are they? Can you even buy physical singles now? I only ever got them for the B-Sides anyway. Taking the A-Side out of the context of the album it originates from is lunacy. EPs... dunno. You don’t see them much now either, & they’re generally made up of filler for completists. Albums, absolutely. I love albums. Albums must never die.
QRD – Do you have separate release dates for different formats (CD, vinyl, digital download, streaming)?
Steve – My release schedule is pretty shambolic, to be honest. I normally pre-release digital in order to try to raise the money for physical production. It works, but it takes me a lot longer to arrange than it should, as anyone who has bought something from me of late will tell you. Mind you, I have a lot on my plate.
QRD – Anything else?
Steve – Thank you Brian!