DANCE TO THE RADIO is an independent record label that has been a launchpad for a number of successful bands from Leeds, including The Pigeon Detectives, Foward Russia and Pulled Apart By Horses.
After a six-year hiatus it is due to relaunch on Record Store Day, this Saturday, with a 12-inch EP featuring new Yorkshire artists Dead Naked Hippies, Fling, Lamia and The Tiny Minds. The Yorkshire Evening Post spoke to label founder Colin Oliver about the release and his plans for the future.
Dance To the Radio was named after a line in a Joy Division song. What were founding aims for the label back in 2005?
Our aim was firstly to work with local artists and get them wider exposure, and we soon realised because of the talent available we could look to break new artists. We started locally but then went on to work with national artists and international artists.
Were you surprised when DTTR’s first full scale release, by Forward Russia, was a top 40 hit?
It wasn’t such a surprise at the time because of the head of steam the band had built up at press but because the charts have changed so much I would be surprised today with the same results as the charts have become much less relevant for alternative artists.
Did it feel like the label was stepping up a gear when The Pigeon Detectives’ debut album sold over 300,000 copies?
At the time we didn’t get chance to think about it there was so much going on! The band went from headlining the Cockpit middle room to 14000 tickets at 2 nights at millennium square in a year, so I think we jumped a few gears without noticing!
DTTR also provided a starting point for the likes of Sky Larkin, Grammatics and I Like Trains. Do you think the Leeds music scene was particularly fertile a decade or so ago?
Guitar and alternative music in general was particularly fertile and the artists in Leeds had created a scene that meant that local success influenced other new artists in the area, and the label was in the exciting position of facilitating it with first releases for these artists.
The label launched a series of acclaimed 4x12” records, featuring four different bands on each 12-inch vinyl release. Did you see it as a way of breaking new ground?
Despite there being a lot of talk about vinyl revival it’s a format that has always been expensive for long-playing formats and difficult for new artists to get into, so the primary aim was to offer new artists the opportunity to enter the vinyl market with 12 inch vinyl releases which at the time wasn’t something labels were offering very new artists.
The label became dormant after its 70th release in 2011. Why have you decided to re-launch it this year?
We’ve been working as a live partner with Leeds festival for a number of years but now feels the right time to start releasing artists again, with a new approach. There are a lot of great new artists that we feel have the self-sufficiency and motivation needed but are in need of a strong partner on some areas, and we feel we can offer this kind of service and investment to new artists.
Tell us about the new 4x12” compilation that you’re going to be releasing for Record Store Day. Why did you choose these four acts in particular?
We had the opportunity to work with semi-established or established artists, but we decided we wanted to work with very new artists and help them establish a footing and career path, so the return of the 4x12” release worked perfectly with Recordstore day. Each artist has been released on digital platforms too like Spotify, Apple Music and Vevo, as well as playing our partner festival Live at Leeds on April 29th.
What are your longer term plans for the label, now it’s back in action?
We’re looking to partner with more new artists and support them in developing what they do and who they reach, both online and through live performance. With our sister company Futuresound Events artists can work with us taking advantage of the label and promoter marketing team expertise.
The longer-term aim is to facilitate the early steps in artists’ careers helping them to make the right choices in promoting themselves on all fronts, and playing to their strengths.
This will come in the form of more releases including larger compilations, live shows and special events, and providing an A&R and marketing service to artists with the potential to develop an audience.