Tony Ereira sounds excited – and well he should be with the launch of a new Leeds record label just around the corner.
Come Play With Me is a singles club – releasing split seven-inch vinyl – that aims to showcase exciting artists from the city region – and it’s all the vision of former investment banker Ereira.
The idea, he says, came to him via his work with the boutique label Hatch Records which he founded two years ago. “I came into contact with lots of fantastic bands in Leeds and I saw how many of them struggled to get that first physical release. I’ve always loved the idea of setting up a singles club and I saw this as a fantastic way to highlight a lot of the fantastic music coming out of the region, but also to help some of those young guys and girls that couldn’t get that first physical release themselves.”
The label, founded as a community interest company, is named after a song by one of Leeds’ best known bands, the Wedding Present, who in 1992 set a chart record by releasing a dozen singles in a year.
Singer David Gedge says he was happy to contribute a song by his ‘other band’ Cinerama for Come Play With Me’s debut release, having known Ereira “for many years”.
“I was obviously very flattered that he wanted to call it after one of mys songs as well even though I actually nicked the title of that song from a film. But at the time he approached us earlier this year we didn’t have any exclusive things to give him, any stuff that has been recorded over the last few years by either the Wedding Present or Cinerama has been used on various releases, really. I didn’t want to give him something that had already been out there so I came up with the idea of giving him a live recording by Cinerama because in June Cinerama played this concert in Islington where we used a 14-member band – the exisiting band of Cinerama with the six of us with a keyboard but then we had a string quartet and a trumpet player and a flute player – and we filmed it and recorded it ourselves, it’s going to be a live CD and DVD later in the year, so I said would he be interested in having one of those songs as an exclusive before we released it and he said yes, so we rushed that through, mixed it first and mastered it and then sent it him and he was very pleased with it.”
For Gedge, the seven-inch single is “the ultimate format for pop music”.
“It’s possibly because I grew up in the 60s and 70s when it was the way you bought pop music. Obviously there was LPs but when you first saw a band that you liked you went out and bought the single, so I guess there’s always been that historically for me.
“But also I just feel that it’s the way that pop music was designed for, the seven-inch single, it’s just one song on one side and one song on the other side, fairly cheap compared with other formats – obviously not any more, you’re competing with free [downloads] now, I suppose – but at the time it was a good, accessible way for kids who didn’t have much money to spend their pocket money on seven-inch singles and it kind of encapulates everything I like about the way music is distributed – DJs played them on the radio, they played them at discos and clubs. There was a bit of nostalgia but also I think it’s a great format and it’s stood the test of time. It’s weird that CDs are now dying. In the 80s when they came out it was ‘well, vinyl’s finished, CDs are the new thing’ then that lasted until downloads and downloads are dying now because people are streaming but even in the Wedding Present and Cinerama we’ve noticed an increase in people buying vinyl again.
“My niece, who’s about 13, got a record played for Christmas and is beginning to collect records. I think there’s a certain charm to it. Downloading a file onto a computer or watching a stream it’s not quite as romantic as actually having a record in your hand and then playing it on a record player.”
The other side of Come Play With Me’s first single is by Katie Harkin, singer and guitarist with the Leeds band Sky Larkin who are currently on hiatus while she’s been working with the reformed US band Sleater-Kinney and on solo material.
She explains she particularly wanted to do something for the Headingley-based not-for-profit disabilities organisation Sensory Leeds.
“Sky Larkin used to rehearse there in a room upstairs and I was trying to thing of a more concrete way of doing something to support them because it’s been really inspiring to watch that grow. We’d be going upstairs to rehearse but then every week we’d watch something new that they’d developed to help the clients that they have coming in there so when I was approached with Come Play With Me that seemed to be a perfect fit.
“The singles club itself is designed to reflect and contribute to Leeds and then I wanted to find a way to support and create awareness for for Sensory Leeds because not only is it the sensory treatment centre for disabled people it also has a cafe and it’s right in the old station house at Headingley train station so the number of people that walk past it and don’t realise it’s there where you could be going in and getting a coffee and a sandwich and supporting something that makes an impact on people’s lives in the area.”
Her choice of song – National Anthem of Nowhere – was originally recorded by Andrew Whiteman of Broken Social Scene’s side-project Apostle of Hustle. “It’s a favourite of mine and I just figured out how to play it one day when I was idly playing guitar and it seemed apt,” she says.
Harkin reveals she’s writing songs herself at the moment in between touring – she’s currently supporting the US singer Torres in Europe and in November rejoins Sleater-Kinney. “I’m quite protective of them but once there’s stuff to share then I’ll share it,” she says.
Meanwhile Come Play With Me will be staging a launch night at Duke Studios, on Sheaf Street, in Leeds next Thursday, featuring live performances by David Gedge and Sam Beer-Peace of the Wedding Present and Cinerama, plus Post War Glamour Girls and Deadwall.
Tony Ereira says: “He’s doing a stripped down set for the two of them. If I understand correctly they’ve recorded some drum backing tracks onto seven inch vinyl, which is quite nicely in keeping with the series, so that’s going to be the ‘drummer’ for the evening.
“Dave Simpson from The Guardian is coming along to interview David as well. I’d like him to talk about what Leeds meant to David and the development of the Wedding Present back in the day.”
Looking ahead, he plans to release singles quarterly in runs of between 300 and 500 copies.
He adds: “We’re going to launch a public submissions process probably in a few weeks time and invite bands or artists to put themselves or other indeed forward for inclusion. I’ve got a list of judges who are going to help me select the ones that we’ll choose for subsequent releases. There are plans for the second and third singles to be from more established bands. I’m having some conversations now and I’m very excited by some of the conversations I’m having but nothing is nailed just yet.”
The Girl from the DDR (live)/National Anthem of Nowhere is released on November 6. For details visit www.cpwm.co or www.facebook.com/ComePlayWith