Don’t Be Nasty

Location: Northern England

Est: 2019

Potted History: “Having run an indie label for nearly a decade releasing mainly guitar-led music, I fancied a change and wanted to get back to what I affectionately call ‘weirdo music’,” says Don’t Be Nasty’s Lewis Young. This folks is how all labels should be born. A compilation, ‘Don’t Be Nasty – Year One’ landed recently and it’s chock full of lo-fi electronic goodness that spans pop, experimental, musique concrète, ambient… from the early Mute-isms of Double Dovetail to the post-minimal Slow Ambulance, it’s a feast.

Mission Statement: “If I were to generalise,” says Young, “indie bands come with a level of expectation with regards to radio play and streams, which is fine but it can be stressful, whereas the kind of artists on Don’t Be Nasty generally aren’t seeking widespread commercial appeal. Our aim is to release compelling and unusual sounds with absolutely no concern for a mainstream audience, and everything is available for free via streaming services.”

Key artists & releases: The tagline for the label is “New music by artists you’ve never heard of”, we asked Young to introduce us to a few… “Well, there’s Real Dogs who release kaleidoscopic albums – each called ‘Fragments’ – that take you on a roller coaster ride of fully formed electronica, short experimental sketches and field recordings; Human Understanding use voices and intersecting tape loops to create unpredictable outcomes inspired in part by John Cage’s Indeterminacy; and Hallucinations In The User make soundscapes from unintelligible vocals, confusing instrumentation and sounds of uncertain origin.” 

There really is a wealth of acts to discover, but as Young says “it’s far better to hear them than to read my descriptions”.

Future Plans: “We’ll continue releasing strange sounds and ideas,” says Young, “with the aim of building up a body of releases that could be delved into at any point, with the listener emerging at the other side a changed person… or at the very least annoyed by some of the more challenging listens.”

Any advice for those thinking of setting up a label? “The obvious question is ‘Why?’,” says Young, “but I’ve found that if someone is already thinking about it, it’s hard to stop them from going ahead. It’s a stress but there can be big rewards along the way — and even if you don’t manage to get the big rewards, there are constant little ones that make it all worthwhile. By the way, I’m not talking about money. Good God no. If you want to make money, definitely don’t start a record label.”

Any other business? “One of the big surprises is how much I’ve enjoyed creating the artwork for each release. I’ve never really considered myself an artist or designer, but I wanted there to be a connecting thread between the records – although no two covers are the same, I feel each looks like it ‘belongs’ on Don’t Be Nasty.”

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