Salmon Universe

Location: London, UK

Est: 2018

Potted History: “I had no ambition to start anything,” laughs Richard Pike, co-founder of this attention-grabbing cassette label. “I wanted to release my own music and be able to control it myself. I’m a score composer, and before that I toured loads with my band PVT, aka Pivot, so essentially Salmon Universe was a side project. It wasn’t until I met Joe and he said he’d help out that the label was really born.”

So that’ll be Joe Quirke, known as JQ, whose excellent ‘Invisible’ album on the New Atlantis label has much to answer for. “I met Joe on Twitter,” reveals Richard, “and we got chatting because I loved ‘Invisible’.”

“I still don’t know how I got roped in to be honest,” chips in JQ. 

Mission Statement: “It’s something we are forming with each release,” says Richard. “Initially we were sharing a lot of music, almost daily, and we found we had very similar tastes. We both like our music to be challenging – unexpected or distinct in some way – but also beautiful.”

“I guess our mission statement is we just want to release beautiful music,” says JQ. “It can be about one part of a song, anything from the bass melody, an unusual structure, to the reverb gate on a snare.”

Key Artists & Releases: “We love every release,” says Richard the diplomat, “but the first litmus test was ‘Salmon Universe Volume 1’, an early compilation that set the tone for what was to come. Hannah Peel mentioned it recently in an article that ended up on the front page of the BBC News website – so that’s a triumph!”

“I think we knew we had to release ‘Voices’ by Lauren Doss,” says JQ. “That was the first thing we put out that wasn’t Rich’s own music. It’s just kept going from there. People think we’re an ambient label, but they probably haven’t listened to IHHH or Kailin’s albums.”

Upcoming Releases: “I’m glad you mentioned that,” says Richard, picking up where JQ left off. “I am keen to let people know we are not just an ‘ambient’ label. IHHH and Dangerwank are definitely not ambient! We’d like to release more like that. I’d be interested in techno, classical… Joe won’t let me release any jazz though.”

Future Plans: “I have a bunch of my own releases I need to focus on,” says Richard, “and Joe and I have a band with Portico Quartet’s Jack Wyllie, so that will get released soon. It would be nice to play live too.”

Any advice for those thinking about setting up a label?: “I think anyone can do it,” says Richard, “and if you make great music you really should. Even if you make shit music you should!”

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