Touch Sensitive

Location: Belfast, Northern Ireland

Est: 2014

Potted History: “I was working with my friend – DJ and producer David Holmes – at Belfast’s legendary club The Menagerie,” explains label founder Mark Reid. “I’d had an inkling to start a label but David was a big motivator and facilitated the first two releases – his soundtrack for ’71’, and a post-punk compilation from the human music encyclopaedia, Gareth “Cherrystones” Goddard. From there, the label has moved through a series of archival and contemporary works split pretty much 50/50 from Ireland and further afield.”

Mission Statement: “I want to shine a light on contemporary and archival producers who are in the shadows, and present their work in the finest way we can – whether it’s being reassessed or heard for the first time. As the label grows older, I can feel a connection and a through-line in the body of work, despite some quite excitable genre-jumping that I tend to be partial to.”

Key Artists & Releases: “Cherrystones has been central to the label,” says Reid. “His selections and compilations are highly revered and his work has shone a light on the lesser-known artists. His two ‘Critical Mass’ compilations are essential for anyone interested in the outliers of late 1970s and early 80s post-punk and electronic music. The Vox Populi! compilation feels like a key release for the recent era.

“The label has never been beholden to genre (although often gravitating towards post-punk and electronics) but this collection from the mythical French group pulls in so many other sounds I dearly love – kosmische, new age, folk, industrial. Among the contemporary artists, I always enjoy working with Autumns, aka Christian Donaghey from Derry. He’s super-prolific and dedicated to his sound. It’s been a pleasure to watch his evolution from scuzzy no wave to making really heavy Adrian Sherwood-inspired dubby post-punk.”

Future Plans: “The Irish underground is incredible at the moment and that’s something I’m keen to share. We have albums on the way from Elaine Howley, Natalia Beylis and Documenta – and I’m hoping that more weird and wonderful contemporary Irish music continues to come my way.

“Outside of the archival releases, which requires a lot of sleuthing and licensing work, most of the early catalogue is formed from new projects close friends were sitting on. Great music was always nearby. Recently, we’ve navigated the label into some new territories. Slimming down pressing quantities has actually made the label more ambitious and successful in terms of what we can put out. It’s also taking off pressure in what is economically, politically and environmentally, a totally bonkers time to be running a record label.”

Any Other Business? “My main aims are to be content with the work we do and continue to represent the artist’s vision as best we can,” affirms Reid. “It is slightly weird to work in what Eric Isaacson from Mississippi Records calls ‘the golden age of the reissue’. You are sometimes releasing contemporary music thinking, ‘Yeah, someone’s gonna really dig this in 30 years!’ The label has never been particularly zeitgeisty – the releases feel quite timeless. I’m happy about that.”

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