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#44 - Simon Raymonde - Cocteau Twins & Bella Union Records

Simon Raymonde is a member of the genre defining band 'Cocteau Twins' and the owner of the legendary Bella Union Records where his artists include John Grant, Ezra Furman, Beach House, Explosions in the Sky, the Flaming Lips & Tim Burgess among many others. On this episode, I get Simon's generous insights on the music industry, Spotify, touring, independence, the importance of building a scene, social media, his forthcoming book and how NOT to contact him! Hear our conversation at : https://linktr.ee/jameskennedypodcast


TRANSCRIPT


JAMES KENNEDY

Hello and welcome to the James Kennedy Podcast. I hope you're all splendid? I have got an awesome, awesome episode lined up for you guys today. We've got a guest coming on who has crushed it on both sides of the music industry, as an artist and as the owner of a legendary music label. But before we get down to it, I'm gonna give a plug for something I don't think I've ever done on the podcast. In the entire time I've been doing this thing, I'm going to give a plug for myself. Because if you didn't see it on my socials last week, my band, James Kennedy and the Underdogs are back on the scene. Baby, it's been a long, long hibernation. It's been a long winter, man, but we are back. We announced our live show coming up in Newport on August the 12th in South Wales with some awesome, awesome bands. There are some more live shows coming really soon, I promise you, but I can't tell you what they are just yet, But shit's gonna be coming in quick and fast, so keep your eye on the pages. And if you don't know anything about me as a musician. You just listen to the podcast and you need to check out my band man, go to Spotify, type in James Kennedy. Two of us will come up. I am not the blonde DJ douche from the reality TV show Vanderpump Rules. I'm not that guy. I'm the scowly, pissed off, rock looking guy with a leather jacket and black hair. Check out my latest album, 'Make Anger Great Again'. If you like rock music and you like politics and sticking it to the man, then you're gonna like that record. Check it out.


All my music videos are up on YouTube. My channel is James Kennedy Stuff. Again, if you type in James Kennedy into YouTube, you're gonna get a lot of click bait stuff from Bravo TV for the other guy. The reality TV show guy. That's not me. I don't have blonde hair, I have black hair and I sing in a rock band. So if you go to James Kennedy Stuff or if you type in James Kennedy Singer, that will give you all my stuff that separates the shit from the gold there. Right? So Check us out, man. Let us know what you think. Join my page. I'm on Instagram at JamesKennedyUK and Facebook and Twitter and JamesKennedystuff.com will link you into everything. There's links to my book there. There's links to articles I've had published, tonnes of interviews and free music and videos and merch and all sorts of shit, including the podcast. So JamesKennedystuff.com is the hub for all things to do with me right now, that is the plug over. That wasn't too painful, was it?


Now, before I bring on the actual talent of the show today, I want to ask you one more time to subscribe to the podcast. Whatever platform you listen to on whether it's Apple, Spotify, Stitcher, Castbox or if you watch it on YouTube, give us a follow. Give us a subscribe. Leave a comment, engage. Give us a star rating. Like I said, it all helps to, to keep the algorithm beast happy. Which, which enables me to keep doing this thing. So, if you could click those buttons for me, that would be a massive help. Thank you so much. Now let's get down to business.


Simon Raymonde is a man who should need no introduction as a member of the era defining Cocteau Twins. And now is the long standing owner of the legendary Bella Union Records. If I tried to impact this man's entire incredible resume into an intro here, we'd likely be here for the next hour, and it would still be woefully incomplete. So I think just much better this time to just actually bring on the man himself and get on with it. So, Simon, thanks so much for doing this, man. How you doing?


SIMON RAYMONDE

Well, thank you very much. After an intro like that, it's gonna be good, I'm sure.


JAMES KENNEDY

Well, we'll soon find out. I feel like it was quite a lazy intro. That's that's the first time I've ever done that. Where I basically passed the buck onto the guest to tell us what they've done because you you have done so much. I mean, I obviously I've mentioned the two biggies there, you know, the Cocteau Twins and the record label. But you do a lot of stuff, man. So what are some of the things I've left out there.


SIMON RAYMONDE

I mean, there's always something, you know what I mean. I like I surprise myself at times, and I think I've got a lot of friends who, like, are always quite amazed at what? Why, I'm still so interested in what I do, you know? And like, Wow, you're so busy. You're always so busy. And then I'm quite old now. So you'd think I've probably learned how to slow down, but I haven't really, I suppose, because I really love what I do. You know, I'm very lucky to be in the music business. I adore it. Of course, it's incredibly frustrating at times, and there's things about it I absolutely can't stand. But the music part, you know, the listening to the discovery of the making of those are all things that I still get a huge amount of pleasure out of. Right? So you've covered it just about but any any gaps. We can always fill them in later.


JAMES KENNEDY

I'm sure we'll fill them in as we go. Yeah, on on that point you just mentioned Is that what keeps you going? Because, I mean, you have been doing this a long time now. I mean, the label started, what, 97 late nineties, and obviously you had a whole career year before that as well. I'm sure you've experienced a lot of struggles and hardships and industry bullshit and let downs and screw overs and disappointments along the way is what you just alluded to. Then what keeps you going? Just the the the the primal love of the music and the art form, which is essentially why we all get into this in the first place. Is that what still keeps you going now, through all those struggles?


SIMON RAYMONDE

Yeah, it it it really is the only thing that keeps me going because certainly the, you know any, like financial benefit is long gone that you know, there are any anymore.

So, yeah, I think it's because I just do love discovering music, You know, whether it's creating my own or, or just listening to a soundcloud that might come in in five minutes time. I keep waking up thinking today might be the day. I'm just I'm not going to press that link. I'm not going to or I press it and I'm like yeah, not really bother me. I just don't care anymore. I. I expect that to happen, but III I it hasn't yet, which is, I suppose, a blessing. And that's I suppose, the the main reason I keep going, you know, because, as you say, there's so many things that are annoying about the music business. Well, pretty much 95% of it is annoying. But, you know, the bands and the music are the least Are the things that you know, I still get a huge amount of enjoyment out of helping new bands, because, I, I do management as well. Now, I manage a lot of bands as well as the label stuff, not just Bella Union ones, but quite a lot of bands that are, you know, have nothing to do with Bella Union per se other than the management side.


So I really enjoy the managing as well as the label now, because it enables you to help more. You know, you get a label, you know, what do you do? You You put, you know, you put a record out, it's it's like it's quite simple. And obviously, if the record does well. You, You, you You build a long relationship with the band whether you know, like Beach House or John Grant or Father John Misty, for example, all people we've worked with for a long, long, long, long time. That's a beautiful thing, because you're you're building a friendship and a relationship that hopefully will, you know, last a huge amount of time. But also, the help in the baby bands is what I I really love as well because as a 60 year old fellow and he's been in the music business, I don't know, 45 years or whatever stupid number is, I can pass on some wisdom. I would have guessed, you know? And I think that is an attractive to a young man.


JAMES KENNEDY

100%. Yeah, well, it's the wisdom I want to tap into, To be honest, because, yeah, you've seen both sides and you've seen the industry change as well. I mean, what I find interesting about it, with your your artistic career was predominantly in the old model.

I suppose we could call it, But then when you set up the label in 97 you were still very much in the model, But you were just a few years away from the big changeover. So I'd be interested to know what that was like at the time that you were in it. Because I came on the circuit. My first album came out 2002. So I was kind of right at the start of the big shift, and I didn't know what the fuck was going on for many years because we didn't realise that we were in this changeover until, you know, with hindsight, you know what I mean at the time, it was just what the fuck is going on? So what? What was that like when you set up a lay bump? I'm assuming you set it up pretty much in the traditional model. And then within a few years, everything changed. I mean, how did you navigate that?


SIMON RAYMONDE

Yes, very badly. Yeah. I mean, you know, it is funny. Looking back, I've been writing a book of the last six months, a sort of memoir of sorts and, you know, having to go back to sort of dates and times and remember events like, for example, how long it takes to get a record pressed. Obviously, everyone in the everyone knows right now how vinyl production is AAA complete mess and, you know, can take anywhere between seven or 8 to 9, 10 up to up to a year to get it made. I was looking back to the sort of early eighties when Cocteau Twins were putting out our records and I say, like we made this record in, like, February. And then it came out in March on vinyl, and I'm like, I completely forgotten that, you know, you could literally make a record in three or four weeks, three or four weeks, like, you know, just just get your head around that for a minute because all we know about in the last few years is just well, you could forget about putting it out any time this year. It'll probably be, you know, a year from now. And all the bands are like, really Oh, OK, then that is a whole that is like a shift change beyond belief. Obviously, the the reliance on Vinyl has changed over the years. Obviously, in the eighties it was still huge. And then when CDS came along, it sort of dropped off almost altogether.


And it probably around about the time you mentioned there, 2002, it was still a bit weird to be pressing vinyl on. It was just all CDS and then CDS just fell off the map in the last couple of years. And now we're back making vinyl again at quite a high level. So that's 11 Massive change. Yeah. Contracts have changed quite dramatically. Well, actually, they haven't. That's a lie. They they still look identical in terms of they're a massive rip off. For the artists, you know, they they just don't make sense. When you look at a sort of standard template contract today, it's actually not dramatically different from how it was in the eighties. But I, I think what's happened is, you know, a lot of lawyers are like, No, we're not signing that. It doesn't make any sense. And a lot of artists are saying we're not signing that. We'll just do it ourselves. We'll put out records on our own, and we'll make 100% of the money rather than sign with you and have some feeble royalty so good. I mean, it could take us literally all day to discuss the differences between then and now. And that that shows you how dramatic it is. Certainly the finances are way, way, way, way different.


You know, there was so much more money available to a record label in the eighties and the nineties and the even, even in the early. Even in the late nineties, when Bella Union began just putting out, the first record was, was what was my solo record. And I mean, nobody really knew who I was, but I was in the Cocteau Twins, so it had a little bit of, I don't know, intrigue about it at the time, and as a result, it it sold, I don't know, around 15 to 20,000 CDS because there was no vinyl at that point. Now, if you sold 15 or 20,000 CDS right now, you'd be in the you'd be number one in the charts for about a month. But now to get in the charts now to get in the top 10. Now, you know, I sold like, two or 3000 records. That's it. It's fucking mad. So? So So obviously the streaming site. Yeah, Mad. You know, the streaming side has obviously taken over massively.


And that's a whole another conversation again. But, the finances are obviously massively different. And I don't really know how we're still here, because we've we've We've survived two massive, kind of, seismic, if you like, earthquakes with with music. You know, sorry. With with the finances, like, we lost 100 grand twice, when our distributor went bust, and then our licencing partner went bust or within about a year. So 100 grand back in the in the early two and the in the mid in the mid first decade of the two thousands was that's a massive amount of money for a little tiny independent. And I don't really know how we recovered from that. It's It's more kind of stubborn. I'm stubborn, You know, I don't like giving up, and I don't, yeah, I just really, really stubborn. So I I said I had some couple of really great friends who were able to help me out. And that sort of kept the label just about ticking over until we signed Fleet Foxes. And then and then when Fleet Foxes became like the biggest band on the planet for a few years that such a save the label, right? Yeah, yeah. So there's been so many ups and downs.


JAMES KENNEDY

That's fascinating, man. I had Brian Slagel on the podcast, you know, from the He's the CEO of Metal Blade records that he was on a few months ago, and he's been in the game about 40 years. So I asked him, You know, a similar question and I said, What do you think is the key to success of a long term success, you know, for a band or a label? And he said, the ability to adapt to change because there's always going to be change change is in fact, the only constant. So just as soon as you think you know you're on a winning streak and you're up and running and you're crushing it. You know, a new, a new format comes along and trashes your whole business model and infrastructure or, you know, an economic recession or something completely left Field comes along and it sounds like you've had your own fair share of that. So I think it's interesting that you're describing a similar thing to Brian there. But in your case, it's sheer stubbornness. Just that refusal to give up and and push through and keep it moving.


SIMON RAYMONDE

Yeah, I mean, you, you know, you have to have a huge amount of luck on your side that that's inevitably underplayed as a huge part of how this business is. Stay as how this company has stayed in business and this one, hasn't it? It is a huge amount of it is down to luck, being in the right place, being the time. But But you do have to sort of make your own luck in the music business.


You have to you have to just keep going and sort of wade through the the You know, you, you have to get through it. You can't You can't get hit knocked down by by the by the things that go wrong, you have to just keep dusting yourself off. My wife's now in the business. She she's She works with me on the management side, and she's always saying how how are we gonna get through this? And I just it doesn't matter anymore. It's done. You just have to get on with the next thing you know, I'm very used to because of all the because of all the drama from the past, I'm very used to not actually being that affected by something bad going wrong or seemingly bad going wrong.


Because really, in the grand scheme of things, when you step back from it for a minute, when you're out of the heat of the drama from the artist side or the label side or someone Manager Side who's getting their hair and twist about it, you you once you step back and say Yeah, but, you know, in the grand scheme of things, you wake up tomorrow and we'll all still be here. And it's still a great record and blah, blah, blah. You have perspective that you wouldn't have had as a 20 year old. That's what age buys you, you know? So I've got that on my side, and I think that enables me not to get too excited when something goes well or two downbeat when it doesn't Yeah, because it doesn't more often than it does, you know, Would you.


JAMES KENNEDY

Say that it's This is probably, you know, an impossible question to answer because it's very basically framed. But would you say that for? For an independent artist who doesn't have a label who isn't working with Simon Raymond, it's completely on their own without a budget, but talented as hell and hard working and and wants to get out there and do their thing. Would you say that it's a better environment for somebody in that position now than it was when you started?


SIMON RAYMONDE

I mean, in one sense, it is because you're unable to do it When we started, you know, literally today I could make a song in the studio. And then, by this evening, I could have it online for sale on all the on all the streaming formats. And tomorrow it could be a

TikTok sensation. And then next month I could be a millionaire. Yes, the answer is yes to that question, Is it very likely? No, it's it's probably less likely than it ever was. And certainly back in the eighties, you couldn't do anything like that. Well, well, I mean, you probably could do a little sort of independent release of your own, but you know, not many people did.


Well, not until the independent label sort of started cropping up in the in the late seventies, but yeah, wholly different, whole different world. I would say it's hard to be specific about it because every artist is quite different. Some some bands who've got 44 people in the band, drum kits, all that kind of thing. They need a bit of help because their their thing needs a bit of money. You know, they need to go into a studio with an engineer. They can't just do it in a little room like this. I've got a little room in the in, the in the back of the house. I could come and make my music for nothing, because I'm just sat here with me. I've got everything I need, but that's not. That's not the case for every single artist bedroom artist. Yeah, sure, you can make pop music in your bedroom and be a be a be a TikTok sensation overnight. Can you do that with a Band who have a slightly different set of parameters going on? Probably not, And that's why the idea of labels not being relevant anymore is a bit daft because there's a million different people out there, all requiring different things. And you know, labels will be great for some artists and not great for others. It's just the way of the world, right?


JAMES KENNEDY

Yeah, 100%. I mean, that's kind of all I know, really. I mean, I've got seven album back catalogue, and I've done all of my albums myself at my own home studio hasn't cost me a penny, you know, apart from, you know, a bit of mastering or artwork or, you know, press costs or something like that. But, I mean, you know, back in the seventies, I wouldn't have been able to have done that. I mean, I probably could have made the recording if I could get enough funds to get to a studio or something. But then what am I going to do with the with the with that master tape? I mean, Mark Chadwick said, I mean, what do you do, weave your own records or something like that? You know, things. Things were done in big factories and stuff back then. It was big budget stuff. You had to have money. It was physical product. So I Yeah, I'm a big fan of the current system because, you know, my relationships with labels every time I've had one has resulted in, you know, either a court case or or me being completely fucked over from every angle. So I like the fact that there's kind of a democratisation and an empowerment for artists now to be able to keep moving, despite, you know, a lot of the, the the the famous music industry bullshit. But the problem is, is what you do to get heard above the noise of everybody else doing that, you know?


And that's where I think a label comes in because a label has got the, the infrastructure, the experience, the know how the budget and the expertise and the personnel, you know, and the talented people who and having, you know, many hands on deck as well, you know, work in your product, working in your campaign around the world. You know, I think there are many reasons why labels are still essential and relevant.


SIMON RAYMONDE

Well, that's 100% true as well. And I think that that's obviously a great part of, of having a little independent labour is being able to be that bridge between nothing and something. But as I say to all the bands I've worked with, it's no guarantee, you know, there's there's no guarantee to do just because I have a pretty decent contact book contacts list. It doesn't guarantee you anything, you know. So and of course, there's a hope that it might, and maybe more. More often than not, just about it does work. If I send an email to whoever Lauren or or whatever, they probably will read it because it's from me. But that doesn't mean they'll like it, and that doesn't mean they'll play.


But at least you've got an end to, you know, a situation that you're probably on your own. I mean, anyone can find Steven LeMac's email. It's not hidden. You just have to look for it. But whether he'll listen to it because an unknown artist sends it to him, I mean, actually, Steve probably would. But he's a good bloke, and he he enjoys discovering music as much as I do. You know, that you you have to sort of know these people to kind of know what their habits are, and some people don't answer those don't. Some people don't read those emails at all, and others do, and some do sometimes and others don't ever. You know what I mean? You have to sort of be in the business a long time to kind of understand which ones you can approach to get the help that you might need.


But as I say it, it's there's there's no guarantees. I've thought a million times a million times I've thought Well, Mary Anne Hobbs will love this and I've said it to her. I'm like, absolutely certain that she'll love it. She's like, No, it's not for me And I'm like, you know, you you can get very frustrated about it, but at the same time, you just have to accept that everyone's got their own taste and what's my taste is it's not necessarily anyone else is. And I've learned that over the years not to be too down when one of my bands that I absolutely love that I've invested all this time and money in is no one else's you know, flavour. It's hard, it's hard. I can't say it ever gets easier to accept. But I have learned to just get over it quicker.


JAMES KENNEDY

Yeah, And you mentioned the power of luck earlier as well, because that that that that is the difference between those outcomes, isn't it? I mean, you can have the best fucking band in the world with the best fucking song. We were crushing it, and you put the full weight of your resources behind them. You put the money and the promo and everything into it. And for some reason, unbeknown to anyone, it just doesn't stick, you know? And then you get those bands who just come out of nowhere. You know, they've just got this song that just takes off. They have no label. They might have a, you know, a cheap DIY homemade video that just fucking gets a gazillion views or something like that. And they just take off and there's just no rhyme or reason to it. There's no format, there's no method. I mean, you know, how do you How do you make sense of that?


SIMON RAYMONDE

You don't You don't is what? Yeah, you can't because it there's it's a random. There's no reason why this did, and that didn't. It's just the dots. The dots didn't join up. I mean, quite often it's something as ludicrous as well we could. It couldn't go on the playlist this week because we had There were, like 52 other records, and it just got pushed out at the last minute or it didn't get the review at The Guardian loved it. But they couldn't review it because they already had three big records and there's only room for two and something had to give. And yours were. You know, it's you miss out on so many things just because your timing was a day off or a week off or a month off. And you know you can't you shouldn't be. You shouldn't be saying, Well, the band never made it because they didn't get the the playlist on Radio Six. But you know, you can look at how campaigns do suffer as a result, and this is just because there's so much amazing music out there and so little places for it to be covered. That that's our problem. It isn't it isn't that six music in The Guardian are aren't great. It's just that there's not enough of them. You know there's a there's a there's less and less reviews available in The Guardian, The Sunday Times, Financial Times than there ever were. You'd think there'd be more because of the on the the Internet. You'd think, well The Guardian's online presence is massive. Surely they can have 100 reviews a week on the Guardian music pages. Well, they don't. They only have they only have a handful. So there's lots of things going against bands. But at the same time are people really reading the Guardian and listening to six music before discovering their music? Well, I don't know that they are that much for 2 million people. Listen to six music, and it's hugely important to those who listen to it.


But there's a heck of a lot of other people that aren't and and you have to sometimes think, outside of the obvious places to put your music. And I suppose because I'm of a certain generation I've grown up with with six grown up with, you know, the mojo, the uncut or not Q anymore. But, you know, the Clash magazine, these these sort of avenues into coverage are where we do tend to kind of start. But if it doesn't work, you have to be prepared to look outside.


JAMES KENNEDY

But what does outside look like to you? Because as an independent artist like myself, and and my peers and my community, we don't have access. We don't have any in's to the mainstream media. We we're we're essentially outside of that club. So the outside to us is essentially just the Wild West mess, the Internet. And we're trying to navigate that ever changing storm all of the time and trying to stay relevant And, you know, trying to ever, you know, conquer new platforms and learn new skills just to try and, you know, remain in people's awareness for more than five fucking minutes before the next bit of content comes along, you know, and like it could be very overwhelming.


It takes a lot of time. It could be very disheartening, and it could be very distracting. And of course, there was that, viral tweet from Mike Shinoda, you know, from Linkin Park, posted that viral tweet which started a conversation, not so long ago, where he said, you know, an artist's job is to be making music, playing the instrument, getting better at their craft, playing shows and not to be, you know, constantly creating short form, pointless bits of mindless content just to try and stay on people's news feeds for more than five minutes.

You know that's not our job, and it's all gone a bit mental. And I do agree with that because, you know, it is a full time job making all of this content, most of which has absolutely nothing to do with the media music, but all about just trying to keep a little bit of a fucking spotlight on yourself for two minutes.


So that is one of one of the major downfalls of, being outside of the mainstream model, as you describe it. So I'd be very interested to know how you how you approach that, how you approach the outside from the label perspective.


SIMON RAYMONDE

I leave it up to the artist, to be honest with you, because I feel like I kind of agree with all of those feelings. If you want to be on it and and listen, if it's already to say well, I should be making music. Not doing that. But you know, we're all different. The kids are different. They grow up with a phone in their hands. You know what I mean? My sons don't think they had phones till they were sort of 14, 15 years old. Now, probably kids are getting a mobile 5678 years old. So their whole world is all around social media. So for a 16 year old kid making music, it would be weird if they weren't doing TikTok videos and and making Facebook, not Facebook. They bring me on on on Facebook you know, on Instagram and stuff, because that's their world. That's how they communicate with their friends. That's how they communicate with their audience. And that's why those artists are absolutely massive, because their followings on Twitter and on TikTok And Instagram are what bring the income in. Because that's how their fans connect with them. So it's it's easy to go. Well, they shouldn't be doing it. Musicians should be making music well, musicians of a certain age, maybe, but the young kids making music, they're making music on their iPhones, you know, they're making beats and playing keyboards and you know they're making music. That's I think that's amazing.


I don't think that's terrible. I also think TikTok is amazing, obviously not the bit that you see with all the dancing and whatnot and the daft stuff. But actually, if you get into the nuts and bolts of of TikTok, you can find and listen to some incredible tunes that you would never find on Spotify, so it's easy to knock it because we only see one side of it.

It's just like, Oh, TikTok is just for kids. It's just stupid. It's just dog videos. It's just blah, blah, blah. But actually, if you if you if you if you spend the time to get into TikTok, there are some great benefits to it On the music side, I don't because I'm 60 I've got time. But I know people that do, and I know that it's not quite the the the Satan, the site of Satan that people would would like us to believe it is.


So that's one thing. How I believe other bands should should can progress is, I think, how we're gonna have to do this in the future because of Brexit because of the ludicrous cost of visas to travel to America now for for artists, they're about to go up, to like, $1600 from from 500 which is just gonna make it. It's gonna make it pretty much nigh on Impossible for a band who are maybe like on their second record, just about to maybe go and play in New York and go to South by Southwest or something like that. At that level where they can, their label may be able to help them out. Or they could do a crowd funder and raise 55 to $10,000 to get them to the States, it's almost to that point where it's like it's not even worth it anymore, because you're gonna have to spend 12 to $15,000 before you've even got off the plane. Who can do that? You know, unless you've got a big label behind you and even the labels now are going Nah, it's too much with the the The returns are just, we we there's there's no guarantee of the returns. So the way I think the world is going musically for, for for a lot of young bands, anyway, is local. I'm seeing big scenes blowing up locally that that's what I really feel is happening, and you're almost, like, not even gonna go from, Let's say, a bright ban. For example, you may be selling out 100 and 200 tickets, in a club, a pub in Brighton. Are you then? Because before you'd have gone OK, well, the buzz will now spread and we'll be able to go and play at round about the same amount of people in

Manchester.


That's not really happening because of whether it's Covid, because it's this, the money, the economy. Right now, people just don't have the money to go out five times a month like they did before Covid. Maybe they go out once or people that went out 10 times a month, maybe now go out three or four times. Everything's changed. We're cutting back because we don't have the finances to go out. So so people are not being as adventurous as before in terms of going to see bands. And of course, the promoters are suffering badly because of their. So I think what's gonna happen is that bands are gonna start going from 100 and 50 to 200 to 300 to 400 to 500 in their local town in their local city, where they're from before they even feel confident about taking that next move to go on a tour.


Of course, there's going to be a million examples where this isn't true, right? You'll see plenty of bands touring from around the world, but this is in the in the main. I think this is where we're gonna have to go. Don't start getting too adventurous and start booking yourself a UK tour five minutes after you formed, because only 10 people turn up to to the regional shows you I think you just got to get really good. In fact, you've got to get fucking fantastic at home first, which is a bit like how it used to be back in the day. You had to be amazing before you went on the stage. Otherwise, you wouldn't last five minutes. And I think that's what's happening now. I'm starting to see incredible live bands in local in local South, and I think that's that's very, very encouraging because people are are learning their craft.


They, they they you know, they're they're they're experiencing how to be on stage, how to react to audiences and how to put on a brilliant show and that that that's actually very encouraging. Because I don't think, you know, I think live music has been a bit off in the last five or six years, probably for obvious reasons, but it feels exciting again.


JAMES KENNEDY

Well, I love that idea, man. I mean, for me, they know that resonates very strongly with me. The whole punk rock aesthetic, you know, keeping it real, keeping it on the streets, you know, keeping it affordable and attainable. And, you know, taking it back to the source. You know, that's what it's all meant to be about having that intimate connection. I mean, you know, it all got a bit mental. I feel we we got a little bit off track, didn't we? With the big rock show aesthetic. And now you know, fucking expensive festivals and stadium and arena gigs when really you know it It started out with in the small grassroots venues, you know?


So for me, you know that transit van lifestyle I still have a very romantic attachment to that world, and I feel like that that that is what it's all about. It's about creating a scene on your doorstep first in your local town, getting a buzz going and getting something happening, you know, collaborating with other bands to actually build something on your doorstep and, you know, and then export that further a field.


Then you know when as and when you can but that you know, that that should come with. And it comes, man, because certainly now, in these times, you know of uncertainty and difficulty when people are struggling with the cost of living crisis and everyone's pissed off. Now is a better time than ever to to do what we do best as artists and be able to give the gift that we have of music and good times Or, you know, letting off some steam or having a good scream and shout and a slam dance. You know, whatever you got to do, that's that's essentially our service that we provide, You know what I mean? So I think now is is a better time than ever to, to do exactly what you're saying?


SIMON RAYMONDE

Yeah, and you know, then the then the people in the town sort of feel their ownership about this band. I mean, you won't remember me too young. But like when the stone roses broke onto the scene back at Manchester in whatever year that was, you know, they were playing to 1000 people in Manchester because they they just built up this insane following in the town. And it it gives this sort of pride in their one of ours, you know? And I think that's probably gonna happen a lot more these days. I mean, look, it's not just you that it's not just bands of your size that can't go to Europe. It's bands like the Eels had to cancel the tour recently because they did the sums and they were like, It's just it doesn't add up. It doesn't make sense. So if a band that big are looking at the numbers and it doesn't add up, then of course it's gonna be impossible for everyone else, under under that level because you can't even hire a van anymore. There aren't any vans to hire. They're all out, and it's like 100 and 120 quid to hire a decent, splitter van.


And then, if you've got to have to stay overnight, how many of you four of you? Yeah, we'll pile in a room together, no problem. Still gonna be probably not short of 100 quid petrol on top of that 50 to 100. You know, it's gonna be £500 if you're gonna go up north to play a gig, and you're probably getting 50 quid for the gig. So where's the other 450 quid coming from your merch? Probably not, because you haven't been able to You haven't been around long enough to make enough or afford enough to sell it. It's really tough being a band right now. And I'm you know, I'm not gonna No one's gonna get the violins out, But, you know, I think it is a really tough time. And, that's why I think these local scenes are probably how it's gonna go For a lot of artists.


JAMES KENNEDY

That makes a lot of sense. And I'm certainly seeing that myself. I mean, what would your let's say? So you discovered a band and And you fell in love with them and they were starting out. And and you just thought, Yeah, I'm gonna throw everything I got into this man. What would How would you work around that situation? That you want to get them out there? You want to get them doing some shows? As you said, given all of the constraints budgetary and otherwise that you've got to deal with right now, what would your approach would it be to, like, just rinse their hometown? Just blast the hometown scene?


SIMON RAYMONDE

Well, I'm doing it with a couple of bands that I work with here. I think you've got to take it step by step and you obviously got, I don't want to work with people that don't with with artists that don't get it. And when I say when I say, don't forget it. I mean, understand what they're dealing with. There's no point, like having stars in your eyes about this thing, and then it all just being a massive disappointment. A year later, you come back and you're like, Oh, this is a nightmare. I need to tell them it's a nightmare before they step up, step out and do it. You have to prepare people for the worst. So I'm saying to all the fans you sign to do a label doesn't mean fuck all. It doesn't mean anything. It just means you're maybe better off than you were before. There's gonna be an infrastructure there to help you with some of the things that may crop up, but it doesn't mean anything.


It doesn't mean you're going to sell any records. Doesn't mean you're gonna stream anymore. It doesn't mean you're gonna get any better Gigs doesn't mean you're gonna get on the radio. It means you might, whereas before, it might have been harder. But that's the reality. So just take a step back and just a deep breath. And don't worry about it, because that stuff is out of all of our control anyway, right? You can't do anything about that. What can you do about it? You can make better sounding records. You can make better songs. You can get better as a live band.


So why don't you focus on the things that you can do and I'll try and help you with all the other things, but I'm not a fucking magician, and neither is anyone else here. But we'll do our very, very best because we think you're fabulous. And that's the sort of start point for the conversation. And if they're looking at you like, what are you talking about, then it's probably not gonna work. The relationship probably won't work, but if they, like, totally get it and sort of appreciate that what you're trying to do is help them get from a to B or a to sort of almost B. Then the relationship will probably blossom and grow, and that's the way I kind of approach it. Find them a booking agent. That's very difficult right now. There aren't, you know, it's It's really hard to find a booking age. Most of them are like I'm too busy. They're still coming out of this Covid time. The pandemic where that's their roster, is getting back into the world. They're very busy booking shows into the next year. It's quite difficult to find a young, motivated, excited booking agent that will want to work with your band, so that's that's step one. That my job is as a manager, anyway is to try and find that excited booking agent. There's no point just having someone that goes, Oh yeah, he does Beach House, Oh, well, I'll do it because he's got a good label that that just does not work right. You've got to find somebody that's passionate, hopefully as passionate as you are or at least has the potential to be as passionate as you are about the band will actually come and meet the band. See the band live.


You know, there's no point just sending a link of the new record and going Do you want to be their agent? He has to come and see them, right? So you have to have a You have to have something going on in your hometown where you can invite an agent down and you have to do it at the moment. You know that the band is good enough because if if they're OK, there's no point in writing a booking agent down because he'll come down and see them see that they're only ok not see the potential. Maybe that you see and go well, I thought they were all right, but I mean there's 20 bands better than them that I've seen in the last month. Well, that's a That was a waste of time. Then he's never gonna come back.


So you've got to get them excited up to a point. And then when the band are absolutely bang on ready and you you just know they'll knock the socks off the off the audience, and that's when you put them in the front of the booking agent. So it's all about, like, just waiting for the right moment. The timing, and then after that, you've just got to hope that the the learning curve for the band and that the progress is is on an upward thing. Hopefully a a steep one. Some bands go real quick in that first year or two, they just learned so much, and they're so brilliant, they just they just get it and other bands just like flat line for a while. And you do wonder at that point if you made a bit of a, an error of judgement, but all of a sudden, sometimes those those those those bands can take off, they just need a little tweak and and and off it goes, so I don't know what the secret is is to it. It's just constantly thinking and talking. And with all the people that I work with, whether it's my wife or my staff or the bands, the manager, the agent, whoever it is just lots of communication. And the secret is it's got to be fun. None of this works. If it's a if it's a misery fest and if it's just all like, Oh, God, I don't know why we If if it's like that, then just go do something else.


JAMES KENNEDY

Yeah, 100% man. Man, you were dropping a lot of really great advice and insight here for, for bands because it is really difficult out there right now. I mean, it was difficult enough. Before I, I don't think, you know, we can blame Covid and and economic climate, you know, exclusively for the the the fucking shit show that we find ourselves in right now. It was bad before, you know. So, yeah, this this is really great that you're you're given such great, experienced, advice for people who are out there, you know, in in quite difficult terrain right now.


SIMON RAYMONDE

Yeah. No, I really feel that responsibility a lot. And I mean, even if I do meet a lot of mans and I say, Look, I can't help you, I I'm not gonna be able to help you with with the label or even the management side, but I'm happy to talk to you about it because it sort of feels like I need to pay this stuff back. You know, I need to pay it forward or whatever the phrase is, because I, I can't I can't imagine what it could be like to be 16, 17 year old in a band right now, a place with all these obstacles because we didn't have any of these obstacles. Maybe it was stupidity or naivety. Just thinking, Well, we just give one tape to

John Peel and and and one tape to 4AD and and we'll get a John Peel session and we'll get signed because that's what happened. That's what we did. And that's what happened. So you sort of think, Well, this is easy. Can you that that that would never happen today. You know, you could never just wait outside broadcasting house and and give a tape to Steve Lemac. What would you give him? They don't exist anymore. There aren't tapes. Do you know what I mean? What are you gonna give him? A a link? I've waited outside. Here's my link. You know, it's a It's a very different world, you know. So, I, I do feel sort of a responsibility to try and help as best I can. That's awesome, man. Yeah, but I, I don't know whether I'm doing it, but I certainly it gets me through the day.


JAMES KENNEDY

Oh, dude, no, Totally. Already. You've dropped so many truth bombs on this that are just really useful. I mean, you know, I've I've been through the struggle myself, you know? I send in C DS out, you know, right at the tail end of that era when it when it was becoming, you know, pointless and obsolete. So ever since then, you know, the model, you know, for me and my friends is just to send out, you know, 1000 soundcloud links in emails and things like that and, you know, develop your own one sheets and fucking web pages, and it's and we know that it just gets lost the black hole of the Internet. You know, we know that no one has got enough time in the day to go through all that stuff. It's just not possible. But then, you know, from our side of the fence, what else can we do? You know, to try and get our music under people's, you know, ear lobes, You know? So, yeah, it's very difficult, man. So I do really appreciate it. I know that the listeners will really appreciate it as well. You being so honest and forthcoming with such great advice?


SIMON RAYMONDE

Yeah. There are some great people in my business, you know, who all do feel similarly to me. You know, some great independent labels out there who want to help. It's just the time that you have to be able to do it, because I don't know how many how many, emails I get every every day with with links on. I mean, let's just have a look at how many I mean that that's 11,844 unread emails. That's actually the best it's ever been. No, that's no, that's amazing. It it's been 40, 50,000 before I had a bit of a clean out over Christmas, but that that shows you how many the the volume of emails that I get. Not not all of them are, demos. But, you know, I do get a shed load, and I always try and listen to everyone. And of course, now I've found that there's a lot of bedroom artists or or artists from all over the world sending me like instrumental links, instrumental music, and just saying, You know, can can I put this out on on the label? And it's It's hard, It's It's kinda hard, you know, because I feel like I love listening to it. But I've learned over the years that to be an instrumental artist, just a bedroom artist making instrumental music that it's just I mean, there's TikTok. And there's Instagram, I guess, But it's very hard to put stuff out on CV and vinyl and sign a band. That's that's just making nice instrumental music and I always try to struggle to try and find a way of sort of saying I like what you're doing, but I don't know what the fuck I. I don't I wouldn't know what to do with it, right? Yeah. You know, I've got explosions, I've got explosions in the sky, I've got dirty three. I've worked with some of the greatest instrumental bands out there. Those are two of the best that you you'll ever see.

So I don't really need anymore because I've got them.


But when it's some guy not in a band, not with other musicians, that's just making nice, polite instrumental music. That's very lovely kind of thing you probably hear in the background on a on an ad or something. I have to sort of say, Look, I have to be brutally honest. This isn't for me, but have you not thought about going down the kind of TV sink film world? And it is super competitive. But how about some of these companies who might be able to help? Because it it's just too, it's just not good enough to go back and go. I don't like it. Sorry, it's not for me. That's not enough anymore, because that's too if if you're that person receiving that email, that's that's just a real hard thing to read, isn't it? Like you put all this effort into this thing, even if it may not have any life as a sort of a a release on a label. That doesn't mean to say that your talents can't be put to use elsewhere. So I'm always trying to kind of think maybe I can sort of push them to the to this area that might, someone might get it in that world.


I mean, of course, sometimes you feel like you're just sort of paying lip service to it a bit, but it's I just think it's better than not answering at all, which I know a lot of people do not answer these emails. They don't reply to artists. I don't like to do that. I will. I will always reply, But I don't reply. If the email is not to me and I get quite a few of those you know, when you get the email, you can even see all the other people that are on it. I haven't quite got haven't quite got it right in terms of you really need. You need to write a personal email to the person you're writing to, or else you're not writing to me are you. You're just writing to all of the labels in the world. And I'm not all the labels in the world. I'm just a little guy trying to make my way, you know? So if you make an effort to find me and redress me as Simon, then I will make an effort and try and listen to your music and come up with something constructive. That's the way I do it. If you if you if I can sense that the email is not actually to me, really. I'm like, Well, fuck you.


JAMES KENNEDY

That's amazing that you do that, though. Fair play too, man. I mean, I've sent my fair share of emails in the past, probably tens of thousands into 20 years, that I've been struggling to do stuff. And pretty much all of them, I would I would venture to say have gone unread, let alone responded to and let alone responded to with any kind of kind, constructive feedback. That's amazing effort that you do that, man. I totally know what you mean as well, because at Konic Records I get the exact same thing I get, like an email like 'hi Konic records' - and then it's just like check out my band and you look at the sea and it's got, like, every other fucking record label on the planet And, you know, in a in A you know, like no fucking due diligence or research or fucks given, you know, just like the laziest outreach ever. You know,


SIMON RAYMONDE

I Know I do. I do get a couple where they've obviously gone through and sort of chosen beggars. Sub domino, blah, blah, blah. And they've copied and pasted. Of course, of course, you're gonna copy and paste. I don't have a problem with that. But when they've forgotten to take out dear sub to the email to be the Union that that I do always I do always kind of make a joke about it. I reply to those because I know it's an easy mistake and that, well, not easy. It's a difficult mistake to make, because I mean, you haven't really read it properly, but I do still reply to those, but I always like to point it out like That's not me, but never mind. Let's get to the point. Yeah, it's difficult, you know. It's very difficult. I actually, I started a new little intern in the last year, called Bella Unions private pressing, partly as a way of trying to combat this this vinyl production nonsense.

And also saying to bands, I don't need to sign you for 15 years on this.


I don't need to give you an advance. And you you don't need one. It's pointless. Taking advance just means you owe money to your record label. So you've got this finished record. I love it. I'd like to help get it out there in the world, but I'm not going to press 1000 copies. I'm gonna press like 100 and 200 records. I gonna make it totally unique.

You're only gonna be able to buy it from my web from the billion website. Can't buy it in the shops. And I started doing a few of these and that they've gone really, really, really well, I let the artists do all the digital. I mean, I'll help them put it up there, but they keep all the money, keep all the band camp.


So, really, all I'm doing is pressing up a couple of 100 vinyls. And when I get when I've sold them all, they can have the rights back. So it's it's not really costing me much. It's, you know, it's It's probably a grant or something to do each each pressing.

And I can just help get them introduced into the world because of the label's profile. You know, so I've done it with a couple of Brighton artists who their records will be coming out next month. Just because I think they're amazing and I want to help them out. And then I know they probably would struggle like, you say, to get signed to other labels because that whole thing is just a mess. Trying to get signed by anyone anymore is is very, very hard. So, yeah, that's another way I'm trying to help. We'll have to see how it goes.


JAMES KENNEDY

That's a great idea, man. Yeah. I mean, that's something that II I will definitely look into myself because I mean to To put that out late as a as a small, independent artist. On top of all of the other things you've mentioned, like touring costs and recording and all of the shit that goes with it. You know, to have that outlay for merch or, you know, bulk pressing of vinyl or C DS is quite a hit, you know, on top of everything else. So it's, I think, that deal there that you described, you know that you keep the digital out of it. You just deal with the vinyl, and it it helps them get that physical product out there. I think that's a great, great idea. I'll I'll look into that myself.


SIMON RAYMONDE

Yeah, I like it. And I, I only use this one pressing plant That's an eco-friendly pressing plant. I mean, there's no way making vinyl will ever be particularly eco-friendly, you know, just just because But, this one is is based in Europe. It's called Deep Grooves. And, I've used them exclusively on all the on all the bell and private pressing I've done so far, which is about five. So, you know, I'm trying to kind of how you look at how the world is. There is way too much final out there. That's that's just going to end up as fucking landfill. You know what I mean? But they may just label the major label, Just press up way too much stuff that really doesn't need to be pressed up. So I'm concerned about it on one level, but at the same time, I'm 60. I'm not 20. I can't. I can't. I the world anymore. You know what I mean? I can only do my little bit.


JAMES KENNEDY

Well, you certainly do with that man And and doing what you're doing now on these interviews and stuff that you do. And obviously we want to talk about the book in just a second as well. You know, That in itself is is is doing more than your little bit as well and everything that you've done. You know, Jesus Christ of your amazing career with the music you've given us and the bands you've introduced us to. You know, you you've done more than your bit. So you're doing OK? Your Karme balance is looking pretty healthy.


SIMON RAYMONDE

Yes, that's that's true. Well, that's true. Yes, I think I I've done ok. Yeah, I'm, like, very happy with how things have gone and, you know, it could always be better and stuff, but yeah, No, I feel a good balance personally as well. Like moving down to Brighton from London was a was a great move for me. I. I was starting to kind of not enjoy being in the city that I grew up in. And, being that down here in Brighton by the sea, it's just like it's changed everything.


JAMES KENNEDY

Oh, yeah, It's a great music scene in Brighton as well. It has been for a while.


SIMON RAYMONDE

Amazing, amazing. And what I love about the bright music scene is how generous everyone is. All the bands love each other, and that that's that's not something I ever remember growing up in London. You know that in the punk scene I saw incredible bands every night of my of my teenage years and through my twenties. But I don't remember any of them being particularly friendly. I mean, obviously the Clash and the pistols and the the ban. I suppose they all kind of tolerated each other. But maybe the and the were friends, maybe, but yeah, these little scenes, like in Brighton, bands truly love each other. They live with each other, they they share equipment, they share bills. It's very generous. And I do like that a lot.


JAMES KENNEDY

Yeah, I 100% agree with that man I. I had an artist I was working with for many years on iconic records, from Brighton and everything she did. It felt like there was a real communal sense to it. Like they all played on each other's tracks. They were all in their side, projects together and stuff like that. They all did tours together and, you know, pop up shows together and help each other out and live with each other and all. All the things you describe it. It feels like there's a real, an actual proper scene developing down there.


SIMON RAYMONDE

It does. And I mean, you get a lot of people go, Oh, it's too scene. Everyone knows each other and I'm like, Yeah, and what's your point? You know, isn't that what we are? Isn't that what we need right now? We need community. There's just been such a lack of it. And, you know, the country is just a fucking disaster area in terms of how it's run. It's, you know, the gap between the haves and the have nots is is is so large that any community where people are just coming together and doing something because they love it and they they're supporting each other. I think that's a great thing. I don't I don't think is a bad thing. I think it's a great thing.


JAMES KENNEDY

100% Yeah, we need more of it. And and that harks back to what you were saying about keeping it local early on as well. I think that if we can invigorate our local scenes again where we're not in competition with each other, But we're all part of the same healthy community and looking out for each other and helping each other out, you know? I mean, the musically and otherwise, you know? I mean, as you said in the state of society is fucked on all fronts at the moment. You know what I mean? 12 years of Tory rule will do that to you.


SIMON RAYMONDE

Well, yeah, because if you look back, if you look back to the kind of early eighties when the independent label scene sort of exploded, it was because of the local scenes, you know, kitchenware in Newcastle, postcard in Scotland, you know, factory in Manchester, 4AD in London. You know, all these like there's millions of others, over in Liverpool and you know, any town had its own label scene, and it's and its own label. Why? Well, because somebody in the town was like, We've got so many brilliant bands. Let's start a label and put some of them out, you know, and I hopefully there'll be more of that coming up with the with this burgeoning local scene that we that we're seeing happening right now. Hopefully, there'll be more little indie labels trying to help out their favourite bands in their in their in their hometown.


JAMES KENNEDY

100%. Yeah, very inspiring. Very inspiring. Out like that is man in in in times that are very difficult. I think you know that. That's that's a great solution which is healthy on many fronts and and and and much more achieved, but unattainable for bands, you know, for the reasons that we've mentioned, I know that I promised I would only keep you for an hour, and we are getting dangerously close to that point now. There's a few more things I wanted to ask you. So I'm just gonna squeeze one in which I I didn't mention earlier. You mentioned Satan earlier and we when we were talking about the major labels, but we haven't yet mentioned Spotify and streaming. You know what? Are your thoughts on that good or bad?


SIMON RAYMONDE

Well, a bit of a bit of a mixture, I guess. Yeah. I, I you know, the the the Yeah Spotify I'm not a fan of OK, I'll be honest. Don't I mean, I do have an account, but I don't use it.

It's we have it in the house because if you've got friends around and you need you want to put a playlist on, I guess it's it's easy. I'd rather just go and get a bunch of records and put them on the record player, but for ease the simplicity, I get it streaming ain't going away. Spotify is gonna be there as a model for a business. I think it's dreadful, right? I think it's app is appalling. And I I'm just not a fan, But then I'm not the core audience. Probably, You know, I'm somebody that's been buying records all my life. I still buy as many records today as I did back in the day. I'm a complete vinyl junkie. So Spotify is not I'm not its target human. So I'm probably the worst person to talk about it, but I think they paid the the The pay is terrible. And even if they just put it up a bit, it's still going to be terrible. But and there has to be a but in here because I do see the positives of it as well. Is that when you have, I? I suppose the TikTok stroke Spotify thing at the moment is actually very interesting because if I, you know, you never listen to a whole song on Tik Tok, you just hear a bit of it. What What's happening is that people are hearing a bit of a beautiful song on TikTok coming out of TikTok into Spotify, typing in the name of that band, finding that song and then streaming the fuck out of it and then hopefully listening to more and more songs about that band from that band and getting into their catalogue and then I suppose, because they're new to to Spotify, you know, 15 year old kids or whatever are starting to discover other things we can argue about whether the algorithm that exists to drive that, you know, to take you from this band, that you did want to listen to this next band that you didn't know anything about. That you are now listening to whether that's right or wrong. I. I wouldn't even want to get into that because it's everywhere we go, right being being fed something else. Whether you're on Facebook being fed an ad because your Alexa overheard you talking about carpets, you're suddenly seeing 1000 carpets. You've done that. You've seen it. I know it happens. They'll tell you it doesn't. It fucking does.

Whether you're on Twitter and the promoted ads you get are because you've been looking at a certain type of thing. It's everywhere we go.


So why shouldn't we be that disappointed that Spotify is feeding us a track? They think we might like it. It's it's nothing, but I don't know about right or wrong. I don't think it's right. But it is the way of the world right now, so we better just fucking get used to it, right? So on the one side, I'm, like, totally anti it. And I'm starting to kind of think about deleting all my social accounts. But I don't really want to do that right now because I'm about to put out a book, and my publisher will be annoyed with me. So I'm gonna I'm gonna wait until all the books out, and then I'll probably just come off. Spotify, Yes. I Spotify Look, Beach House is a perfect example where Spotify works.


They had a viral hit with, Space song about a year ago. All all all Beach House songs stream well, right. They all stream about 30 million streams on average, which is very healthy. It's it's not. It's not Ed Sheeran numbers, but it's in my world. It's super healthy. Most bands I know would love to stream 30 million per track. Something happened about a year ago. Where, somebody a girl on I think it was a girl on Tik Tok had a break up with her partner and posted this kind of sad video with one of Beach House's songs as the soundtrack to this sad video. It just went out, went viral, like, over the course of the next few months and everyone that had a breakup with anybody was using this piece of music, and it sort of went from kind of 30 million to kind of 100 million in about two weeks. And then after a couple of months, it was at 200 million. Then it was 300 million. Then it was 400 million.


I haven't actually looked for a few weeks. Let me have a look right now. I think it's around about 600 million. Oh, my God. Right now And and And this is just because of TikTok, right? So am I going to argue against a A against my own bad, benefiting enormously, audience wise, demographic wise And financially, you know, the finances of going from 30 million, which I'm sure I don't know what they are, but I'm sure they were pretty healthy to 650 million. It was 550 million a couple of weeks ago. So it's still moving even a year or so after, So you can't argue with how this is revolutionising artists income and ability to make make money out of streaming. You can't argue with it. So On the one hand, I'm like, Ah, I can't stand it. It's awful. It's horrible. I don't like the app. I don't like the way it works. On the other hand, I'm like, Yeah, I love it because my fans are making some money out of it or, you know, So it's, a little bit sort of torn between the two things at the moment because obviously, I, I see the benefit and I. I want them to continue making great money, and and and having all that exposure, it's It's a wonderful thing. Yeah, that's about all I've got to say.


JAMES KENNEDY

Well, I think all of these things are amazing. If you get that lucky break like you just mentioned when it happens, it's fucking beautiful, because then you get the I mean, they could never reach that audience by being on the radio or getting ads in a magazine, you know, to have access to that global audience that have now discovered.


SIMON RAYMONDE

They spent any money? No one? No. Yeah. Nobody spent any money on that. There was no campaign. Yeah, it just happened. And you've got to say that that that is one of the most beautiful things to happen. It's just purely organic. And all the great successes the Bella Union has had over the years have all been that way. The Fleet Foxes phenomenon was all organic. Yes, we did spend a load of money at the end on TV advertising that kicked it on again to get up to the kind of million level. But that was when we were at 300,000 CD sales. We then spent a bit of money to kind of get through to a different kind of audience. Yes, that's fair enough. But TikTok is completely organic. And you have to say that is a very beautiful thing.


JAMES KENNEDY

Well, I suppose when it it comes down to what you said earlier about making your own luck I mean, when you're just a lost the noise in the pool of everyone else putting stuff out there and you're getting nowhere and you're getting two likes on your posts and stuff like that, then this stuff feels very frustrating. And and the algorithm is is working against you as you mentioned as well a lot of the time. But when you do get that lucky spark for whatever reason that happens and it just fucking takes off then. These platforms are amazing and they can bring so much benefit to artists, you know? So I suppose there's probably an argument there for being able to make your own luck if you can embrace it and just accept the fact that this stuff is here to stay and do what you can to be creative and utilise these things, Then you you're setting yourself up to potentially maybe have that lucky spark.


SMON RAYMONDE

Yeah, exactly. I say that to all the bands I said, Look, that's That's a perfect example and I mean the Beach House story. It is a beautiful one because we had a two album deal with Beach House at the beginning and the first two records, like the first album I did OK, second album did sort of slightly better, but nothing, nothing crazy. And and you know, at one point when our deal was over, I was like, God, I really love this band. I'm sure they're gonna make it. But, you know, I can imagine why they might look at us and go, Why? Why isn't it happening? Because they were always they were amazing from the start. They weren't just They didn't just keep getting better. They They were amazing from the beginning. So it was, you know, you have to go to the band at that point and say, I think you're amazing. You're absolutely one of my favourite bands I've ever signed. I want to carry on working with you as long as possible. Sorry, it hasn't worked yet, but it's not for want of trying, you know, and you have to just be out. They put it out there and I think we we did that with Beach House and said, Look, it will happen. It's just, you know, we're just hopefully a few minutes away from it happening, and then they they agreed to stay with us. They could easily have gone to another label easily. I know 4AD were looking at signing Beach House or considering signing them if they had left the Union. But they they trusted us. They start with us. The next album took off. Teen Dream became massive, and that's where it all started. So you just have to have a bit of faith, not just me and them, but them in me, and then you just have to say, Well, they make fantastic music So those numbers shouldn't be that surprising.


And that's how I'm trying to look at it, because everybody should should know. Beach House They're one of the most incredible bands out there, and the fact that their audience has now gone from sort of 35 to 55 year olds, it's now sort of 15 to 60 year olds. It's It's crazy. It's so beautiful to see going to a gig now. And it's not just being loads of old people and couples and stuff. It's it's, you know, thousands of girls just screaming it. It's just so wonderful. So I have to sort of take my hat off to to the streaming services in one sense, because they've allowed this to happen. They've allowed one of my bands to have this. It's enabled one of my bands to have this great success, So from that point of view, I'm absolutely thrilled. But as a punter, as a as a participant in it, it's not really my thing, but I don't think anyone would care because I'm not the guy. I'm not the guy they're aiming for, Amen.


JAMNES KENNEDY

You've given us so much great advice and so much insight and wisdom from your decades in the game. So we thank you for that. Before we wrap up, I want to talk about your book. As are we gonna get a lot of this stuff in the book? You know what? What? What? Have you finished it? What? What's the what's going on with the book?


SIMON RAYMONDE

Oh, well, probably not. I mean, no I haven't read. My book is the sort of, you know, how to survive in the music business book. It's not that because, as you say, I mean, I do. I do try and do this every day in my life, just trying to help people. My book is really more about me sort of taking a step back and just looking at what I've done. I mean, I wouldn't have done it. I think musicians books are generally quite dull, and I was worried that II I didn't want to write a dull book. So I only did it because I'd spoken to Warren Ellis from the bad scenes, who's like a friend of mine was at 33 for many, many years, and he'd just done this book. Nina Simone's gum and I was writing already bits for magazines and stuff. And he'd also said similarly, he'd never had the idea to write a book. But something happened this event with, with Nina Simone's Gum. I don't know if you know the story. It's too long. It's too long and beautiful to go into. But he basically he him and Nick went to see Nina Simone at Meltdown, and he he sort of became obsessed with this. He took. She'd taken the chewing gum out of her mouth just before she started playing, and she stuck it underneath the piano. And then she played the set. She played the set and then and the set finished. But Warren was still thinking about this piece of chewing gum, and as the as the crew were clearing the stage, he kind of knit down the front, jumped up on stage, went under the piano and took the chewing gum off and put it in his pocket and left the venue.


And then it just became this thing between him and Nick Cave, like, about this gum and It was just like this bonding moment, this sort of symbol almost of of sort of significant, significant moments in your life. So that was his sort of starting point for the for the book. And when I talked to him about it like, I met up with and where he lives, where we both live, And, I found it such a fascinating story. And it did inspire me to to stop worrying about the fact that my book, I'm a musician writing the book, just write the book. So I did, and I found an agent. I found a publisher, and I wrote the book and I had a great time doing it. Looking back upon upon all these things that I've done, and we shall see it. It's It's it's it's coming out, hopefully later this year or early next year. It's but publishing is, apparently is is an equal, dire straits in terms of production, as as as as as the as the vinyl industry. So II I hear it's going to take a long time to get it made, but I don't care how.


JAMES KENNEDY

I've done it. That's amazing. But how long did it take to write, then?


SIMON RAYMONDE

Well, so I think about October Last year, I had done about 18,000 words, and I thought I'd finish. And I kind of like I spoke to the Asian And I said, Roughly, what is a book? What should I be looking at? And he was, like, 100 110,000 words. And I was like, Oh, OK, shit. So I went away on holiday with my when I went on holiday with my wife, in October for a week, and I just basically got up at eight o'clock every morning and just started writing and pretty much wrote all day. And I got into this rhythm. And then I came back home and I just did exactly the same thing. I didn't have a day off I would get up at eight. Go go to a cafe, get my headphones on, start typing. Just get it all out there. About two o'clock in the afternoon, I'd stop and, go back home and get on with other stuff with the belly and do stuff and then I, I just did it every day for like, October November journey. I did, like four or five months, and I had it done.


JAMES KENNEDY

That's amazing. That's amazing. Yeah, I had a very similar experience with my first book, which was an autobiography. I wrote the whole thing in just over two months because I just got up every day, and at the time, I had nothing else going on. So I had three days, you know, to just, you know, to spend on the book. And I just got up every day, and I just did about half a chapter every day, and I just slammed it for two months.

And then obviously, you've got the editing process that goes on for a few months after that, you know, but yeah, II. I totally relate to that. I found doing it autobiographical type of book a little bit easier in the sense that you you you know where it begins and where it ends. You're kind of just filling in the middle, you know? So, yeah, I can't imagine what it must be like to have to invent plots and characters and, you know, that's a whole different world.


SIMON RAYMONDE

A whole different game Yeah, a whole different game. No, I really I really quite enjoyed it. I sort of got into the rhythm of it. You know, enjoyed getting up and couldn't wait to sort of sit down and get on with the next bit. I mean, obviously fitting it all in fitting it all in. I I've got way too much I. I ended up writing, like 100 and 25,000. I'm pretty sure the edit, the editor will will want to chop out lots of it, which is fine by me, because I don't know the first thing about it, so I'm just like, here it is. You do what you want with it.

But I'm I'm very happy with what I wrote and I printed it out for my wife to read, and she kind of sailed through it in a couple of couple of nights, and she I know she would tell me what she thought She does. Always tell me what she thinks, and she loved it. So that was good stuff, man.


JAMES KENNEDY

So have you got a title yet? Is it a working title or you're not allowed to say yeah?


SIMON RAYMONDE

Yeah, the title I had before I had the book. I won't say because it's, if we go down the road of why is it called that I be here for another three hours?


JAMES KENNEDY

Interesting. Oh, I'm intrigued, man. So we're looking then, I guess, at a publishing you said of later this year, more than likely early to mid next year. Is that the case? Because I mean, book publishing, as I know, takes absolutely forever.


SIMON RAYMONDE

Yeah, it's with 98 Publishing who, did the Miki Berenyi book. And, obviously, Miki is a great mate of mine, and I actually did a Q and a with her at Brighton and resident when her book came out. And it's a phenomenal book, Miki Berenyi's book. You have to read it. It's It's definitely one of the best music books I've ever read, and it's not really a music book. I mean, half of it is half of it is. It's just so brilliantly written. It's very truthful. It's super authentic. What's it called? It's, how music saved me from success.


JAMES KENNEDY

Oh, I think I've seen that book. Yes, right. I know the book.


SIMON RAYMONDE

It was like best best selling music book of the year. It was like number one in Sunday Times number number one in Rough trade. It was the biggest selling book, in fact, one of the biggest selling products that resident has ever had in their shop in Brighton. I think they shipped 7000, so they sold 7000 in the first week at Resident. I think that was 70% of all the whole of the UK's sales in that one shop. And everything she gets is deserved because it's, it's a phenomenally good book, brilliantly written, and and also just very, very interesting.


JAMES KENNEDY

I gotta check it out.


SIMON RAYMONDE

Yeah, so I'm lucky, and I'm lucky enough to be with the same publisher and, I my book is nowhere near as good as hers, but I'm sure having a publisher like them and a publicist like like like she had will will help me enormously because I think that's on the part of the game is making sure you get, you know, get it to the right people.


JAMES KENNEDY

Well, I think there's going to be a lot of people interested in in your life story, because you what a fascinating life you've lived. You know what I mean? You've done so many different things. You've seen so many different changes in the times over the years that you've been doing it. So, yeah, I'm personally excited for the book to come out. I wish it would hurry the fuck up and happen. Hopefully, you know, we get nearer the time. If you if you grace our humble podcast again and come back on, we could talk exclusively about the book if you're up for it.


SIMON RAYMONDE

That would be nice, James. Thank you.


JAMES KENNEDY

Right, it's a deal. You heard it here first, folks. We're gonna book that in right now. As confirmed. Simon, thank you so much for doing this. Man. I really do appreciate you giving me your time. I know how busy you are. And thanks for all of the great wisdom and knowledge you've given so freely and advice that you've given so freely to the listeners. Who I know are going to benefit from that experience and that wisdom. So, so much. And thank you for all of the great brilliant music you've given us as well All these decades, Not just in your own band, the Cocteau Twins, but also through the brilliant Bella Union Records. You, you, you You're gonna be leaving a lot, A lot of goodness behind, man in your trail. So thank you so much. And hopefully we will speak to you again soon. Best wishes with everything coming up. And thanks again for coming on.


SIMON RAYMONDE

Thank you, James. Take care.


JAMES KENNEDY

Simon Raymonde, Ladies and gentlemen from the awesome Iconic Cocteau Twins and the legendary record label Bella Union Records. Let's hear it for him. What a cool dude, Man, I had no idea the conversation was going to go that way. I knew we were going to get into his book and everything like that, but he was just he just wanted to He just wanted to chuck us all that free information and insight and wisdom, which was like, There's some really, really good food for thought in there.


I found personally and I agree with everything he said. I mean, you know, the guy has been around the block, man, He's been here through this whole transition. He's he's been in the game himself as an artist as well, so he really knows what he's talking about.

So, you know, if you're in a in a, an emerging band or or or a semi established band or an independent band, I think you should definitely listen to a lot of what Simon is saying in this interview and many others, because he really does dish out this this this wisdom quite freely and that's that's a That's a definite gift that we should, respect and listen to because he does know what he's talking about.


And it's great when you get somebody in the music business who does have the insight and the experience and the wisdom that Simon has when they are so open and honest about it. I love that, you know? So what a great guy. What a great conversation that was. And I personally can't wait to read his book. I was gonna say the name of it, but I still don't know what it was. He hasn't told me. So, we'll just have to keep an eye on his socials for the updates on that, you can follow him on Instagram And Twitter at Mr Simon Raymonde. That's Raymonde with an E on the end and the awesome Bella Union records can be found at Bella Union dot com, where you can check out more about the label and all of their awesome awesome artists. Too many to mention. But I'm talking about the likes of Beach House, John Grant, Ezra Furman and the Flaming and Lips, Tim Burgess, Explosions in the sky and so many more. So go and check those guys out. Hope you enjoyed the conversation. Thanks again for listening in. Check us out on next week's episode with another awesome guest. You're not going to I believe this one. This one is a good and they're all good ones. What am I saying? But I gotta try and keep you hyped somehow.


But how do you keep just, you know, how do you keep raising the temperature higher and higher when we're already on full fucking temperature, baby? It's already red hot on this fucking thing. So check us out next week for what's gonna be and yeah, just another fucking awesome guest laying down some awesome information for you lucky motherfuckers to get for free. So between now and then, what have you got to do I've said it Enough goddamn times. What have you got to do? You've got to subscribe to the podcast. You've got to click follow. You gotta click like you gotta click Share. You've got to leave a comment. You've got to leave a star rate in review. Give me a five star. Give me a one star. I don't give a shit. Just give me something, man.


And the most important thing you can do is spread the word. Word of mouth is so powerful. Please tell your friends. Tell your colleagues. Tell your enemies. Tell anyone else Listen, the check out the James Kennedy podcast because we have got some awesome guests coming up with some awesome insights, some awesome stories and some awesome knowledge that we can all learn from whether it's in music, politics, personal issues, food and health and anything. We got it all coming to this thing, man. So, so spread the word and make sure you are subscribed. So you don't miss any of this goodness, thanks to all of you for your amazing support and for coming back week after week. I love you. Loads. Have a great week and I'll see you next time.

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