Labels of love: Chemikal Underground
The Phantom Band, Lord Cut-Glass, Emma Pollock, The Unwinding Hours, Adrian Crowley, Zoey Van Goey, Aidan Moffat, Angil and the Hiddentracks, The Radar Brothers.
Set up in 1995 by the four members of now-disbanded Glasgow outfit The Delgados, Chemikal Underground is run by ex-Delgados Alun Woodward (who records as Lord Cut-Glass) and Stewart Henderson, with Andrew Savage.
‘The only remit is to release music that we like and want to hear,’ says Woodward. ‘You’d broadly call it alternative independent music, but a lot of things we do just don’t fit into that typical “indie” bracket.’
It’s Chemikal’s 15th birthday next year. How is the label doing these days?
‘We’re in a good position right now, with a few records which have had a really high profile over the past year. Is this the best position we’ve ever been in? It’s hard to tell, because the industry right now is so different to what it was ten years ago. I honestly couldn’t tell you about our balance sheet, though. Every label needs someone who doesn’t think about money, otherwise you either wouldn’t get out of bed in the morning for worrying or overspend when things are going well. I find the best label strategy is always just to argue about every record, then go with who wins.’
What advice would you give to someone starting a label right now?
‘Go with your instinct. There are always people telling you what works and what doesn’t, but I find that what really does work is generally defined by people who come into the industry and take chances. Believe in the band you’re working with, believe that you can do something with them and then actually go and do it. Don’t sit around waiting for other people.’
What’s next for Chemikal Underground?
‘We’re putting on a 15th anniversary show in January at the ABC as part of Celtic Connections, and then hopefully something else later in the year. Aidan Moffat and Bill Wells will be releasing an album together next year, and so will The Unwinding Hours (ex-Aereogramme).’
The Phantom Band and Lord Cut-Glass play the Arches, Glasgow, Sat 12 Dec.