Interview / electronic music

Interview: Canapé Records – “We’re kind of outsiders. Which feels good.”

By Miles Arnold, Friday May 20, 2022

Bristol has always been a hub for DIY culture. People with a passion for art and music can come together and thrive in this city, in a way quite unlike anywhere else. Canapé Records are the perfect testament to that fact.

Created in 2018, the underground label, run by childhood friends Charlie and Tyler, and travelling/uni friend Callum, have always been focussed on Bristol’s thriving art scene across all aspects. I spoke to Charlie about the label, its ethos, and what things look like moving forward.

“We started just as a vehicle to put our friends’ music out, because a few of us were in bands or making music, and we were just getting ignored by labels.” Says Charlie. “I like the idea of releasing stuff independently, but the idea of having a community of artists working together to push the sound, that really resonates with us.”

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This willingness to reach outside of the dance music spectrum and look towards bands, whether punk or psychedelic rock, has allowed Canapé to carve their own niche in the scene – one that not many other labels/collectives have been able to achieve.

Charlie explains that he sees the label as “not really part of any specific scene. There’s definitely quite defined scenes in Bristol, with drum and bass, garage, etc. But the beauty of running the label is that we can decide what we put out. The three of us have such broad tastes, why would we limit ourselves to just one style or genre? In that sense, I feel like we’re kind of outsiders. Which feels good.”

The past couple of years have seen sustained growth from the Canapé boys. The end of 2020 saw them release their first vinyl EP with Longeez – Illicit Material, to great acclaim, and they’ve been keeping things moving from there.

“The longeez record was a bit of a checkpoint for us” Charlie reminisces. “We didn’t expect it to get such an amazing response. Then we wanted to get another 12 inch out as soon as possible. That was early 2021, and we’ve only just received [the records] now.”

These issues with getting music pressed to vinyl have become all too familiar to labels UK-wide since the pandemic and Brexit collided at the perfect time. And although it’s made things difficult for the label, every cloud has a silver lining, and Charlie and the crew know a learning experience when they see one.

“We’ve learned a lot about how to conduct ourselves. We’ve learned a lot about how to run events, a lot about marketing, things like that have allowed us to really grow as people in the music industry. But the same ethos is definitely still there.” Charlie talks about how being an artist himself allows a level of understanding between the label and those they’re working with: “We always want to give artists a fair deal. We understand the value of art in society, and so often that’s just not recognised. Like, if you lived in a world with no club nights, no radio, no music, everyone would be depressed. Supporting smaller artists, both financially and with our knowledge, is what we’re all about.”

Since their first physical release, the Canapé Records discography has been ever-growing. And with everything from jungle to more experimental down-tempo in their back catalogue, I was curious to see which projects, if any, Charlie felt the most proud of.

He paused for a moment, before saying “man, it’s honestly really hard to pick. Listening back through our discography, I’m just so proud of how we’ve not put anything out too quickly. I feel like some labels/artists have a tendency to just make things happen, rather than it being an organic process. When you’ve got a project you’re working on, you just want it to be out. But I think giving artists the space and the time that they need, and giving ourselves time to perfect artwork, marketing, all of that important stuff. It’s just all worth it in the end, you know?”

Canapé Records’ latest project, titled CNPVA001, contains 8 tracks from friends of the label, and spans “from jungle to dark garage to bouncy house to dancehall”. You can listen/purchase it here. They’re also putting on their inaugural night at top underground venue The Island this Saturday, May 21, alongside rising promoters Amity – tickets/more info can be found here.

Read more: Interview: Duckland Bristol – “We had Dom’s mum flyering at the graduation ceremony”

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