This Saturday night is PilotFest, which sees the entire Pilot Records roster playing in Arcade Lane, joined by the SoundPond crew to make it one rather large party. The event takes place on National SLAM Day, which exists to shine a light on live music. We had a chat to Dave from Pilot about the first twelve months of life for the label, PilotFest and more.
Pilot Records has been in the public eye for around twelve months now – but how much work went in prior to that? How do two mates go from “We should start a record label” to, y’know, actually starting a label?
We did quite a bit of research into what record labels do and how they operate. There are basic guidelines out there, but as all these independent labels are competing to be noticed you end up finding that no two labels are really the same – which we took the positive view that we can tailor our label to what we want. We planned out what we wanted to achieve and the direction we wanted to take along with more formal business planning and how we would fit into the scene. We applied for and got accepted into the government’s NEIS scheme which provides approved businesses with a base allowance during establishment, so after that it was a pretty easy decision to go ahead with it.
And in the last twelve months you’ve seen a number of successes, including signing Oisima and watching his star rise internationally, and seeing Ride into the Sun record with their psych heroes from The Black Angels. What’s that journey been like?
It’s been awesome so far and it’s super exciting when things happen like the RITS/Black Angels sessions or when Oisima gets shout outs from guys like Chet Faker – but it also feels like we’re just beginning our journey. There are so many opportunities out there that we can see, it’s just a matter of continuously working towards them and figuring out exactly how to make these opportunities a reality. We’re still learning more and more with every release and every project. We’re really just on the cusp of 12 months (we officially launched in April 2012), so there’s still a long journey ahead of us.
Are there any other labels in Adelaide you’re aware of, and have you managed to meet and learn anything from them? Or for that matter, are there any other indie labels around the world you’ve had discussions with, asked for advice, or even just taken inspiration from?
The main label that comes to mind in Adelaide is Cuckoo Music. We know the Cuckoo guys pretty well and often talk about all sorts of things (label or non-label related!). They’re doing well for themselves in the house and techno scene. We’ve made some brief contact with a couple of other labels within Australia but have also been in touch with AIR, APRA, ARIA and PPCA.
What’s the driving philosophy behind Pilot Records?
To produce and release good original music and to believe in the music we release, professionalism, working towards new boundaries and most of all enjoy what we are doing.
Tell us about the acts on your label. How did you find these people, and what drew you to them?
Being in bands in Adelaide prior to Pilot Records, between the two of us we pretty much already knew the guys now releasing on the label. For, say, RITS and Oisima, we like what they do and can see that these guys are dedicated to being the best they can be. They’re already working hard on building their careers, so it was just a matter of catching up, talking through the possibilities and coming to an agreement which we were all happy with. Question Question were a newly formed band when they teamed up with Pilot. We like the angle they put on their music and how they bring such a raw vibe to a live dance set. Definitely looking forward to seeing them develop with time. No Birds was a surprise, brought to us by Justin from QQ. He showed us this side project he’s been working on and we fell in love with it – then once he assured us that it could all be done in a live set how could we say no? And Urtekk, well, that’s us in that band.. so that’s a no brainer really.
What’s the day-to-day for Pilot? Are you both still working too, or is it a full-time gig? [And if you’re working, how much of your day do you get to spend on Pilot-related stuff?]
Pilot is pretty much a full time thing for both of us. We have to put in the effort to continue with out growth and development. We both still pick up DJ gigs and the occasional work shift but the aim is to not have to rely on work outside of Pilot.
How have you found the reaction from Adelaide scene towards Pilot Records?
We were welcomed with open arms when we launched and since have been getting some really positive and sometimes humbling comments. Despite our infancy it feels as if we were accepted by several bigger organisations right away, many who are very eager to see us grow and succeed. We’ve been offered a lot of support from a lot of different angles which has been really helpful – it’s very reassuring when you know there are people out there who genuinely dig what your doing!
What about interstate and internationally?
We have a little bit of a following from interstate and have begun making some cool contacts overseas, however our main audience is still based in Adelaide. An emphasis on hitting interstate is definitely one of our upcoming priorities.
PilotFest happens on National SLAM day; a festival featuring all your signed acts. What’s the scoop?
It actually turned out a coincidence that PilotFest and SLAM were to be on the same day. A good coincidence mind you, because as soon as both Pilot and SLAM realised we got right behind eachothers causes. We’re 100% behind what SLAM stands for, because really what they stand for is people like us putting on live gigs! It’s like supporting the people who support you. PilotFest is SLAM Adelaide’s feature gig for the day, so there’s sure to be a couple of interviews etc. We’re helping to spread the word on SLAM too – we love seeing people put themselves out there for the right reasons.
Was it easy to put together when you’re already working with all these acts?
I suppose approaching the artists was easy, but then there’s everything on top of that which still needed to be organised – the venue, audio recording, film, lighting, stalls and other festival goodies (yeah, did we mention we’re filming it?). Then on top of that is advertising, scheduling, budgeting.. so there is definitely still a lot of work and coordinating involved.
What can we expect on the day?
Fun tiiimes! We’ve got some stalls and arts lined up, Soundpond is running a theatre upstairs (literally an old cinema which has been stripped.. it’s a pretty cool space), extra lighting and a line up of 5 live acts. We’ll be partying on until close – don’t worry about that!
You’ve teamed up with SoundPond to put it on – how did that come up, and what does the partnership entail for the event?
We thought it would be cool to add an extra area to PilotFest, to make it more of a mini-festival and less of a long gig. The upstairs area was available and we thought that SoundPond would suit perfectly. The guys at SP were right into the idea so it came together quite easily. For PilotFest the SP/Pilot partnership means that punters just have more to party on with at the event!
You’ve also hosted a night on the SoundPond website and had a stall at the SoundPond 3rd birthday party event. How important do you think this kind of “organisation collaborations” are to the future of the Adelaide scene?
The SoundPond/Pilot relationship has always been a positive one, we really respect the amount of effort they put into the station and how they are always willing to do something cool! We think these kind of collaborations do great things for Adelaide’s scene. To us, it’s not about dominating the scene, it’s about doing what we can to make the overall scene the best it can be. SoundPond and Pilot cross over in many respects (such as our love for electronic music) so rather than create an opposition and risk segregating our already small scene, why not combine it all into one big ball of awesome? We’re here to have a good time, and the more people willing to join the good times the better – you’re all welcome as far as we’re concerned.
What else have you got coming up in the future?
Obviously the focus for the rest of the week is PilotFest. After that we have Ride Into The Sun releasing their new single, ‘Lost At Sea (A Love Song)’ before heading over to the US to play Austin Psych Fest. We have our one year anniversary which will of course require a party, more releases by Question Question, Urtekk and Oisima plus a couple of sneaky little surprises along the way…
And finally, what does live music mean to you?
This question could be answered so many ways! I feel it could easily turn into an argument of what is and what isn’t live. Well that’s for the individual to decide. To me, live music has an atmosphere, a vibe, a feeling.. live music isn’t meant to be perfect. It’s the imperfections that give it the human touch. My favourite live moments aren’t always how close to perfect a band can get, it’s also how well they recover from mistakes and how much human energy they can put into their performance. It’s about what they choose to play and how they create their own musical atmosphere. And I would like to add that just because someone performs with a laptop and MIDI doesn’t mean they aren’t playing live. A computer can be used in the same manner as an effects rack, a mixing console, a loop station, a synth engine.. right through to an mp3 player – sure you could hide behind it, but it could also be your most powerful live tool – it just depends what you choose to do with it.
More info on PilotFest here.