We’re going to be sharing a 'label a day' with you in the lead up to the forthcoming Label Mates II six day festival at the Shacklewell Arms. Taking a step behind the brilliant bands to the people that help them function, we caught up with Art Is Hard Records to help kick things off.

Home to?

The Black Tambourines, Best Friends, Shunkan, Birdskulls, White Sands, Pinact… (but have also worked with) Joanna Gruesome, Fear Of Men, Nai Harvest, Playlounge, Bos Angeles, Theo Verney + many more!

How did it start?

Both David and I were living in Weymouth putting on shows; attempting to get touring bands to visit while at the same time showcasing local talent that desperately required a platform. It took a short while, but before long this evolved into the early musings of a record label. Scouring Myspace pages for southern artists over several months turned into our first compilation (Brink Of The Clouds, AIH001) which we released as a t-shirt/download code. It wasn't long before the whole concept quickly gained speed and morphed into a 'full time' hobby.

What was your first release?

A compilation which showcased several sides to the types of artists we were working with whilst putting on shows. Acts from all over the south coast, somewhere we believed to be unfairly neglected, putting their all into brilliant music. It was the first of many innovative releases that we have been accustomed to, way before things got really weird.

Best thing about running a label?

Oh boy, there are so many things to chose from. Becoming best friends with bands you love is really fun. You get to go to a lot of shows. I've just this moment come back from seeing Slint in Brixton supported by Ides (Alanna McArdle, also seen howling in Joanna Gruesome) - she played a song that we released and I couldn't help but sing along to all the words. It might sound lame, but it's really rewarding. We kind of feel like parents watching kids grow up. To elaborate on that, I think we most enjoy giving smaller bands a platform to release music that might not be heard by a larger audience elsewhere, and watching them grow. Two bands on the label have just been signed by larger imprints. It's definitely not a competition, but we're so proud of this.

Number one challenge when running a label?

Boring things like trying to find the time to do it around our day jobs... and worrying about money. We're lucky that we tend to turn over one release just before we do another so we can keep distributing. I'm sure our luck will change soon.

What artists are you guys spinning most at the moment?

I've really enjoyed the news Woods album. Ought did a great job too. Nerding out over the Weezer teasers for their new record.

What do you look for in a new artist?

We don't necessarily 'look' for a certain quality, a lot of stuff drops in our inbox and more often than not we end up doing something with it. There's so much great music out there and a lot of labels are failing because they're picky, spending a considerable amount of time hyping what they believe to be the next best thing when actually it's a crock of shit that's been done before. 

The below should help you prep for their monster all-dayer this coming Sunday (August 24th). Full line-up details can be found here.

The Black Tambourines - 'I Wanna Stay Away'

Best Friends - 'Happy Anniversary'

Shunkan - 'Dust In Your Eyes'

Birdskulls - 'Sand Smiles'

White Sands - 'The Wait'

Pinact - 'Guillotine'