Matt_And_Ollie Memphis Industries

Do yourself a favour and check out the back catalogue of indie label Memphis Industries. Chris Parkin celebrates with them as they turn 13…

We all know the importance of indie labels. They’re an antidote to the effluent pumped out by increasingly desperate majors and, with ways and means of getting music out there proliferating faster than a pygmy shrew’s heart pulses, they sift through the glut of music for us. One label we’ve been able to trust for over a decade is the reliably ace Memphis Industries.

London brothers Ollie and Matt Jacobs have been releasing records for an impressive 13 years now – albums as wonderful as El Perro Del Mar’s heavenly yet sweetly down-in-the-dumps self-titled 2006 album. In an attempt to turn this ominous anniversary of theirs into a lucky omen, here are Ollie and Matt talking us through their pivotal releases…

Blue StatesNothing Changes Under the Sun (2000)
'The first album from our first signing. Blue States, the wonderful Andy Dragazis, was with us at the start, releasing 12-inch EPs, which we hawked round the then-numerous London record stores on foot. Having very little idea what we were doing, beyond expressing our overriding love of music, we eventually figured we should release an album. Recorded in Andy’s bedroom, Nothing Changes is an understated gem that smolders with echoes of Morricone and Axlerod.’

The Go! TeamThunder Lightning Strike (2004)
‘While the demo that turned up unceremoniously in November 2002 was mind-blowing, we really weren’t prepared for the ridiculously exciting ride we were taken on by this album. Stuffed with stone-cold classics and a production aesthetic that’s unmistakable, and allied with a six-piece party-starting band, Thunder Lightning Strike just kept going and going. Shows sold out all over the world, Later… with Jools came knocking, and the album was nominated for the Mercury Prize. For an album recorded in the kitchen at Ian Parton’s mum and dad’s, it was an outlandish trip.’


The PipettesWe Are The Pipettes (2006)
‘That the Pipettes had something was undeniable, but for a while we couldn’t work out how to make them sound right. Until, that is, we struck on the idea of pairing Andy Blue States with Gaz Parton, Ian from Go! Team’s brother and co-producer. Andy worked on the strings, Gaz brought a trashy aesthetic, and by God it worked. Soon after the album came out we had a delightful experience of hearing Terry Wogan introduce Pull Shapes on Radio 2. They ended up being snaffled up by The Man but we always feel they should have been a one-album wonder.’

Field Music - Field Music (Measure) (2010)
‘Having been on an extended hiatus after their Tones of Town album, we really had no idea how the world would take to the Brewis brothers’ return. It turned out that absence had made the heart grow fonder, and the album came out to a clamor of acclaim. A self-produced sprawl that sounds like Tusk-meets-The English Settlement, it incorporates allusions to Led Zeppelin, Bela Bartok and Prince. It reminded us why we started the Label and gave us a desire to stop worrying about the future of the record, just get on with releasing great music.’

Their new single (I Keep Thinking About) A New Thing:

The Phoenix FoundationBuffalo (2011)
‘This proved to be a surprise hit this year, and it brings us up to date. But the sheer pleasure of working with these guys best exemplifies the joy we still get from releasing records and working with lovely people. As we bowl on towards 2012, and releases that will be praised, vilified, or ignored, we feel like we just about know what we’re doing. Here’s to another 13 years of bobbing about like a cork on the musical ocean.’

If you know your Paw Tracks from your Hippos In Tanks, your 4AD from your ZZT, then tell us what your favourite independent labels are…

Memphis Industries celebrates 13 years with a special live celebration. Details here.

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