Beautiful Pigeon Records is the new 7” singles project of long-term music fan Jason Gibbons. Jason chose the name for a number of reasons. There was an old Moonshake record called ‘Beautiful Pigeon’ and Jason was a big fan of that. He wanted to keep it short, and memorable– people often laugh when they hear it! Jason chose 7” singles because he doesn’t actually own a CD player and because “CD singles are rubbish I understand the logic of them but it’s boring. 7” singles are cultural objects that have stood the test of time. A great format!”

Jason ran a label of this sort before several years ago, with a friend, when he lived in Liverpool, but, after returning to his hometown of Newcastle, decided to set up Beautiful Pigeon. This has now become his settled address, so Beautiful Pigeon should be a long running project. Jason believes that “you can’t really do this if you haven’t got a fixed address unless you’re Richard Branson, (but he probably doesn’t press the sleeves himself)”, but before “I’ve always moved around a lot.

Beautiful Pigeon only started up at the beginning of this year and has so far released just four singles. The first was from electronic based artist Mark Smilex/Outermission. Jason and Mark have long been friends with Jason knowing him from various club nights in Newcastle.

“He’s been DJing and running his own club night in Newcastle for years now” he says. "And he used to be more into hip-hop, and gradually has got more and more electronic. Mark’s stuff has always been good. When I got back to Newcastle, I decided I wanted to run my own label. I was out one night, Mark was DJ ing and he said come round and listen to some of my stuff. This resulted in a two track 7” appearing, featuring two songs ‘Zoster Simplex’ and ‘Pulex Irritanzen’.

The label’s most well known act are Spraydog, who have received a lot of attention, notably from John Peel.

“Spraydog, obviously, have two albums out, three Peel sessions but I’ve known them all for years. I’ve played in bands that have played with them. And just when I was getting Mark’s single out they had just finished recording their album. I knew they had people interested in doing their album, Stupid Cat are putting it out, and they’ve got their own label as well. But I just said, ‘Are you interested in doing a single before the album comes out?’” So Spraydog contributed another two new songs to Beautiful Pigeon’s third release: ‘You are What I Love' and ‘Aspirin’.

The second and fourth releases came from new band Mos Eisley. The latter of these is reviewed elsewhere in the magazine, and has received airplay from John Peel and Steve Lamacq on BBC Radio One.

“I’ve known Mos Eisley for years but I’d not seen them play. When I did they were amazing. I couldn’t believe that they’d been knocking about for years without a manager, or just someone to do all the patter for them but they’d only really decided what they wanted to sound like in the last year. They’ve developed a lot, and they’ve taken songs apart and put them back together. They had vaguely set up a deal with another small label, but they did some demo work and it wasn’t working for either of them and I asked them if they were interested in doing something with me. For a new band its gone well. Obviously, Spraydog have an established fanbase but with Mos Eisley it was a first single from a new band. It got a lot of radio.”

Jason wanted to start a label, he says, “because I’m completely obsessed with records and there is so much good music out there. It isn’t really that hard to do, it just takes time! I also really enjoy designing sleeves.” He had some previous involvement in music, playing in bands and also doing flyers. He also has done DJing, and still does “just for fun”. Of course, there was also his old label. “My last label had a really longwinded name, but because we had a matchbox on the sleeve with the name written inside people just called it Matchbox. With the last label we were obsessive about it. We just had to print the sleeves entirely ourselves. If I could have made the paper I would have! We did acrylics and potato printing - you’d have hundreds of sleeves hanging out drying when people came over! They looked lovely but it was a learning experience. I gradually realised that I would never print the insides ever again.

Jason has with Beautiful Pigeon so far worked only with bands from Newcastle, but is keen now to extend this.

“I’ve got to be into the band and all the music. I have to believe in it. I’m not really great on the patter front. If I’m not into it you could tell. I’m the sort of person that if I’m into it I’m really into it, and I get quite excited. In Newcastle there has always been a vibrant music scene, but spread out and quite obscure. There isn’t one big scene, but lots of tiny little groups. There are really good bands about, so getting bands for the label has been really easy. I’ve had tapes from bands outside Newcastle but it has just worked out that I’ve used bands from Newcastle. Each single takes two months really. There are loads of excellent bands!

Jason gets most enjoyment from designing the sleeves, which always look impressive but are not complicated, and use 70s style graphics and are printed on heavy card.

“I buy a lot of 7” singles so I wanted something that would catch my eye as I’m flicking through the racks. I look for something where I’d say, “Yeah, I’ll take a punt on that”. I wanted them all to be recognisable. I like information style graphics. The minimum amount of lines you can use for the maximum amount of information. They’re printed on heavy card so when you pick it up you go “Whoa! A seven-inch!”. With albums you can grab an armful and say, “Can I have a listen to these?” but you can’t do that with 7”s. You’ve just gotta say, well only two quid I’ll take a punt. It’s got a nice sleeve, it looks interesting.” All four sleeves so far have been in the same style, helping Beautiful Pigeon to establish an image for itself, but Jason is considering changing it after two more releases. The main influence for Jason has been Washington DC label, Simple Machines. “I was always astounded by the amount of effort that went into the sleeves. Sometimes the records weren’t always good, but I bought every one because of the sleeves. It wasn’t just banging out another single. They had always put a bit of effort into it.

Jason has few long-term plans for the label decided at the moment. It’s clear that he just wants to concentrate on the next single. He does, however, have one hope for the label. “I’d like to get a singles club up and running that would be the nicest thing to do, especially if you were able to do a bi-monthly single all designed in a certain way with a nice box as a part of that. I’m a bit of an obsessive about, you know, promotional junk! Obviously you’ve got to build up a fanbase and sort out bands in advance. It would be nice to have it as a long-term aim though.

He has some other bands that he’s hoping to work with once he has finished promoting the new Mos Eisley single. Beautiful Pigeon is one of a couple of labels being considered for recent Pennyblackmusic interviewees Jumbo’s new EP, although he hasn’t actually heard the material yet. Another band is Jacuzzi All Stars, an “experimental dub” outfit, also from Newcastle, although Jason hasn’t been in contact since he made an initial approach to them. There is also a possibility that a compilation album may eventually appear.

You might be interested in what music Jason enjoys when he isn’t working on the label. At the moment he is listening to FourTet and Bogdan Raczynski, which are both “nice for relaxing” alongside Future Pilot AKA’s “Tiny Waves, Mighty Sea” and Camera Obscura. He also loves the Lemon Jelly single “Soft Rock” (“the sleeve is made out of a pair of jeans. I thought when I saw it, “right, I’m sold, don’t care how much it costs I’m buying it!”) and the Girls On Top singles.

To finish Jason explained why he loves running Beautiful Pigeon and why he would never want it to stop being an independent label. “I’d love Mos Eisley to sign a multi million pound deal and leave me for dead! I don’t make anything out the label but I enjoy it. The label doesn’t run itself but its all my own work. So long as I can make enough to get the next release out. I'm not very ambitious but I do it more for the love of it. I’m an Enthusiastic Hobbyist!”

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