There are many new independent rock, pop, classical, dance and other record labels all over the world, each working hard and tirelessly attempting to support music, but all also hoping to sign a band that will lead the music scene in the future. One of them which looks certain to do so is the London based record label Outafocus, which has on its roster the promising,already highly acclaimed guitar group Medium 21 and Freeheat, the new band of ex- Jesus & Mary Chain members Jim Reid and Ben Lurie. Formed by Danny Corr 2 years ago, it is lining-up to introduce even more talented musicians in the future. Danny also appears on the staff list of the 15-year-old London record label Acid Jazz as a label manager and its head of A&R and production. To make his story even more interesting still, he was also one of the forces behind Delta's discovery, occasionally DJs and has done much more to promote music besides. How can one man have done so much single-handedly to promote music ? In this interview with Pennyblackmusic, Danny explains.

PB: When did you decide you wanted to work in the music business?

DC: It wasn't really until I was at University that I decided that music was what I wanted to do. I've always held music as one of my main passions, even when I was a kid but I hadn't really decided what I wanted to do. When I was at uni I saw that there were graduate opportunites in Record Companies and I decided "Hey,that would be a great job!"

PB: How did you first start working for Acid Jazz, and what does that involve ?

DC: It's a bit of a long convoluted story. When I left uni, I was on the dole for a few months and did a marketing course which gave you a few extra quid for your dole money and got work experience for all involved. I said I wanted experience in music (which was frowned upon),but halfway through the course I got a work experience job with a guy who was managing a few bands and wanted an assistant. I worked for him for six months and then he started doing a consultancy for Acid Jazz. We moved to their offices and his consultancy finished and when he was leaving the Acid Jazz guys asked me to come on board and run their indie/guitar offshoot Focus for them - an offer which was too good to turn down. I did that for two years and learnt the ropes and then got moved over to Head of A&R.

B: With regard to music, what kind of label is Acid Jazz ?

DC: Acid Jazz is an all encompassing label. When it began back in 1987, it was started by Ed Piller and Gilles Peterson as a reaction to Acid House. It was putting out bands influenced by Jazz, Funk and Soul and was very successful. Right now, Acid Jazz has a brand new roster of eight new artists that will be putting out releases this year which still have those same influences but are presented in a contemporary style - ranging from Hammond Rock to Folk/Soul to Breakbeat to House but still have those original Acid Jazz influences.

PB: What the label's plans for the near future?

DC: Well I guess I answered that in the last question in a round about way. It's the label's 15th Birthday. We're one of the longest running independent labels around, if not the longest but I would need to check my facts before saying that. Anyway, in the future we will be releasing product from our new roster of young and exciting bands and really getting the Acid Jazz label back into peoples' minds and showing them that it's not just the "Acid Jazz" sound that people remember from the mid 90's but a contemporary indie label that puts out a ranging style of music.

PB: You were the person who brought Delta to Focus, and now you have signed Medium 21 and Freeheat to Outafocus, all talented and promising bands. How did you first find them?

DC: Well, Delta was brought to the Focus label from Paul Moody who worked for the NME and is now in the Regular Fries. He loved the band and brought their past releases to us on the Dishy label and we thought it was amazing. Medium 21 was through an old mate of mine,Jamie Johnston,who was managing the band and when I saw them at The Monarch in Camden very early on I thought they were a bit ropey live but had amazing ideas and potential - and they went on to prove that I was right. With Freeheat it was from a friend of mine JB who put me in touch with the band. I guess mostly finding these bands is through friends and contacts within the industry,plus the odd demo that comes through the door that blows your head off!!!!

PB: With all the work you were already doing withg Acid Jazz, why did you decide to form Outafocus?

DC: Well, my very first love is probably guitar based stuff - I've always been a bit of an indie/rock kid at heart. Obviously that style of music wasn't going to fit on Acid Jazz and I was inspired by Ed Piller (who owns Acid Jazz and is my boss) to start my own label as he did back in his days of starting Countdown and Acid Jazz. So once I decided to do that I soon found Medium 21 and they seemed the perfect band to launch the label with.

PB: Musically what kind of character Outafocus has?

DC: None really - I don't really want to say that Outafocus sounds like this or that - it is just an open ended label that releases music that I guess I like and want to put out there and be proud of.

PB: What is important for you when you are deciding whether to sign a band?

DC: Great Music is the biggest thing. There is a slight element of image that comes into it - I know people may deny that but when you see a band and hear their tunes you do look at the overall picture. Still the music is the first thing that hooks you in and normally if you like the tunes the band seem to fit in with the sound.

PB: What are your plans for Outafocus in 2002? I know you are signing more bands. Could you say something more about them?

DC: Well I want to release more records this year. I have only released three EPS to date, the first by Medium 21 in late 2000, their second in mid 2001 and Freeheat's debut is coming out in February 2002. I have a band from Barcelona called Sidonie who will be putting out a mini album on Outafocus this year, plus a really great young band called Cape Canaveral from London who will be releasing either an EP or mini album as well. I have another couple of things in the pipeline but they are in early stages at the moment, but one of them is called The People's Revolutionary Choir which is a great name in itself.

PB: Next to working in Acid Jazz records, and running Outafocus you also DJ the first Thursday night of every month at Smerch. What is it like there, and would you want to do more DJing and what kind of music do you play?

DC: Smersh is a great little bar in Shoreditch. It's based on the idea of the KGB's old assassination bureau of the same name which influenced Ian Fleming's Bond Books/Movies (they were the guys who got Trotsky with the icepick!!!!) and the feel of the place is an old East European Spy Bar. It's very small with two floors but probably only holds about 100 people. The night I DJ at is Mojo Collections which is Mojo magazines quarterly special. The night is to represent the mag and the DJs include Mark Paytress, Lois & John, Jo Kerrang and myself. We play a mixture of 60's/70's country rock (well that's what I play) funk, soul, northern soul, punk. It's just a general mix up of good music. I would like to DJ some more - Acid Jazz will be doing lots of gigs over the next year so hopefully then.

PB: What is the main important thing about music for you?

DC: That's too difficult to answer. I think it's really just an emotional thing - it either really makes you think "Hey, I like this" or "I don't like it". I don't have any preconceptions when I listen to something and don't really look for anything specific - it is just how it makes me feel!!

PB: Thanks a lot!















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