Edward Jung is the former owner of Emma's House Recordings, an eclectic Manchester-based record label, which specialised in releasing vinyl singles in limited editions of between 100 and 200 copies.

Jung ran Emma's House Recordings for two years, but folded it last year after putting out a final release, 'Whirlpool/Honey Honey', a double A-sided single by his favourite band of all time, the BMX Bandits.

After a year away, Jung has now returned with a new label, Heliotone Records, all of whom's releases will appear in hand printed sleeves and on 8" special polycarbonate, lathe cut vinyl. Jung has promised that every one of Helotone's releases will be even more limited in edition than those which came out on Emma's House. He claims too that Heliotone will be run in "the same manner, yet different" than Emma's House, and that he is "prepared to make the same mistakes" with it and also "new ones".

He has already put out Heliotone's first two releases. The first 'Mental Notes Aplenty.'is a three track EP by Anthony Atkinson, the former front man with the Australian indie pop/folk act, the Mabels. The second , 'A Place in Mind, is a six track EP By Mundane Music, an otherwise anonymous Manchester-based musician who combines his music with sound samples of his friends and relations, amd mixes electronic beats with more traditional instrumentation.

Pennyblackmusic caught up with Edward Jung to ask him why he abandoned Emma's House Recordings, and why he has now decided to start afresh.

PB : Why did you decide to call your new label Heliotone ?

EJ : The short answer is I ran out of ideas for names which weren't already used so I made one up. I didn't want to name the new label after a song like Emma's House Recordings because the one's I liked are a bit of a mouthful.

Anyway it seemed like nearly every single word had an associated record label. I flicked through a dictionary and came across heliotrope which is a shade of purple. I just liked the sound of helio which is associated with circles and the sun (hence the catalogue numbers for Hekiotone start with SUN). I fitted tone to it and it worked quite well. Round things with a sound. Exactly what a record is although now I think about it, it could also apply to CD's. I found out later that Heilotone is some sort of printing process for halftone images.

PB : You folded your last label Emma's House last year, after putting out a final release by your favourite band, the BMX Bandits. Why did you decide to abandon Emma's House, and why have you decided a year on to start up again under another name, rather than just to resurrect Emma's House ?

EJ : I think the choice to completely end Emma's House Recordings was in part doing the BMX Bandits single. It was a high for me and at the same time I had decided to go back to university because my full time day job wasn't exactly going anywhere so it seemed logical to end it there.

Working during the day became only a means to run the label in my spare time but that has its pressures and ultimately it wears you down. I have always valued my career so made the sacrifice. I did miss doing the label when I was at university and was going to release a one off 10" but that didn't work out.

In terms of marketing the label it would have been much easier to start Emma's House again because nearly everything was in place especially since I still have a load of Emma's House flyers. A new label, however, meant I would be free from trying to emulate Emma's House Recordings and could maybe experiment a bit more. Ultimately I just fancied a change.

PB : You have said that Heliotone is going to "be run in exactly the same manner yet different from Emma's House" and that you are "prepared to make the same mistakes and new ones". In what ways do you see Heliotone as being different from before and in what ways do you see it as being similar ?

EJ : Heliotone will still take on Emma's House Recordings' idea of "releasing music I like." The main difference is the budget I have to work with which is approximately a third of Emma's House, but with about the same amount of effort. Money is a pretty limiting factor when running a label but with a smaller output the cost to manufacture each record increases, so in theory you have even less money to spend on everything else.

The sleeves cost a lot more to make because I am using nicer papers and not avoiding more difficult sleeve construction which I hope will add to the whole package. With Emma's House although the sleeves were hand made there were quite a lot of compromises to get to the end product. You can't get generic sleeves for 8" records to customise so I am having to build each one from scratch. You can't even get plastic sleeves for them because it's such a non standard size so I have had to get custom made ones.

I am not using any distribution and just offering the records direct from me and a few shops I like - which is how Emma's House started out. I want to put as much money back into releasing as many records by different artists as physically possible without losing the sizeable amount to a middleman.

Lastly I'm trying to stick to a fixed frequency for releasing the records. With Emma's House I did mess up the release schedule releasing records too closely to each other for example and also not planning for all the problems that could occur. Heliotone was going to be a subscription based thing but then again I thought that might cause all sorts of other problems. I do hope the same people will continue to purchase the records in the entire series though. So a fairly rigid release schedule of one record release every one and a half months.

I've given it a lot more thought about how I want to run it but in no way does it affect what music I release. I'm not ruling out a return to the scale of EHR at some point. Will have to wait and see.

PB : All Heliotone's records are going to be released in limited edition 8". Records in 7" and 12" and even your own favourite 10" are quite common, but 8" is virtually unheard of. Why have you decided to release Heliotone's records in such an unusual format and have they proved difficult to manufacture ?

A few things about 8"'s appeal to me. They offer slightly longer durations allowing for more flexibility in choosing songs and because they are easier to handle on my portable record player.

Seriously though 10"'s are nice but unfortunately it's again due to costs of getting them pressed. It's no big secret that the clear lathe cut records from New Zealand look fantastic but are not the best sound quality. I've been told, however, the more you play the record the better it gets so it's an added incentive for people to play their lathe cut records more rather than storing them away! The records are cut individually in real time so each record will be slightly different. Some people will see them as a novelty, but to me they are a means of getting music out to people and I don't think a little surface noise hurt anyone - the tracks are still excellent.

PB : You have recently returned to university after some years in work. How will you finance the label without a regular income ?

I deferred my final six months in order to pay off some of my debts so I am working full time now. Having to pay off debts equates to less money for the label though.

It can sometimes feel counter intuitive doing it on such a small scale but I never do these things the easy way. It sure isn't good for independent music if all I can afford is to release 50 copies but there is nothing I can do about that. If I can release 10 records by ten bands of 50 copies, that to me is better than four or five bands at 200 copies. The difference for me is huge.

PB : Emma's House was due to put out an EP release by the American alt.country act String Builder, but then closed down. Will you put out that release now as part of the Heliotone roster ?

EJ : It is possible, I have five releases planned until Spring next year. String Builder is not one of them. They may make an appearance sometime, the tracks are unlikely to fit onto an 8" though as I had planned it as 10".

PB : Your first release is 'Mental Notes Aplenty', a record by the Australian singer-songwriter Anthony Atkinson. He previously fronted the Mabels, who put out several albums in the late 90's, but has now gone solo. He too has been away for a while, but has come back also in a different format. Do you see a parallel between his work and your own, and was that why you decided to make 'Mental Notes Aplenty' Heliotone's first release ?

EJ : I've not thought about it like that. I enjoyed work by the Mabels and tried to get in touch with them to release something not realising they were no more. Chris at Candle Records in Australia sent me a copy of Anthony's new album which is full of really great songwriting and I offered to release something by him.

From the initial contact to choosing the tracks it all happened very quickly and so Anthony's excellent EP was the first to make it out. The real delay was me choosing which songs to release. I managed to speak to Anthony on his recent European tour with the Lucksmiths and he is really pleased with the way the record turned out so I am equally happy. I had contacted other artists to release things but everyone has their own commitments, and some people respond quicker than others and so Anthony's EP came out first. I've already juggled the releases around a few times, that's why I won't put names to each catalogue until I send them off for cutting. I guess it's a bit of a superstition I have. I don't really want to have an unreleased record like String Builder's, I will see it as a real failure on my behalf.

PB : The second release is by Mundane Music, the Manchester-based musician, and is his debut. What attracted you to his work, and why did you decide to make this your second release ?

EJ : I've known the musician behind Mundane Music for a few years. I've heard a lot of his home recordings and I always given him my honest opinion of his tracks. It got to a point where I was talking about releasing something by him on Emma's House, but it never happened. We kept in touch and I offered to do a release for him when I started Heliotone. We used to talk about the new instruments and ideas he had and I just liked the thought behind them. The way he handles the rhythm and beats is never aggressive and that's why I describe him as a homely Fourtet. I like the playfulness and connections with family and friends but in no way is his music mundane. There is definitely something bigger reaching out. He has some vocal tracks too that merit their own release.

PB : What are Heliotone's other immediate plans ?

EJ : Well I have four track selection from Sweden's The Bear Quartet coming up at the start of next year. It's meant to be an brief introduction to their music which spans ten albums yet they are hardly known about over here. This is followed by the return of Kimonophonic(who I put out two singles by on Emma's House) with his excellent electronica for everyday listening. There are two other releases which I will confirm nearer the time. I don't really want to jump the gun only one release into the label, but you can be sure they will be fantastic. People interested should check out the website for the latest mishaps and going's on.

I am really excited by it all, even more so than when I started EHR. How long it will last is another matter.

PB : Thank you

More information about Heliotone can be found at
www/onoffonoff.org/heliotone











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