Rachael Neiman is a 21 year old student at Lancaster University. As well as doing her university course full-time, she also presents her own radio show, 'The Rachael Neiman Experience', on the university station, Bailrigg FM.

For most students, this would be more than enough to contend with, but not for Rachael. In the summer of this year, she set up her own label, Cherryade Records, and is now set to release 'Popular Music in Theory', the debut album of Peel favourite, Steveless, as well as a possible Christmas compilation in December.

Pennyblackmusic decided to find out how and why Cherryade was started, and where the label is heading in the future.

PB : What made you want to start Cherryade records?

RN : I’ve been a fan of very obscure and unusual music since I started listening to John Peel when I was 11 : It was quite a revelation to suddenly discover this incredible hidden world of music that existed but only seemed to be known to a relative few.

I think once you start listening to the kind of music Peel played, music unaffected by trends or genre specifications, and made by people who were doing it for the sheer pleasure of making music and not as a stepping stone to some spurious 15 minutes of fame, then I really don’t think you can ever go back. It starts you on a life-long journey of musical discovery where your tastes never stand still. You're constantly on the look-out for great music you haven’t heard before – the idea that there is certain to be more music out there just waiting to be heard means that you never lose interest or become disillusioned with the state of music.

This only happens if you limit yourself to the easily available music that makes up the charts and fills the pages of NME, because that way you’re only getting a tiny selection of the music that’s out there.

One thing that has been frustrating me, however, is the sheer number of fantastic bands I’m always hearing who still remain unsigned. Major labels are just not even an option for many of these artists, but fortunately there are many fine independent labels run by dedicated folk doing their best to release as much music as possible, though this isn’t always easy when you’re running the label in your spare time and with limited resources, so the more labels sharing the job of releasing music the better.

I think I finally decided to start the label after we went to Norwich for a week in July to record a documentary about the Norwich Pop Underground Convention and the fantastic local music scene. It was witnessing such a supportive network of bands, gig promoters and labels that had come together to achieve something really special that made me decide instead of moaning about bands I loved being unsigned I should do something about it; after all, while doing my radio show I’d gotten to know loads of people who’d been successfully running their own independent labels for ages, so I knew it wasn’t impossible. So it went from being an idea that I’d had for some time into a reality. It’s quite scary, but really exciting and rewarding at the same time, and although there’s been lots of problems along the way we’re finally at the stage now where everything has come together and I really do feel like Cherryade is a reality.

PB : Where did the name Cherryade come from?

RN : I think cherries are pretty. It made coming up with our lovely logo easier! Also, it’s a song by the wonderful Bearsuit!

PB : How did you go about getting the label set up?

RN : Since I’ve been presenting my radio show I’ve got to know lots of people who run their own labels who gave me lots of really good advice and encouraged me to give it a go. Then came the really important part: I asked Dan Newman from Steveless if he’d be willing to let me release something by him, and he said yes.

Then came the less interesting part – I hadn’t realised there was quite so much business stuff involved, pricing up CDs, vinyl, envelopes, flyers, badges and all the other stuff we needed, which wasn’t much fun, but it’s probably the most time-consuming and important bit of the process.

Luckily, we’ve had loads of friends who’ve helped with various things, things that I simply couldn’t do myself such as designing the logos and flyers, and making the website. Members of Steveless designed the beautiful album artwork and our friends at Feedback in Lancaster are organising the label launch.

If anyone else is thinking of starting a label then I’d advise them to get help for anything they’re not confident with. Otherwise there’s not much chance of getting everything done on time. Also, beware, there is lots of unnecessarily complicated paperwork to fill in before you release a record, which even 3 years of an English Lit degree couldn’t help me to understand!

We’re now at the final stages. Everything has been pretty much ready, Now we’ve got to get out there and persuade people to buy the record, though 'Popular Music in Theory' is such an incredible album that I’m hoping they won’t need much convincing! We’ve sent about 85 copies out to the press and radio and we’ll be shortly hitting the streets with armfuls of flyers! We also have a lovely website, www.cherryademusic.co.uk, where you can buy our releases, find out about Cherryade artists, and loads more stuff about my radio show, including lots of interviews and an extensive band and label guide, too.

PB : As a full-time student, it can’t have been easy to set up a record label in your spare time. Did you run into any problems?

RN : Well, we set up the label during the summer break from uni so I’m not sure how I’m going to balance everything. I’ll soon be finding out though! I suspect that my MA will have to be fitted in when I’m not busy with label or radio stuff; I think it’ll have to take a backseat, up until xmas anyway! Also, I probably shouldn’t say this but English degrees are one of the, how shall I put this, less demanding degrees!

PB : How are you getting past the problem of distributing records?

RN : We’re selling copies on our website. They’ll also be available in good independent record shops around the UK from October 10th including Rough Trade and Pure Groove in London, Piccadilly Records in Manchester, Spillers in Cardiff, Action Records in Preston and many more.

We’re self-distributing for the moment, though I may well decide to go through a major distributor at some point in the future. The album will also be available to buy at Steveless gigs and at our label launch night, to be held at Feedback, Korners Bar, Farmers Arms, Lancaster on Saturday October 15th (see the Cherryade website or www.feedback.dontexist.org for more details).

PB : How did you get around the problem of financing the label?

RN : It’s not such an expensive project as I had thought it would be, but you really have to set yourself a budget and stick to it, make sure you can justify what you’re buying and make sure to shop around for the best deal. As we discovered, this doesn’t always mean the cheapest – some places, especially vinyl pressing plants, aren’t always up front about all their costs. It might start off looking cheap but then hidden costs appear; also, some cheaper places aren’t always as reliable, so you can end up having to pay for a job to be done twice after it’s gone wrong the first time…

PB : How did you manage to get Steveless as your first release?

RN : Like most other Steveless fans I first heard him being played on John Peel’s show last year. This was, of course, the solo incarnation of Steveless. It just blew me away when I first heard it and I got in touch with Dan to find out how I could get hold of some of his CDs to play on my show. We’ve emailed each other intermittently ever since and I kept hearing John playing him. Then came the session.

When I decided to start up Cherryade, I really didn’t even consider asking anyone else to be our first release, so, of course, I was absolutely thrilled when he said he’d like to do it!

When I asked him about releasing something on Cherryade he’d just recently began playing in the latest incarnation of Steveless – a kind of 4-piece Bristol super-group comprising members of Big Joan, White Trash Ambition and Team Brick. Dan said that the music he was making with the band was quite different to solo Steveless but that he was sure the songs would be really well received. When I got the master copy of the album I was utterly blown away – I hadn’t known quite what to expect, but it couldn’t have been better! All the passion and individuality of solo Steveless but with more hummable tunes; glorious noisy pop at it’s finest! It’s a great honour to have the opportunity of unleashing it on the lucky record buying public. I also like the fact that John would have loved it, and be glad to see that Steveless is still going strong!

PB : What kind of music do you play on your show?

RN : I’m really lucky in that Bailrigg FM give me free reign to play anything I want on my show. It’s basically a real mix of lots of fun, fantastic, oddball and simply mind-blowing music. I play everything from tweecore, lo-fi, bubblegum and riot grrrl to electronica, Norwichcore, noisepop, casiocore and basically lots of music that would be really unfair to attempt to categorise as it’s simply like nothing else.

I love every song I play on my show, I choose them myself and consequently I can be really enthusiastic about everything I play; I always give out as much information as possible about featured artists and we always have a label of the week, where the whole show is peppered with a selection of songs by bands from that label. I’ve also been lucky enough to have wonderful bands such as Persil and Decoration record live sessions for my show, and have gotten interviews with the likes of Bearsuit, A Hawk and A Hacksaw, Envelopes, We Start Fires, Vichy Government, Lodger, The Boyfriends, Adam Green, Caroline Martin, Rise Kemp and more.

We also made our first documentary in July. It's an hour-long look at the thriving Norwich music scene and will be broadcast in October – check the website for details!

I’ve been pleased and surprised at the positive response we’ve had from listeners: although we’re a uni based station, I get listeners from as far afield as Netherlands, Sweden and USA, because we broadcast online at www.bailriggfm.co.uk.

This year I’ve also been given an extra Sunday show (time as yet unconfirmed) as well as my regular Tuesday show, which happens every week at 8-10 pm.

PB : Does this reflect the kind of music you want to release on your label?

RN : Yes, I only want to play genuinely exciting music that I feel passionate about, and this is exactly the kind of stuff I’d want to release on my label regardless of genre.

PB : What made you get into radio work?

RN : I’d always wanted to host a show and to have the opportunity to share some of the music I loved with other people, but somehow I’d never got around to doing anything about it. It wasn’t until Bailrigg FM’s head of production approached me out of the blue and asked if I wanted a show that I jumped at the chance, and haven’t looked back since.

PB : If you could get anyone to release a record on your label, who would it be and why?

RN : Ummmm… difficult one that. I love so many bands who I’d like to release records by, but I’d like to think that perhaps I’ve not even heard the band that’ll be the next Cherryade release yet. I’m discovering something new every day, so you never know what you’re going to hear!

PB : What are your plans for the future of Cherryade?

RN : Obviously, I’d like to go on releasing as many great records as time and resources will allow, but I think I have to be realistic and take things a step at a time. I’ve learnt a lot from releasing the Steveless album, so any future releases should be a little easier and quicker to sort out.

I’m thinking of trying to put together a Christmas compilation; I’d like to produce an indie xmas album that’s right up there with the Fortuna Pop! compilations and the Puppy Dog Records 'Get Thee Behind Me Santa 'compilation. If any bands reading this would be interested in perhaps contributing a track then they can contact me from the website. I’d like it to be a mix of established and relatively unknown artists. It’d make the perfect stocking filler!

PB : Thank you.










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