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Beautiful Pigeon

Beautiful Pigeon is a Newcastle-based record label with an innate sense of style, both in the music released and in the way it is presented – 7″ single sleeves on nice textured paper, featuring careful line drawings and careful use of single-colour printing. I’d love to show you them, if only my scanner was working. But this is the way independent records should be done, with care and with effort. The Pigeon so far has three releases under its little wing: Mark Smilex, with cheeky ZX Spectrum-style house music and lo-fi, high-style disco flavour; Mos Eisley, with upbeat raucous pop music, like Ash when they were once good perhaps, or with a flavour of US bands such as Tsunami, Unrest or Superchunk; and Spraydog, featured elsewhere on diskant, who are similar to Mos Eisley in their melody-rich, forlorn sounding pop tunes swathed in noise. It’s all good, baby, and you can find out more at www.beautifulpigeon.co.uk. I had a word with main man Jason Gibbons about keeping pigeons in the 21st century…

Beautiful Pigeon – where’s that name from?
A few places, one the whole city/flying rats thing, it’s a fable, it was a Moonshake song, it makes people laugh and also I did another label before which had a long name and no one could ever remember it… I’ve used ‘Beautiful Pigeon’ for a while for music and design stuff.

Give a little history of the label – when it started, what you were doing before, etc
It’s been going about a year – new year is its birthday. It’s basically just an outlet to put out stuff I like, and hopefully to be a bit of a jumpoff point for the people involved. There’s no musical style as such, except I’ve got to be into it… but I’ve got wide and varied taste! Basically, I ran a label for a short while before, but I moved around a lot in the last few years. So as soon as I got a base I set up shop again.

Are you a big fan of the ‘proper’ independent scene? It’s nice to see people still releasing singles under their own steam and bothering to make the effort
I’m not really sure what ‘proper’ indie is, but I like stuff which seems as if love and thought has gone into it… which is often more homespun and creative. I love 7″ singles, so I’m a sucker for anything that has that feel!

Where did you find the bands you’ve released stuff by so far? Are you a musical person yourself?
I’ve been really lucky in a way, Newcastle at the minute has a vibrant, eclectic underground music scene, there’s just so much amazing stuff around! But sshhh… we don’t want everyone knowing! I didn’t just set out to put out bands from Newcastle, I’ve considered all sorts of things from all over. It’s just worked out that way. I do play in bands/DJ/write for fanzines as well, but just to relax and have a laugh.

Who does the design for your sleeves? They’re obviously carefully thought about and produced with care
It’s all my own handiwork, it’s the only creative outlet I have with regards to each single, the bands have pretty much a free reign with the music once we’ve decided to do something, but I do the artwork and it has to be a 45rpm 7″. I used to handprint everything but it took ages!

What hot musical tips have you got for us at the moment?
Have you heard of this band called The Strokes….mmmm… not really sure… I saw an amazing band called Jacuzzi Allstars, which was kind of a dub/funk/sci-fi/post-rock sound clash. Also, there’s a band called The Futureheads who are sort of C86 crossed with agit-pop, but it’s not a pastiche. They’ve got twisted pop tunes that shouldn’t work but do.

What music do you love, both current and from the past?
As well as the above, My Bloody Valentine, Anthony Rother, John Coltrane, Tsunami, Velocette, The Pastels, Fred Payne, Girls On Top, everybody that’s been out on the label!

Are you inspired by any labels of the past (or the present), in terms of style, ambition and enthusiasm?
Easy answer… Simple Machines, they were amazing, I don’t know where they found the time to do all their stuff.

Do you have any plans for the label, or is it evolving naturally?
I think at the minute, just to keep it going… maybe release some sort of compilation. And to get a singles club going would be lush!

Finally, what would be your dream release – which band, which format, and how would it be packaged?
Too many options to think about here, there’s so much stuff that I still love to hear as much as ever… no matter how many times I’ve played them. It would have to be a 7″ though!


Learn about Simple Machines at www.simplemachines.net as everybody needs to know about them.