Project: Leave The Capital – Interview with Alex Forde (Blaggers Records)

 

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The last two years have been incredibly hard for the independent music scene due to Brexit and world wide pandemic. We might not be out of the woods just yet, but finally, there is a small light at the end of the tunnel. Bands and artists are starting to prepare for their spring tours and the summer festival calendar is quickly filling up as well. Things are looking promising for the first time in ages and it’s high time for Indieterria to return!

To mark our first post in more than 15 months, we caught up with Alex Forde of Blaggers Records to discuss Project: Leave The Capital. This fantastic initiative will take 4 unsigned, fully independent DIY artists on a UK wide tour and help them release a vinyl record. With less than 3 weeks to go, we had a lot to talk about so grab a cuppa and enjoy!

At the very beginning – please introduce yourselves. Who are the Blaggers Records?

Alex Forde: Hi! We are a small independent music label. Our team consists of myself (I’m known as Alex F), another Alex (who goes by Alex R), Ravi, Taylor, Oli and Lucy. We were originally based in London, but we have moved out to Wirral, well me and Lucy at least (laughs). The others remain dotted around the country, mostly in London and Brighton and the world as Ravi is based in India.

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Can you tell us how the Project: Leave The Capital initiative started? What prompted you to come up with this idea?

Alex Forde: I would love to say it was my idea, but the collective came together first, then the idea was born. I was invited to join an online podcast hosted by Blender (Neil & Alan) alongside my gig buddies, Ben and James from Vandalism Begins @ Home. We all got on famously, we had so much in common in terms of why we were all involved in music (as our second jobs), that the obvious next step was to join forces and do something together. 

At the beginning, we didn’t know what it would be, but once we have met a few more times, the idea formed. As we are all from Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire from birth, it felt right to do something which would shine a light on our hometowns and the music scenes we all grew up in.

One input that triggered us thinking about a vinyl record, was that Blender had successfully run a crowdfunded EP project called “Blender Selects” a year or two before, so that helped us understand if there was a real possibility of securing a funding. It’s worth noting that two bands from that EP, Low Girl and Sarpa Salpa are doing very well and are now on their way to SXSW this year, covid permitting of course.

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Seeing how the pandemic affected venues, independent artists, bands and labels alike, it gave Project: Leave The Capital even more importance and focus.

There`s an impressive amount of people involved in this project: Blender Music, Vandalism Begins @ Home, Transmission Radio to name a few. It brings together concert promoters, radio and music magazines. It looks to us like you wanted to involve people from every part of the industry to work with you. Was it a conscious plan or did you improvise along the way? 

Alex Forde: As you can see from my previous answer, the LTC team relationship was the first thing we have formed. I guess it was no surprise our paths would cross due to the fact we were all hanging around the same events, venues and the same networks. Six degrees of separation and all that! (laughing)

Once we then knew what we wanted to do; and I mean the competition, vinyl & tour; we all agreed we needed an independent filter to help us choose the right artist(s) to join the project. We also aspired to get active industry people involved and I want to say that we were very successful in doing so. Here is a huge shout out for a job well done to our judges: Gareth Barber (Bedford Esquires), Suzanne Fletcher (Musicians Against Homelessness), Danny Watson (CDP Radio PR) and Hana Staddon (BBC 6Music).

Four incredible acts were invited to participate. Please take us through the process of finding the right artists and tell us what were you looking for? What constituted a perfect fit for Leave The Capital?

Alex Forde: We were looking for attitude, great songs, strong lyrics, an artist or artists who wanted this more than life, a genuine love and belief in what they do and willingness to work for it.

And to show you how well organised we all were, we even had a detailed plan😊 Please see attached.

ltc-plan

Basically, we ran the band submissions all of July last year and used Vandalism Begins @ Home magazine, the Transmission FM show and the Blender shows, podcasts and networks to promote alongside other local radio stations and press. The Lutonian magazine could be one example. We then reviewed the 50 submissions we received amongst the four of us. Each picked their favourite 10 bands in August. We had another session trying to break the 4 favourite 10’s into the final 12 for the esteemed judges, who were then asked to finally choose the final three bands. Yes, you read correctly – just three bands!!! Our fantastic judges and the Leave The Capital team deliberated for some time and we just couldn’t decide on those three bands, so we ended up choosing four which are JW Paris, Luna Rosa, Sean Grant & the Wolfgang and Seven Sentinels. To be honest, we could have easily chosen more if we had room. So now, we have a 4 band EP and string of live dates, which makes this project even more of value for money. Of course, we now face increased transport, accommodation and stage logistical challenges! (laughing)

You crowdfunded the project using Kickstarter and collected over £3000 in a short period of time. It must have been a real nail-biting experience, wasn’t it?

Alex Forde: It certainly was. Our initial target was £2500. Once we all started to reach out and message people in our networks and the word spread, money started to come in a lot quicker, especially towards the end. Of course, we couldn’t just sit back and let the pounds just pour in. It took an enormous work from all the team and the bands to build the awareness so that our fantastic backers got us not only to, but beyond our target. 

Part of the package is a 4 track EP that will be released. Can you tell us more about the record? What formats are you looking at and when can we expect it?

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Alex Forde: It’s a four track 12″ vinyl, double AA side basically as all tracks are bangers. All killers no fillers (laughs). As you will be aware, vinyl orders are being truly impacted for reasons of availability of the components to make it. Plus, we now have the additional challenges of needing to work across borders we never had to worry about before. Did I hear Brexit?? The problems are further compounded by major record labels filling up the scheduled slots with greatest hits and re-issues. WHY????? Let new music take the priority and get to the front of the queue vs a rehash that costs over £100 quid of something that you can buy the original second hand. We are being robbed blind with these. How much money do these established stars and majors need before they pay attention to the negative impact it is having on emerging and independent artists!!!! Rant over! (laughs)

After the EP comes the tour – 8 dates across England. Was it difficult to book it in the middle of the raging pandemic?

Alex Forde: Surprisingly, no. Some venues such as Jimmy’s in Liverpool being a big shout out, were making it easier/cheaper (free) to hire the venue! Basically, they too were struggling to get business, so our project seemed to resonate with them. We’ve had great support from them. was an obvious step to align to Independent Venue Week because of this.

The tour will start in Bedford on February 5th which happens to be part of Independent Venue Week – a celebration of UK grass root venues. How important are those venues to you as a label?

Alex Forde: Our local venues are where we socialize (when we can) and where we find new music and promote our own music, so VERY important.

If any venue or promoter wants to join the tour or wants to host your artists, how can they reach you?

Alex Forde: Simple – just email projectleavethecapital@gmail.com!

Alex Forde: Our goal is to sell out the venues and sell out the vinyl. We also want to get the 4 bands: JW Paris, Luna Rosa, Seven Sentinels and Sean Grant & The Wolfgang on the radar of music fans and the wider industry to help them step up a gear in their careers. I also hope the project is successful enough to do a second EP and tour in 2023!

We know that you have some real aces up your sleeve. Please feel free to plug any artist or project from your label. What can we expect from Blaggers in 2022?

Alex Forde: Well, all the Project: Leave The Capital bands to start with: JW Paris, Sean Grant and the Wolfgang, Luna Rosa & Seven Sentinels.

From our Blaggers Records stable: Longy & The Gospel Trash, Ali MacQUEEN, The Kecks, The Skinner Brothers

From Vandalism Begins @Home side: SOURDOUGH, Peachstone and Dois Padre.

And finally – bands our team has been enjoying and listening to that are on the emerging list: Cliche Cult, The Dirty English, The Imaginary Friends, Gold Supply, Folly Group, Porchlight, Jools, Klubber Lang, Hallan, Enola Gay, Lime Garden, The Barrys, Regressive Left, Gaylips, The Know, Hounds Haul & Coda Rushing.

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Project: Leave The Capital online:
https://linktr.ee/leavethecapital
https://www.instagram.com/leavethecapital/
https://www.facebook.com/leavethecapital
https://twitter.com/leavethecapita1

Project: Leave The Capital Tour (tickets):

Bedford Esquires, Room 2, Bedford, Saturday 5th of February 2022
https://www.seetickets.com/event/leave-the-capital-tour-2022/bedford-esquires-room-2/2175348
The Underground, Stoke, Wednesday 9th of February 2022
https://www.seetickets.com/event/leave-the-capital-tour-2022/the-underground/2175350
The Castle Hotel, Manchester, Thursday 10th of February 2022
https://www.seetickets.com/event/leave-the-capital-tour-2022/the-castle-hotel/2175352
Jimmy’s Liverpool, Liverpool. Friday 11th of February 2022
https://www.seetickets.com/event/leave-the-capital-tour-2022/jimmy-s-liverpool/2175357
The Castle Tavern, Luton, Saturday, 12th of February 2022
https://www.seetickets.com/event/leave-the-capital-tour-2022/the-castle-tavern/2175359
The Hope & Ruin, Brighton, Sunday 13th of February 2022
https://www.seetickets.com/event/leave-the-capital-tour-2022/the-hope-ruin/2175385
The Water Rats, London, Friday 18th of February 2022
https://www.seetickets.com/event/leave-the-capital-tour-2022/the-water-rats/2175391
MK11 Live Music Venue & Sports Bar, Milton Keynes. Saturday 5th of March 2022
https://www.seetickets.com/event/leave-the-capital-tour-2022/mk11-live-music-venue-sports-bar/2175392

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