Local Talk: QM Records

by April Izzard, Mar 12, 2018

Founded and ran by Ned and Nicholson from Normanton Street, QM Records has become a staple of the Brighton DIY scene.

Ned and Nicholson were set up with three laptops on the go in a booth at Temple Bar when I arrived. It was impressive to see them working on the go and immediately gave off the impression of a label that works very hard at what they do. They form part of the four-piece hip-hop band Normanton Street and founded the independent Brighton-based record label QM Records. I had the pleasure of chatting with these two, on a gloriously sunny afternoon about their ethos and the community that QM Records has garnered over the past few years.

What was the key motivation for starting up QM Records back in 2013?

Nicholson: I guess it's two things but mainly not having anyone locally that we could go to release music. We just didn't know really, we didn't know how to do things, and we have always had a DIY ethos. And years before starting the band, Normanton Street, we wanted to have our own label to have our creative freedom. Build something that maybe wasn't even bigger than the band but definitely something really, really long-term and scout out other artists and bands and help them progress as well. I think even during the MySpace days before streaming was big and social media was massive, even back then we could see a decline in the major labels a little bit, and we just had the foresight that the future is small independent labels. Maybe not the future but they'll definitely play a bigger role.

Even with people like Jorja Smith, who was still unsigned while emerging onto the scene. So, yeah as you say there's less of a pull towards the big labels.

Nicholson: There are [artists] turning down some big deals. They can see that they can do it independently just as well, if not better.

With you artists down here, is it putting on the gigs or is it giving them a platform to get their music out on their own music?

Nicholson: It is more to generate a natural and organic buzz in the city and beyond. So, we just put gigs on and try and make it more personable than the average promoter, [who is] a little bit soulless. There's a little bit more of a community vibe with QM. We see a lot of the same faces at our gigs, which is nice.

Where are some of the key venues that you reckon you've most enjoyed putting your gigs on at?

Ned: Seven Stars is good. Green Door Store...

An old favourite for people down here.

Nicholson: Yeah. This idea of a community, which wasn't intentional but a lot of people say to us. I think it started at Patterns, which is where we started one of our regular slots. It was a midweek thing and was the first time I'd see regular people come in every other week. We are going to start doing regular events there again.

Ned: In Brighton, there's a lot of spaces where you can just put shows on like Brighton Unitarian Church is cool. As long as there's a crowd of people you can put on a show anywhere really, can't you?

I guess that's the advantage of Brighton, it's so packed full of places that you can make into a venue if you want to. I guess with your idea of creating a community, even if that came secondary, it helps having these informal places not just for the music but also for the venue as well.

Nicholson: Yeah definitely. Fabrica as well has a beautiful setting, and the lighting was really, really cool.

In terms of the artists that you have as your roster, what is it that draws you to these people? Even just a quick scroll through your site shows that they're all unique and it doesn't appear that you're trying to create a certain sound with your label.

Nicholson: When we first came up with the branding of QM, the idea was for it to be interesting and not to have any connotations to a type of genre because we do like eclectic stuff. I really like it when their live shows are good. In terms of the sound, anything with soul where you can just feel it. It could be anything, could be grime, garage, punk whatever it is.

Ned: Like when you said unique... that's the vibe really. I personally get excited by things I've never seen and are original. In the industry now, there's a lot of similar things, and it's nice to go outside and find something different.

Is that what made you guys come to Brighton as well because you guys are from Bradford?

Nicholson: It's just a sick city. Ned: Different vibe, man.

Nicholson: I think when people generally come to Brighton within a few days they think it's amazing and we just knew we had to live here at some point. It wasn't even the music scene; we knew nothing about the music down here. It was just the vibe.

You've had a recent release titled 'Unclear', what influences you musically?

Nicholson: For me, it's definitely not someone and not something I can tell you immediately. It's a mixture of loads of stuff throughout the years of listening and playing to music. Everyone from Nick Drake to Wu-Tang Clan and they couldn't be any different.

Have got any more releases coming out this year?

Ned: We're putting out more releases this year than last year. It is quite organic, we release on our own time schedule, but we're gonna be dropping lots this year. There's a project called 'Long Road', a short collection of tunes that we've had for a bit and just haven't released. We're also gonna drop a single, all within the next four or five months.

Finally, what gigs have you got lined up that I can tell our Native readers about?

Nicholson: We've actually just confirmed a gig today with LeBeaux, it'll be at the Hope & Ruin on the 8th April.

Ned: We've got loads going on in the next few months. Check out these upcoming events:

8th April - Hope & Ruin: Lebeaux (Single Launch)

11th May - Patterns (Downstairs): Children of Zeus, Bobbie Johnson Lebeaux Bakimbo (DJ)

17th May - QM & Liberty Music PR Alternative Escape - Seven Stars Lineup TBA

19th May - Mesmerist Alt Escape, Yakul More acts TBA

Local Talk: Mr Bongo

We sat down with Mr Bongo to talk about 2017, new music, and the first of their 'Curated By' dates at Patterns on January

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