Days like today at work are the ones that I live for. To be honest, most days are pretty bloody brilliant at work, but it's probably been the pre-christmas run of bad luck that's helped put such a shine on 2008 and made days like today sparkle. To be able to work with people you love hanging out with. To have artistes and rosters and clients that are fun, creative and passionate. To be able to spend the day listening to a wide variety of music. How ace is that. The shit side is that more often than not we're living on a knife edge. That at a stroke everything can come toppling down. That there's no security whatsover. The end of 2007 chucked a load of stuff at me like that, and I felt as low as I've ever been. But though for a second I might consider just packing it all in, within a moment I want to crack on and get back to it. For me, nothing is as rewarding as being in the middle of something that you've helped create and to feel complete satisfaction at even the smallest of achievements.
So what made today so great? I'm not sure exactly, but I think a bit of everything that we're doing had a say in today. I walked into work with the new demos from Marissa Nadler on my shuffle... I've been living with them the past week and they're phenomenally good. I even have two copies of one song 'El Camino' and 'River of Dirt' - the latter being the more recent version of a work in progress. Brilliant. Marissa's new record deal will be sorted by the end of next week, and then she'll be recording the new album next month - it's all poised for her and the buzz, just from a small group of us around her, is incredibly exciting. Her European agent was back from holiday and we nailed some more dates in her forthcoming tour - I'm off on the road with her for two blocks of about four weeks - so I'm excited to be doing that, to have time for us to hang out, see the cities of Europe and meet a lot of people on the road.
I had emails from Carl, who's out at Midem meeting our distributors and partners for My Kung Fu. His reports back were good - our European base is strong now so he's lining up deals in Japan, Australia and Asia, which are our next goals. We are such a small label, and money is so tight, that we have to take one small step at a time. In the yast year our records have been selling much better as we've grown in stature and so, though money is still tight, we're not losing as much, and we're able to grow quicker. Carl has some a load of new material from us out at Midem. The debut from Truckers Of Husk has people excited - and I had some e-mails from Hywel from the band who typifies why I love working with artistes like that - he's fun, easy to work with, and enjoys being a part of the whole process. He's just discovered David Axlerod, so I've been giving him some pointers, but he was also tipping me off about Soko, who I'd also had e-mails about from Huw Stephens.
With Huw I'm planning this year's SWN Festival. Last year's was draining, but a massive success. So this year we're out trying to better it whilst balancing the books. We probably email about it daily. Talking bands, ideas or whatnot. I mailed an old friend, Susanna, who works at Wire magazine, which I've begun subscribing too and has become a monthly must-read for me. It's taken me a long time to get into Wire, but now I can't live without it. Hopefully they'll be involved in Swn, and it's always nice to reconnect with old friends.
I took a break and went to see a physio about my knee. It's begun giving me problems when running or hillwalking. I thought that it might be something that I couldn't fix, but I have been given exercises to do to sort it out and it will make my right side stronger and actually improve my ability to run distance. That is exciting. I'm hoping to walk the three peaks this summer, and run the 15 Welsh peaks in July.. I'm hoping to do a first triathlon in September too, if not before.. and I'd like to enter a competitive fell-race this year. I'm getting hooked on running over hills.. it's weirdly addictive. It's the most-hard thing you could possibly imagine, but once you're there, you don't want to stop. Actually, it's EXACTLY like running your own business. Now I know what drives me. I'm f-king stupid.
I fixed a festival gig up for Cerys, and had a chat with her this afternoon. She's bloody ace to work with. I love the fact that Cerys, who's pretty much 'been-there, done that' is equally fun, smart, and down to earth as someone like Hywel, who has not even yet released a record. I can't wait for her tour to start - she's itching to get out and play. People will be in for a treat.
The weird part of the day was a conference call to the US to talk about Sleeveface. We're making a Sleeveface book with a US publisher. We haven't really told anyone yet apart from our friends and a few people I've run into - but we're starting too now, and the people who have been involved in sleeveface so far are all well into it. It will be a great book, and a one-off opportunity for us to do something like this, so we intend to have a lot of fun with it on the way. Sleeveface is great fun - I love everyone getting into it, some of the ideas, the photos, the stories. I love the emails from all over the world. But I also love that it gets people into vinyl or the artwork. It gets them digging out their old records or scouring their parents' or friends collections or second hand stores. I love music, so to see that passion shared in some way is always cool. It makes me want to buy even more records too. That's probably a bad thing!
...and as day became evening Richard James arrived, with Iwan Morgan, who's producing his new album, and Rhodri Viney, a local musician I've mentioned before. They were using the office to record some lap steel for the new record - so instead of going home I carried on working as they recorded. I think that made my day - to be able to sit typing at my computer whilst a record is being created in your office. Brilliant. Next time I begin having a bad day I'll just refer myself to this post. It might be tough going, but it's worth it to be spoilt too.