Label Profile: Heist or Hit Records
Last year we unveiled our first feature of Label Profile, with the wonderful pop label Cascine. Today we finally present our second feature, with another record label this time, namely the excellent Heist or Hit Records. Find out everything about Heist or Hit after you’ve made the jump, in an interview with the label’s founder, Mick.
Can you tell me more about how and when the label got started?
I started the label officially in 2008 but it was really formed earlier than that unofficially in a way. My story was that I was involved in music in the late 70’s early 80’s, managing and tour managing bands in the UK and L.A. Some time in the mid 80’s I seemed to fall out of love with music and it was not until I happened upon a now defunct US radio station called WOXY in the 90’s that I re-found my love of new music. I started independently helping bands out that I heard on the station and also introducing new UK bands to WOXY. It was around this time that I came across the San Francisco band, LoveLikeFire. After arranging them to record their first album, I realised that to release the record, we would need to form a label. After one of LoveLikeFire’s shows in Las Vegas, we somehow managed to get into the Bellagio for brunch and the plan for recording and the label was all written out on the back of the Bellagio’s brunch menu.
What does the name ‘Heist or Hit’ stand for?
Going back to the late 70’s, David Bowie was a big influence on me and when trying to think of a name for the label, for some reason, the start of Mickey Rourke’s rap in Bowie’s Shining Star (Makin’ My Love) came up in conversation.
“Peter met Frank
formed a dummy run gang
Worked heist or hit for 10 g’s flat…”
Heist or Hit Records was born (but we will admit that Shining Star is not exactly Bowie’s finest track).
Where is the label based?
We like to say that the label is London & Manchester based as I work from a little office to the west of London and Martin works from Manchester. Manchester has been and remains such a strong city musically, it’s great to have that influence in the label.
Can you tell me who else has an important role in Heist or Hit and what their function is?
Even though we are a small indie label, there is no way I could cover all we have to do myself and I am proud to have my friend Martin helping me out on the label. Martin was the singer in Manchester’s The Answering Machine and brings clarity and control to my often wayward planning.
What was the label’s first release? Why did you choose for that particular act?
The label’s first release was a 7” single ‘Cliffer’ by The Answering Machine. At the time I started the label, we had both LoveLikeFire recording in John Vanderslice’s Tiny Telephone studio in San Francisco and The Answering Machine recording with Manic’s producer, Dave Eringa, in the Yorkshire Wolds. The Answering Machine finished their album first and were our first release.
About what acts on Heist or Hit are you most enthusiastic or most proud of?
Obviously all of our artists over the years have been very special to me but the act I am most proud of being involved with was The Answering Machine. They were all great musicians and good friends and touring and recording with them were some of the most fun I’ve had. Like many of our artists, a terribly underrated band.
Can you tell me more about what (kind of) bands are signed to the label?
Apart from loosely ‘indie’ artists we have no set sub genres that we stick to. It’s a pretty eclectic collection actually. From a shoegazy LoveLikeFire to indiepop The Answering Machine, to the more folky I Am Oak to indiepop with perhaps a skiffle feel, High Hazels to the chilled LA sounds of Northern American. We have also released several albums with the Wakefield poet, Matt Abbott’s band, Skint & Demoralised. Basically if the music moves us, there’s a chance that we will be releasing it.
What was the label’s biggest achievement so far?
Despite only being a small indie label, we have managed to release 17 amazing albums and we feel really proud that we have been able to bring this music to a wider audience.
What will the future bring for Heist or Hit Records?
It’s continuing to be hard for indie labels, less records are being bought and prices are lower meaning that it’s hard to keep finding the money to invest in artists. Since recording became easier for artists there is also much more new music out there. However we still passionately believe that great new music deserves to be heard by a wider audience and for as long as I can, I want to make sure we help as many artists as we can.
Thanks very much for your time Mick, and let’s hope Heist or Hit will continue growing steadily! Support the label by buying a vinyl or a Simian Ghost tee via this link.