A GUEST POSTING by flimflamfan
In recent days, JC has entertained us with 8 Days of Indietracks Compilations and it’s been an enjoyable journey from this ageing indiepop kid.
Following the post for 2013 I wondered, as I sat on the beach, if I had transferred any indiepop compilations to my phone. I wasn’t too surprised to learn that I had, hello CD86 & Scared To Get Happy. Hmmm…. what’s this lurking in shadow of indiepop compilations, why it’s Pick ‘n’ Mix. At this point you’re most probably thinking “Pick ‘n’ What? Never heard of it.”
Torn between CD86 and Pick ‘n’ Mix (Scared To Get Happy, over 5 CDs requires considerably more commitment), I chose Pick ‘n’ Mix. I hadn’t listened to the compilation in over a decade. I nestled into my perch, stared longingly over the sea and hit play.
About 45 minutes later, CD1 was complete. I may have forgotten to mention Pick ‘n’ Mix is a 2 CD compilation. 13 songs that I hadn’t heard in the longest time, all of which seemed instantly recognisable – like bumping into an old friend in the street. That’s actual, real people, on tarmac streets (litter optional).
Memories, fast, furious and welcome popped into my head: club nights, gigs, popfests, launch nights and late nights. Lots of late nights. Phew!
My intention was to listen immediately to CD2. However, the weather had other ideas, and I was rained off. On my speedy and damp walk back, I promised myself I’d listen to CD2 the following day. I did. I experienced the same rush: faces, places and any other word that will fit here to make up UK government health advice…races? No, that doesn’t make sense. Not making sense never stopped the UK government, but I digress…
I made a bold statement to myself that I’d write something up for TVV. To my utter astonishment here it is…
Pick ‘n’ Mix was released in 2009 by Bubblegum Records, Glasgow.
Glasgow is often regarded as a supportive hub for musicians/artists etc. but that hadn’t been my experience, or that of those behind Bubblegum, at that time back in 2009 as Glasgow ran mostly as a closed shop.
The same people owned numerous venues many espousing ‘independence’ despite being owned by large companies with relatively tight control of venues. Pay to play was rife – even in the ‘cooler’ establishments.
When Bubblegum began it had lots it wanted to achieve. Key among those achievements was to challenge pay to play and to change negative perceptions of indie and indiepop. It seemed others agreed, myself included, yet Bubblegum was largely derided by the Glasgow ‘scene’. It seemed no matter what the label did, or did not do, in its brief existence, it just wasn’t good enough. Some examples…
When Pick ‘n’ Mix was launched (what a great night that was) free copies were given to the first 50 people alongside all of the previous releases, a fanzine and vegan sweets etc. The next 50 ‘only’ received free copies of Pick ‘n’ Mix, a fanzine and vegan sweets. Not good enough.
The label put on a staggering number of bands. There was, in most cases, an agreement that the bands would be paid a specific amount of money. Even if the gig ran at a loss, the band got their agreed amount. No band ever paid to play. Not good enough.
Probably the most generous food and drinks rider most of the bands had received. Not good enough.
Managing Glasgow Popfest – covering all costs on a DIY no sponsorship basis. Not good enough.
It put on free Indietracks warm-ups gigs. The line-up included bands appearing at Indietracks or bands whose members would be attending Indietracks. Not good enough.
For reasons unknown to those close to the label, and to the label itself, the animosity seemed inexplicable. Apparently, it was twee. Twee was somehow perceived as a threat?
A little backstory can, I think, be helpful, but now to the matter in hand.
Pick ‘n’ Mix contains 27 songs. The label was advised by close friends – some in bands – not to release a compilation “they don’t make money.”
Undeterred by financial loss, Bubblegum put out an over-reaching call to a number of bands fully expecting a high percentage of rejections – due in part to the exceptionally tight timescale to get the CD completed for the hoped for launch date. Few rejections were received, which meant the original idea of a single CD compilation became a 2 CD compilation.
The roster for the CD is a real globetrotter: Brazil, Sweden. USA, Wales, Spain, France, Norway, Scotland, Indonesia, England, Australia & Japan (thanks, internet).
All indiepop sounds the same? Here’s another list to confound that theory… ska, pop, synthpop, twee, indiepop, rock, girl-group, bubblegum punk & shoegaze. Why have I left this excellent compilation languishing in the dark? I have no idea.
It’s so evocative of a specific time when a small group of people really did try to do things a little differently. Obscurity knocked (did you see what I did there?) as it has for many small DIY labels over the years.
I recall that at the Pick ‘n’ Mix launch I had a wholly stilted dance where I thought I must look like someone’s dad. I’m now only too aware that in the intervening years dad would be replaced by grandad. Where’s my dancin’ shoes?
JC has written about Bubblegum before (here and here). On those occasions, I have been transported to thoroughly enjoyable times. Indirectly, the Indietracks compilations, stirred something in me and I’m delighted to have re-found Pick ‘n’ Mix and the memories it holds. Thanks, JC.
Does anyone else have experience of a local, relatively unknown DIY label that they hold in regard?
P.S. In an attempt to get ‘facts’ straight I sought support from the internet. For some bizarre reason some streaming sites have I Like Birds But I Like Other Animals Too as The Lovely Eggs. Although written by The Lovely Eggs it is in fact a cover version by Hyperbubble. However, pop fact, The Lovely Eggs did play 2 Bubblegum gigs.