Come Play With Me Records caught our eye with a lockdown compilation album – Come Stay With Me – we decided to find out a bit more about the label and the Leeds scene in general.
In the face of very uncertain times for the music industry, Leeds based Clue Records are hoping to add some positivity, bucking the trend of record labels calling it a day and flying the flag for the music industry in the North of England.
The merger came after Clue Records’ label boss Scott Lewis joined Leeds based artist development organisation Come Play With Me which is run by Hatch Records boss Tony Ereira. A mutual love of Leeds based genre tourists Team Picture and discussions around a split release of their debut album on Clue and Hatch led to Tony floating the idea of Clue and Hatch combining.
Given we were keen on the Come Stay With Me compilation and it’s eclectic mix of styles. We decided to have a quick Zoom to learn more.
P3dro: Where are you and what are you doing?
Scott: I am in Stockton on Tees, my home town. I’m just sat in a small box room with a bunch of teddy bears, that you can probably see behind me. There’s a Garfield, Liquorice Allsorts Man, Sonic the Hedgehog, Roland Rat and several others. So, yeah, that’s my current predicament.
Tony: I’m at home in York, with a big EU flag behind me.
P3dro: I got in touch because I became aware of Come Play With Me [via the Come Stay With Me compilation].
Tony: Yeah – 7″ singles club has been running for almost 5 years, now. Scott and I have been working together on that for about 2 years and that was really the Genesis of how Clue and Hatch got together.
P3dro: Tell us a little bit more about Come Play With Me – what’s the thinking behind it?
Tony: It was born out of Hatch really. I was working with so many young artists who didn’t really seem to have anywhere to go for support. So, the idea was to see what support we could offer to help move their careers on a level.
So we came up with the idea of doing it a split 7″ singles club, which was a really nice USP. We’ve been doing it for 5 years and we’ve just released our 17th single and a couple of compilations along the way. It’s mutated into a magazine as well, a development organisation. We do some diversity activities as well. It’s grown quite a bit since those early days.
P3dro: How does the magazine work? How do you distribute that?
Tony: Well, it’s all been a bit screwed up recently because of Covid 19. We’ve just done the 10th issue. Whereas Come Play With Me has very much a Leeds / Yorkshire lead, we didn’t want that to be the case for the magazine. We wanted to produce something that wasn’t just reviews and previews. We wanted to scratch a bit deeper and talk about some of the issues that people who are into music care about, but don’t get covered well.
We felt there was a bit of gap in the market for a good quality print magazine. But then Covid 19 screwed up our distribution plans, so the last couple of magazines have been online only. But the intention is to go back to print.
P3dro: Come Play With Me is pretty much Leeds based / focused?
Tony: It started off as Leeds city region, but we realised that was a bit “dull” or “bland”, so we tried to draw it out to be a bit more Yorkshire-wide. Probably 80% of the artists we work are from Leeds, but we are trying to expand that across Yorkshire.
P3dro: How do you view the Leeds music scene?
Scott: I think it’s incredible. It’s very diverse. It’s got a lot of pockets of different creativity and different styles that are going on in different regions of the city. But I think they intersperse really well.
There’s very much a DIY ethic. Nobody really gets above their station. Everybody knows each other, everybody is in bands with other people. Very few people have just one project. Most have two, three, four or even five different things going on.
There tends not to be a lot of ego. There’s a constant stream of amazing new music and new artists coming out. It’s hard to keep up sometimes, especially what we do with Come Play With Me. Anyone can send in submissions – anyone can send their music in, it’s a great way to find out what’s out there.
Tony: Yeah, when we get submissions in, we always think we have a good idea of what’s going on. But then we get blown away by this amazing stuff. And you think, “Well, how did not know that was happening a couple of hundred metres up the road?”
P3dro: I know the feeling – I’m based in Liverpool and there seems to be a lot of co-operation between bands, rather than competition.
Tony: Yeah. People tend to look out for each other. You don’t hear the word “competition” very often. And the people who do use it, then you think of them as a bit of a dickhead.
Scott: Yes, I think they soon find out it gets them a lot less further than working with other people does. If you have that self-serving attitude, then you get a bit knackered. It’s pretty collaborative.
Peter, what do you think of the Leeds scene from the outside? I’d be interested to know, because we see it so closely. Do you have a formed opinion on it?
P3dro: Gosh. What I got from the Come Stay With Me compilation is a very wide, eclectic mix of sounds, from the really heavy stuff from the likes of DENSE and Dead Naked Hippies, to the lovely R&B from Maya Kally and the almost kind of country sound from Talkboy – it’s an enjoyable record.
Scott: For me, as well – I’m not from Leeds, so when I first moved to Leeds, I’d go to Jumbo Records and I would see compilations like Dance to the Radio: Leeds, which was a massive way to be opened up to the city’s music scene, because I had an idea of who was there and who was doing stuff, but then you’d put on [that record] and go “Ah right, I have a bit more of an idea, now”.
It doesn’t feel like that’s happened for a while, so that’s one of the things we enjoyed while making ‘Come Stay With Me’. Let’s just show off a load of ace stuff. We could have added another, say 10 discs and we’d still have had high quality work. That was the exciting thing.
Tony: It’s a kind of blessing and a curse. Leeds doesn’t have … without naming obvious bands and styles, but if you think of Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield, other cities – they have really clear scenes. But Leeds, in the nicest possible way is quite a diverse hodge podge – there isn’t a stand out sound. I think we reflected that quite well with that album.
P3dro: What about venues in Leeds? How are they holding up?
Scott: It’s a really difficult one. Some are doing OK. I don’t think any are doing well. Some are doing good things for the community. Brudenell is doing some amazing stuff to show off artists with their Social Distancing Club TV on their YouTube channel.
But, it’s massively worrying because it feels inevitable that some of our favourite venues are not going to be there anymore.
One thing we are trying to do is speak to each other as a community, about how can we help? There is some Government funding that can help out if you can jump through the right hoops. We’re also looking at each other and asking if there’s anything we can do to support each other.
That’s been really positive, but’s unbelievably frightening that when we can get out and go to see gigs, that we’re not going to be able to go to some of these places that have been incredible over the past few years.
P3dro: Do you have any kind of indication as to when you think gigs may kick off again?
Scott: No. Same as everybody else. We’ve just announced a March tour for Team Picture. That felt like a safe enough time period to understand what might be going, but we have no idea. It’s really hard.
Tony: I’ve seen a couple of small capacity outdoor things popping up… They’re obviously not the future, they’re just fun things to keep people engaged, but I don’t really understand how anybody’s going to make any cash out of them.
P3dro: Have you any plans for new records?
Tony: Yeah, we usually select the artists we work with from open call outs, so we’ve selected the next four. There’s one coming up that we selected in January from Chanté Amour and Straight Girl and then another that we selected in April or May, from Sunflower Thieves and Lenu.
We’re working on a few other bits, but for obvious reasons plans have been a bit scuppered this year. The first single release we did this year, which was Van Houten and In The Morning Lights was delayed. We were trying to co-ordinate it with a tour, which didn’t happen. Then we did the compilation.
And then we’d selected some artists for the next releases, but they couldn’t get into a recording studio, so things had slipped there. So this year’s gonna be a bit slow on the 7″ side. But there is quite a lot of other exciting stuff we’re working through.
P3dro: But you’re not going to tell us what it is?
Tony: [Laughs]. One thing we are doing, on the live side is Her Fest, the annual all-dayer we do for women artists in the region. We have that scheduled for November. But, to the earlier point, we have no idea if it’s going ahead, or some ridiculously reduced capacity event. But we’re keen to see if we can make it work, if we can. But we just can’t really sell too many tickets at the moment, because we don’t know how many people we can let in.
P3dro: We thank you for your time, and we appreciate it maybe difficult as a record label, but the last question we always ask, is whether there’s a band or an album you’re listening to right now that you can recommend.
Scott: The last album I listened to was the new Protomartyr one, so, that’s nice and easy. They’re an ace band and I’m not upsetting anyone. Who can we say?
Tony: I’ve just got the new Fontaines D C record, although I haven’t listened to it yet, I’m ashamed to say.
Scott: I’m trying to think in Leeds who’s doing stuff. There’s a new Magic Mountain record, that’s coming out soon.
A lot of the bands we did on Come Stay With Us are starting to bring stuff out. Dead Naked Hippies are going to bring out another synthy style single soon and should be getting into the studio soon.
Van Houten have got another EP coming soon, which will be ace.
Tony: Yardact have been playlisted on BBC Radio 6 Music, which was nice to see.
P3dro: Anything else to declare?
Tony: Let’s mention Clue.
Scott: From working together with Come Play With Me, and I run Clue Records and Tony runs Hatch Records, we merged together, which will be announced this week – a bigger healthier label and more ambition. We’ll be releasing a few new artists in the coming months. It’s a positive story in the music industry and with everything else going on, we feel like it’s a positive step forward for a northern label and we’re proud to represent the north and do something [good].