Label Focus – FatCat Records
Alex Knight talks us through the past, present and future of the legendary, genre-spanning FatCat empire
WHAT’S THE NAME OF YOUR LABEL, AND WHO RUNS IT?
We are FatCat Records but have several imprints including the highly regarded “130701”, “Split” and “Splinter Series” as well as the electronic music imprints of “FCR” and “6dimensions”. The label is managed by co-founder Alex Knight, with a strong team of David Howell (130701, split and splinter), Samantha Orton, Lucille Vasseur and Sofia Jonsson.
WHEN & WHY DID THE LABEL START?
The label’s first release was in the autumn of 1996, WEB’s EVA EP” and felt like a very natural progression from the retail store and record shop. With the store closing in 1997 the label became the priority business and the focus for all FatCat activities.
GIVE US A BRIEF SUMMARY OF WHAT YOU’VE RELEASED SINCE THEN….
The label is renowned for its diverse and eclectic output, from noise to punk, from electronica to no-wave, from classical to dance and everything in between. We have worked with some incredibly creative artists and have been lucky enough to be instrumental in the careers of Sigur Ros, Mum, Animal Collective, Vashti Bunyan, Frightened Rabbit, The Twilight Sad, Max Richter, Dustin O’halloran, Hauschka and many others. We’re lucky to have a fantastic current roster which includes the creative genius of Shida Shahabi, Resina, Ian William Craig, Holiday Ghosts, Jennifer Touch, TRAAMS and The Psychotic Monks, amongst others.
WHAT QUALITIES ARE YOU LOOKING FOR IN THE MUSIC YOU RELEASE?
We like to blur the boundaries between genres and are looking for music which pushes the envelope or excels within its field. Music which impacts and makes you feel and think differently.
WHAT KIND OF VISUAL IDENTITY DOES THE LABEL HAVE (ARTWORK, VIDEOS ETC) ?
The label has always maintained a strong visual identity, the logo being instantly recognisable. We have also maintained a strong relationship with the designer Dave Thomas who has been responsible for the creation and execution of several striking covers and artworks. We do however encourage the artists we work with to forge their own links with creatives and strongly encourage collaboration.
WHAT’S BEEN YOUR BIGGEST SELLING RELEASE TO DATE? TELL US A BIT ABOUT IT AND WHY YOU THINK IT WAS SO POPULAR.
Sigur Ros must be the most popular artist we have released to date. We worked closely with them on their first two records, the internationally lauded Ageatis Byrjun and ‘( )’ LPs, both of which were critically acclaimed. The band have an ethereal quality, their music otherworldy and unlike anything else, they’re captivating and unusual and struck a chord with a massive audience. They also worked extremely hard, toured relentlessly and built themselves a formidable live reputation.
NAME ONE RELEASE THAT YOU THINK DESERVED TO GET MORE ATTENTION THAN IT DID
We released an LP from a Seattle based band called Welcome back in 2007. The album is called Sirs and is still a formidable body of work. They were an incredible live band too, bustling with ideas and energy. The record still sounds as fresh today as it did back then.
IF YOU COULD SIGN ANY ARTIST, ALIVE OR DEAD, WHO WOULD YOU CHOOSE AND WHY?
A bit of a cliché I know but I would have loved to have signed Radiohead, a band that are always evolving, always pushing the envelope but who have managed to maintain a broad fanbase across multiple albums.
WHICH OTHER LABELS DO YOU ADMIRE AND WHY?
You must take your hat off to anyone that has the balls to run a label in this current climate, especially given the cards we have been dealt in this past year or so. There are literally so many excellent labels out there doing amazing things, Dark Entries, Super Viaduct, Hornin Sounds, Pressure Sounds, Zam Zam, LTM, FHXE and Paranoid London are all on my go to list as are many, many others!
WHAT CAN WE LOOK TO FROM YOUR LABEL NEXT?
We will celebrate our 25 year anniversary this year alongside the 20 year anniversary of the 130701 imprint. We are in the process of curating a number of bespoke anniversary editions of classic albums across the label as well as a number of new and exciting releases from new and existing signings.