OK PAL Records: “it makes total sense at this point”

Ahead of Hailey Beavis playing at my event – When I Tried To Speak – at Clarks on Lindsay Street on November 4, I caught up with her and fellow musician Faith Eliott to discuss their new record label OK PAL Records.

Have either of you had a record label before or worked for one?

Faith: I released my first EP, ‘Insects’, with Song By Toad Records a few years back. I had a really good experience! Unfortunately, Matthew (who ran the label) has just recently decided to close up shop. But he’s done monumental amounts of good work for the Scottish DIY scene. We have a lot to thank him for.

Have you been influenced by any record labels? For example Righteous Babe Records from Ani DiFranco or the now defunct Olivia Records?

Hailey: The last year or so I’ve been back and forth to Barcelona working with a label called Son Canciones. I played for them first at their Indies Keeping Secrets festival, and then returned for a couple more beautifully curated events and a recording project. The love and imagination they put into every aspect of their label had a profound impact on me. As an artist, it felt special to be a part of their scene. Each time I came home I had a renewed creative energy, and in a bit of a bleak time, it reminded me why I love being an artist. These kinds of experiences have been pretty pivotal in my imaginings of how great OK PAL Records could be.

Faith: There’s lots of labels that inspire me… K Records is one that springs to mind… but I guess for me its not so much about labels as collectives in general. As a teenager I used to be pretty involved in the Forest Cafe when it was on Bristo place. Being part of how things operated there made a big impression on me and how I see a DIY art scene working. It tends to be weird little operations or art spaces which I have visited that motivate me to want to get going on a more shared and cohesive project of my own. To name a few – The Art Farm residency program I took part in a few years ago in Nebraska, or my sister’s DIY poetry library that she hauls around Oxford on a cargo bike.
So… in short, labels are cool, but stubbornly resourceful and unrealistically ambitious initiatives are what spur me into action.

Was there any particular catalyst to your decision to found OK PAL Records?

Faith: I have really wanted to really commit myself to a bigger project for a while now. And I made a record. So I asked Hailey if she would start a label with me, not expecting her to agree to it. But when she seemed a bit keen I set about begging her to make it official and get a joint bank account with me.

We’ve both been active on the Edinburgh music and arts scene for over a decade now, and respectively we have had some great experiences and some not so great. I think we both feel ready to take matters into our own hands, prioritise what we think is important to our work and lay down our own agenda.

Also, we’ve been best pals since we were teenagers, we know each other inside out and we trust and love the heck out of each other. We know one another’s weaknesses and vulnerabilities, so we are well equipped to support each other. And as weirdly similar as we are on a lot of levels, I also think we have very different but complimentary strengths. i.e Hailey’s in charge of charisma and I’m on paperwork. It just feels like it makes total sense at this point.

Hailey: So we opened a joint bank account and immediately filled it with broken trouser buttons and googly eyes. We then designed some stickers and stopped for lunch.

Do you plan on representing other musicians or will it primarily be a way to promote your own work?

Hailey: Absolutely. We already have plans for a Christmas Extravaganza, where we will be working with some of our favourite artists. You’ll have to wait and see what that will look and sound like though…

What’s your 12-month plan for the label? What about your ten-year goals?

Faith: Well, our two big priorities for 2019 are releasing my album in the spring, then an EP of Hailey’s later in the year.

Aside from that we are currently experiencing a bit of a whirlwind of ideas so I think it’s going to be a matter of throwing things at the wall for the first few months and then seeing what sticks. You can expect regular events, samplers and zines for sure. We also want to decorate my car.

As far as ten-year goals go, I would love to run a space of some sort. More specifically, it’s a dream of mine to set up a print shop (for screen printing and block printing and such like). We shall see how things evolve but in an ideal world, OK PAL HQ would be a kind of resplendent art castle accessible only by hot air balloon, with ornate fountains of mango rubicon and silky guinea pigs nibbling on the front lawn.

What can you tell us about Faith’s debut album? Will Pyrite Ammonite be on it (I love that song)?

Faith: Aw, thanks! But I put out Pyrite Ammonite on my EP. The new album is made up of songs that are all previously unreleased. The concept for the album is a bestiary. So, each song is represented by a different animal… some of them are straight up stories and some more allegorical… the cast includes an ancient sea-sponge, a soviet space dog, and a burmese python… So, hopefully that gives you an idea. Sort of.

The songs were recorded it last winter with my friend Colin Nelson in his studio in Seattle (I’ve been living in the states for the past year). Like my EP, there is a fair amount of lo-fi, folky stuff on there but lots of full band material too.

Hailey, are you looking forward to playing Dundee in the 4 November?

Hailey: Very much so! It’ll be great to play again in Dundee. I’m also a huge Amy Duncan fan, so I can’t wait to see her play. There is something between the rawness of her lyrics and the precision with which she executes the music that makes it so great.

OK PAL Records will be having a launch party at the Brig Below in Edinburgh on November 3. When I Tried To Speak, a night of music and spoken word for female and non-binary performers, will take place the next day at Clarks on Lindsay Street in Dundee. Tickets for both available from Eventbrite (here and here) and on the door.

(c) Ana Hine

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