“IT KIND of came to us post-tour last year with (now-defunct post-rock band) Aerialist, we were discussing (math-rock label) the Richter Collective over drinks, and how they were all in and around our age when they were doing that, and the power they had instantly by association. It was very much a “hey, why not?” moment.”
After the split of the short-lived instrumental outfit, following a number of gigs around the city, and the recording of a posthumously-released extended player, the Teletext Records collective came from its membership, to address the need for multidisciplinary spaces for live and recorded music from the city’s resurgent young scene. According to co-founder Donagh Sugrue, it’s a matter of acting on the ideas that are there to be found therein.
“They’re moments people I know have constantly but don’t act on for whatever reason, and that feeds into the “why” of Teletext because we’d love if the people we know would pursue those moments more often. We’d completely be lying if we said that the tag of “label” wasn’t mostly a semantic thing, that we know definitely lends itself to legitimacy in a way that none of us are particularly pleased is the case, but we aren’t pushing away from either. In all ways but title, we’re a collective which is kind of how it should be.”
Setting up within the Cork scene, itself now largely collectively organised as previously discussed in these pages, the group issued an open call for submissions of music and multimedia art, ahead of firming up a roster of collaborators. Listening to everyone that submitted, and personalising feedback for everyone that threw their name in was only the beginning of the work that went into assembling a team. “We’ve had some great things come out of (the call), some things that have slipped away, some stuff that we’re still trying to organise, but through whatever jigs & reels of life, isn’t materialising quite as quickly as we’d like. It’s a valuable exercise for us, for the acts, and for the social outlet of things outright — or at least we think so anyway. Worst-case scenario in applying is that you’ve walked away with minimum three more people knowing your act’s material really well, & some constructive feedback.”
The run-through of artists that are involved in one way or another is exciting, with an offering of young and vital acts ranging from heavier outfits like Cork bands Aponym and Gilbert, to experimentalists like Limerick sound-artist Rokaia. What’s the process of sitting down with an artist when discussing upcoming projects or ideas, and how much does each artist contribute to Teletext in terms of skill exchange, etc? “Not at all intensive, veering onto nothing at all. We never really wanted to be an influence in how the artists approach their craft, and be that man in the suit. We want more to be an admin team for whatever it is the artist requires, and is stopping them from doing the actual art creation. I know that sounds really boring, but it clears things up to platform the artists that are the core of what we’re doing.”
Regarding the development of projects in Cork, one of the collective’s stated goals is creating experiences in smaller live spaces, including some very ambitious plans at various stages, like audiovisuals, etc. Sugrue takes us through his vision of how gigs can be done differently in a changing city, and what’s helped sustain their monthly residency at The Roundy while those ideas have percolated. “From doing shows with PLUGD (now stationed at the venue), and more contemporary shows, we’ve made realisations that there’s a lot on that level that we can do well. We’re enamoured with the idea of trying to breed a community of people that are going to be at every show, because they know that they’ll be welcomed, and have a good time for the atmosphere, rather than just for being mates with the band. So, being presented with the charm of a gang of heads from Kerry upon arrival is definitely something welcoming that we’ve doubled down on. It’s also why there’s Chocolate Oranges at the door when you arrive, vegan or otherwise (laughs).”
Though a collective in all but name, the label aspect of Teletext Records is also simmering away nicely, after assisting with some digital releases and launch gigs over the past twelve months. For the expansion of this operation, the group is leaning on the resurgence of physical formats.
“We have prototypes of three tape releases put together. We kind-of fell silent for a while recently, while we all sorted some personal stuff out, and a big part of that was exploring what it is that we enjoy about live music, or even trying to create in general, and a big takeaway was a love for doing things ourselves. Nothing wrong with it, but the idea of writing an album, then outsourcing the mixing & mastering to a pro, shipping it to Dublin Vinyl to get printed and having the artwork commissioned to an artist you don’t even know, finishes with a result that is very much a product, as opposed to a project.”
The next step for the collective lies just ahead, as the group host a showcase for West of Ireland math-rockers Bokotono, and Limerick wunderkinder Casavettes tomorrow night at Fred Zeppelin’s, leveraging existing relationships into a weighty billing that also includes Cork proggers and collective members Aponym, as well as Cork hardcore pups Selkies. It’s a good way to get a taste of what the group is all about. “Bokotono are friends of ours, and were a considerable actor in deciding to “organise” into Teletext. (Our old band toured with them), and (we) had a massive realisation, that there was lots of music that we really really loved, by people that we knew that could benefit from various associations with other people. We’ve also got Aponym & Selkies on that show as well, who would be a Cork/Waterford band, and a Cork band, respectively, and the thought process for that mainly stemmed from how difficult it can be to infiltrate Dublin & Cork as an outsider. Have every act organise just one show in their own city for all of the involved acts, and boom, you’ve got a multi-city tour with at least an audience of what the local band draw. Also, they’re super fun, and it’s a great excuse to catch up with friends from other cities.”
Being self-organised, time is still a factor for the young collective, but nearly a year deep into their experience, there’s already a number of other projects in the pipeline, with other changes proving that Teletext Records looks set to be a reliable cornerstone for the music community in Cork in the coming years. “We’ve just kicked off a community Facebook group, we’re doing a major redesign on the website and we’re planning our birthday in September/October. Everything’s slower than we’d like right now, so streamlining processes, so that we can focus our time on new ideas rather than admin, is sink-or-swim right now. Nothing exclusive about it, because we don’t want a presented hierarchy or anything.
“The only thing in the way of a rule is that you can only be added to the group at one of the shows, so that we’re left with a community group of people that have attended at least one show, and logically have a vested interest in other ones in the future, so we’d like to know what shape (attendees) would like them to take, so that there’s just a facility for ‘whatever the audience wants, the audience gets’. We’re setting a ground rule for ourselves of being a “new normal” promoter, so apart from the shows we’ve already booked, any new shows going forward are either 50/50 gender representation wise in the line up, or we won’t go ahead with booking. We’ve got those tape releases (and other records) donezo, and we’re going to unveil one of two new signings in the coming weeks.”
Bokotono, Cassavettes, Aponym and Selkies play Fred Zeppelin’s tomorrow night, Friday July 12, in a Teletext Records presentation. Doors 9pm, tickets €5.