Scylla Records is a name you might have heard in the UK pop punk and emo scene, especially around the South West where the label is based. We sat down in an authentic pub just outside Bath with Richard Hughes, the manager of the label, to discuss how the organisation came about.
Starting off with a whistle-stop history of Scylla Records, Richard explains how he and a friend began the label at university, somewhat by accident. “I was at uni doing a music industry degree, and we were putting on shows actually. We started promoting, me and Ross and a guy called James putting on shows together.”
After talking with a band called Out of Sight, who had just recorded an EP in New York but had nobody to put it out with, Richard and his companion Ross decided to try putting the record out for them. “We spent a long time deciding whether to start the label with them or a band called Haemostatic Picnic Races and obviously we went with Out of Sight. The rest is history! That’s kinda how it started, for a while with friend’s bands.”
Working with Out of Sight, whilst foundational for the label, also opened up a number of challenges for the fledgling Scylla Records. The first EP that the label released was a great success. It was Out of Sight‘s second release that was somewhat exacting.
“We worked with their album though we didn’t put that out – it went to another record label. That was the second part beginning. I wouldn’t say we were inactive but it was quite a difficult period for the label. We lost a lot money and motivation, the whole Out of Sight album was very difficult. That drained us, and Ross left the label completely.”
“Probably about two years ago I started again really seriously, narrowed the music we were putting out a bit from everything we liked to focus a bit more on the pop punk / emo scene. A lot more UK based as well, that’s something we were quite keen on doing. I say we, it’s me now. We worked with The Gospel Youth and You Know The Drill, and Luke [Rainsford] now, High Tides and H_ngm_n. Very much all part of the same scene and I think we’re growing in that scene quite a lot.”
Out of Sight’s album eventually released as a co-release with Slam Dunk Music, with Scylla Records wishing it on with their best blessings. To qualify, there are no hard feelings there at all. “That was a massive challenge and to come back from that took a while. It completely changed the way we were working, really. It’s a very different label really.”
Moving on, we asked Richard about what he feels the biggest achievements and moments are which he has been particularly proud of. “It sounds weird but the biggest achievement we get is putting out records. Every time we get a new record in and we get the vinyl back or the cassettes back, or the CD, that’s always the biggest achievement.”
It’s not all about sales targets for Scylla Records. Richard explains that they’re all well and good because good sales equate to success for the artist, but it doesn’t change how he views the album. If Scylla Records have chosen to support an album, that’s for the sake of the music itself.
What does Richard look for in potential new artists for Scylla Records? “I think it has to be music that affects me. It has to be a record I hear and think “that’s amazing”, or demo’s, or even a previous album which is amazing. Luke [Rainsford] for example, I fell in love with his previous album; and the reason I didn’t approach him about a second album was because he only released the first one in June so I thought there’s no way there’ll be another one.”
“It’s about hearing something that I’m just like “wow, that’s amazing, I’d love to work with that band”.
Equally, Richard has to consider what the artist is looking for in a label. On his side, there’s little point in putting out a record that a band are unwilling to tour or put much effort into. “There’s no point anyone being disappointed on either side of the relationship.”
Richard’s goals for Scylla Records are relatively humble. These aren’t dreams of rosters full of huge touring artists. “As simple as it sounds I’d love to be putting out all our releases on vinyl and at least have an initial run sell out. I think I’d love to get to that point of being able to do that every time. Or, not all of them, but if you look at a label like Big Scary Monsters where almost all their releases go straight away. Kev’s worked really hard at that and that’s always seemed like the perfect level for me.”
“I’d just like to build up a roster and be known as that label who’s a great place to start a career.”
To be able to support up-and-coming artists and consistently help their first-run of physicals sell out. “If we get a big album or two that’s great, ultimately that will fund the musicians themselves and also new acts. That’s where I find the fun, working with new artists not necessarily being able to pick up the band who are already established. It’s great but it’s not so interesting to me. I’m all about finding new talent and taking them to a level where a lot more people will be interested then.”
To finish off, we asked Richard if there were any artists out there he’d especially like to work with if he could sign anyone. He mentions Tellison – “Everything they do is awesome, lovely guys as well.” Richard also talks about The Attika State, a band he has “flirted” with on putting out records together but never quite got around to it.
“I was well up for signing Luke [Rainsford]. I put his album on my top ten of last year, something horrendously high like four or three or something.”
Finally, it’s The Hotelier who get the final call, a band that Richard things are incredible all-round.
It’s apparent that Scylla Records have a hugely respectable set of ethics by which they run their label, and they’re becoming a reputable place for up-and-coming artists. Chances are you’ll be seeing a lot more of their name behind some very exciting releases, so make sure to support Scylla and their artists wherever you can!