Irregular Records are a small independent record label in Hove, Sussex, publishing records which (if you are into categorising) are mainly folk, political, or chanson.
Irregular Records – A Brief History by Robb Johnson
At the start of the 1980s I was playing in a band called Grubstreet. We decided to approach record companies with some demo cassettes. This proved to be a deeply depressing experience. I particularly recall one A&R haircut called Wally Brill at A&M Records; listening to someone who plainly imagined that the aforementioned haircut was a substitute for intelligence arrogantly dismiss my work convinced me that this whole process was a complete waste of time and energy.
My friend Brooce The Moose pointed out that it was actually possible to manufacture records independently: not just singles like punk rock had done, but albums too. This also meant you had complete artistic control, which seemed – and to be honest still seems – more important than music biz commercial success.
There are the problems of distribution, promotion and finance (the first LP was funded by loans from friends and relatives, and the sale of a rather nice, if unnecessarily blue, custom-made Stratocaster) but although rarely ever showing anything remotely approaching a profit, Irregular has managed to be more or less self-financing – income from the last album pays for the next one. After a few uneasy relationships with various distributors, Irregular Records are now distributed by Proper Music Distribution.
Generally Irregular Records get filed under “Folk”, which is usually vying with “Jazz” or “Easy Listening” for the title of smallest and most obscure section in the shop, which doesn’t help matters either, but theoretically all you have to do is head into your nearest HMV etc. and persuade the haircuts that work there to find it and order it on their computers – be prepared for a plethora of excuses as to why this isn’t possible, or why once having reluctantly found an Irregular album on their computer, it is absolutely impossible for them to order it. We ought to institute an award for the most audacious or mendacious way of saying “Ican’tbearsedwhydon’tyoujustbuyRobbieWilliamslikeeveryoneelse?”
Irregular Records are also available on Amazon.
Initially, Irregular Records was intended as a means to release my own recordings, the first of which appeared, and sort of just sat there moldering in boxes in my dad’s garage, in 1985. However, in 1987 the second album “Skewed, Slewed, Stewed & Awkward” did a little better, and eventually, I seem to have sold or given away all 500 copies. In 1991 Irregular released its first CD, and by the end of the 90s Irregular was releasing albums by people who, for one reason or another, thought it was a good idea to operate under the Irregular flag of convenience. We also started the UNLaBELLED label, with the intention of supporting and encouraging artists who are in the process of establishing a wider, national reputation.
There is not much of an Irregular business plan: I make CDs, and if Irregular can be of help to artists whose work I like, then so much the better. I think that Irregular may well be one of the longest-surviving independents that has remained truly independent.
Irregular Records has mainly released work by artists whose primary interest is in literate song, though we also like a bit of world music fusion stuff too.
Robb Johnson, Managing Dogsbody