One year of Trench Records: Looking back with Nick Luke
Starting a record label might sound like an easy thing to do at first, but if you’re planning on doing more than uploading new songs to Soundcloud, it takes a lot of passion, hard work, growth and maturity to make it to a milestone like a first birthday. But, once you make it there, it makes everything worth it, and that’s exactly how TRENCH RECORDS‘ label head, Nick Luke, is feeling right about now.
One year on from launching his own label, Luke (who performs under the moniker, MOONBASE), has grinded and hustled to get to where he is now. With a few choice signings of exciting artists like TIBER, TOBACCO RAT, and the absolutely blowing up MISS BLANKS, as well as releasing music from the likes of ARKTKT and HERZELOYDE, Luke has proven not only does he have his finger on the pulse of new and emerging artists, but also that he has the business mind to back it up too. Fast forward one year, and each artist has released their own EP to widespread critical acclaim and fan love, and Trench Records has become cemented as an emerging label worth keeping both eyes firmly planted on.
Celebrating blowing out their first candle, the Trench crew will be descending on Sydney’s Hudson Ballroom to give back to their community in the best way they know how – by throwing a killer party. Incidentally where the label held its first showcase at the start of 2017, it’ll be a time to reflect on the achievements of the past 12 months, as well as readjusting their sights for their months to come.
We caught up with Nick Luke recently to talk all things Trench, from humble beginnings to what’s still up their sleeves. Check our chat below and head HERE for more details on the party.
Congratulations on the one year!
Thank you! It’s been fun. It’s been a lot of hard work, but fun.
Looking back on how it all started, can you talk me through the early days of Trench and how it came to be?
Ever since I was in high school, I’ve always made lists like, “This artist would be sick on this imaginary label,” or, “This artist and this artist would be cool on a compilation,” and that kind of thing. From then, I’ve always been interested but I didn’t want to just start a “Soundcloud” label. I didn’t want to ask everyone to come join my label, and then just chuck a link on Soundcloud and that would be it. I wanted to give artists a bit more. I feel like with Soundcloud and stuff like that, artists can do all of that themselves, and they should. It’s a very DIY culture and I love that. If I wanted to start acting on my label ideas, I wanted to be able to give artists a bit more than what they could do themselves. It wasn’t until I had a chance to do it though, that I actually wanted to. Last year I got the opportunity to do that, and it went from there. It’s been cool. It’s been a lot of work, but I’m happy with it. It’s going well.
For you, it gives artists a more professional leg up than what they might be able to achieve on their own.
They can achieve anything on their own. As I said, the DIY culture is very strong and people pay attention to that. With the artists that I have on my label, I love. Having it all together creates more of a culture scene than just doing it by yourself. I’ve always loved that idea of bringing together like-minded artists and putting out similar releases and creating something that we could celebrate.
And creating a community in that way as well.
Yeah, for sure!
The label has moved pretty quickly over the past twelve months, and you’ve picked up a few signings along the way. Is it now six artists on the label, including you?
It changes all the time. I’ve got to reassess. At the moment, we have four or five, but we have some releases from a few more still coming. Central to the label though, is myself, Miss Blanks, Tiber and Tobacco Rat. We have a few more things on the way that are in the works, but also some stuff from people like ARKTKT. He’s a US-based producer who really wanted to do something with Trench, but we also wanted to give him -and to those who want it- the freedom to do other things as well. Because I’m an artist myself, I realise that not everybody loves to be tied down to a label or anything. If the music is good and it fits and they want to put it out through us, we’re here to help and push it out as fast and far as we can.
What goes into the decision of who you want to sign? Is there anything you look for in particular, or does it come organically from being friends?
It’s kind of different every time. With Tiber, for example, he’s just released his second EP with us. He is a great friend of mine, and he lives in Geelong. I’ve known him for maybe two years before the label started just through Soundcloud and playing shows together, and it kind of happened that way. But then, say Miss Blanks for example- I heard her music before I met her. I was like, “I haven’t heard a more perfect fit,” and then we met from there, and now her EP is out. It’s a mixed bag.
Each artist does have their own distinct sound, but they do all share similar traits. Do you think that, by having a smaller label, you’re able to branch out more into different sounds and making it a more diverse roster?
It’s all down to the label in particular, really. I think as long as it makes sense to you, then go for it. There’s no rules to this kind of thing. I think all the music has a similar thread running through it, other people might not think that. But it’s kind of like, if you think it works, just do it! If you think it works, other people will think that too, and people will get it. Hopefully [laughs].
What’s one thing you’ve learned over the past twelve months of Trench?
That’s a tough question. A lot of little things. I just come from a purely artistic place where I just made my own music or made music with other people, and being on the label side of things now makes you see the other side of things, and create a bridge between them. Other than that, I think it’s made me a better person socially, as well. I used to just be this producer dude who would hang out by myself in my bedroom and go out sometimes and play sometimes. But, opening up and just having more than artists who are friends, it’s allowed me to reach out and talk to more people I wouldn’t talk to and do business that way. It’s helped me forge different relationships, whether it’s new friends or contacts, venues and so on.
You’ve kind of got a business mind going now as well?
It sounds weird to say, but I guess so!
You can start your empire now
“The Mogul Rises,” that’s the name of my autobiography.
Looking at the parties now, you’ve had a couple at the start of the year.
Yep we had a big one in Sydney at the start of the year. It was kind of my guinea pig moment. Selling tickets to events, you never know how it’s gonna go. Selling a club show, you know people are going to be there anyway because cheap drinks and other people are playing and whatever- it’s kind of a no pressure environment. But when you’re running your own show and it’s about something that you care about, and you want to sell tickets so these artists can pay rent, there’s more pressure involved. So, that first show was the guinea pig moment, meaning we didn’t know how it would go until afterwards and we just hoped for the best. I learnt a lot through that, and it went really well! It pretty much sold out at Hudson Ballroom, where we’re doing it again now. We thought last time it went so well, why not keep the party going?
Can you tell me a bit about who will be joining you for this next Sydney party?
Last time we had myself, Herzeloyde and Tiber. This time around, we’ve made it bigger knowing what I do know now, and opened it up a little bit. We’ve got Miss Blanks, myself, Tiber and Tobacco Rat. Tobacco Rat and Miss Blanks are two new signings and they’ve both released stuff recently, so thought it would be cool to get them on board. We’ve also got some DJs like Sandro Dallarmi, Caitlin Medcalf, Sortagoth and Mowgli May. All the DJs are Sydney based and we all know each other, so it’s a good excuse to be like, “Come play at this party! It’ll be great!”
Everyone knows each other, even though some of the acts aren’t from Sydney. They all know one another and it’s kind of cool to get them all on the same line-up. It kind of links into before with what I was saying about I love to make imaginary lists like, “This artist would be great with this artist on this line-up.” It’s weird to kind of do that in a real world scenario, not just in my head.
Looking forward now, do you have any big plans still to come?
I’m just going to keep it rolling. There’s going to be more music from all our artists, a couple of new artists as well. More parties, more of everything. We’re just keen to keep it going.
TRENCH RECORDS SHOWCASE
December 2, 2017
Hudson Ballroom, Sydney
MISS BLANKS (LIVE)
TOBACCO RAT (LIVE)
Interview by Emma Jones