INTERVIEW: Julia Wilson, Rice Is Nice Records
RICE IS NICE is an independent record label based in Sydney. The label takes its name from Welsh post-hardcore band Mclusky‘s 2000 single ‘Rice Is Nice’ and aims to promote local musicians that are unique and whose music will have longevity.
Formed in 2008 by Julia Wilson and Ben Shackleton, when Wilson decided she could release SPOD‘s Aminals 7″ herself – Rice Is Nice has since grown into one of the countries most important, tastemaking labels. With some of our most ridiculously good acts, such as Seekae, The Laurels and Straight Arrows, residing in their stables.
Now that the label is making some serious headway overseas, we decided to get our own Lauren Payne to sit down with co-founder, Wilson – to gather a little more information into the life of one our favourite label heads.
So why start a record label?
I had always wanted to start a record label, ever since high school. I have always admired the people behind labels more than the bands. I started working at a few different labels and started to understand how it worked (in a nutshell – I am still always learning). I saw some people get some pretty shitty deals and treatment, so I decided to make a label which was transparent, honest, realistic, supportive and have label and artist on an even playing field.
With great bands like SPOD and The Laurels signed to Rice Is Nice, what made you want to sign bands like them?
I wanted to work with these artists for they are doing something unique, brilliant and inspiring. The artists I am lucky enough to work with are doing everything they do for all the right reasons, which is a rare trait out there.
All of your acts seem to be getting a hell of a lot of attention overseas, such as The Laurels who’ve just released their debut in the U.S, did you expect the label to do as well as it has?
So they bloody should! But really, I don’t think I had any real expectations for the label, I am sometimes amazed that I just did it at all. I have, however, always had expectations that the bands I work with will get the opportunities they deserve and strong exposure. Travelling overseas a lot and seeing a lot of other bands, I always caught myself thinking that a lot of my bands and Australian bands shit all over these international ‘buzz bands’.
It is my priority to export, because the culture and audience here in Aus is just not strong enough and that makes me sad. I guess I have always wanted to grow as a label and I still do. Money is the only thing that stands in my way really.
You’ve worked in so many other places in the music industry like at Mushroom, what’s been one thing you’ve learned from all your experience?
That everything is accessible. You can absolutely do it.
Rice Is Nice throws some pretty rad parties, is there one you remember getting uber crazy?
I hate putting on shows, it scares the shit out of me. The RIN party at the Annandale has been the light of my life so far. Every band blew my mind and the sold out crowds, I actually couldn’t believe it, it was so impressive. SPOD introducing himself and a circle pit for Straight Arrows are pretty special memories.
What do you usually look for in an act before you sign them?
Just music that rings true to me. Nothing specific at all really…they have to be a gem though. It’s a gem only affair.
I’ve noticed that you’re all pretty laid-back people, is it usually a pretty relaxed vibe working at Rice Is Nice?
Laid-back you say? I fear that you say that because you have seen I am a lazy dresser. In reality, I don’t really feel relaxed at all, I am generally experiencing waves of pure stress and panic every hour, on the hour. Maybe the other cats who work here feel relaxed and have fun? I hope they do or it’s totally not worth it for them.
Has there been a highlight for you since starting the label?
Meeting all the people I work with. They are incredible humans and I can’t believe I know them all.
Are there any big plans for Rice Is Nice in the near future?
I will keep on truckin and I do have important plans big and small, but I also have panic attacks and no money so we will see…
Words: Lauren Payne