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Last Night From Glasgow: The independent record label championing artists

LNFG

Last Night From Glasgow is a not-for-profit independent record label based in Glasgow. Ian Smith founded the label in 2016, to support artists who says he felt were "being forced down costly commercial routes" when it came to making records.

Earlier this year, LNFG received National Lottery funding via our Open Project Fund, to produce the recording, production, manufacture, distribution and promotion of six vinyl albums, and support digital releases for six currently unsigned Scottish artists.

So far in 2018, the label has released four vinyl LPs (with two more to follow), five vinyl singles, four CD albums, one book and 13 digital singles, from artists including Sister John, The Gracious Losers, Zoe Bestel, L-space, Cloth, Domiciles, Carla J Easton and more.

It's a joy to remember that an album should be savoured, digested, lived with - both as a physical artefact and as a piece of art- Ian Smith - Last Night From Glasgow

Choosing the artists is relatively easy, Smith says. "We are inundated with approaches. We also have a relatively flexible approach. We are a nimble beast and we can manoeuvre ourselves quite quickly.

"While we sought funding for six releases, by the end of the year, we will in fact have delivered much more than that.

"Our first official release of the year was Zoe Bestel's Transience LP. Zoe is a ukelele player and singer from Dumfries and Galloway. We discovered her when arranging shows for Sister John the previous year. She has an enchating vocal style, and is far from what you'd expect when you say ukelele.

"Her album is quite dark in places - we released it on Record Store Day 2018 and she played two sold out shows in Glasgow and Edinburgh to promote the album. Shows followed all over the UK and Europe. It has been very well received."

The second album came from The Gracious Losers - a country soul collective with band members from Sister John, Thrum and God Help The Girl. Renowned comic book artist Sean Phillips designed the gatefold sleeve, and on launch week, BBC Radio Scotland's The Roddy Hart Show bestowed it the title of Record of Note for that week.

At the end of this month, LNFG will release the debut album from L-space - Kipple Arcadia - on pink vinyl. It will be launched with a mini album tour, alongside stablemates Domiciles and Cloth, two other bands signed this year, whose albums we will be released in 2019.

"That's a massive part of the family spirit of LNFG," Smith says. "Artists welcoming other artists aboard, helping them find their feet and their audience.

"We have really tried to build a nurturing and supportive environment where everyone helps everyone, and everyone shares in the others successes."

October sees Joe Kane/Radiophonic Tuckshop come out. November will see the release of a collection of poetry about Scots music and the Scottish music scene, written and curated by Stephen Watt. And in January, they'll release the second album from Sister John.

They'll complete the year in February with the release of the fourth album from the legendary Glasgow band Bis. "How could we say no to the godfathers and godmother of Glasgow DIY?" 

The most important thing to this label is the artist and their work. "First off, we need to believe in you as artists," Smith says. "We are not concerned with your commercial viability, although such can be a sizeable bonus.

"For us, you have to really care about what you're doing and be doing it for the right reasons. Anyone solely chasing fame is probably not for us. Not because we don't want that, but pursuit of fame should not be your overriding concern.

"We want artists who simply can't imagine not being songwriters or performers. We want artists who are able to contribute to the community of LNFG, who will lend a hand when needed.

"We are built upon the principles of trade unionism - we are stronger together."

The label has a particular focus on vinyl pressing, and Smith says that he felt the vinyl revival was "inevitable".

"People want artisan produce now," he says. "In an industry driven by immediacy and convenience, it's a joy to remember that an album should be savoured, digested, lived with - both as a physical artefact and as a piece of art.

"Music shouldn't be about playlists," he says. "Albums deliver concepts and emotional depth, and albums simply work better on a slab of vinyl split over two sides.

"The downside is that with the vinyl revival has come an opportunistic side - industry building tragically bad record players.

"The revival won't last if consumers think records are meant to sound the way suitcase players make them sound. Vinyl is also an essential commodity when it comes to artist remuneration. Selling 100-200 LPs will make a band many times the amount of money that they could reasonably hope to make from streaming."

In the current climate, Smith says there is "undoubtedly room for a label who would champion ethics and common sense," and that's exactly what LNFG is all about: putting artists and their work first, avoiding what Smith refers to as "self-serving industry networks", and focusing on the real rewards of the industry - "being able to say - I made this record."

Find out more about Last Night From Glasgow at lastnightfromglasgow.com.

This article was published on 18 Sep 2018