Please note; the most recent entries to this text will be at the top of the page.
The Six Inch Records shop is now closed, as there are no more records to sell. Six Inch Records is no longer a going concern, and there will be no more musicians signed, records made, events held.
I would like to thank everyone who supported this project in any way, but a particular thanks to Lucy and Tom from Eat Your Own Ears for arranging one of the strangest evenings I've had for a while. Thanks to everyone who bought a record; I hope you like it.
Ha. It's all over. It's been all over for a week, which I've spent hurtling down steep snow-covered hills on an old 'to let' board. The 'launch' went quite well; I sacked all my 'artistes', sacked myself and purchased possibly the most expensive round of drinks of my life.
Here is a 'report' I was sent about the event by a Mr Yarbles. I admit that it is quite favourable, but stress that no money changed hands. I'm more than happy to publish other reports, favourable or not, if you can find a way of getting them to me...
I spent the evening agog at the surreal and futuristic toilets (acid was invented for such things) and trying not to stare at people who had expensive, well-turned calves and sharp noses. The Joy of Living took the stage in a blaze of glory, their benighted melodies weaving softly amongst the audience.
Max De Mara's music soared through the room - like someone trying to take the top of your head off gently with a blunt butter knife. I was just enjoying a good chat whilst an electronic caged magpie scolded us from behind the bar.
Gentle grazing sounds, soft back-lighting and general countryside ambience were being piped in to the toilet pods, whilst a marigold-gloved woman waited impatiently to clean either you or the toilet after your visit - I couldn't figure which. She might just have been another strange guest. The bar had Belfast sinks on the counter full of cocktail fruit and citrus things. It was missing some prize halibut fillets and other fruit-de-mer, and they emptied your wallet faster than a merchant banker accumulates toxic dept.
A bowler-hatted doorman greeted us with a friendly hello, like we were his long-lost brothers. The cloakroom was free (the woman very funny) and people milled expensively as they waited to be seated. The restaurant might have been the inspiration for the comic-book fantasy 'Eat the Rich'...
- Sven Yarbles
Billowing fog has been cloaking this valley for a number of days. There is no horizon, no distance, no sky. I mooched over to my allotment and diffidently forked a quantity of waterlogged soil from one place to another, emptying my mind. This hobby of mine seems to be reaching a conclusion. I sat in the shed and stared out at the fog. It's been more than two years since I first nudged the idea of Six Inch Records into being, and it's been both more interesting, more rewarding and more work than I even thought possible.
I've been surprised by many things, and most of those surprises have been pleasant ones. Without exception, the people I've been fortunate enough to work with on this project have been unfailingly supportive, and eerily accepting of my unusual business practices. I thought back to the time that this idea, this idiotic notion of becoming CEO of a record company as a hobby first occurred to me. All I wanted to do was put out some music, muck about with ink and printing, and try to enjoy the process. Well, it kind of worked.
So publicly, I'd like to thank; Richard Lawrence, Melissa Lawrence, Rachel and Jess Lawrence, Patrick Bell, Mara Carlyle, Max de Wardener, David Fairhall, Geoff Clark, M+I+K. I can't even say that I'd never do anything like this again. Because... I kind of... liked... it...
Lastly, I've printed a few shonky posters, versions of which are photographed on the post a bit down from here. They are the ones with the bands names on, all printed on brown wrapping paper. I think I'll take them along to the 'launch' tomorrow. They'll cost £3.33, if anyone wants one.
PLEASE NOTE: THE SIX INCH RECORDS 'LAUNCH' NIGHT WILL NOW START AT 9PM, NOT 8PM AS PREVIOUSLY ADVERTISED. This is due to circumstances being, predictably, way beyond our control. Apologies for any inconvenience caused.
I finally found the right bit of wire to connect a camera to a computer:
It was a sticky few days, fingersnared with ink, handsmeared with wallpaper paste and varnish, carrying posters through the rain from one freezing studio to another. I decided to make some wooden panels for the walls of Sketch, which involved my basic carpentry skills and stringing a rudimentary drying rack up in my attic. Needless to say I had no string and was reduced to using wool, which isn't as good, especially when my cat chewed through it.
This evening sees a radio broadcast of a couple of tracks from Max de Mara's 'Classist' on Late Junction, a programme on BBC Radio 3. Or on the internet. I was so excited that I sent an expletive-laden email to the 'artistes' on my 'roster'.
Tried to find out what it was that Patrick Bell had told me last weekend, but he won't reply to my requests.
The 'launch' evening grows ever closer, moving towards me like an unforeseen freshwater crocodile.
I spent a few days with Richard Lawrence, printing oversized beermats and hastily assembled woodblock posters for the 'launch' night. The temperature outside was several degrees below zero; inside it hovered at about nothing. The only way to keep warm was to hop about between the teetering skyscrapers of type cases, lifting sheets of paper, rolling out tacky sheets of viscous black ink, and hauling on the levers of the antiquated press.
Now that the event itself, the evening's entertainment known ever more risibly as a 'launch', had sold out there seemed little that could go wrong. There weren't even many records left. Realistically, I could just cut my losses and head out to the Turks and Caicos islands, where there was an understanding banking system and guaranteed sunshine for most of the year.
But I couldn't do that. I'm from Essex. The only possible course of action was to just wait and see what fucking disaster could befall me now. The future awaited me, barbed with malevolence.
I actually met Patrick Bell, the musician responsible for Travel Notes the other night. I told him that he was booked in, advertised to be absent on the 'launch' night. He'll be absent all right. He told me something so completely strange that I have absolutely no recollection of it whatsoever.
The soirée has sold out. It's not a huge affair, and interestingly the limit on sales has a nicely numerological twist. It's almost time for me to theatrically swing my black cloak over my shoulder, laugh darkly, and vanish into the fog of London's twilight. I have studied the gnarled confluence of leylines that splutter and choke beneath Conduit Street, and for the musicians the harbingers are largely benign... Last night it was suggested to me that the event could be recorded; that I should get my 'sound guys' onto it. I mentioned that my 'sound guys' were as substantial as my 'money guys', but my protests were brushed aside as my interrogator asked eagerly about my 'secretary'. I think I had encouraged this sort of talk when I was thinking out loud about how cool it would be to have a hat-rack and a door to my 'office' with my name written on the frosted glass panel. The faintest puff of reality, and here I am at the kitchen table, drinking another cup of tea.
It's too early to say goodbye to my hobby. The reckoning is still to come; I plan to be the first CEO of a record company to publish full and unexpurgated accounts online. And I don't have a Maths O Level, so you'll have to bear with me.
Eat Your Own Ears & Stanley Donwood present
SIX INCH RECORDS 'LAUNCH' NIGHT
THE JOY OF LIVING
MAX DE MARA
PATRICK BELL (will be absent)
PETE ISAAC (Jelly Jazz) DJ SET
THIS EVENT HAS NOW SOLD OUT. APOLOGIES.
"The sales are phenomenal!" I muttered to my cat, as I stirred a teaspoon of sugar into yet another cup of tea. Indeed, things had been going suspiciously well. The initial boxes of Six Inch Records that I had 'outsourced' to a 'fulfilment agency' had run out, and I was wrestling with quantities of bubble wrap, brown paper and cardboard, wrapping up an additional quota to post to the warehouse.
The Post Office during the runup to Zmas is never a relaxing place to be, but I felt smug as I passed an hour or so in the queue, hefting my boxes of records. The cost of despatching these packages turned out to be frighteningly high, but I thought, "what the hell!" as I figured that it was a business expense and my 'money guys' could sort it all out. It was probably a good thing for tax reasons, or something. My 'money guys' don't actually exist, but in these days when the hallucinated economy shimmers like the crew of the Starship Enterprise when they use that teleport thing, I suppose that doesn't really matter.
I had received a slightly concerned email from one of my 'artistes', bothered by the fact that it appeared there would be no records left to launch by the time of the launch night. It was a good point, but what could I do? I considered changing the event from a 'launch night' to a 'death night', but that wouldn't reflect very kindly on the 'artistes' and anyway I'd already printed the tickets. I decided to keep 'some' records back, in case all the rest sold before the 30th January.
Another email arrived, alerting me to the fact that I should put links up connecting this, the online hub of the Six Inch Records operation, with the various corners of the information superhighway inhabited by the musicians on my 'roster'. Therefore, for what it's worth, here are those very links:
Max de Wardener.
The Joy of Living.
Note that I cannot be held responsible for the content of external sites, nor the fact that they may be on a 'social network' owned by Rupert Murdoch. They might have music on them though, which is more than you can say about this site.
Despite a wave of pessimism which overcame me a few weeks ago, the manufacture of the 'units' that me and Richard had 'designed' was finally completed. I had a few large boxes of 'product' taking up valuable space in my living room, and assurances from an expert that the taking-money-from-people-over-the-internet part of the 6inchrecords.com website could be done quite easily.
And one dark evening I met up with some people who trade under the name of Eat Your Own Ears in a London pub. The lights of Regent Street glowed above the chugging traffic as we negotiated our way from the narrow trenches of Soho to the gold-paved boulevards of Mayfair to survey a likely venue for a launch night for Six Inch Records. The place was called Sketch, and the space inside had a rather grander ambience than I was used to. Still, there was obviously no retreat now. I tried to overcome my feelings of terror and instead articulate a confidence of some sort. I was going to have to 'exude' confidence, like an investment banker. Everything was going to be fine. It was all... fine.
A few (many?) days later the important, money-gathering, part of 6inchrecords.com was complete and the site went online. This was great. This was what being the boss, the head honcho, the Man, the CEO of a record company was all about. I made a cup of tea with two sugars and imagined my future; a life of luxury, lounging in swimming pools inexplicably situated in open-topped limousines, of rolling in banknotes whilst cackling "mine, all mine!" and of high-level meetings with my 'money guys'.
Only hours before I had been bitterly regretting my decision to make 333 copies of each release on the Six Inch Records collection. What was I going to do with them? Were they fated to be taking up space in my living room for years? But now all those thoughts were banished from my newly-confident sugary-tea-drinking life. Now I was thinking that I should have made more of them. The tedious hours of assembling the things faded into my less-than-capacious memory. The tea was good. I made another cup.
'SIX INCH RECORDS' is a project that may take a little explaining.
The story begins around the time of Christmas 2006, when I drunkenly decided to become a record label boss. Every man needs a hobby, or so the cliché has it, and if I was going to make a late-stage attempt at normality then that was one of the things that I should do. So, still reeling from red wine, I typed out a email to three musicians that I knew, suggesting that I release their music on my as-yet-unnamed record label. I have no record of what I wrote in that fateful email, and I had no recollection of it the following morning, when I awoke with a hangover.
Forgive me, for I knew not what I had done. The three musicians replied to my email with alacrity and enthusiasm, promising to send me music, and, perhaps surprisingly, not telling me that setting up a record label at the precise historical point that record labels large and small were going to the wall was probably a really stupid idea.
Never mind, never mind. I started to work out how my 'hobby' was going to work. It was true that the musicians I had contacted made music I liked, and I was fairly sure that other people would like it too. I liked music, but during the period that I had been designing record covers I had come to detest the compact disc. The CD, I had decided, was simply too small.
I began to muse on numbers, thinking about the twelve inch record, the speed of thirty-three and a third revolutions, and so on. Eventually I realised that releasing three six-inch records in editions of three hundred and thirty-three and charging six pounds sixty-six pence for each one was the only was to do this.
There would be nine hundred and ninety-nine records in total. Half the profits would go to the musicians and half would go to me. I was going to do this properly. I drew up a contract, which I mailed out to 'my' musicians and got them to sign it. SIX INCH RECORDS was born.
I was left with quite a big problem, and that was the six-inch record part. I investigated the possibility of getting six-inch vinyl pressed, but the cost was a little prohibitive. I thought that making six-inch sleeves would be relatively easy, but a little four-and-a-half inch compact disc would just rattle around in it.
I went to see my friend Richard, who had a 1965 Heidelberg printing press and a large amount of beer-mat board. Beer-mat board, by the way, is the material that is used to make beer-mats. We decided to get a cutter made in the same size as a compact disc, fix the cutter into the printing machine and cut CD-sized holes in six-inch squares of beer-mat board. We could then push the CDs into the hole in the board and then insert the whole into the six-inch square sleeves that we were going to make. It was all relatively simple in theory, if massively time-consuming.
The signed contracts came back in the post from 'my' musicians, but my glee at having these characters in my 'roster' quickly abated, and very soon I ran into 'contractual difficulties'. One of the musicians; well, half of one of the 'acts', to be more precise, had signed a contract with Electrical and Musical Industries, better known as EMI. At approximately the same time I discovered that another member of another of the 'acts' was currently, well, indisposed. Another had voluntarily exiled himself from all aspects of modern society and gone off to a distant island in the North Sea, and was only accessible via a care-of address which was a derelict crofter's cottage. On top of all this, I had done some calculations and discovered that the entire enterprise was actually guaranteed to lose money.
So this was what it was like to be the CEO of a record company. This, I told myself ruefully, was my 'hobby'.
Never mind, never mind. I put my mounting concerns to the very back of my mind and began the work of printing the sleeves. I decided to use a very minimal format for the sleeve artwork, as the manufacturing process was an art in itself. The releases would be numbered from 01 to 03, and each sleeve would have an individual number from 001 to 333. There would be no images apart from an embossed design on the reverse of the sleeve, and I would use moveable lead type and woodblock type for the text on the front. For the sleeves I used a material called 'printaboard', which is the same stuff that cereal-box fabricators use. I had to shave some costs off somewhere, and I liked the idea of a collectible piece of music being packaged in the same material that holds cornflakes. The Heidelberg printing press clanked and wheezed, and time passed. Occasionally I wrote a short email to 'my' musicians telling them how little progress I had made.
In the meantime the potential contractual difficulties eased, as Electrical and Musical Industries went into some sort of corporate spasm. We began to discuss the possiblity of some sort of launch, an event somewhere in London, with 'my' artists playing live. It was possible that some of the SIX INCH RECORDS would be sold. Things were looking good. I now had all the music: Travel Notes, by Patrick Bell; Classist, by Max de Mara; and The Beyond Within, by The Joy of Living. Getting the compact discs duplicated was only delayed by my decision to use a scan of the letterpressed sleeve os the onbody artwork; this obviously meant that I had to print the sleeves before duplicating the discs. This, however, given that almost two years had passed between the original drunken idea and a realistic date for a launch party, was a minor matter.
Well. At the time of writing the tedious hand-manufacturing is about two-thirds done. As I mentioned at the beginning of this carthartic screed, I am making a website to help explain all of this, and at the same time as functioning as a shop where people can buy SIX INCH RECORDS. I am seriously considering a launch night in London's glitzy Mayfair district on January 30th, although on past form such commitment is rather optimistic...
There will, of course, be updates on this site about this launch night and any other disasters that may befall SIX INCH RECORDS.