Alongside our Brighton Label Focus feature on Faux Discx, the label established and run by Cold Pumas’ Dan Reeves, we caught up with the man himself to talk all things bands, labels and Brighton.
Why did you start a record label originally?
The label was originally set up by me with my friend Tom Harman to release his band’s album. We did it on a tiny run of CDs that are made to look like small records, hence the name of the label: Faux Discx. The stupid spelling of the name comes from the fact that Tom and I were also running a design collective together called Fake French. So Faux Discx is like a fake record, in fake French. Pretty stupid. Tom moved to London and concentrated on design, I carried the name, and the label on. Primarily Faux Discx was set up as something fun to do, another creative outlet. It still is fun, most of the time.
How difficult was it to get off the ground? Have you any advice for anyone looking to do something similar?
The hardest thing for me was a lack of funds. Once you’ve scraped enough together for the first release, unless you sell a bunch straight away (I didn’t) you are left with a load of records, and even less money than before. So you have to wait ages before you can do the next thing. It does get easier though! I’m lucky to have got to a point where the label is self sufficient financially and I’ve managed to build up a fairly good momentum the last couple of years. It feels kind of unstoppable at the moment, in the sense that I can’t stop it, ha ha.
As for advice, I’d say first and foremost you have to really love what you’re putting out and not care if you don’t make any money back, because you most likely won’t at first. Don’t press too many, it’s way better to sell out a release and move on than have 300 records under your bed. Work with your friends, don’t make promises you can’t keep, and most of all be nice, and honest.
How do you split your time between your label and your two bands? Do you ever feel like it’s too much?
I work on label stuff most days, I also have a full-time job so it often means I’m working on stuff in the evening. It can be fairly exhausting but I have an uncontrollable urge to do the label, I love it. Cold Pumas now is mainly based in London (I’m the only member in Brighton) so we schedule practices way in advance. I actually really enjoy our setup now, practicing less works for us. Soft Walls on record is just me and I record at home so I fit that in when I can, and The Soft Walls band has a weekly practice slot and makes about 50 per cent of those. So yeah, sometimes it feels like too much but for some reason, I can’t stop.
We noticed a change in the musical direction of the label around the time of the release of the “Cyan” Male Bonding/Cold Pumas split. It was also around this time that we first caught your band Cold Pumas support Women at the Freebutt. Were the two things at all related? Do you have a mental picture of how a Faux Discx band should sound?
I think that both of those things are important to the label and Cold Pumas. That release was definitely the starting point for the label having a direction of sorts. Before that release everything else either fell into my lap, friends asked to do releases or they were my own bands. Male Bonding are friends, but I also really loved their band and felt an affinity between them and Cold Pumas so asked them to do a split, they said yes and it sold out pretty quickly. It was a really great feeling to put something out that I loved and for it to be appreciated. It gave me more confidence to be selective about what I was releasing and also started building the aesthetic and ‘voice’ of the label for want of a better word.
Around that time we played with Women a few times and were totally blown away by them. I guess they have influenced the label in the sense that they made a big impact on me, they’re a bunch of really humble, funny guys making incredible music. I think they are the best band of the last decade. Public Strain is probably my favourite record. So that’s bound to be reflected in the stuff that I put out, and also in the bands I play in.
Ultimately I want Faux Discx to put out bands that make interesting music that are made up of good people. That can’t really be defined by a particular genre, but I do like pop songs that are intentionally ruined with noise.
Brighton Noise has picked 5 highly recommended Faux Discx releases, are there any others that stand out for you?
The Collective Hiss compilation tape that came out for Cassette Store Day (and soon on vinyl for Record Store Day) was cool as it is full of tons of my friends, pretty much everybody I asked said yes to being on there and sent me recordings super quickly. It’s a real warts ‘n’ all collection and I think it reflects the label pretty well. Other than that I’d recommend ‘Bullfight‘ by Women from their split with Cold Pumas, Fair Ohs and Friendo. It’s an amazing song. Also, Stuart Warwick’s album The Butcher’s Voice is really beautiful, he deserves to be huge, he’s an incredible talent and me and Stuart have been friends since we were teenagers. So putting his album out felt pretty special to me. And Sauna Youth’s album. And everything else.
Other than releases, anytime I’ve put on or been at a launch party or Faux Discx related event I can’t help but feel an immense amount of pride that people are coming to see my friends who are making incredible art. I’m just the facilitator.
How did the forthcoming Tense Men release come about? Have you any special words to say about the record?
They are good friends, their record is great. I asked them if I could put it out. It was a no-brainer for me!
The wonderful Housewives self-titled EP was released earlier this year on cassette. Why that particular format?
Honestly, it’s a cheap format (albeit a beautiful one) so you can release something quickly without having to worry about blowing a load of money on it. I really loved their EP but as they hadn’t played live much and were pretty unknown we agreed that doing a tape was the best option. I also think that their sound and the length of that release is perfect for tape.
Are there any Brighton bands out there you’d recommend? Are there any you’d like to release on Faux Discx? We’ve long thought Sealings would be a great match with the label’s aesthetic.
Yes, I love Sealings! Hopefully we’ll do something together in the future. Other Brighton bands I really like include: Occult Hand, Royal Limp, Teardrop Factory, The Sticks, Men Oh Pause, Keel Her (although they’ve just moved to London). There’s probably more but it’s late and my brain is not working.
We notice Cold Pumas soon make their long-awaited return to the live arena, will this mean a winding down of Soft Walls for now? Is there any new Cold Pumas material ready to go? Are there plans for a future Cold Pumas release on Faux Discx or have they outgrown the label now?
Both operate simultaneously. Soft Walls have a new album coming out this summer on Trouble In Mind and Cold Pumas are writing a new LP. I’d say we have just over half a record so far. We’re hoping to record that this year. I’m sure that something will come out on Faux Discx in the future by both bands, can’t say when though.
Cold Pumas play 10th April at Green Door Store and 23rd April at Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar.
We see Faux Discx hosted a brilliant night of label related content in London on 21st March, how did this come about? Any plans to do something similar in Brighton in the near future?
I got asked to curate a show and it turned in to a free gig with a pretty amazing line-up. Am gonna do something similar in Brighton during The Great Escape with my distributors Republic of Music. Still working on that line-up!
The Faux Discx website is full of links to purchase some of the label’s great output.