Firstly, an apology from me. This was meant to be an interview with Chris Davies, Head honcho of Bleeding Hearts Recordings, and the man behind the long running Bleeding Hearts Club at the Albert. We met and had a good long chat over a few pints, with the intention of turning our conversation into a riveting article about what it’s like to run a label and how to start a successful night. But I forgot to press record. So all I have is my recollection, and none of great quotes which would have made it a much better read. Bleeding Hearts is still something worth writing about though – the night is going from strength to strength, and next Monday the label is putting out Thomas White’s third solo album – so there’s never been a better time to write about them. Anyway, enough with the apologies, and onto the article.
Mid-way through the nineties, Chris Davies headed down to Brighton from the Midlands for a weekend, and ended up staying. He didn’t have any plans to become a leading figure in the local music industry but managed to just fall into running the city’s longest running nights and starting up a record label putting out records by some of the best local talent.
The first Bleeding Hearts Club was around nine years ago. Chris was working at Borders, and lots of his colleagues were musicians, so to provide them with a platform, The Bleeding Hearts Club was born. At the beginning, it never had any real agenda – the music policy was defined pretty much by the acts that were around at the time – but over time the night settled into an acoustic folk type affair. At times, it’s been completely unplugged without any amplification, and the only light coming from candles on the tables. Other times Chris has been a bit playful and put on bands who don’t quite fit the mould, to have a poke at audience members who are taking things a bit too seriously. His philosophy is that the music is there to be enjoyed, not over analysed. Respect the music and be quiet when the bands are on, but also respect everyone at the night who are there to enjoy things.
A few years ago, the night was in a creative trough, and feeling unappreciated (speak to any promoter in town, and they’ll tell you what a thankless task it is) Chris put the night on hold. You can’t keep a good man down though, and it was around this time that Bleeding Hearts Recordings was born. The first release was a compilation of some of Chris’ favourite acts who he’d put on, and in the past 18 months, there’s been an assortment of vinyl, cds and downloads from the likes of BirdEngine, King James, Mute Swimmer, and The Robot Heart. A few months into running the label, the nights restarted, after the realisation that an act could sound good on tape, but it’s how they perform and how they interact with the audience that really matters.
This month, Bleeding Hearts Recordings put out what deserves to be their biggest record yet, when they release Yalla by Thomas White (from Electric Soft Parade, Brakes and a million other Brighton bands). The album was recorded while Tom was bored and homesick on an extended break in Egypt (before last year’s unrest) and was never meant to get a proper release, but everyone who heard it was so impressed that they convinced him that it needed to be heard by the world. We’ll post up our review of the album at the weekend before it’s release on Monday. The first fifty copies (available through Rough Trade and Resident) come with a five track bonus EP, and if you buy the album through recordstore.co.uk, you can grab yourself a signed copy. There’s an instore gig at Resident on Monday, where they’ll be selling the album at a knock down £6.99 (back up to £9.99 the following day), and Thomas will be playing at the next Bleeding Hearts Club on 2nd April.