This week meet Lauren who is the co-owner of Bladud Flies!, an independent UK record micro-label and lathe cutting service offering other music related services – design and mastering.
I was looking forward to introducing Lauren because she has a background in fine art / design and uses that daily in her work with music. I’ve seen this with a few of the women highlighted and coming from the same myself, it’s always interesting to see how we’ve found our way into this world.
When she’s not at work her free time is spent, as she put it:
..simply music, art and nature. To move within this headspace allows me to breathe. I live in the Brecon Beacons (National Park in South Wales) where I am surrounded by mountains, valleys, forests and lakes making it the perfect playground.
How did you get into your industry / What motivated you?
I grew up with vinyl and have early memories of playing my parent’s record collection. In my teens music became an important means of expression. Growing up in apartheid South Africa with sanctions made it difficult to get hold of music outside the top 10. This restriction played a large role in shaping my appreciation of music.
In the early ‘90s I met Michael Lawrence whose ability to source underground music opened my ears to new sounds and possibilities, although the idea of working in music production was inconceivable. It was only after I moved to London, developed a career in graphic design (and Michael in audio engineering), that Bladud Flies! (BF!) became possible. The opportunity to purchase a lathe in 2013 made the production of short run vinyl a reality and set us on our current path.
What is a day in the life like?
BF! is a team of two, my work can vary from day to day – I am the design, marketing, accounts and production department in one. I tend to start the day with an aspect of vinyl production, for example, sending sleeves to print or engraving lathes. This structure allows me to switch focus and concentrate on design, photography etc. for the remainder of the day.
What has been your favorite / the coolest thing you’ve worked on?
I am always delighted to work on projects for David Tibet / Current 93 such as the engraving for “Nature Unveiled – Lathe Edition”. I was involved in the early branding for the band The Tribe of Good, the project of UK producer and musician Hal Ritson which has been picked up by Ultra Music. BF! released two of their singles as a limited edition 12” vinyl with an engraved centre label.
What has been / is the most difficult part of your job?
Running a small business without the luxury of experience has been challenging – the learning curve is endless! But most difficult of all is maintaining a work-life balance.
What advice do you have for someone wanting to get into pursuing what you’re doing?
Buy vinyl. Listen to music. Go to live shows.
Internships in the music and design industry will give you experience, an education and direction in the field. I have formal education – Fine Art and computer graphics – which has helped but there is nothing like hands-on experience.
Are you a vinyl collector yourself? What drew you to it?
Yes, I have an ever-expanding vinyl wish list that I carry with me. The physical act of putting a record on the player demands a particular listening experience. The format is perfect for creative design making it a playable work of art – this really appeals to me. I also have cherished vinyl that has been signed to me.
What types of things are happening in your industry / with vinyl that you’re excited or worried about? i.e. innovation, or trends you’re seeing.
Music and visual art work so perfectly together, we continue to see iconic imagery and creative ideas being presented in music. Illustrator Jimmy Turrell and graphic designer Steve Stacey’s work on Beck’s album “Colors” is a great example of that collaboration.
I am naturally excited by the current interest in buying vinyl and the emergence of new pressing plants like Third Man Pressing. I love their strong identity and ethos. As someone who is concerned with the health of our planet’s ecosystem, I am thrilled to see pressing plants like Deepgrooves taking active measures to reduce their plastic waste and general impact on the environment.
During this time we’re currently in, what message do you have for music and vinyl fans? How can we support you, the industry?
Buy music and merch from Bandcamp. Keep an eye out for when they waiver their fees. Support brick and mortar record stores that are now selling online.
Finally, tell me what you’re listening to right now.
Bladud Flies!: @bladudflies
Bladud Flies!: www.bladudflies.com