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Matthew Jacobson interviews Steve Kinrade – Founder of Klee Records

Congratulations on the label, has it been an exciting and fulfilling journey?

Thank you! It’s been a journey of some 27 years, with a hiatus of 24 years! But the stars aligned and the conditions were right to pursue the creative path we started out so many years ago.

When did the idea for the label first come about?

I was involved in an Indie band in the early 1990’s who I managed to get a substantial publishing deal, as well as interest from a major label. It was the time when the majors were pouring money into Indie labels in the guise of “development” deals. So, I offered a particular major label to release a couple of the bands EP’s as a way of taking the pressure off the band, without all the weight and expectations of being on a ‘Major’. So, a cheque was signed, cashed, and that was the start of Klee!

In the planning/organisation stage, did you have many ‘ups and downs’?

Not really. The intervening years have changed some things, but on the whole our first release after the break went quite easily. We got major distribution via PHM Distribution, and soon made all the necessary manufacturing contacts that we still use today.

What artists are on the label, and tell us how you first found them on the scene?

Firstly, the label is quite eclectic, so it basically means that if we like an Artist we will work with them. There is no generic genre.

The first release back from the hiatus was Thomas Lang’s “The German Alphabet” which was such a thrill as I am a huge Thomas Lang fan. It was very important that “The German Alphabet” didn’t detract from his previous canon of work, but added to it. Which I think it did. Also a massive shout out to the co-producers of Colin McKay and Alan Currie who did a brilliant job.

We have also released one of Merseyside’s most exciting live band, The Racket, as well as Esme Bridie, Mutant Vinyl and Emilio Pinchi. With Esme, I saw her on You Tube, and myself and Colin went to see her live and after her first song we knew we wanted to work with her. Mutant Vinyl (Edwin Pope) I was interviewing him for a piece for Liverpool Noise after I had reviewed his Kick The Reel EP and after a few drinks we decided to work together.

Emilio Pinchi was even stranger; I was discussing him with Culture City’s Joe Campbell, and I suggested could he join us for a drink. He did and I liked him so much I wanted him on the label. And when he sent me the tracks for the “Holiday” EP I knew I would not regret it!

What have been the highlights?

Lots – seeing The Racket at Ian Prowse’s Monday Club at The Cavern and being blown away; Emilio Pinchi’s songwriting ability; Mutant Vinyl’s stage presence, charisma and musical ability; working with Colin McKay, who is the label’s in house producer; meeting great people, like Dave McTague, Chris Currie and Alan Hare. Away from the label, the Klee Music Acoustic nights have been a great success.

81 Renshaw is a regular spot for Klee and feels like you are at home there – is this a true reflection?

Absolutely. 81 Renshaw is THE small venue in Liverpool. Neil and Kay, Al, Katie, are all amazing. The PA and engineers there are just brilliant. It helps that Neil was a successful promoter some years ago, and his experience and insight is a great source of advice and support. It has a very relaxed, welcoming vibe.

What advice would you give to new labels?

Music is Art. If you buy a piece of art it should be because you like it, not because someone else does. The music on Klee is there because ultimately I like it, and that is all that matters. If a release becomes popular, then that’s a bonus. I really don’t care. The more clectic the better! The other advice is to respect everybody you deal with; everyone involved in the local music scene deserves respect, from the musician on stage to the regular die-hard members of the audience. We need each other!

And what next for Klee?

Colin McKay and I have had the idea to produce a series of mini albums for artistes we like, some new, some old, but with the brief being to completely take them out of their comfort zone. However, that’s not to say it would be anything drastic! We would just like to explore the boundaries of an artists creativity, and see where that journey takes us. It will be fun!

READ MORE: Matt Jacobson Interviews LIverpool band,The Banshees, Vinny Pereira & Paul Holligan

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