Interview by Sandy Power
Something big is brewing in Central Fife, and it’s all down to a small but close-knit community of musicians, who, banded together, are acting as a collective-come-record label Mind Haus. I spoke to Mind Haus-er and musician Limo Cunningham to find out just who these mysterious figures are and what wild schemes are afoot…
SP: Can you introduce us to the members of your collective?
LC: We have four musicians running the label; singer-poet-painter Tomas Bird, maximalist-pop UAP enthusiast European Jewel, former Big Cloud singer-songwriter Indian Rug and former Big Cloud songer-singwriter Limo Cunningham. Not running the label, but releasing music on it and putting up with our endless questions and hassling, is Graeme Ramsay, who’s history of music making is so massive I can’t mention it here because it will make the rest of us look silly.
SP: How long have you all been making music together?
LC: Oh god, don’t make me think about that. Well, me and European Jewel first made recordings together around about 2002, although I’m not sure you could call what we were doing “music”. We would record Eastenders through effects pedals, overdub feedback and scream into guitar pickups, things like that. I think that’s the earliest collaboration. But just about everyone involved has been playing genuine music together in various ways for well over 10 years now, which makes me feel a bit old and sad but also right lucky. In particular, these four people have really opened my eyes to ways of writing and making music I never would’ve found on my own. I’d probably still be recording Eastenders through a flanger.
SP: How did you arrive at this new platform in your work?
LC: Weirdly, we all stopped playing in bands around the same time and gradually started focusing on recording at home. Even weirdlyer, we all ended up moving to within 3 miles of each other. So, we’ve been meeting up and running ideas by each other for a while now, we just decided to stick a name on it really! It gets tough making things in isolation & it can be an overwhelming amount of work for one person to put a record out, but between the 4 of us we have just about enough knowledge in different areas to make things work. We can share the strain a bit. Although I have to admit we still had to learn tonnes just to get the first release over the line.
SP: Can you explain the chemistry that makes you all work so well together?
LC: Not really! Maybe what we appreciate most about working together is that we’re all determined to make things. I know that sounds quite unremarkable but we’ve all worked with plenty of musicians in the past who weren’t particularly bothered about actually making anything at all, haha. There’s a common thread through all our music too. Gah, I’m loath to describe it, but I think we’re all doing our own version of a similar idea… I’d say slightly off-kilter songs, with the emphasis on the “song” part. So, we all appreciate & understand what the other fellas are shooting for, although usually when I hear somebody’s new song, I’m like “damn, I would never have thought of that in a million years”. European Jewel sent one over the other day and it was amazing, it sounded like shoving Fruit Pastille Lollies in your ears.
SP: What can we expect from Mind Haus in terms of releases?
LC: For the first few releases we’re looking at a limited run of vinyl, with handmade sleeves, booklets, esoteric shecht, you know. Our budget is quite limited, so the numbers have to be limited too, but this gives us more time to spend making each copy as lush as possible. We’ll have similarly luxurious CDs for each release and possibly tapes for some.
SP: What other types of goings on can we expect from Mind Haus?
LC: There are rumblings of low-key live shows and listening parties for releases, but we’re not ready for that kind of thing just yet. Hopefully there’s scope for us to be doing things in the community at some point, not just releasing stuff online. Still a lot of work to do there but it’s something we’ll give a try.
SP: Where will we be able to find Mind Haus output?
LC: It’s mostly going to be happening on Bandcamp. We all have a fairly serious dislike for the usual social media places, some of us with a dislike bordering on violent. If we’re lucky, we’ll be able to whittle it down to just Bandcamp and a mailing list/newsletter, eventually anyway… You can literally find a limited number of copies of the sampler in random places around Leven too, but I don’t think I’m allowed to say any more about that at the moment, secret stuff.
SP: Do you have plans to collaborate with other artists? Or is it strictly in Haus?
LC: For now, it’s strictly in Haus. I’m stealing that by the way, that’s good. We envision all sorts of disasters over the first few months & we’re good enough pals that we don’t really mind if we all make an a*** of things on each other’s releases, but we’d be absolutely terrified of getting someone else involved & letting them down. Once we’ve built things up a bit, hopefully we’ll feel like we have some kind of service to offer people, and we’d definitely love to work with more musicians down the line.
SP: Where would you like to see the label going? Is there a broad vision?
LC: We probably have different visions about where the label can go, in my head what we’re doing is sort of halfway between DIY private press vinyl releases and the CD-R labels of the early 2000s, both of which I absolutely love. I’m sure other people reckon those things are pointlessly obscure though, so they’ll have different ideas. We’ve been looking at labels like Kit Records, Marionette and Spillage Fete and how they do things. If one day we were able to make records as beautiful as their releases then that would be a dream really.
SP: What’s on horizon for you?
LC: Our first release, which is available on Bandcamp now, is a sampler with a track from each of the 5 artists. It’s out on 10″ vinyl, CD, and also a free download for anyone who signs up to our newsletter thing. It goes from dissonant rock music to woozy funk to epic folk, but for a bunch of tracks cobbled together from totally different sources, I think it hangs together really well. Maybe that’s because I’ve heard it a million times. I think everyone should hear it a million times. Also coming up, we have an Indian Rug and Limo Cunningham split single, and the debut Indian Rug album should be coming soon after that.
Mind Haus Online:
Stream, download and purchase Brain Shack #1 – A Taste of Mind Haus
Thanks so much to Limo for taking the time to speak to us.