Vinyl countdown: How music’s independents are caught in the path of Brexit’s wrecking ball

The shoegaze genre is having a moment again, thanks to independent label Sonic Cathedral. But not even its ethereal nature can stop the impending havoc threatening the music industry, James Moore discovers

Friday 06 December 2019 18:07
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Art for art’s sake: each release comes in a different colour vinyl and the sleeves have been put together with exaggerated care
Art for art’s sake: each release comes in a different colour vinyl and the sleeves have been put together with exaggerated care

I started panicking and thought this could be it. How could I carry on if prices suddenly skyrocket because there are tariffs on this and whatever, and things start getting stuck at Calais? I didn’t know whether it could survive. So I thought I’d go for it and release a load of vinyl. I thought, I’ll ask Slowdive and all my favourites – beg them to let me release something.”

For Nathaniel Cramp, the founder of Sonic Cathedral records, the first no-deal Brexit cliff edge back in March was horrifyingly real. It could have meant the end of a passion project that began with a one-off club night back in 2004 devoted to “shoegaze” music, which ultimately gave birth to a label that has played an important role in the revival of a genre that was savaged after a brief period of critical acclaim in the 1990s but has since undergone a reassessment and staged a revival.

Cramp decided that if the Cathedral’s final service was approaching it was going to make a sweet noise. Fortunately, Slowdive, arguably the genre’s reigning monarchs, said yes. So did a string of other artists. Thus was born the Sonic Cathedral Singles Club, modelled on one run by the legendary Sub Pop label, which launched Nirvana onto an unsuspecting world from its base in Seattle.

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