We fell into the throwing arms of the Brighton Beer Dispensary with Vlad and Dave of Small Pond to catch up with them about the new studio, the label and their exceptionally busy lives…
We headed out to Brighton Beer Dispensary to meet Dave and Vlad, two of the creative minds behind Small Pond Recordings. The busy people behind this project not only run a promo-tions company, a label and play in touring bands themselves but they also have decided to fill up their remaining time with constructing six rehearsal rooms and a recording studio complex in the centre of town. Oh and as a sidetone, Vlad definitely said the North is the better part of the country. Winning.
So, how long have you been working today?
Dave: Not even that long man, five or six hours. I’ve been making doors all day so I’m pretty tired.
How many people are behind the project?
Dave: There are five-core members that make up Small Pond Recordings but we overall we are a much larger, loving and slightly dysfunctional family with over a dozen people involved in one way or another.
Vlad: Well, five and a half if we include Dave’s height.
Dave: So there’s five and a bit. Then another five who are staffed in to help out with the building and we have a builder who is in charge, the guy who knows what he’s really doing. We started it in June so it’s been a quick turnaround really.
How’s the new studio coming on, what can we expect?
Vlad: We have managed to get our grabby hands on a 32 channel Neve console which we are pretty stoked about that, The guy who sold us the Neve didn’t really know what he was selling. I just convinced him to take it off eBay, then Dave and I bought an old Royal Mail van, took the seats out and drove down to Spain to pick the damn thing up. It needs a bit of tender love and care but it’s getting there. We have some old grandpa of Neve coming in to have a look. He’s been working on Neve consoles since 1968 and he’s going to come in and sort it all out. It’s a pretty heavy duty thing, 325kg so lifting that has caused some real pain. Aside from that we have finished building the rest of the rooms now, onto the acoustic panels and finishing touches now. And well finalising some ridiculous last minute ideas like building a pizza oven out the back…
Dave: Last minute ideas are worth it though, like beams inside practice rooms, which did take two days to put together admittedly. Or building an office on stilts to get extra storage.
Vlad: Dave has really cham-pioned the whole “last minute idea” thing, and its really cool but I am just looking forward to having it all done. When the build is wrapped up we have four upcoming releases with the label, ten live shows we are organizing in Brighton aside from starting a our own radio show and going away touring for a while. When Christmas rolls around all I want to do is get high, eat snacks, take frequent naps and catch up on any and all shit TV programs I have missed out on.
Who’s going to be in charge of engineering in the studio?
Dave: Well, it will be a selection of us really. We all did degrees and are supposedly engineers but even though we all got the schooling we never did anything to this scale with it before. We are all excited to naturally mould into roles of running and keeping the place afloat. It seems counterintuitive but we cant wait to start using analogue gear and get out of the digital domain, its such a relief following the signal flow and using our ears rather than staring at a small laptop screen and trying to figure out how other people thought about their 1s and 0s in an algorithm and look for buttons that make no sense.
How long have Small Pond being going right now then?
Vlad: Erm, about a year. I have had this idea for many years and even tried to materialise it with a different set of people in another country but getting everything to click into place and finding the finance to pull something of this scale off is
really tricky. No matter how clever or functional an idea might appear, when a foreign kid in his twenties walks into a bank asking for a loan their first reaction is to point you right towards the exit door. Dave moved down here from Leeds last year and it coincided with a time when we were able to find a good location, remaining fiancés, as we asked him to join the rest of the things seemed to start clicking into place, after an abysmal amount of time and work put into it off course…Dave: We started putting gigs on properly about 11 months ago. It’s still fairly new! By the upcoming festival we will of put around 20 gigs on.
What sort of gigs have you been putting on?
Vlad: I think both with label and with live events we focus on forward thinking and honest sounding music somewhere in the blurred lines of rock, elec-tronica and jazz. We’ve been really lucky that for whatever reason bands approached us to put on their shows or license their releases. Someone in their infancy as a business rarely gets an email from a booker in Detroit about putting a Shigeto show on, or from NZ about a Jakob gig, or for that matter gets asked by the incredible Mutiny on the Bounty from Luxembourg if they are interested in licensing their record in the UK. Some people work hard all their lives and external circumstances, or luck, just don’t seem to click into place. We have been very lucky that while we have been work-ing our asses off it has been getting noticed and the traction its picking up is giving us an opportunity to work with incredible artists in different ways.
Dave: We have had a band called Cleft play and the guitarist of the band proposed in the middle of the set so we have had some really special moments too.
Finally, asides from the studio, how’s the label going for Small Pond?
Vlad: We became a label soon-er than we anticipated, when an incredible Italian band called Valerian Swing asked Dave to license their record in the UK. After that Mutiny on the Bounty got in touch and with this wind at our back we thought “well fuck it, this is what we are doing now, lets reach out to some bands that we love” and that’s how we got Alarmist, Luo and Town Portal involved. We have four releases coming out this autumn and all of them make us “tropical in the southern region”, we can’t wait to show them to you!
Small Pond will open six new rehearsal rooms and a studio complex in October. Its going to be in the centre of Brighton and you can find them on 27 Castle Street, just off Western Road. They have some super cool events coming up this Autumn, especially their Halloween & Christmas time parties, so hey, keep your ears down to the ground to find out more.
Categories: Brighton’s Music Features