Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Philophobia Music is Five Years Old

This week Philophobia Music turned five years old.

Now, that is a long time. What have you done that lasted five years? Perhaps a relationship or a job – and I bet they were hard enough. But a record label, in this economic climate, during this half decade of technological advance and altering buying habits, in Wakefield of all places - that is something to be proud of.

If you've ever created a piece of art, recorded a song, or just rehearsed for a gig, you will know how hard it is to keep at it, to stay focussed. Think about that. Creating that one 'thing'. Yet the hardest part can be just after the event. It felt amazing, but did the buzz, the attention of a handful of strangers warrant the time you spent? The hardest part is then starting the next thing…and the next thing…

I have seen so many bands come and go, with barely a 'thing' released. Fan and web zines too tend to appear in a blaze of bravado, then slip away within 12 months. The reason is that it is easy to talk big. Anyone can have an idea. Commitment long term to an idea is much harder, and there must surely be some irony that a record label whose name expresses a fear of love, has not only committed to an idea for so long, but received an increasing affection from true music lovers over it's five years.

For me, the most astounding thing about Philophobia's milestone is the amount they have created. It works out at pretty much a record release every month and a half. For five years. That is an unbelievable work rate.

What does this tell us? That they are a slick, professional business? No. It tells us that their commitment to local music has not waivered, that Wakefield has a wealth of talent no-one else was willing to back and that they have got better at what they do. No-one would spend five years releasing CDRs in handmade sleeves to zero sales. They've learnt, they've got better, and the reason it has worked so well is that bands they have released have done exactly the same.

It's worth noting that Philophobia is the work of one man, one crazy bearded character who has spent all his spare cash from an uninspiring job on bands and musicians who have become friends. No one funded it. Let's face it; it was an unsellable idea. The big fish in the culture and leisure departments of the council don't know what he does. He's a guy in a flat, but one that has changed the lives of many people.

You'll notice I'm avoiding speaking of the actual music. Well, for one, we do enough of that. And we'll do it some more in the next issue of Rhubarb Bomb. And hopefully we'll hear from some of the 40 or so bands and 100 or so people that have had their creations released by the label.

The music is, ultimately, a matter of taste. And the full Philophobia story arc is only really clear to those who have been around to witness it from the beginning. The only thing that really matters is that Philophobia Music is still here and is as strong as ever. It is, as ever, criminally unappreciated but is a beacon in the city, and in the world of Indie.

There will be a compilation record later this year and a Easter Sunday birthday party. Until then, I recommend you take a look at their vast shop and treat yourself to some music in its purest form; undiluted by the fakeries of promotional campaigns, demographics and any attempt to make a profit. Creative, adventurous, playful, dedicated, passionate. And every penny goes back in to the pot to create more.

And if you enter ‘birthday’ at the checkout before midnight on Sunday, you’ll get 50% off everything. So you’ve no excuse. 

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