The Story So Far…
Fishrider Records began in 2006 with no plan, other than to release the album “Spill Your Heart” by The Dark Beaks, so FISH001 doesn’t bear any catalogue number. By the end of 2018 23 albums by 14 bands will have been released on Fishrider Records along with two 7” singles – FISH004, a sold out split single shared by The Puddle and Robert Scott & Adalita Srsen released in 2010, and FISH021, “Zoe” / “Run” by The Shifting Sands, released in 2018.
By chance The Puddle’s George D. Henderson – one of the City’s finest songwriters – re-appeared from the fog of Dunedin’s North East Valley at the same time the label started. The Puddle released four new albums in 5 years on Fishrider “No Love – No Hate” (FISH002), “The Shakespeare Monkey” (FISH003), “Playboys in the Bush” (FISH005) & “Secret Holiday/ Victory Blues” (FISH007).
In 2011 an unknown young trio called Opposite Sex relocated from Gisborne to Dunedin, recording what were originally intended as demos in the basement at Fishrider HQ. Their self-titled debut album (FISH006) was released at the end of that year. It came to the attention of BBC 6Music DJ Marc Riley, and several music magazines in the UK and Europe, helping the original LP pressing to sell out in a few months to overseas mail-order customers.
Taking a cue from the post-punk era when independent labels collaborated together, Fishrider Records linked hands across the oceans in mid-2012 with like-minded UK label Occultation Recordings to give the album by Opposite Sex a UK/ Europe release and distribution.
Further releases by local bands soon followed. The Shifting Sands released “Feel” (FISH008) in 2012, and The Prophet Hens released “Popular People Do Popular People” mid-2013 (FISH010). The Prophet Hens’ debut – much loved in the UK and Europe – has been re-released on LP in 2016 (FISH017) in conjunction with UK labels Occultation Recordings and Naïve Melody.
As 2013 ended Males released “Run Run Run/MalesmalesMales” (FISH011), and then Trick Mammoth released “Floristry” (FISH012) – another UK release with Occultation – early in 2014. The albums by Males and Trick Mammoth received extensive radio play across the North American college radio network and were also licensed for release by a label in Japan.
All these small achievements offered precious encouragement, making each new release worth spending time on organising, releasing and promoting, and fuelling the obsessive persistence in the face of adversity which running a small independent record label requires today.
The next release, in October 2014, was a way to bring even more Dunedin music to the attention of the audience those first dozen releases had found. FISH013 was a compilation album of the contemporary Dunedin “underground pop” music scene called “TEMPORARY – Selections From Dunedin’s Pop Underground 2011 – 2014” and came with a magazine with contributions from the musicians. The album was co-released with US label Ba Da Bing! Records as well as a UK release via Occultation.
In April 2015 Death And The Maiden released their self-titled debut album of dark techno-influenced post-punk dream-pop (FISH014), marking a welcome departure from the guitar-pop the label (and Dunedin itself) had become too often associated with. By now all releases were co-released in the UK by Occultation Recordings.
Two bands have gone on to release fine second albums. The Shifting Sands “Cosmic Radio Station” (FISH015, in 2015) and The Prophet Hens “The Wonderful Shapes Of Back Door Keys” (FISH016, in 2016) each band building on the promise of their magical debuts.
Élan Vital combined keyboards, synths and brooding post-punk electronic into a dense claustrophobic swirl of sometimes abrasive dark dance-tempo synth-pop and their debut album “Shadow Self” was released in 2017.In 2018 Stef Animal released her debut album “Top Gear” – another accessible experimental electronic music album, made using a different piece of obsolete or unfashionable music equipment, resulting in a collection of lo-fi epics.
Two further album releases are planned in 2018.
Although the label is mainly focused on local Dunedin music, the link up with Occultation Recordings in the UK also provided a chance in 2012 to co-release a 10” mini-album called “New Sacral” (FISH009) by Factory Star, a band formed by Martin Bramah, founding member of The Fall (from 1976-79) and then UK post-punk psych-rock bands Blue Orchids. It’s a release that sits comfortably alongside releases by The Puddle and Opposite Sex.
A further link between the two labels came about in September 2015 when Fishrider Records’ owner and The Puddle drummer Ian Henderson traveled to the UK at short notice to replace legendary drummer Mike Kellie (Spooky Tooth, The Only Ones, etc.) when he fell ill and was unable to play on the album sessions for The Distractions’ final album “Kindly Leave the Stage”. Then, in September 2016 Ian again replaced Kellie on the sessions for The Granite Shore’s “Suspended Second”. Both these albums had a co-release in New Zealand on Fishrider Records. Sadly, Mike Kellie passed away in January 2017.
Thanks to everyone who has bought, shared, listened to, and even just wondered about the music released on Fishrider Records over these first dozen years. There’s more to come…