Aussie labels Milk! Records and Bedroom Suck have come together to create a real treat for music aficionados: the Split Singles Club, a lovingly curated vinyl subscription service. Should you choose to sign up, you’ll get six limited-edition seven-inch records delivered straight to your door. Play one side and you’ll hear an artist chosen by Melbourne-based musos Courtney Barnett and Jen Cloher from Milk! Records, then flip it over to treat your earholes to a selection from Bedroom Suck’s Joe Alexander. To find out more about this collaboration, we had a little chat to Courtney and Joe over coffee and pastries. Scroll down to have a read.
When did you guys first met?
Courtney: Joe had a meeting with Jen [Cloher] and I came along. I’d always heard of the label, but never met Joe, because he used to be in Brisbane.
Joe: Same deal. I’d heard of Court, but we’d never really met properly. I’d been stewing over this idea of the Split Singles Club, and wanted them to be involved.
How did you sell them on the idea?
Joe: My charm. [laughs] One of the things I wanted for the Split Singles Club was to work with newer bands and expose them to a wider audience. I had a feeling that Jen and Courtney would have similar values. We’re musicians; we run our own labels; we want to create a safe, helpful environment for bands to promote their music.
Courtney: I found the idea really interesting. You could easily get 12 songs and digitally release them all in one go, but that would be really boring. This was quite beautifully thought out. Plus, I like taking that extra care to make it look and sound nice. I’m big on presentation.
Who did the cover art?
Joe: [Illustrator] Steph Hughes. She was involved from the start. Her artwork has been a big part of both labels’ aesthetic and development, so she just seemed like a perfect fit.
Did you give her any kind of brief?
Joe: I gave her the spiel, but she created it herself ultimately, using the recurring theme of the Australian animals with the glass of milk.
Courtney: She really gets it. I’m a huge Steph Hughes fan. She can do no wrong as far as I’m concerned.
Joe: We also created a series of six videos, one for each of the records, showing the members of the Split Singles Club going on dates and breaking up with each other.
Courtney: Because it’s Split Singles Club; they can’t be getting together.
Can you tell us a bit about the artists who you’ve featured in the series?
Joe: The initial idea was to feature 10 emerging artists and two established artists, but in the course of the project, two of those emerging artists have been signed to the labels anyway; Bedroom Suck have started working with Dag and Milk! have started working with Jade Imagine. So that’s been pretty interesting, going from working with these artists to building ongoing relationships.
Courtney: And then we picked Lehmann [B. Smith] —
Joe: We both picked Lehmann. We had a little fight.
Courtney: Joe finally gave in.
Joe: I was like, “Fine, I’ll pick someone else!” And they’re from all around. There’s some from Adelaide, Tassie, there’s one guy who’s based in Perth, Melbourne…
Joe: Oh, yeah. Anika [Ostendorf, aka Hachiku] from Berlin. They’re all involved in the Australian music community in some way.
Is this spirit of friendship common amongst labels?
Joe: I think so.
Courtney: I remember when I moved to Melbourne from Hobart and I didn’t really have any friends in the scene, I found it kind of intimidating and it looked cliquey. But then, when I started playing music and playing in bands and putting on shows, I realised that it was just people getting together and actually being quite supportive. I’m sure there are lots of people who are competitive or whatever, but most of the time people just want to try and help each other.
Any final thoughts?
Joe: Why didn’t I get a Danish?
Courtney: I offered!
To subscribe to the Split Singles Club, pop over this way before Tuesday March 7th. Oh, and if you happen to be in Melbourne and fancy seeing a bunch of the bands perform live, swing past the John Curtin Hotel on Saturday April 8th. Tickets are available over here.
Lovely photo by Emily Thiang.