Label profile: Killing Moon Limited (London, UK)

In an effort to try and raise public awareness of small, independent, DIY bedroom indie labels that release on vinyl (like ourselves), we thought we’d launch a new ‘label profile’ feature that highlights a few of our favourite ones from all over the world.

We’ll aim to bring you a new label profile every week (until we run out of good ones to speak to) – which will answer some questions you always wanted to ask but were too afraid to, and hopefully also offer some useful advice for anyone wanting to get into the business. Perhaps most importantly, we hope you’ll be introduced to some great new artists who are probably crying out for your support.

First up, we have Killing Moon Limited, a West London based seven inch and digital label which has put out some exciting releases from Strangers, Worship, Bluebell and most recently Eye Emma Jedi. We chatted to its founder and day-to-day operator, Achal Dhillon:

LFC: When did KML start?

KML: Circa January 2011. It just started out as a blog and progressively snowballed into something much, much worse as I found my mouth getting progressively bigger and bigger.

LFC: What were your inspirations and motivations for doing it?

KML: I was made redundant by an artist management company/major label imprint in August 2010. I felt the time I had spent there had been a complete waste – I think my perception of the music industry was becoming more stale the longer I spent in it. I seemed to have spent years just going around talking about which bands I had a weak association with in a vain attempt to seem a lot more relevant to the music industry than I really was. No one likes a ham, and in this line of work your reputation is everything. In my defence, I wasn’t ever really allowed to do very much beyond sitting on the internet for days on end and “discovering” bands and artists that the company I worked for had zero intention of doing anything with (although I didn’t know that at the time). They just didn’t care about new acts, and so I thought at the time I shouldn’t either. I guess you could say Killing Moon as a blog, label, whatever-as-a-conduit to try and get people looking at and talking about new acts that I like for one reason or several, is my way of making up for lost time. I didn’t want to have any more excuses as to why I wasn’t doing anything. I wanted to feel that I was doing something that materially helped bands actually get somewhere, in my own small way. A year-and-a-half down the line, I’m feeling much better about the music industry in general. There IS a Santa Claus.

LFC: What was your first ever release on the label?

KML: It was a 7″ only release for a band called Strangers, in July 2011, a AA-side for It Was A Sin and If I Found Love. I actually wanted to release an entirely different track called Shine On You, but luckily I got to do that at a later point. It cost 800 quid to print up 500 copies. I had to ask my mum to lend me the money. I still owe my mum 800 quid. I’ve just reminded her about that and she says that while she’s happy I’m doing something that makes me happy, she would quite like her 800 quid back at some point.

LFC: Are you genre specific, or is it a case of you sign something that excites you?

KML: Yeah, there’s a specific genre – the “good” genre. In terms of any particular sound, the label’s not specific to any one genre in that sense. All of the releases I’ve done so far involve quite a large degree of personal attachment for me, not just to the song being released but the band generally. So yep, all of these artists excite me, in that they’re exciting people to work with.

LFC: How do you find bands to work with?

KML: I spend a ridiculous amount of time on the internet. Well, I do, but in differenciation to how Killing Moon started out, I had to source most of the bands, whereas now I seem to have a lot more people plugging their acts in my direction. It is a nice feeling to get out of that point where I had to work very hard indeed to convince acts to do a release through Killing Moon, and now it feels that I don’t have to go for the big sell so much. Otherwise I have some trusty friends, colleagues and contacts and we’re always sending each other new acts and artists to check out – which might seem a bit stupid from a competitive business perspective, but its a lot more fun this way; also, we don’t seem to be short of new artists at the moment so I reckon there’s plenty to go around. Then there’s other blogs, and it really helps that Killing Moon has become a bit more immersed in that community. I also really rate Amazing Radio as a platform for discovering new acts; media such as that and the ostensible online community such as blogs and music sites are really the lifeblood of labels like my own. It’s certainly vital for Killing Moon to exist that they keep doing what they’re doing.

LFC: Do you focus on UK talent, or would you sign an international band and introduce them to the local market?

KML: Being limited by finances and manpower, i.e. my wallet and, well, me, it’s only really been feasible to work with UK bands – I don’t ever want to work with a band that I’m releasing via Killing Moon without having met them properly or got to know them. The fact is, other countries are over there, and I’m over here. However, I’m hoping that’s going to change next year.

LFC: Where can people buy KML releases?

KML: Vinyls can be got from Rough Trade and our own basic Bigcartel shop, and live shows from the band in question. Digital releases; iTunes, Spotify, and generally wherever else my distributors decide to stick them. Failing that, use Google. There’s probably a ton of pirate sites you can peruse.

LFC: What have you found to be the biggest challenges in running a vinyl-centric label?

KML: Having to part ways with your monthly wage (I’ve had to work at the family business for quite some time in order to pump money behind the releases) is always a bit tricky, but by no means the biggest hurdle I’ve had to encounter (see above for the story of hard graft I had to put in to fund the first release…), and I am very grateful for that. Communication between several people simultaneously is always a bugger, and that’s where most fuck-ups seem to occur. I think maintaining the level of enthusiasm for everyone involved in a release, especially when you’re working with several different people, and staying on top of what’s-happening-when is probably the single trickiest part of doing a release. I would otherwise say just working endless hours on these releases is a big challenge – but I actually love doing this, so I could and usually do stay up till silly o’clock to get everything up to scratch because it just needs to be done, and nobody else is going to do that for me, or more to the point, the bands.

LFC: What have been your most successful releases to date?

KML: Ah, FAVOURITISM. I’m proud of every single release I’ve done so far. Subjectively, for me, they’ve represented a step up in terms of showing exactly what can be done with a little bit of money and a shitload of elbow grease. In terms of sales, Bluebell, Worship and Strangers have done pretty well. The remix EPs I’ve put out for Bluebell and Worship are probably my highest-selling releases to date, and they’re a lot of fun to put together. The campaign Eye Emma Jedi has gone very well so far, and I think it’s great that people still dig cool indie guitar bands. Especially ones with great names.

LFC: What can we expect from KML in the future?

KML: A lot of moaning. But also a lot of releases. I’m hoping to release the first album on Killing Moon in 2013. I would tell you who its for, but I promised I wouldn’t. Plus I quite like keeping people guessing. Also, I want to curate a festival one day. Maybe not any time soon, but one day.

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