Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Enlightening Times Interview with John Clay 12th May 2012

Welcome to the Enlightening Times Mr Clay! 
We are delighted to have you here to talk to us.
Rik Clay -  "Somewhere Not Here"
hello, thank you
Can u give us a little background on what you do?
well I earn a living as a civil engineering estimator but I've been a musician / guitarist since I was 16 and we also run our own independent record label - Stunted Records, which came into existence 10 years ago

So it would be fair to say that Music is a big part of your life
definitely, it's been one of my main passions
What first got you interested in playing? Are there any particular bands or artists that inspired you?

far too many to mention Bowie, Bill Nelson / Be Bop deluxe in the early days
Magazine in the punk era
What do you think of things like "The Voice" and other talent shows currently popular on TV?
Good or Bad for the Music Industry/Artists?
I think they are killing real talent..they breed short termism in music and are purely money making vehicles for the people behind the shows...the perception that the general public have about the winners getting a million pound is a joke...most of the winners over the years end up playing variety clubs, says it all really
As an insider, from the position of running an independent label, what advice would you give to young bands/artists who are just starting out?
do it because you enjoy making music, there's no other reason, and keep doing it while it's fun and enjoyable....just don't expect fame or fortune...the music industry is in the worst shape it's been in ever, there's little money in it and the bigger labels don't support artists like they did years ago self release both physically and digitally, that way you keep the majority of money from sales, unless you can find a nice independent to work with
Is that why you set up your own label?
no, the industry was much healthier 10 years ago...digital downloads hadn't really kicked in so physical was still selling, and bigger labels were still investing in acts. Things started to slide downhill around 6 years ago.
In the light of filesharing and digital technology, do you think its a plus or a negative from the point of view of the artists?
We set up Stunted initially because we were managing Riks band FULC and had 3 offers from small labels...one of which we actively negotiated with. In the end we realized that the band were signing a lot away for next to nothing, so we decided to self release via Stunted as it provided better protection for them.
The Sensible option!
On the digital side of things whilst our download sales are growing overall, sites like Spotify ( owned by the Majors labels ) are killing revenue streams because people stop buying downloads as well as physical, because they can stream whatever they want...I wish we'd never opted in to the likes of Spotify
I have never used spotify fortunately
I would say that releasing digitally is good for the artist but don't allow the tracks to go on Spotify as it generates zero revenue and there is no evidence that we see for it generating sales
money isn't everything though, depends whether you are aiming for a sustainable career
How would an Artist stop something going on to Spotify? And is there an alternative that allows them to be paid for their creativity?
Because we have a digital agreement with our distributor they service lots of digi stores so we can opt in or out of certain services such as Spotify, for an artist to self release digitally then usually they will just be dealing with one store such as itunes so it's not an issuethe best sites to be on are itunes, amazon mp3 and emusic...they all generate decent sales returnsI refuse to use Spotify on principle from a personal  listening perspective.
On a slightly different note In as little or as much detail as you can manage, can you please tell us a little about rik and the foundation you set up?

Rik had very strong beliefs about the world and how it operated - he didn't like what he saw. When we set up the Rik Clay Foundation we wanted something that kept his spirit alive and maintained those core beliefs. The website was pulled together by one of Riks old work colleagues. I suppose it was a bit of a knee jerk reaction to our loss and the healing process has been so slow that in reality we haven't done too much with it....Chris who did the website wants to develop it but to date we haven't had the energy to get too involved as we are still very much repairing ourselves
Understandably so
the Rik Clay Foundation facebook page has been much more active tbh
From your point of view. How much did you agree or disagree with the beliefs that Rik was so passionate about? A lot of what I read on his blog resonated very strongly with me, and I know a lot of people have taken on board what he had to say very seriously.
I think there are differnet levels to it all. I strongly agreed with his views on capitalism, corruption, political manipulations etc but less so on some of the conspiracy / nwo / illuminati stuff...which is not to say it isn't there, but I think some of what Rik said was taken too literally, he made it quite clear that his blog was food for thought, not necessarily truth....then agian the whole thing is still unfolding and the financial collapse in late 2008 was the start of it.
Rik was very driven and focussed
Taking things literally seems to happen on a lot of levels, especially when dealing with belief systems.
absolutely....just look at organised religion and see what that has done to the world
So when getting down to brass tacks with regards to Music, Politics ad Religion etc. How much influence do you think Music has on each generation?
I think music has had a massive impact on various generations - Mods / Rockers / Flower Power early 60's, Rock / Prog early 70's, Punk late 70's - all impacted on political, religious, world views etc....since then I'm not so sure and more so now than ever, I don't believe current music ( apart from certain artists ) has much of a message or impact...festivals are just an excuse for a party these days, the music is just a side show it's the dumbing down of society in general....which brings us back to Rik I guess

It certainly does! "Somewhere not here" has inspired me, and continues to do so.
I'm glad it does...I think Rik left behind something wonderful there, I just wish more people would explore that side of him because it's still his spirit at work.
I'll add direct links to this interview because it speaks volumes to everything we have talked about. Thank you Mr Clay. We really appreciate you taking time out to talk to us and please keep us updated informed on any news and new releases from Stunted records.