Recorded on the 13th June 2022 outside Rafa's Diner, Glasgow
Tom: It'd be great if you wouldn't mind just introducing yourself and all of the hats that you wear.
Fergus/Perko: I'm Fergus. I make music as Perko. I run a label called Felt and we do some parties as well in Copenhagen.
Tom: Would you give us a bit of a brief overview of how you entered the music industry and how you got to where you are?
Fergus/Perko: I guess I was playing and I did classical violin for about 15 years maybe, and then I was playing in bad indie bands at high school. And then I think I downloaded Ableton because I want to record some of that. And I think deadmau5 was using Ableton, who I liked. And then, yeah, the band all eventually left and it was just me and I just started making music for myself. And then when I moved to Glasgow, that's more like clubbing. And then my parents, they went to a night called Pure in Edinburgh where JD Twitch had a residency in the early nineties. So they were aware of clubbing I guess. My dad would play like Jeff Mills mixes and stuff. Yeah. I moved to Glasgow and some of my friends from my hometown ran a night here called Hex. So I just hang out with them and go to their parties. And then I was just making electronic music in my student accommodation on Murano Street.
Tom: I was also there as well.
Fergus/Perko: Really terrible.
Tom: Yeah. Which block were you?
Fergus/Perko: It was one of the new ones. I don't know. Yeah. Anyway, it was terrible. Yeah, I started making music there and did a couple of records and some music, uh, on a label called Unknown to the Unknown under the name Bleaker. Uh, and then I stopped for a while because I wasn't really... I didn't stop making music, but I stopped releasing music because I was a bit uninterested in it, or I wasn't doing anything interesting. Yeah. And then, yeah, Shaun from Numbers asked me about music or demos or stuff, and I started sending them stuff. And then that became my first record on Numbers called NV Auto, which I kind of mostly made once I moved to Copenhagen. Yeah. And then we kept doing it through the thick and thin.
Tom: Would you give a bit of detail about Felt as well?
Fergus/Perko: Yeah, so Felt is a record label I run and started this year. I also do a club night under the same name and a radio show on Rinse France. [It's] something I wanted to do for a long time. But then, I don't know, didn't have the music or whatever. [But] then I bugged someone enough that they agreed to let me release their album, which I did at the start of this year. Which seemed to go down pretty well - sold more copies than I expected. Yeah. And then we have another one coming out this week.
Tom: What was the kind of process like of setting up the label like? Who are you talking to? What advice were you getting?
Fergus/Perko: It was pretty easy. Really. Uh, Richard at Rubadub was a big help, and I think at this point, I've been involved in music for, like, ten years or something. Yeah. So I know what it is to release music and like to a record label. What that does and like what the roles within that are... It was pretty natural and easy to do.
Tom: What do you think about the role of the record label? I suppose in some ways the label is fairly traditional. When we talked before, you were talking about how you didn't like the idea of artists as islands and you sort of saw value in people coming together in some way.
Fergus/Perko: Yeah, for sure. I think the move towards, like, I don't know, everyone being isolated and isolated. Yeah, and like solo digital releases on Bandcamp, you know, you miss out such an important part of the whole ecosystem. You have like labels and distro and record stores and like these things are all important. And to get to where the point we are now - where we require all those things and require those people who are working like really hard and dedicated to that. And now we're at that point it's free. I don't know. I think it's just a lack of foresight to just cut those out because then what? You know, then those places stop making money and then they shut down and then, like, that's just such a shame. And you're left with a pretty, like, dead musical ecosystem. Yeah, you're firing stuff into the void.
So in that sense, it's like traditional. Yeah, but also I like releasing vinyl, but I'm not precious about it. I think there are other formats that are just as valid, like digital music is just as valid. But yeah, it's tough when people put so much emphasis on it being a vinyl release - like it's not real until it's a vinyl release. And it's like, I do get that and I have felt that myself. But then, you know. Yes, it's more real. But it's also your new music is not gonna to be out for another year, tops. And it's going to cost a lot of money. And is that realistic in this day and age? Yeah. And with everything going up in price, you know, you do a 12 inch and it's 15 quid in stores.
Tom: Yeah, it's not accessible.
Fergus/Perko: Is that the best way to release your music is for it to be 15 quid for a 12 inch. Well that seems yeah. I don't really like the idea of that.
Tom: But you were saying about you thought it was important still to convey the sort of effort that was put into the item.
Fergus/Perko: Yeah, definitely, I think. It's important to me that stuff is good quality and like there's clearly been some care and attention put into this item. If you are going to release vinyl, it seems like a bit of a cop out just to do a white label stamped. Not always. And there are records I love that are that. But it's kind of not what I'm interested in, especially when it's going to cost 15 quid.
Tom: Yeah, totally.
Fergus/Perko: There should be something about it. I'll be pretty annoyed if I spent 15 quid on a stamped white label. Yeah. So I'll try and do, like printed inners or like inserts or extra stuff. Just putting a bit of effort in. Not even that much more effort. Like it's not that hard to do all these things and it is a bit more expensive but like yeah it's all about what you want to put out into the world. If you are putting this thing out into the world, which is costly and bad for the environment, if you have made that decision, you should kind of take some pride in it rather than just, you know, using all this natural resource to...
Tom: Yeah, rattle these things out.
Tom: Yeah, totally. Are there any sort of changes in the music sort of industry or the kind of thing that you think is good any like positive changes that you think are being made or any any little opportunities that you think could be taken.
Fergus/Perko: I don't know. I'm sure there are. I think it's hard to think it's always negative. So when you think about these things. Yeah. I guess it's more accessible to make music now. You know, there's quite - the entry point for making released music is, yeah, it's quite easy to do a release or do a record. You know, you can do a digital release quite easily. I think that's good. The rest I seem to feel very negatively, though. But that's a big conversation.
Tom: The goal of this project is about sort of transparency and kind of trying to just open up conversations, I suppose, and knowledge sharing. Do you feel like that's a possibility? Is that something that you think could be embraced more or something you'd like to see more?
Fergus/Perko: An unknown thing about how it is, I guess it's all creative industries. Like how does this actually exist? Because no one seems to be making any money. How is this functioning? Yeah. How is this person doing? You know, 12 albums.
Fergus/Perko: How are they releasing 12 albums a year? When they're selling 300. And the profit on that is, you know, £1 per record. There needs to be something else that's happening there because that doesn't make sense. And I think for a lot of people, that's it's daunting because you look at this and it's obviously there's something extra. Whether that person has a job or they have funding or they have, you know, support, but you don't see any of that stuff. You just see the end product, which is this person is able to survive making these weird albums. And you know you know, there's something extra, but it's like no one's talking about it. And you think I can't enter that world and I can't do that because ... I don't know how it is really to be like that. Uh, yeah. I guess that's same for all. Like, creative, like, painters. Ceramic artist. I'm sure they have the same problems.
Tom: Where's all the money coming from?!
Fergus/Perko: Yeah, totally. And maybe people are embarrassed about that, but I don't think they should be.
Tom: Yeah, just be honest about it!
Fergus/Perko: It really annoys me when people. Yeah. Like, oh, I just bought an apartment. Did you? You're a student? Yeah. Did you buy an apartment or did your parents buy you an apartment? Yeah. Uh, and I think people are embarrassed about that, but, I mean, it shouldn't be like.
Tom: Yeah. Same with, like, bookings as well. I don't know. Like, I'm a promoter and I guess I come from that perspective and sometimes I'm wondering how these, like, kids are like booking some big act like on party number 2.
Fergus/Perko: Yeah. How did you get the money to go for that? Um, because it's a year's worth of student loans.
Tom: Do you have any kind of advice for people that are maybe starting their journey and don't know where to look or where to start either in terms of making music or releasing music?
Fergus/Perko: I guess one leads him to the other - it depends what you're releasing. Look online. There are good tutorials everywhere and you can work out most of it yourself. After some time, if you have some basic knowledge. Yeah, there's a wealth of knowledge online about stuff .. But I think getting feedback is important from people who will give you honest, critical feedback rather than, you know, your friends who are rightfully supportive, but maybe them saying - yeah this is sick - probably isn't the most useful thing going forward. I think finding someone you can send music to who will give you honest feedback. It doesn't have to be someone who's more technically proficient than you like. You know, music is to be enjoyed by everyone. So someone who has no interest in making music or has no technical proficiency in it still has valid opinions about music. Somewhat more so than like somebody who's spent, you know, hundreds of hours tuning kick drums. Because they'll think about different things.
Fergus/Perko: But I know when I give feedback in music, I've lost any ability to be constructive about kind of how it is musically. I know if I like it and if I don't like it, but beyond that, I kind of don't really know. I can give good technical feedback like this thing doesn't work for this reason, but I'm pretty useless at giving you know vibes feedback.
Fergus/Perko: And then releasing music. Yeah, I think you should just ask people who've done it. Most people are pretty open to help, but there's some stuff online about what you need to do about releasing music. And if you wanna do a bandcamp, then like it's pretty easy to release something digitally. If you're gonna do a record then you should go talk to distributors, probably. There are more processes, more things that can go wrong, and it's a bit more laboured.
Tom: Are there any artists or labels in particular that you think are doing interesting things or deserve a shout out?
Fergus/Perko: Uh, I like A Colourful Storm - Moopie's Label. It's just great. I think he puts so much care into everything and like there's a real breadth of music, but what he likes really shines through without him being like the centre. There are some labels where it feels like a vanity project for the person involved, which I don't feel so good about. Whereas I think A Colorful Storm. Yeah Moopie runs it but ... it's not a vanity project for him, even though it could be. He's amazing. Yeah. All the guys in Århus who's doing stuff under the Safe Distro umbrella. That's all amazing. Their dedication to making Århus or just staying [there], because Århus is a smaller city in Denmark and a lot of people moved to Copenhagen. And they've just kind of refused to do that. They just want to do it in Århus and represent where they're from.
Fergus/Perko: Discreet music in Gothenburg. Uh, the music's slightly different - a bit bizarre but it's all amazing. And they're very like, you know, they want to represent what's in Gothenburg which is important. Like there is a clear scene there and they all work on each other's records and yeah, discreet and labels surrounding it like Mama's Mysterious Jukebox. That's all great.
Perko’s Felt label releases Live EP by Sons of Slough on the 17th of June