Brad Sked has been running Strong Island Recordings now since 2012, delivering high octane garage, noise and psych releases on cassette and vinyl. Alongside the label he has put on shows and been a regular booker at Southsea Fest, Portsmouth Psych, The Great Escape and most recently the upcoming Dials Festival. We thought we would ask Brad some questions ahead of the big day.
Wedge Bot: How did you get involved in music?
Brad: I got involved with music after studying Music Tech at Southdown’s College and after then I went to university and worked at a couple of record labels during my time there. In regard to what inspired to put on shows – it’s really just been down to necessity and just enjoying putting on stuff and working with artists. I don’t really see myself as a ‘promoter’ even if by all definition, I am one but we just mainly put on shows because the label (Strong Island Recordings) needs to for promo reasons or somebody is touring and we fancy having them on.
Wedge Bot: What was the first show you put on? Any specific memories?
Brad: First show I ever put on by myself was in Chichester. I learnt a lot from the experience as about 8 people turned up which was myself, the sound person, the bands and also the bar staff! The main thing I remember is feeling so bad for the bands that played and never wanting to feel like I’ve let people down like that again. It was a great learning curve long term.
First Strong Island Recordings show though was Southsea Fest 2012 which featured future label family Is Bliss, Dead Rabbits , Arrows of Love, Honeycomb Bones and Golden Hairs (who would become theboyiusedtobe) plus Battery Hens, Dirty Legion & The Demons who would play for us quite bit after. It was just a full on riot and a massive sweat-pit in a tiny room.
Wedge Bot: How have things developed or changed since then? Any difficulties/learning curves?
Brad: The label itself has certainly grown where we’ve managed to release artists not just locally but across the country as well as as far as Australia and we’ve managed to get quite a bit of press which is always nice as it’s very much on a shoestring budget. The way it has grown really has been through momentum and just believing in what we’re doing more than anything.
Most difficult thing is just being able to afford to run things and keep everything going on. Even if you’re breaking even or just about making a profit, you still ultimately have to spend a lot of your time on something so it’s a labour of love.
Wedge Bot: What is your favourite gig/line up that you have put on so far?
Brad: Our first food bank drive at The Cellars was amazing as it was so humbling to see people come together and help with a wonderful cause. We also signed Melt Dunes (they went under their old name then) & Curxes that day too who we would go on to release so that’s certainly up there.
Favourite show ever though has to be our bring your own booze show at The Great Escape with Acid Box. We basically taken over a youth centre gymnasium and turned it into one of the places to be that day with Demob Happy, Flamingods, Hockey Dad, Melt Dunes, The Black Delta Movement & loads more playing for just a fiver with amazing visuals from Innerstrings (Liverpool Psych Fest, BJM, Lewes Psych) and people could bring as much booze as they desired so that was pretty special and super fun and will always be hard to beat.
Wedge Bot: What can we look forward to in the future? Upcoming shows? Plans for the future?
Brad: More releases from acts from all over the place. We tend to put out psychedelia, shoegaze, surf rock, post punk, krautrock and garage-rock and the same can also be said for the stuff we put on minus Dials.
Speaking of which we have Dials on the 6th of October which should be both stressful and very fun. We’re also teaming with Burger Records one of my favourite labels in any dimension plus Blak Hand Records, Stolen Recordings and Cassette Store Day for a free all dayer at The Shacklewell Arms in London 13 October and that same day we’re co-hosting Oxjam at The Pyarmids in Portsmouth with our Pie & Vinyl pals. Barbudo, Superdrone, Lucid Rising and a bunch of other play that one too. That same day will also be a special day as Melt Dunes are supporting one of my favourite bands being The Brian Jonestown Massacre in Falmouth. I’m trying to work out ways to clone myself to be in 3 places at a time that day…!!
We’re also bringing Kagoule back down to Portsmouth 9 November with our Honeymooner friends that features Haze plus Dad Hair & Make them All Smile at The Loft and we may have something after. We’re also hosting a psychedelic-tinted stage at Icebreaker 28 & 29 January at The Fat Fox with visuals from Velvet Candy. That should be a fun one.
Wedge Bot: Any advice for people wanting to put on shows or local bands looking to get more gigs?
Brad: Regarding putting on shows just do it. Communication is key though. If you can’t guarantee an advance in terms of fee then tell bands that. Also always ask them what equipment they can bring ages in advance if possible and work out a fair gear share (don’t just expect the opener to bring all the gear especially if the headliner is getting a decent fee and the opener is getting a few beers!), work with the venue and keep them informed, programme the show so it can run smoothly should there be delays (there always is) so you don’t have a 6 band bill starting at 8pm. Speak to the sound person if you can in advance and keep them posted. Work out a cohesive line-up so a doom-metal band isn’t opening for a solo folk singer and really just make sure you look after the artists as much as possible. That goes a long way.
Terms of looking for gigs; make sure what you do fits with what the promoter puts on and ultimately, make sure what you have is the best it can be. If you have no material yet then let the promoter know but give them a brief bit of info of what you’re about soundwise as they may well take a punt. Great music though speaks for itself. We put on the first ever Hotel Lux show after they sent an email with literally just a streaming link of the single. If people aren’t getting back to you or offering a date you need though just go and put a show on yourself.
Wedge Bot: Describe the Portsmouth music scene in one word
For more information on dials festival head to http://www.dialsfestival.com
For Strong Island Recordings info visit