Supply and demand is a term you hear a lot. It’s the sort of smart arse, inoffensive answer you hear from that person who’s just a bit of a smart arse. It’s a bit of a smart arse thing really, capitalising on something that people want or need... like charging fifteen quid for a shitty umbrella when it’s raining in Central London.
“We don’t have the commercial concerns that a regular recording studio would have. If we don’t record any bands this month, we’re not going to fold. It will just carry on.”
Ed Crisp of Delicious Clam Records hits the nail on the head and I’m not sure he knew how brilliant it sounded... If you can minimise the risks associated with a creative venture (which are almost always going to be commercial), then it doesn’t really matter what happens, does it?
“Everything costs money, and we don’t need to make money because our studio is being used as a practice space anyway...”
Shove that up your supply and demand, mate.
Delicious Clam Records is a Sheffield-based label and recording studio which began life as a room for a bunch of friends in bands to practice. With the help of Callum Keiller (Avida Dollars) and Ed, who plays in Sheffield faves Best Friends, Delicious Clam has pretty quickly turned into an actual ‘thing’, by way of a difficult to define, drawn-out accident.
I met Ed at the studio on a typically hungover Saturday afternoon. We chatted about bands, recording, not having any money and Sheffield. It’s cool because we’re old friends, so it’s not like I’ve got 10 questions to rattle through, we can sit and chat and I can really get to the heart of what they’re doing. You'll notice that most of this article is quotes from Ed, and not much from me, but that’s best because he’s the one we’re interested in here, not me.
At the moment, Delicious Clam is getting into the swing of recording bands they know, spreading the word of the label and steadily increasing their output. They aren’t charging bands to record, they’re just happy to be creating stuff and working towards something - better equipment, better recordings, better releases… that kind of thing.
“When Avida Dollars recorded their EP, I started doing overdubs and stuff, but I needed a studio, we needed our own space. I was also doing some recording with Pet Rock upstairs at Tie Dye Tapes and I was thinking ‘how good would it be if we had our own space to do this’, and eventually this room came up downstairs. We rented it and all that stuff, and that’s pretty much it. We eventually got our own space and now we’ve got a load of people paying rent for it.”
Ed, Callum and each of the bands who practice at Delicious Clam are friends through bands, music and partying. It’s been that way for years and it’s how I know them all. Throughout our chat, Ed brings up like fifteen or twenty bands that he’s either worked with, knows or wants to get in the studio. He’s not dropping names to max out his street cred or anything, it’s just that Delicious Clam is built on a community of bands and creatives, and that’s why it works. Avida Dollars, Best Friends, Nai Harvest and Fruit Bomb are all directly related to the studio, but that's just the tip of the iceberg - Thumbuster, Pjaro, Long Limbs, Bonetti... all great bands doing great things in Sheffield.
“I was always recording with Jack Collister for Five Leaf Nettles and always recording at home… it was nice just doing more and more recording and building up a bit of stuff. Our mate Greeny had this sound card that lets you do 8 channels… so now it’s like, right… full band recordings. Eventually we just pooled all our stuff into a room, got all these amps, all this gear, got a handful of mics and we can build the rest up between us. It’s just everyone sharing it. The idea is that anyone can just come in and record.”
From spoken word projects to new, young bands the guys come across, Delicious Clam is a completely organic operation serving a growing community of bands while propelling them forward with recordings, physical releases and videos.
“One of the main things for me was when Best Friends were starting out, Owen... well the whole of Mad Colours, got us really involved in everything. Owen did our first ever recordings. I remember when he was doing it we were all saying ‘do you want any money?’, all that, and he was like ‘no, pay it forward man, it’s DIY, that’s what you do for people’. It’s cool to be paying that back, if you know what I mean.”
Anyone who’s played in a band knows how expensive weekly trips to ‘proper’ practice rooms end up, how no one can afford to print new t-shirts or pay for studio time. Doing a band isn’t something you even consider breaking even on, and that’s definitely how it should be, because the output would suck if it was too easy.
“We just did Long Limbs first recordings. If they wanted to go anywhere else, it would cost a lot of money… that might have come out better actually; we don’t really know what we’re doing, we’re not in the position to charge and we know that, but we have the facility to do that and like, the whole DIY thing in one place - recording, production, label. We might as well put stuff out… I don’t know who would have necessarily have heard of Long Limbs and who would have put it out. They could have put it out themselves and that’s fine but it would be good to build a roster...
“I think we were looking at doing like a screen print slash publication label. Kind of, quite heavily, inspired by the Crumb Cabin stuff that Joey Fourr does, which is like a really nice way of releasing music. On the basis of not having any money, it’s a really cheap way of having a physical release. We’re looking at doing more of them, Thumbuster… I’m gonna print that next week. Fruit Bomb, we’re going to do their single. Trying to work with as many different people as possible like, again - heavily inspired by Crumb Cabin, slash ripping off Crumb Cabin - just making use of the creative community that’s in Sheffield, because it’s massive. There’s so much going on. It’s right here, why not make use of it, bring it all to one place.”
No frills, pretense or rules, Delicious Clam is a completely organic label and space that has come out the back of being around great bands. Sheffield has, as long as I have known it, had this beating heart of people who want to go out and hear music and people who want to play it. It’s a northern town; it’s cheap to live, it breathes passion and that allows people to get shit done. It’s clear that Callum and Ed have their heads down cracking on with the stuff that matters - recording bands, eyeing up releases - far too much to even consider what the future will hold. That’s how a creative venture should be - you could waste half of your life getting more Twitter followers and Facebook likes, but what does that really mean?
Taking money out of the equation by covering costs early doors has allowed Delicious Clam to hone in and boil down their efforts into the essence of something truly useful for the community of creatives that are consuming this stuff, giving it real potential and longevity. As for the future?
“We just want to have fun, we’re constantly learning… I guess we found it frustrating, when Best Friends wanted to record, we didn’t have many places to go and we were definitely limited by money. We’re trying to make that not so much of an issue, because it doesn’t have to be - money shouldn’t be a restraining factor. It would be nice to put out a vinyl release, but then you get into the shit you’re trying to avoid, you get into the PR, you get into having to really worry about money, having to think commercially, having to jump through the fucking hoops that make music so shit haha...
“It’d be great to be in a position where we were running like a commercial studio, but that’s definitely not the main concern, we don’t need to make money. It would be nice to be able to afford more gear to do more, and like to be able to sort of record ‘better’… just build something that’s good that everyone can enjoy. Put out bands that wouldn’t be put out. Try and push young bands or try and push bands who we share the same ethos, if you get me? Just try and do stuff. It’s just a bit of a laugh really haha - I’m not going to be doing anything else with my time.”
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