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Ten years of Song, By Toad


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Leith record label celebrates a decade in business with a series of anniversary gigs.

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Jonnie Common. Photo: Mario Cruzado

Leith record label Song, By Toad are celebrating ten years in business with a series of anniversary gigs. The label, whose first major release was Meurseult’s debut Pissing on Bonfires/Kissing with Tongues, has been home to the likes of Jonnie Common, Zed Penguin and Siobhan Wilson.

“We’ve seen a lot of bands come and go over the years, made tons of friends and worked with dozens of people,” said founder Matthew Young (aka The Toad).

“There have been so many great aspects to the label over the years, I just wanted to celebrate, honestly,” he adds. “Running a record label is always about the next thing you have to do, so I think everyone from the people we work with to the fans who support us could do with a chance to just have a wee pause and say, ‘Fuck it, isn’t this brilliant, isn’t this a wonderful thing which we do between us?’ So we have arranged gigs which express separate aspects of the label, from what motivated me to start it, to the various friendships we’ve created over the years.”

The anniversary shows have been planned as a snapshot of where the label is now and a peek at the future, rather than a nostalgia trip. The events have been themed as different underground railway lines which will create a completed “map” by the end of the year.

After success with the initial crop of artists faded out in 2013, Young decided to take a change of direction. “We decided to re-focus on our initial plan: small runs of weird, artistically ambitious, commercially dubious, wilfully obtuse releases. Build our own favourite label and hope we could find people who agreed with us most of the time.”

“We decided to walk away from commercial decision-making and just decide if we thought something was really good, and if we did, then we released it, irrespective of whether we thought it would sell thousands of copies or just twenty. And actually, that proved to be more successful anyway. Basically, we decided that from that point on courage of our convictions and stubbornness were our best commercial assets.”

The label celebrated ten years with a label showcase at the Solas Festival earlier this month. Next on the list is a night at Inshriach House, an Edwardian shooting lodge in Aviemore, which has also acted as a studio for the label in the past.

Full Song, By Toad Records 10th anniversary live programme:

Sat 15 Sep – Inshriach House (Highland Line)
Fri 28 Sep – Leith Depot (Origins Line)
Thu 15 Nov – Henry’s Cellars Bar (Grandemange Line)
Fri 23 Nov – St John on Bethnal Green (Chalmersmith & City Line)
Sat 15 Dec – Leith Cricket Club (Christmas Line)

Line-up announcements will follow.