To celebrate record label Killing Moon‘s fifth birthday, founder Achal Dhillon gives us a brief history and run through of 5 of their most significant releases to date.
The lineage of Killing Moon is more complicated than working out how each Game Of Thrones subplot intersects, whilst trying very hard to not get distracted by the multiple depictions of war and nudity that occur throughout.
Killing Moon, also an artist management company, live promoter and new music blog, was born out of a sense of rejection from the wider music industry and falling in between the various school-like social groups that seem to comprise it. This, of course, was in addition to a high degree of personal stubbornness and an ongoing point to prove to the world at large that the right to choose one’s own fate is our most important concern.
It could be described as an underdog story, but it could just as easily be described as an endless fool’s tale about a group of people who got – and continue to get – lucky. I personally like to think of the label as all of those things; a bit like life’s rich tapestry. Having lost my then-job at a clouty management company in late 2010, the label was started in my parents loft at their house in Ealing.
It’s since gone from being absorbed by a major label framework to nearly going bankrupt in our bid to become independent at the end of 2014. But, we’ve somehow made it to the 5 year mark in a fit state to push our luck even further, and I suppose it’s just as well that I can talk about some releases that I feel are the most important to the label’s history.
Worship – House Of Glass
I met Jordan Fish of Worship back in the steady-pay-packet days of 2009-2010. At the time, they were the subjects of much industry buzz and I remember seeing them live at The Lexington around the same sort of time. They seemed to appeal to a rock audience, yet their ethereal soundscape couldn’t be much further from what we would traditionally consider rock music. In my mind, they pushed the boundaries of the definition in their own way. We were lucky to land the release; as I recall a fair amount of other, more established labels were going for it. When we eventually put out the single, it was almost as if we were considered to be a real label ourselves. Worship will always have a special place in my heart for those reasons. When Jordan joined Bring Me The Horizon, it spelled the end for Worship, albeit in kind of the coolest way imaginable. I still listen to this track amongst others of theirs to this day.
Bluebell (now Annabel Jones) – Normal Heights/Cinderella
If Worship’s single was the release that made people think Killing Moon was a real label, then the label’s next 7″ single release for Bluebell was the one that made us look as if we knew what we were doing. I had written about ‘Normal Heights’ on the blog several years prior, and shortly after met Annabel and collaborator Charlie in a very dingy building in Hackney as they were being hounded by a lot of managers. It turned out that Charlie was living in Ealing and we eventually hit it off. I put out the single just before selling half of Killing Moon to a larger company, and so I look back on it fondly as the last record we put out at when we were far from being a monetised business that we are today.
Various Artists – New Moons Vol I
I had met a rather tall Scottish chap called Ally McCrae at my first SXSW in 2013, and I remember being flattered right down to the ground about meeting someone I (literally and metaphorically) looked up to, who also knew the label. We became very chummy indeed. One day in the same year, he popped over for one of those famous “let’s catch up” meetings in Hammersmith and we spent a good hour or so whinging about the impending end-of-year lists that were due to crop up. Shortly after, as a remedy to what I now understand to be a largely non-existent problem, I found myself sending out rather rudimentary licenses for something that would go out to be one of our biggest titles as a label. It was certainly a trip to see Fickle Friends’ first commercial release storm the internet in such a way without having actually spent anything on the release, as well as technically achieving our first review on Pitchfork. We’re about to release Volume IV in July, so the party continues.
John Joseph Brill – Pieces EP
I had met Henry (a.k.a. John Joseph Brill) during one of my more self-deprecating drunk moments several years ago at a pub in Shepherd’s Bush and, other than being incapable of stringing together a normal sentence between us, it was a fairly unremarkable encounter. Several months later, I had a Facebook message from him about a track he wanted us to blog about called ‘Muscle & Bone’, and it wasn’t long before we agreed to work together on putting out his debut EP. Henry didn’t have a manager or team until relatively recently, so given that this EP came out around the time we as a company nearly went under, coupled with how far John Joseph Brill given that he quite literally started out with very little other than an excellent record and a fabulous beard, I can’t help but feel our respective fates are inexplicably linked. I’m equally as proud to call him my friend, and regularly turn to him for advice when shit gets real.
Racing Glaciers – ‘Seems Like A Good Time’
I first met Racing Glaciers in one of the band member’s – Tim, I think – parents living room in Macclesfield in 2012. We haven’t really been able to get rid of them since. On a more serious note, Racing Glaciers out of all the bands on the label have the longest history with Killing Moon generally speaking and so it seemed quite appropriate – hence the title of this single – to release their debut album, and indeed ‘Seems Like A Good Time’ was the first offering from what will be their first full length. Around this point things started to turn around for us as a company after a truly stumbling start to 2015, which is why beyond the history with the band I feel this is one of our most important releases. I can’t wait to put out the rest of the record later this year.