Coming Up Roses – Rose Parade Recording Company at 1 Year Old
As Rose Parade Recording Company plans its first birthday party, it’s time to recap and reflect on the formation, achievements and plans of Cardiff’s community-focussed, artist-driven record label…
When and why was the label established?
In early 2020, as the band TJ Roberts was seeking autonomy, an opportunity emerged in making the most of some welcome creative industries funding: to take things a step further and be part of proactive and positive change. “Rose Parade began as an opportunity for us to conceive of releasing our music and supporting the local scene in a different way,” says Tom, one of the founders. “We wanted to create a space that emerging artists could use as a steppingstone to bigger and better things,” says fellow founder Heather.
Wanting to go beyond the standard roles of a label, Rose Parade was conceived as a platform to amplify the voices of those who are less represented in the music community, with a vision of a healthy and exciting music scene as one that tells the story of as many different people as possible, promotes collaboration across communities and reflects the diversity in society. By establishing Rose Parade as a Community Interest Company, democracy and equality could be embedded in the label’s operation, with all members of its artist community able to input into its direction and all profits reinvested. Launched in the October, Rose Parade possesses a voluntary board of directors who have equal say in decision-making, combining lived experience from the music industry, performance, PR, marketing, community engagement and funding.
As for the name “Rose Parade”: “There aren’t any funny stories with this one,” says Tom. “We found the name via the Elliott Smith song and it felt right.”
The founding Rose Parade board members (LR: Gavin Owen, Jasper Gaskin, Tom Roberts, Heather Roberts, Caitlin Whelan) were joined by Teddy Hunter and Jason Morgan in early 2021. Operating both from their Cardiff HQ and remotely, the team have used their position in the Welsh music scene to grow the label and its artists during the uncertainty of the Covid-19 pandemic.
What has the label achieved in its first year?
Quickly finding its feet while experimenting with different ways of collaborating in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, the label’s main focus has been releasing music. Interested in alternatives within genres, under-represented artists and those who are carving their own routes, Rose Parade has already amassed a catalogue of releases spanning indie-Americana, electronica, (anti-)folk, experimental spoken word, glam and jangle pop, working with acts from both Wales and the wider world.
The label’s first wave of releases included TJ Roberts’ sophomore album “Love, Loss and Other Useless Things” in late 2020, several offerings via its digital Singles Club (including Wales’ Blue Amber, Francesca’s Word Salad and Twin Stranger, as well as Atlanta’s Dot.s) and a limited cassette run of the debut Shreddies EP (Josh Dickins of Rosehip Teahouse) with unique, individually hand-painted packaging (courtesy of Tom).
Aspiring to promote a space for all musicians, Rose Parade was excited to release a string of singles from three fantastic artists throughout spring 2021, all of whom are from the LGBTQ+ community. Spanning diverse genres, Telgate, Rona Mac and Dead Method are all rising names on the Welsh music scene whose talents have drawn support from sought-after funding and development programmes such as Gorwelion/Horizons and Forté.
And, on the heels of a busy schedule of singles and campaigning, two full-length releases are due in Autumn from artists who also draw some significant acclaim: the long-awaited debut from multi-instrumentalist Sam Barnes (known as the bassist for Boy Azooga and for his composition work on S4C/BBC’s “Y Gwyll/Hinterland” and “Craith/Hidden”) and the Watertown Carps debut “Mermaids” (the new project fronted by Dazed & Confused prize-winning neo-folk songwriter Yo Zushi).
Rose Parade’s success is due in no small part to the work of its diverse and talented artists, as well as the growing fanbases, communities and supporters who have got behind the artists and the label’s vision.
What’s next for Rose Parade?
First – celebration! As part of Cardiff’s triumphant return to live music, Rose Parade will celebrate its first birthday in style with a party and showcase gig at Clwb Ifor Bach on 1st October 2021, featuring Rose Parade artists Rona Mac, Twin Stranger and PARCS, DJs sets including Shreddies, and other exciting surprises on the night. Tickets are available from https://clwb.net/.
Enthused by the support received for its mission and artists, and with new releases already in the pipeline for 2022, Rose Parade is excited to further its community agenda over the coming year by providing opportunities for aspiring musicians via a specific community engagement arm. Having put such projects on hold during the pandemic, the label is planning to offer workshops and other learning opportunities for artists at the start of their musical journeys, with the aim of addressing barriers to progression often experienced by those from less represented communities. By fostering an encouraging and information-rich environment, Rose Parade Recording Company intends to set a precedent for a more inclusive, diverse and exciting music scene, while better understanding the role a label can play in the process.
“So won’t you follow me down to the Rose Parade?” E. Smith
For more information, visit https://www.roseparaderecordingco.com/
Follow @FoxSleepMusic on Twitter.