Interview with Martin Archer, founder and director of the label Discus Music

Discus Music is a British music label that has been present for years in the digital maze of Kathodik. His productions, ranging from Free Jazz to Progressive Rock, always arouse interest in the editorial staff and find passionate editors who listen to records and talk about them on the webzine. Also this time, as for the other interviews, I realized that it was time for a deepening of knowledge of the label and the philosophy that animates it and I exchanged my usual digital chat with Martin Archer, founder and director of Discus Music. As always to you reading.

Here you can find the Italian translation

What are the origins of the Discus Music label? How did the idea come about? What were your inspirations? What models, if any, have you referred to?

While I was starting to learn about music and how to do music in the 1970s there were three very important British labels to take a role models – Incus, Ogun and Cadillac. All of these showed how it was possible for musicians to record and release their own music without interference. This appealed to me greatly, and by the time I’d reached my early 20s I was already starting to realise that recording rather than gigging was to be my main thing. And by then we’d had punk, and small independent labels had become common. So the means of production was opened up. At first – in fact until around 10 years ago – Discus really existed only for my personal releases. But then to take it to the next level I began to add releases which weren’t personal to me – at first by musicians in my own immediate circle, but now rather wider. I’m in two minds about whether I really want that responsibility, but I guess it is too late now.

Where are the labels based?

Sheffield UK

How do you choose the releases?

My own music goes between improvisation thru free jazz to progressive rock and extended songform. I do whatever I feel like! So, I deliberately wanted the label to issue music which was similarly varied, a real mixed bag. How do I choose? I just have to love the music and feel that somehow it relates to the Discus ethos of pushing the boundaries a little bit.

Julie T and Martin Archer

Why is it mostly Cd releases?

Well it is 60% CD and 40% DL, which has not really changed for a few years. In this niche area of music lots of people still want a physical product, and for those who don’t they can buy a DL. For me this combination is the ideal carrying method, very practical for people who’s main interest is the music and not the medium. The medium isn’t, and never was, the message.

Do you plan for future vinyl releases?

No, I don’t like vinyl. Too expensive to make, too long a production time, too expensive to post, it won’t go through your letter box, too bulky to store, too limited in length. There is nothing about it that I like, good riddance.

What do you think about co-productions between record labels? Do you think it is a viable option for your labels?

No, I can’t see any advantage in that. Why would labels wish to do that I wonder? I’m not even aware this happens. I prefer to stay in control!

Orchestra Of The Upper Atmosphere

Do you think it is important to use social media to promote improvised music?

It’s vital! Without a record company promotional department to fall back on, musicians have to do their own promotion, and the best way to do that is direct to special interest groups via social media and online commentators. I feel it helps you to have this very direct personal contact with listeners. It feels like a worldwide community. Getting magazine reviews is lovely for the ego, but I’m not sure they make much difference to sales.

How do you see the national and international improvised music scene?

Well I think generally there is now more great music to see and hear than ever before. There are a great many really good younger musicians coming through, and I never get tired of hearing new things from new people. Gigs in the UK are not great for more experimental sounds – there have never been enough places to play, and it’s like that still. But for me as primarily a recording musician it is fine – I sell CDs all over the world, mainly UK / EU / US and that feels good.

Could you tell us something about some of your future projects?

Well Discus will be releasing 18 new CD/DLs during 2023, some of my music, some new names, and some established names. There will be 2 Paul Dunmall releases in 2023 and I’m delighted with both of them. I have releases due from my leftfield rock groups Orchestra Of The Upper Atmosphere and Das Rad. And I have a triple live CD with Anthropology Band which I’m excited about. A few surprises too which you’ll find out about in due course. I just want to keep everyone guessing and interested in what comes out on Discus – what is he up to now?

Link: Discus Music Home Page

Link: Discus Music Facebook Page

Link: Discus Music Bandcamp Page