Emotional Response - interview

Norman Records are pleased to be the sole European stockist for Arizona's Emotional Response label, who are headed up by a figure who will be familiar to anyone who bought underground DIY records in the 90s - the one and only Stewart Anderson.

A range of Emotional Response 7 inch releases on coloured vinyl

As well as fronting punk-poppers Boyracer (amongst a million other bands), Stewart ran the 555 label until the early 2000s. A period of inactivity whilst he and his wife Jen brought up their young family soon ended with a plethora of releases on his new label.

We caught up with Stewart to ask a few questions about what got him started again and what will come next.

Hi Stewart, thanks for chatting with us. There was a long gap between the closing of 555 and the birth of Emotional Response. Was this solely down to family matters or was there a period of burn-out for you after running such a prolific label?

Not burn out on music!

Jen and I had two kids who are autistic, so we had a period of trying to figure out what we needed to do as it was overwhelming at the time (4 years ago). During that time, the music had to take a back seat.

(Emotional Response is an autism term meaning an over exaggeration to a situation, often a physical response, that can be positive or negative).

What was the aim in starting Emotional Response?

It was a deliberate effort to make Jen and I reconnect with old friends, and get back into making music again. And to celebrate (our take on) pop music and the 7" format, which is still the only medium for pop music that counts!

The aesthetic of the label is very distinctive. Was there a particular label you were influenced by?

Yes. The logo is ripped off, ahem, I mean inspired by the Immediate Records logo - also used by The Jam towards the end of their career.

I wanted the records to have a classic 60s Mod / Northern Soul look. Hence the push-out jukebox centre on the records also.

Most releases involve projects involving yourself and/or your wife Jen. Are there plans to involve outside artists or will you continue to keep it in the family?

The label has become a vehicle for the various projects I have been recording, though that wasn't the intention to start with. It was mainly because there are a lot of things I have recorded recently. Every time we have a friend visit, we usually get drunk and record something with them, and a lot of that ends up on the label.

So, if you would like to be on our label, the best plan is to turn up on our doorstep with a bunch of booze and some tunes! There are, however, more serious plans to expand the roster and release more by other bands.

Your releases are available as a physical product and a download. How have you found the response? Are you finding physical sales outweigh digital or vice versa?

Physical still wins. Always, I hope!

Any forthcoming releases on Emotional Response we should know about?

Yes! Some exciting releases:

  • A 7" by Sleaford Mods, which I am beyond excited about and don't need to tell you guys about how great it will be!
  • Also, an upcoming split single by female-fronted US hardcore punk/noise band Bad Daddies and Hard Left (a San Francisco Mod / Punk / Oi! band featuring Mike Slumberland / Black Tambourine on vocals).
  • Also, a new band featuring members of Slumberland indie darlings Gold-Bears and Summer Cats.
  • Plus, a new project by Carla from Ashtray Boy, which has sort of a poppy-sounding Slits vibe.

Lots more further down the road too! As ever...finances permitting! Hehe...

Finally, the releases look beautiful - exquisitely made. You do a lot of the music yourself, you've got constant new releases on the go, your website is very nice to navigate, you keep it all updated. Where on earth do you find the time??

Thanks! I'm not too sure how we manage our time to be honest! Raising two autistic kids certainly keeps us focused and on our toes. We have so little free time, so when we are doing music or label stuff, we don't dilly dally, we just get on with it.

My motto has always been "Think less, do more".