Write On: Esben And The Witch

Thomas Fisher embraces the truest DIY approach...

Write On is the part of Clash where we let an artist wax lyrical about a subject close to their own heart – or simply whatever they fancy, or whatever’s tickling their topical taste buds.

With the band embarking on a really indie adventure having departed from Matador Records, this edition of Write On finds Brighton trio Esben And The Witch’s Thomas Fisher (pictured, most bearded) expressing the band’s enthusiasm for reembracing the DIY mentality…

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Esben And The Witch, ‘No Dog’ (from the band’s split 12” with Thought Forms)

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“Earlier this year we left Matador Records to set up our own label. The decision was a mutual and amicable one, but it was clear to everyone involved that we were better off parting ways. We’d been thinking about setting up our own label and going independent for a while beforehand. I recall a long drive through the Peak District last summer, when we drank King Goblins (don’t panic, it’s a beer) in the back of the tour van and started plotting.

“We sell a lot of records on tour and through our online store, so if we run our own label then it’s easier and cheaper to get stock. This is the most satisfying way to sell music. If someone buys an LP from our store, the money comes straight to us and then one of us personally heads to the post office to set the record on its way. We then spend the money on a new pedal or something. It feels like the purest way of doing business, and we want everything to be as close to that as possible.

“Last year we wrote a score to a film called La Antena. Now we can release this kind of project with accompanying art and packaging. Going independent means we can explore what exists beyond the standard release cycle. For us, the established regime of receive advance, write album, tour album and repeat was stifling – we saw the future spiralling over the horizon in a repeating pattern. This isn’t a bad thing for everyone, but for us to be free of it has been galvanising.

“We also want to release music by other artists we love. If our passion, experience and presence abroad can be of service, then that’s a fine thing indeed. We are very grateful to Matador for helping us establish ourselves outside of the UK, and also to labels like Dance To The Radio and Too Pure who supported us in the beginning. All have helped us reach a position where we can now successfully release music ourselves.

“While working away to pay for the costs of setting up a label and promoting a record, we decided to launch a PledgeMusic campaign to cover the actual recording of our third album. I think it has helped our fans feel more invested in this record, and we’ve tried to use the opportunity to offer people things that it would be difficult for them to find elsewhere.

“Now is the time to push on and think about how we can make better art by taking full control of all aspects of its creation. Ultimately it is about making the best music we can. To strip away anything that restricts or dilutes that, and then release in a way that is best for both us and our fans. This is a chance to do things better than we have ever done before and that, in itself, is cause for optimism.”

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Photo: Oliver Abraham

Esben And The Witch’s new split 12” with Thought Forms is out now on Invada Records. The band’s third studio album is due for release later in 2014. Find them online here, or help them out on PledgeMusic here. They perform their score to La Antena at Latitude Festival this summer.

Related: more Write On features, with The Vaccines, Alt-J, Public Service Broadcasting

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