Although officially barely a decade old in terms of catalogue numbers, Finders Keepers Records, as an active independent archival collective, could arguably stand up as one of the most experienced music institutions operating in the realms of what some still call “The Record Industry”.
With a discography of sounds that span over sixty calendar years from over forty different countries the “company” (that we prefer to consider as a society) managed to quickly redefine its original perception as a simple reissue label within its first fledgling months by digging deeper into global pop history – liberating years of previously unreleased music and personifying, re-establishing and integrating lost artists into a fresh, sociable, alternative musical landscape.
In reality the founders of Finders Keepers have been releasing independent records (as in the round plastic things) for over twenty years (a longer lifespan than most major label executives) and been involved in over one thousand releases in a wide range of multidisciplinary capacities. Still manned on a daily basis by its founding members, Finders Keepers was formed with frontline experience gleaned from Andy Votel’s fiercely independent Twisted Nerve Records (Badly Drawn Boy’s first label) combined with Doug Shipton’s experience at Cherry Red Records (DIY pioneers).
Abetted with reputations as multi-faceted DJs, designers, writers, radio presenters, record producers and above all obscure vintage record collectors Shipton and Votel combined forces on a short-run commissioned label called Delay 68 before branching out alone under the name Finders Keepers (a moniker taken from an acclaimed Votel world psych compilation from the mid-1990s).
With commitment, constancy and longevity as one of their leading attributes the Finders Keepers team have managed to garner a reputation of integrity, deep knowledge and quality unrivalled by a growing influx of contenders of whom FK and its global family pre-date and often outlast. Collaborations with well known creative types like The Gaslamp Killer, David Holmes, Gruff Rhys, Pamela des Barres, Jarvis Cocker, Maxine Peake, St. Etienne, Malcolm Mooney and Belle & Sebastian stand as flattering testimonies to our catalogue and projects with kindred labels like Now Again, Sublime Frequencies, Stargate, Roundtable, Fat City and Paradise Bangkok echo a mutual respect for the those willing to get their hands dirty. Meanwhile, hip hop artists like Mad Lib, Erykha Badu and members of The Wu Tang Clan take welcome plunders into our sample bank and DJ jaunts with Edan, Demdike Stare, Cut Chemist, Cherrystones, Egon and Elijah Wood make weekends more enjoyable.
With a virtually unblinkered approach to “original” music Finders Keepers defies and redefines genres from one release to the next, pre-empting record collector trends and recontextualising music from disparate locations uniting lost music and found artists most of which sound more current and challenging than today’s most experimental heroes. Expanding the parameters of its original psychedelic/global funk module, Finders Keepers now boasts a range of essential sub-labels under its well-travelled wings, including a dedicated new wave/disco/punk label called Cache Cache and a pre-pop avant/jazz/noise label called Cacophonic. In the interests of consistency, Finders Keepers still balances its penchant for failed and misunderstood European pop music AND untravelled/condemned psych rock from the East with contemporary output on Twisted Nerve, Battered Ornaments and specifically feminine oriented Bird records (run by established songwriter Jane Weaver). Other than that, if you just want records with “heavy drums and electronic effects” or “Czech soundtracks”, well, you’ve come to the right place too.
Quite unlike any other archival labels before us Finders Keepers also boasts what could be described as a “label roster” with many multiple LP releases of lost music from repeat artists who have in time become trusted friends. Atari music composer Suzanne Ciani, Gainsbourg collaborator Jean-Claude Vannier, Swiss electronic pioneer Bruno Spoerri, Polish soundtracker Andrzej Korzynski, French conceptual disco monster Jean-Pierre Massiera and many more almost form an alternative historical musical universe that never quite existed the first time round. Needless to say all of these collaborative friendships have readily led to live interactions and theatrical performances including the very first-ever stage show of Serge Gainsbourg’s Histoire De Melody Nelson (with original orchestrator and rhythm section) Vannier’s L’Enfant Assassin Des Mouche, Spoerri’s Lilith and Massiera’s Horrific Child (not to mention associated studio collaborations and improvised tours). The legacy preservation of other Finders Keepers artists has had further cultural impact via the media. The label’s committed series of Welsh protest pop music from the early 70s lead to a primetime BBC documentary called Free Wales Harmony (presented by Andy Votel) telling the first hand stories of a previously undocumented political movement where pop music successfully led to political reform for a minority culture. Our releases of unknown and banned pre-revolution Iranian pop music was also met with great critical acclaim and our ongoing series of untravelled music from communist Hungary, Poland and Czechoslovakia shares discography space with the lost cinematic music of Lollywood and Kollywood for these first time pressings.
Catering to the music lovers, the DJs, the collectors and inquisitive minds alike, Finders Keepers’ commitment to facsimile vinyl editions (mastered from the most authentic sources) as well as CD and digital releases with extensive sleeve notes can range from limited runs of one hundred cassettes to releases that continue to be re-pressed into the thousands without slowing down… the ideal Finders Keepers music is timeless and continues to resonate regardless of its release date, and hopefully we will say the same in coming months about our scheduled DVDs, spoken word records and books (our previous release of the original 1966 Wicker Man story Ritual is another high point thus far). For many onlookers, on paper, Finders Keepers shouldn’t work. Lost or misunderstood records in foreign languages with no available market research make for risky business… But if the record fits this bill, FK is generally the perfect home, providing a new context and a positive environment for good music, regardless of its background or cloudy history. Our modus operandi “Making Global Music Local” and “Breaking Boundaries Before Breaking Even” clearly illustrate Finders Keepers’ ongoing commitment to the artists we believe in, and on behalf of the listener and the musician Finders Keepers will keep digging deeper channels to connect your equally adventurous minds and help those around us to do the same. As corny as it sounds, it’s a family.
Previously referred to as “an accidental world music label with a punk attitude”, Finders Keepers strive to continue to cross pollinate strains of music from genre-less pop cultures, constructing new vantage points and even trying to right some of the wrongs made by the archaic music industry the first time round. Assuming the role of the librarian, the janitor and the music teacher, while keeping a close eye on the lost property box. A decade later, Finders Keepers has learned that it’s nicer to share.