- SPONSORED -
Label: Papaiti Records
Salient Picks: Mammal Airlines, BMX Rapists, EVERY SINGLE BOOTLEG
“For an artist with a small fan base I think making their music accessible should be more of a priority than making money.”—Giles Thompson
Papaiti Records, although decidedly smaller than previously featured MUZAI, is doing great things for music in and around Wellington. Originally formed out of boredom in 2009 by Giles Thompson, it was initially based in Whanganui, but given that the duo behind the label, Thompson and James Stuteley, live in Wellington, it’s essentially become a Wellington label. It exists as a vehicle for their own projects, as well as others who have expressed interest—a community of like-minded musicians.
“I always intended to release several groups, and did so from the beginning. We are open to new stuff and have already had a lot of people email us, which is awesome. It was never just James and I, even at the beginning there were a few other artists (e.g. Deathdream, BMX Rapists). Hopefully if someone likes an artist that has music on Papaiti, they might check out a few of the other artists. By forming a co-operative of sorts, all the artists get more exposure than they would alone. That’s the theory anyway. For example, a Deathdream EP was posted on a Brazilian shoegaze blog, and we got a whole load of traffic—which hopefully spilled over to some of the other artists.”
The desire for attention on one group to transfer into attention for others on Papaiti is just one facet of their altruistic approach to releasing music. While there are small physical releases of Papaiti albums and EPs, everything on the Papaiti roster is released for free via mp3 download on their site.
“For an artist with a small fan base I think making their music accessible should be more of a priority than making money. I don’t really believe in ‘owning’ music itself at all or in APRA and similar things. When you buy a physical release of a Papaiti artist, you’re paying for the physical product (case/plastic/booklet), not the music. So far our physical releases have been hand-made, non-traditional case formats, personalised and very limited runs, generally only charging enough to cover costs, and we plan to continue in this direction with other merch as well. I don’t think we’ll ever ‘sell’ the music.”
It’s a generous move, and one that has seen Papaiti get no small amount of love in recent months. The Mammal Airlines Two Songs, Too Much EP sold way more than we expected”, and their site is constantly updated with projects from around the North Island, mostly those of Thompson and Stuteley, but several other notables as well, particularly the abrasive BMX Rapists. But one of the main talking points with Papaiti of late has been their bootlegging. On their site you will find free downloads of live sets by Jeffrey Lewis, Grayson Gilmour, Street Chant, Seth Frightening and numerous other class New Zealand acts. It’s not direct ripping off, though: every bootleg on the site has been posted with the permission of the artists involved. Except a recording of Deerhoof’s Orientation show, which wasn’t posted because, according to Stuteley, “I just really don’t like Deerhoof.”
He goes on to explain why he’s bootlegging for Papaiti: “There were always people recording in Wellington, but not really releasing them nicely packaged and for free from the same website. It costs a bit to get into and takes a lot of time for basically no return apart from having the recording yourself and maybe a few compliments.”
Thompson adds: “I like the idea of being able to hear a show you couldn’t make it to, or check out a band you keep missing. The other thing I like about the bootlegs is the documentary aspect of them. I hope that they will be around for a long time.”
So, you know, you get it. They’re pretty good guys. The effort from Thompson and Stuteley put into the label is incredibly impressive, especially given that their main payoff is a sense of wellbeing, or the knowledge that they’re doing some good for the greater music community. But that’s the point: they’re (cheesily) in it for the music, it seems. No overpriced pen drives here. They’re releasing free music for all to enjoy, from a number of varied bands from across New Zealand. If you’ve got the bandwidth, they’ve got the goods.