[INTERVIEW] with... Ach (MD of Killing Moon)

With Killing Moon's latest compilation coming out very soon, we chatted to their Managing Director about his label, what's to come and many more besides. The compilation has been growing in popularity every year and it's down to the world class bands Ach and his team assembles. With the compilation 'New Moons' now getting to the levels of Kitsune as far as popularity in the 'Indie' scene.

Read the transcript of the full interview below.

What was the reason for starting Killing Moon?
Well, I had just been made redundant from a big artist management company after complaining that I didn't feel I was doing anything particularly useful (pro tip: don't ever say this to your employer should you wish to remain employed by them). 
I had found during my various tenures in various roles in different record labels and artist management companies - A&R, management assistant, live promoter, resident hype man and tea boy were amongst the most memorable - that artist development seemed to be a term exclusive to those who could buy the services of others in order to have a career. So for me, at that point in 2011 when music streaming was still very much seen as in its infancy, even working in music seemed to be the realm of those who just had money, rather than anyone with an opinion that they were willing to substantiate by other means. 
So a hankering to further the agenda of what I see as "true" artist development rather than simply financially investing was a big motivation. The blog was a great place to start as it enabled me to have a voice beyond the confines of my parent's loft in Ealing, and enable artists outside of the financial space by using that voice. 
Other than that, it was really to teach myself how the various facets of the music industry operated. I had worked at record labels for several years, and yet at the point of founding Killing Moon I did not know how to put a release together let alone deliver one. Making any sort of income from it didn't really enter my mind until people tried to buy Killing Moon about a year after I started it. 
The other big reason was doing something that I can derive a sense of purpose. Closely coinciding with that was using that purpose to do the things that just make me happy. Most if not all of Killing Moon's businesses - record, management, live, publishing etc - have stemmed out of a sense that no one was necessarily going to do things for me, but I do gain a sense of fulfilment and indeed enjoyment from doing them myself. It's bloody weird that I'm not doing it by myself anymore.

- Is there any labels you aspire to be like?
Far too many, although this has evolved over time. When I started this thing, it was the golden age for music blogs and utilisation of the Hype Machine was generally the way that you got a new release noticed, in stark contrast to what we have now with various streaming platforms where it is easy to see how the written word has started to diminish in value in the eyes of popular culture. So I strived to be like the singles labels at the time that were more than just a label - that occasioned live nights, their own blog, a huge editorial and wider-brand focus far beyond simply just facilitating the release of a track. Labels like Neon Gold, Young & Lost, Transparent, Chess Club seemed like lofty comparisons at the time, but many many notes were taken out of their respective books as I felt they were not only particularly on-point in terms of the releases they were picking up but the expression of those releases seemed particularly important. 
Then there are the labels that I personally deem the backbone of the UK independent sector, and I suppose also personally lend themselves to my own musical tastes than perhaps the unashamed alt-pop aesthetic of the aforementioned - Big Scary Monsters was a label I admired to the point of obsession even to this day, as well as Alcopop. 
Going back to the alt-pop side of things, I cannot help my affections for 37 Adventures as well, mainly because of the amount of respect I have for the people who run it and how well they conduct themselves both on and off pitch. There are some absolutely incredible indies springing up with this kind of communal hub mentality expressed in different ways - such as End Of The Trail, My Little Empire, Yucatan, Akira - and I genuinely feel they are kicking all kinds of ass as a result. The sense of identity is just so strong and hugely inspiring to me, and reminds me to "stay the course" as it were. 
B-Unique, Transgressive Full Time Hobby, and Hassle also had this radial sense about them where it felt they were more enterprising communities than the glass-cubicle major labels that I had grown used to both envisaging and literally finding myself in throughout my various jobs prior to setting up Killing Moon. It would also be rude not to mention the mighty Beggars group - XL and 4AD are basically impossible not to admire and, admittedly, not to become super jealous about, what with all the cool shit they get to do.There are a great number of US and Canadian indies that I became fascinated with pre-dating and also after setting up Killing Moon - Drive-Thru, Merge, Vagrant, Kanine, Dine Alone, Arts & Crafts. A lot of them are headed up by people I now consider friends, which is crazy enough in itself. 
I now find myself on the board of directors at the Association Of Independent Music, which is the trade body that broadly represents independent labels and self-releasing artists in the UK. There are many incredible people on this board, some of whom that I actually grew up reading about - Nathan Barley at Basick Records, Martin Mills from Beggars, Tim Dellow from Transgressive, Harry Martin at Domino, Sarah Bolshi at Sunday Best, and more - and on the other hand, I have been introduced to some truly incredible people like Hannah Overton from Secretly Canadian and Jane Third at PIAS who have further inspired me to speak up when I've got something to say, surrounded by my peers who on paper intimidate the hell out of me. I can say with a degree of certainty that I am a huge fan of everyone on that board, and have the highest level of respect for what they do, on top of being on the receiving end of some indispensable advice when the periodic "what the fuck do I think I'm doing?" question pops into my head every so often each year. 
Its not just the labels I love; its the people that make it happen that I love more.

- What's the biggest achievement of the label so far?
It may sound like a basic answer, but honestly, staying intact. Staying together, for the most part. This label has become very much the sum of its parts, and because of that, so much more than that. As I'm typing this, I'm looking over my gigantic HP computer screen and looking at 4 other members of staff working their asses of on something that not long ago was just a fucking figment of my imagination. Just an idea. And now they're running individual departments; injecting their own ideas into my own. I cannot tell you how happy that makes me. So really, to refine that answer, the biggest achievement I am proud of is creating jobs, being able to share the party with some cool people (who also make me feel very old a lot of the time, usually down to their enthusiasm and questionable musical tastes), and the label enabling us to enable other people. 
Release-wise, probably the ones I'm proudest of the most are the New Moons compilation series. We've launched and created a narrative for so many new artists on that platform - Slaves, Fickle Friends, IDLES, Strong Asian Mothers, St South, Magic Man, for example - by way of creating their first label-led commercial releases. The compilations are immensely gratifying in terms of curation, and I can't say it's hurt my licensing skill set by having to co-ordinate so many compilation licensing agreements on my larry. I can't wait for the story to continue with the creation of the New Moons imprint proper, whereby we'll be using this platform to just do more for emerging talent. 
I'm also very pleased that Killing Moon Records has awarded itself an identity beyond the original "hype label" apparition I was aiming for. With follow-up releases from the likes Annabel Allum (whom we also manage) and Fizzy Blood, super exciting emerging bands like Johnny Kills and Honey Lung, through to more historical returning greats like InMe, it feels like we're very much stepping out of simply putting out introductory releases and are able to compete on the same space as the rest of our peers. Which makes me happy, albeit permanently in a state of disbelief as to how we actually ended up here.

- Would you consider a 'UK Tour' showcasing your signed artists?
Well, that's us busted. We are putting together the touches for what I hope will become the annual Killing Moon Tour. We've just done an agreement with our friends over at Festival Republic to help us out with the heavy lifting. So with a smidgen of luck, we'll get to share news about that soon.

- What's next for the label?
We have a new label manager starting in September to oversee the roll-out of our new imprint, which is great but also in a much more sad way is due to my trusted right-arm and exiting label manager Olivia leaving (in fact this week, at the time of writing). I will miss her very much indeed, but the whole experience has taught me that change is not only necessary but also desirable in most circumstances. We have a new EP coming out from Fizzy Blood, new singles from Honey Lung and Johnny Kills, and we're going to be putting out the first release taken from InMe's forthcoming album before the end of the year. So, business as usual.