Interview: Tony Ereira | Come Play With Me

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If there's one thing that Raw Meat loves, it's a good ol' DIY organisation. Which is exactly why we spoke to Tony Ereira from Come Play With Me singles club.

Interview: Tony Ereira | Come Play With Me

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Interview: Tony Ereira | Come Play With Me

If there's one thing that Raw Meat loves, it's a good ol' DIY organisation. Which is exactly why we spoke to Tony Ereira from Come Play With Me singles club.

Come Play With Me is a singles club based in Leeds that puts out 7" split singles on a non-profit basis. Run by Tony Ereira and with support from other musos in the Leeds City Region, CPWM is an organisation built on morals and a burning passion for new music. Previously having put out Cinerama, Harkin, Officers and Fizzy Blood, upcoming release of ZoZo and Esper Scout will establish CPWM as an indie singles club worth knowing. With bigger and better plans afoot, we can't wait to see what else CPWM have up their sleeves.

RAW MEAT: Tell us a little about Come Play With Me: the background, where it started, what's its aim.
Tony Ereira (Come Play With Me): Okay, so I set it up late last year, and the plan is ultimately to be offering artist development, so things like mentoring and training to artists from all genres in the Leeds City Region. We’re looking to release a 7” split single quarterly every year, as I think vinyl is beautiful, as well as sounding good. We’ll have compilations and launches for each single. And I quite like the idea… I’m running ahead of myself… but I quite like the idea of, you know like the NME Awards Tours where they take bands around the country? I quite like the idea of doing that, so maybe getting some Leeds bands, towards the end of the year, to do some gigs in other cities around the country.

You were saying earlier that a lot of bands seem to think they have to go down to London to 'make it'… what are you views on that?
Well I’ve come the opposite direction, I’ve come from London to Leeds. I think there are some things that do need to be in London. For example, radio, it’s a bit dispiriting that if you want to get yourself on the radio that you need to get in with a plugger or a producer which are almost always based in London. But for most other aspects, most other needs, I think you can fulfil that up here in the North. And not necessarily in Leeds; Manchester and Liverpool are all the same.

How have you found the transition from London to Leeds? One of my friends that is based in London at the minute, is actually from Leeds and he says that when he comes back to Leeds that the scene is so tight-knit that he finds it quite hard to break into. Did you find that?
I really did at first. When I came here, I was still working in London but living in Leeds, so I was in London three days a week. I guess all my social life was in London and I was trying to find what was going on in the Leeds scene, and as you described, I really struggled. Where do you go to look? But when you know where to scratch and where to look and you know what Twitter handles to follow… there’s a bucket load of stuff on the Internet, more than you could possibly need. But I did find it quite hard initially.

Do you think that, because the Leeds DIY scene is so strong, it's sometimes hard to find quality stuff?
I don’t think so. For example, the third single that we’ve got coming up at the end of May is from two Chunk bands, Esper Scout and Zozo. There’s so much great stuff going on at Chunk. I’ve had the opposite problem because I was anxious that if I worked with two Chunk bands that I could be questioned that “isn’t this just a Chunk club?”. But I think that’s a good example of how the DIY scene can work with aspects of the industry here. I don’t think it’s a drain of quality.

 

That’s a positive response. I read somewhere that you had a background in banking…
Yeah, for my sins. I spent quite a lot of time in banking in London. I lived in Japan, I lived in Italy – I’ve travelled a lot. I was always trying to be a banker with a conscience, and I was trying to get out of it. We moved to Leeds just a few years ago to adopt a couple of little girls, and that was kind of a springboard for me. You know, I’d rather have a quality of life and do something I enjoy and something I’m passionate about. People used to say to me “Tony, talk about your work,” and I’d be like, “really? I’ll bore you to tears.”

So how did you start this then? How did you go from banking to then doing this?
Well I had a couple of years looking after the little ones, but I spent a lot of time sounding out what I call my advisory board. There’s a bunch of people like DJ’s, producers, label owners, academics, all sorts of people that are involved in music in the city and I sounded out this idea that I wanted to do for Come Play With Me. I told them I wanted to help those guys and girls that are struggling to get the next step in their careers, asked them if they thought it was a good idea and without exception they were all really supportive of it. I was waiting for someone to be a naysayer and tell me to “leave it”, “don’t do that”, “it’s a silly idea” – but nobody did. I think if I was to do things differently I would’ve gone out and made sure I’d got the funding for it first, but I just thought, “I’m not going to wait around, there’s an opportunity here, there’s so much great music, let’s just get on with it, it’ll all fall in to place.” And it is falling into place.

 

Yeah, it’s doing really well! And it’s also non-profit as well, is that what you wanted to do?
Yeah, there were a couple of things I wanted. First of all; we are trying to make a profit, but any profit is going back into more singles and, further down the lane, some training. But I also wanted it to not look like my vanity project. So, for example, the first two or three singles I chose with the guys I’m working with on this. Now, the plan is that there’s a public submissions call out, so if you’re an act that thinks that are at the right stage in their career then they can send us some tracks, and I’ve got a bunch of people judging it – the people I was talking about earlier – because I don’t want people to say that I’m just putting my mates' bands out. We’re all guilty of wanting to do that and leaning towards our favourites. I was asked to help Liverpool Sound City, to strip out the best bands in Yorkshire and I found it really hard to not go for the bands I know. I tried to be really fair about it, but there is that temptation to do that. I really try to make sure that each release we’ve got has different bands or artists on it. I guess it is a bit indie at the moment, and I want to move away from that.

How did you find all these bands? Or did they come to you?
It’s been a different story for each one. So, Cinerama and The Wedding Present; I’ve known David Gedge for twenty years and explained what we were doing, and the fact that the singles club is the name of a 7” of theirs, because they did a singles club themselves back in '94. So I asked him and asked him to give me a track and that’s how that came about. Then, I was talking to him about who might be good for the flip of that, and the last time I’d seen The Wedding Present at that point was a couple of years back at The Brudenell with support from Sky Larkin. Unfortunately, Sky Larkin are on hiatus at the moment. So I started chatting to Katie and she was looking for a place to have her first solo release, so it was perfect. Fizzy Blood was a bit crazy; I knew of them and I’d never seen them in Leeds before, but somehow ended up seeing them in South Korea which was madness. They’re brilliant.

 

I saw them for the first time a few weeks ago and they’re so good live. So tight, so fun to watch… even if it’s not your thing musically, it’s fun to watch.
Coming back to what you were saying earlier, they strike me – obviously they’re only young themselves – but Paul (I think) has been knocking about in bands since he was 12. So they know what they’re doing and they’ve been honing in on it for a very long time.

Going back to the money aspect of things… (without getting too deep on a Wednesday afternoon) because there’s both so much money in the music industry and also so little - do you think money corrupts the music industry?
Totally. Firstly, it is really hard to make money from music. For that reason, as soon as you get a name… for example, on my other label, Hatch, we’ve got a band called Nine Black Alps. They’re signed to Island and they had their second album ready, it didn’t work out and they were dropped the day after release. It’s hard. It does corrupt music. And that’s why I wanted this to be about mainly emerging artists, and I also like the idea of chucking in a bigger name just because it helps me. I know that if I just put out a bunch of singles made up of emerging artists it’s just going to bleed loads of money so it helps to keep things going.

It’s also good that you’re getting on board with the whole ‘vinyl revival’ because that’s getting so big now.
Oh, it’s so exciting. It’s brilliant. I mean, I thought it was just my age as I’ve always loved vinyl. But, as you said, there’s been a massive resurgence, the numbers are quite stark aren’t they? It’s something like 60% increase, year on year, or something quite ridiculous like that.

Why do you think that’s happened?
I just think there’s something so romantic about it. I don’t know, music is so easy. We can all get on to Bandcamp, Soundcloud and YouTube and pick up whatever we want, but there’s something quite romantic about picking up a bit of plastic vinyl and taking it home and spinning. I just love it. It’s the perfect format.

Going back to DIY stuff, you see more and more independent labels and more and more singles clubs now. Do you think there’s a reason behind that or do you think we’re just more aware of it?
I think it’s just enthusiastic people, it’s just a way of getting music out there. That’s the reason I set this up because a lot of the artists I work with were really struggling to get their music on vinyl. Just because you’ve got a vinyl release doesn’t mean you’ve made it – or whatever that means – but it does help, and the music industry does seem to demand some sort of physical copy. I think there always were lots of little labels out there. I mean, there are little labels even in Leeds which are putting stuff out on cassette which is just great. We’ve been trying to get something together with a bunch of Leeds indie record labels and my other label… we’re trying to get a little compilation together. It’s very early days though.

Is there anyone in Leeds you particularly want to work with? Or anyone a bit further afield?
I’m not sure I should really say this but a band I really want to work with is Menace Beach. I love them. But I’ve deliberately set up as Leeds City region, which is kind of like West Yorkshire, but a bit more, like York and Harrogate and maybe Doncaster – I did this deliberately because I thought Leeds was just a bit narrow. Anyone else I want to work with? There’s just so much good stuff. The same as you, the thing that attracted me to Leeds was the music scene. I didn’t necessarily come here for the music, but now I’ve got here, I don’t really want to leave.

Who do you cite for the future then? Raw Meat is always looking for new bands that we should get on board with so who do you think we should look out for?
I think ZoZo are absolutely fantastic. I’m really excited to see them at Live at Leeds this weekend. A little band I saw playing only their second gig last Sunday was a band called Team Picture. They’re absolutely great. Traces of Pixies in there, very interesting stuff. Who else? When we did the submissions call out for the next single, we had 42 bands come through which meant we had to say no to forty acts. With some of them, we all met to go through it to try and whittle it down to four, and we just couldn’t do it. We managed to whittle it down to just six or seven. Some of the artists in there… there was a band called Moonwreck who I thought were great.

 

Sweet, so what have you got coming up in the next few weeks?
So our third single is out on the 27/05/16 and we’ve got a single launch for it the night before on the 26th at the Brudenell Games Room. It’s with the two bands that are on the single, ZoZo and Esper Scout, with a support band called Nervous Twitch who sound quite exciting. The next release is in September and then we’re planning a women in music event in September as well which should hopefully happen around about Freshers' Week.

Make sure you get yourself down to their release show for CPWM third single this Thursday. It's free entry; no excuses.

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