Reekus Records

Image supplied by Reekus Records.

Image supplied by Reekus Records.

Our part of the city has long had a strong musical tradition with a litany of local talent making names for themselves in national and international arenas, and with celebrated recording venues like Windmill Lane Studios. NewsFour took a trip to Reekus Records on Haddington Road, Ireland’s longest surviving independent music label.

The label was born in 1981 when it was set up by Elvera Butler, pictured above. The label came about from a record called Kaught at the Kampus, which was the result of a regular club night set up by Elvera named Downtown Kampus, established in the Cork Arcadia ballroom.

At the time, the event played host to a crop of artists such as The Cure, Stiff Little Fingers, The Stranglers and many others, with the intention of promoting local bands by giving them support slots with the big name artists. The Kampus ended in May 1981 but at that point numerous local acts had begun to make a name for themselves.

During the early 1980s, Reekus had offices in both London and Dublin, and continued to support Irish music, one of the most famous examples being Ringsend band The Blades, who were instrumental in the re-activation of the label in 2000, after it went on hiatus during the 1990s. The label have stayed in their current address since 2000. “So many labels have gone out of business in the last ten years,” Butler told NewsFour, “we’ve always done it for love of music.”

Aside from The Blades, some of the main artists currently signed to Reekus are Buffalo Sunn, Gangs, Death In The Sickroom and Riot Tapes. Buffalo Sunn would be Reekus’s most developed band at the moment, and have played at festivals like Electric Picnic. Their album, By The Ocean By The Sea, has been produced by Pat McCarthy, who also produced several of R.E.M’s albums and mixed Madonna’s 1998 album Ray of Light.

Butler spoke to NewsFour about the metamorphosis the industry has undergone since the label’s inception, and how the outreach of technology has both benefitted and blighted those who choose a musical path in life.

“People don’t buy records anymore. Once upon a time, a band would tour to promote the record, and now the tour promotes the band; it’s completely turned around. With the internet you can now work globally. We have a far wider reach, which is a good thing and a bad thing.”

Due to technological outreach, Reekus has been able to make international connections. They now have partners in places as far-flung as the United States, Germany and Asia. The label’s artists have been taken to festivals such as Music Matters in Singapore, some have been signed by United Talent Agency in Beverly Hills, California, and there are many tours scheduled for Reekus bands over the coming months alone, including Buffalo Sunn’s US tour from Seattle to Phoenix at the end of February.

By Craig Kinsella