Brad Sked

Brad Sked

Strong Island Recordings

I run Strong Island Recordings & have worked at various music companies in the past (about 14 years). I also put on shows & have helped booked festivals such Dials, Southsea Fest, Portsmouth Psych. I also have written for Gigwise, So Young Magazine, Backseat Mafia & more.

Where are you based?

Portsmouth, UK.

Where do you work? What do you do?

I’m the Label Manager of Strong Island Recordings – a small record label based in Portsmouth.

Plus, I put on shows, co-run the Interstellar Food Drive in aid of Portsmouth Food Bank and I write words here and there for music publications/websites.

What are you listening to?

I’ve been listening a lot to the Baby Cool album and live EP. I finally caught them at the Great Escape and they were great and the live EP will help with my fix until I see them again. Takeshi’s Cashew and Flammer Dance Band albums are also great. Fun cosmic psych and funk. The Gitkin album is also being rinsed – lots of cumbia and cosmic funk again. Also the new Holiday Ghosts, Lael Neale and Rose City Band (lovely psychedelia for the sunny days), plus the new Babe Rainbow and Murlocs singles. In fact, I’m rarely NOT listening to them anyway.

How do you discover new music?

Good question… Socials and new music sites – always a big fan of So Young, Clash, the most radicalist, Brooklyn Vegan, Stereogum, Line of Best Fit, DIY, Psychedelic Baby, Gigwise, Hard of Hearing, Backseat Mafia with them being just a small number I keep an eye on, be that on their site, or keeping an eye on the socials. 

Also, following some playlists such as the Rough Trade, So Young, Hard of Hearing, Loud & Quiet, Mr Bongo, The Forty-Five, Rocket Recordings, Soundway, New Commute to name just a few. Seeing what bands are playing with who, going to shows in general of course is a big one, radio with the likes of Amazing Radio, NTS & 6 Music being a few and also word of mouth.  Music from PRs and agents as well. I have a couple of group chats where we post music that we come across. That’s been a great way of both coming across music and also sharing to people you know who might like it. So there really are a myriad of ways I discover music. If I didn’t love it, it would probably be exhausting! ha.

What formats do you usually listen to? LP, CD, Cassette, Digital, Streaming Services? Why?

I tend to listen to streaming services as a fan. It’s just easier, which is a shame because I feel I have sold my soul for convenience. Saying that, the benefits are again, it allows for me to come across music much more easily.

Downloads also if I get sent them from bands I know and we’re working with (I don’t do direct downloads if I have never interacted with the act, as I’ve been burnt working at a previous label). I LOVE vinyl, but I tend to listen to vinyl when I’m having more of a chillout day – plus vinyl is a bit more expensive and there is the whole matter of them not being too environmentally friendly.

I also really love cassettes. They have a nice warmth to them but also look cool and don’t take up space. They’re also cheaper to make and sell, which is a win for everyone – unless they hate tapes of course!

“I have a couple of group chats where we post music that we come across. That’s been a great way of both coming across music and also sharing to people you know who might like it. So there really are a myriad of ways I discover music. If I didn’t love it, it would probably be exhausting!”

Where do you do most of your music listening?

Both at home and work, although I tend to do most of my listening via headphones when working as to not annoy others! Otherwise nothing overly elaborate. I used to work at Naim Audio, both marketing and for the label and their systems are wild, so I’m hoping to soon get in on that. Although my ears are done, so the way of the audiophile probably isn’t for me – but still, it would look great!

How do you find and listen to pre-release music?

Pre-release it would likely be from PRs, agents – or so. I guess single premiers aren’t as much of a thing, but sometimes album premiers.

We do send pre-released stuff – usually via a YouTube or SoundCloud link. I have used other promo systems in the past and they were great. But we tend to use the more conventional sites as a private stream.

What are your frustrations with listening to music digitally? Any benefits?

Frustrations are knowing that if I’m listening to a streaming service, then I know the royalties are going to be abysmal. That’s probably my biggest one. I was thinking as well, when I built a playlist how much it would be great if I could just take that playlist, put it somewhere and then mass buy that playlist. I’m sure there’s tech or somebody who could do such a thing. Manually purchasing can be annoying.

I love the convenience of digital though in terms of receiving and sending. Being able to simply just send a link is such a wonderful thing. Also as a fan, the ability of being able to bluetooth stuff on portable speakers, even if they sound naff – is great, especially for beach days – which tends to be how I spend most of my time listening to music in the summer!

How do you keep track of everything you are listening to?

So, like all my processes, I have a chaotic method that usually stresses other people out. For keeping track, I have a whole bunch of playlists that have names that I make up and forget straight away – yet somehow I remember.

If I’m writing something for someone though, I’ll usually make a note on my phone and probably set a reminder an hour before it’s due!

I do have an album list that I add to my notes through the year of the stuff that I’ve loved though.

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Do you tip other people off to new music? How?

YES! This is actually my favourite thing. As before, I have some group chats with mates, but I will also just annoy pals by spamming them with links and telling them with certainty they will like it!

I like sharing stuff on socials. In fact, that’s probably why I’m still on socials. For music. 

In a way, running a label is a way as well. I just want to share music that I love and that’s also why I write for places, here and there. I’m no music journalist by any means whatsoever, but I do love writing and talking about music that I love and being able to share it and maybe tell even one person makes it all worthwhile.

Anything you want to “promote”?

So we have a label, so please do check out some of our label family in Baby Vanga, Micheal Georgian, Daisy and the Deadheads, BADGERS, Well Yeah and Sakura Murakami. They’re all great and worth your time and if they’re playing a show near you, then go and see them.

Without going all Fast and Furious, label family for life does mean that for us in that we will always support our alumni as they’re the best and this whole thing is about sharing music that we love, so go and check out label alumni Los Bitchos, Rosie Alena, Bo Gritz, Ugly, Krush Puppies to name a few and buy any music they have out and go to all their shows. Dead Rabbits are also extended label family of ours and they had a great album out on Fuzz Club in 2022, so check that out.

They’re all forever lovely and forever great. 

Whilst I’m here, I’ll give a few local acts a shout in Mystic Peach, Lipworms, a new project featuring some of our old label family Melt Dunes and are great already, Rose’s Diary, H.L. Grail, the previously mentioned Dead Rabbits, amongst a few.

Oh… We’re also spinning some tunes at Wide Awake in London this Saturday. Come and say hi.

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