Forging new partnerships with the Australian folk community is a key priority for New Zealand label Second Hand Records.
Formed by Finn McLennan-Elliott – who is also artistic director for the Auckland Folk Festival – the specialist folk label debuted earlier this month with the release of the EP Portraits by Fables (aka Jess Bailey, who is also his partner). Although he is not in position yet to announce any other signings, by early next year he hopes to have at least four acts on board at Second Hand Records.
While his initial focus is on the New Zealand market, he is keen to build on the relationships he has already developed with folk specialists in Australia through his work for the Auckland Folk Festival.
“I have been talking and networking with a bunch of the Australian artistic directors for their folk festivals and there has been a lot of interest in finding more New Zealand artists for the Australian circuit. They get New Zealand artists applying but the numbers of them could be higher.”
NZ folk acts such as Albi and the Wolves and the Frank Burkitt Band have already taken the plunge in Australia, but McLennan-Elliott believes Second Hand Records could help more local acts break into overseas folk circuits –festival organisers found it easier to deal with one company rather than having to negotiate with artists individually, he says.
As well as Australia, he says there has also been interest from Canada in taking New Zealand acts through their circuit and vice versa.
Further down the track, McLennan-Elliott would also be up for partnering with an Australian label or distributor.
“If someone was interested in Australia, it would be awesome to work with them and perhaps reciprocate with some of their releases over here,” he says. “It also helps if there are people that that you can reciprocate with on the touring side – it becomes so much easier if you have people in another country that can help you find the best promoters and venues.”
In New Zealand, he is looking after his own distribution but is open to the idea of working with a third party distributor. However, he views Second Hand Records very much as a collective and he would seek the views of the label’s artists before partnering with another company.
As well as his role with the Auckland Folk Festival, McLennan-Elliott runs the online folk magazine Second Hand News and Second Hand Touring, so he believes he is well placed to help artists at a variety of levels.
The success overseas in recent years of a number of folk influenced New Zealand artists also augurs well for the new label.
“While they don’t refer to themselves as folk artists, the likes of Nadia Reid, Aldous Harding, Marlon Williams and Tiny Ruins are doing great things for the mainstream reach and appeal of the genre,” according to McLennan-Elliott. “And the next wave of artists who are touring and releasing new music are exceptional, so there is a great opportunity to push our folk music even further.”