‘Upside Down’ by The Jesus and Mary Chain, ‘Spiral Scratch’ by Buzzcocks – in fact, any early indie records of any worth – all these images flash through the mind when sitting folding your own sleeves for a new release. This could be the one; the one that catapults your music into infamy and legend. Six cups of coffee and five hundred sleeves later, I am wondering if I’ll be wearing a stupid hat when they film me for ‘Inside Out:
The Winterbird Records Story’ (I probably will). My next release, Sampler One, showcases all the groups on the label plus a guest track from The Library Trust, who has all but abandoned music and now writes books. I’ve pressed five hundred CDs and handmade the sleeves in a bid to capitalise on recent good fortune that began with a flurry of shows. The first was part of an all-dayer, supporting the Loves at The Lexington, In the latest instalment of his odyssey to transform Lancashire micro-imprint Winterbird, into a zeitgeist-defining, 21st century independent record label, Jamie Holman makes a lightening raid on the London indie scene, then comes face to face, yet again, with the dispiritingly predictable edifice of the old school music industry. ìThese fuckers can smell death a mile away and don’t believe in resurrectionî, he observes. But it’s him that emerges with his dignity intactÖ
The current formula for creating bands seems to be to find a sound that is at once edgy and original but familiar enough to slot easily into everyone’s iTunes. How many times have you read about a new band that’s kind of like band A meets band B with a bit of C thrown in? There is something quite odd and insincere about a bunch of people trying to fit into the music industry, wherever they can, with the only certainty in the endeavour being that they want to be in a band. Frozy aren’t like that. The band started with two friends, music technology student Nicol Parkinson and librarian Irina Jasnowski, sharing their songs online, across the Atlantic. These songs were not written with any grand plan in mind, not even to release them, necessarily. In fact, they weren’t written with any plan at all; they were just songs about thoughts, experiences and pigeons. This songwriting and sharing slowly grew until Nicol and Irina were joined by cellist Rhiannon and Moe on guitar. Thus, Frozy was born. There is an honesty and integrity to their lyrics, from the ‘pop hits’ like ‘Seasalter’ to the more introspective numbers like ‘Candy Coated’. Frozy are defined by their DIY attitude. With the current state of flux in the music industry, labels don’t put as much effort into moulding the creative process of a band as they once did. This may or may not be a good thing in general, but it’s definitely a good thing for Frozy. They follow the anti-folk mantra of ‘do the best that you can with what you’ve got’, and they are a fine example of what can be achieved in a bedroom with some friends and instruments. With band
members spread across the USA, Lichtenstein and London, fixing a rehearsal is no minor task, so their live performances don’t offer clean-cut renditions or tight timing.
This provides an exciting onstage chemistry as they walk the fine line between impromptu brilliance and shambolic dysfunction. It’s a characteristic also evident in the way they tour, for example accross Europe in a broken van, sofa surfing and playing shows wherever they could get them. Nowadays they are essentially a London-based band, playing there or thereabouts, despite the fact that only one member (and none of the instruments or recording equipment) is located there. What do they sound like? Well I guess they’re a bit like Beat Happening mixed with Kimya Dawson and a bit of the Velvet Underground thrown in. As for the name – some say it’s a response to cold weather, others claim it refers to a narcoleptic Afro. Whatever the truth, hopefully you’ll hear it a lot more in the future. Aaron Holliday