In Conversation with Lazy Gramophone
Rooms Magazine have recently struck up a partnership with Lazy Gramophone. Will Conway attempts to find out more…
– Will Conway: Interview host – and author of Will Conway Tastes of Ink – – present
– Sam Rawlings: Co-founder Lazy Gramophone – present
– Daniel Chidgey: Co-founder Lazy Gramophone – present
– Philip Levine: Co-founder Lazy Gramophone – present
– Dan Prescott: Co-founder Lazy Gramophone – absent
– Ben Chidgey: Web-designer Lazy Gramophone – absent
Will: Okay, so how are we going to do this?
Philip: You’ve got a list of questions, no?
Daniel: I’m going to reply in binary code: one, zero, zero, one…
Will: There are only ten types of people in this world, those who understand binary and those who don’t.
Philip: So, introducing ourselves?
Will: I was going to ask… if you were animals, what would you be? But I already know that Sam would be a woodland mammal, Phil would be a peacock and Danny, you would be a shaggy dog.
Sam: …so you’ve answered that already?
Will: Okay, so wasting no more time… Hello! And what the heck is Lazy Gramophone?
Philip: We’re a collection of artists; a publishing label. It started back in 2003, with myself, Danny, Sam and Dan. We left university with a surplus of artwork and wanted to develop a platform in order to display what we’d done. With that in mind we also brought other people on board.
Daniel: Young and/or developing artists who didn’t have the opportunity or the connections to be able to display their work.
Will: So is that what you mean by a platform?
Sam: Exactly, our aim is to help people produce, display and distribute their work, whether that’s in a book, an exhibition, on the internet, a performance…. we have the people and the resources to support writers and artists in many ways.
Will: So how has Lazy Gramophone changed over the years?
Philip: The main development was that we launched a publishing label in 2006.
Sam: Yes, before 2006 it was a lot more performance based.
Daniel: The launch of our first book Satsuma Sun-mover, by Adam Green, which was nominated for the Dylan Thomas Prize, really marked the culmination of those events.
Philip: For almost two years we put on monthly events. We played a few festivals as well, Shambala being a highlight, and the Edinburgh festival. The quality of the acts we were putting on at that time was really high and the energy and atmosphere at those events was amazing….
Daniel: Acts like Sound of Rum, Scroobius Pip, Beardyman, Paloma Faith, Poem in between People, Poeticat, Ventriloquist… that’s how it all started. But now the publishing side of things has really taken off, is something we are really achieving well in at the moment.
Will: So how do you feel about splitting your time between running Lazy Gramophone and working paid jobs? Do you ever see Lazy Gramophone going full time?
Daniel: There have been lots of peaks and troughs throughout the last ten years, we simply take things as they come. And anyway, we learn a lot from our paid jobs. For example, Dan Prescott did a Masters in publishing and now works for a publishing company. He’s very, very good at what he does. He’s got a really sharp eye.
Sam: He’s actually only got one… one very sharp eye, like a javelin.
Daniel: Yeah, the other one is a lot like a soft boiled egg…
Will: So there’s no pressure?
Sam: Absolutely, it sets a good atmosphere. Coming at it with that frame of mind is wonderful. We are doing it because we’re inspired and passionate about doing it, not because we have to, something that allows people much more freedom to create.
Daniel: We’ve actually realised our ambition not to have to put our own money into it anymore. We make no money but at least the books, events, fund themselves.
Sam: It does feel as if we are in a dream position. We are self sustainable and so long as that remains the case and we can continue doing what we love I’m sure we will remain very happy, be that full time, part time, stolen time, whatever.
Will: ‘Collaboration’ is a word you use a lot on your website, can you tell me a little more about what that means to you?
Sam: Lazy Gramophone is by definition ‘collaborative’. We could not exist any other way. Ben Chidgey built our website, Dan Prescott typesets all our publications, Danny does the design work, I will edit and that’s just on the most basic level. We also run projects where artists and writers work together, as best demonstrated through the work of long term L.G collaborators Matt Black, Tom Harris, Carl Laurence, Jo Tedds, Sorana Santos, Andrew Walter and Guy J Jackson. In fact, almost all our work is focused around the pairing of writing and illustration.
Philip: For people who have little or no exhibition experience it can be difficult to get a gallery to accept you. Or, if you’ve never had a book published, or if you haven’t got an agent, it can be really hard going it alone. What we want to do is bridge that gap.
Daniel: That’s exactly it. If you’re on your own you can sometimes feel quite powerless but if you start bringing in other people it suddenly becomes much easier, whether that be in terms of inspiration, motivation or in a more practical way.
Will: So, to wrap things up, how does Lazy Gramophone stand out from the crowd?
Sam: We use a very large stool…
Daniel: … sometimes high heels.
Will: Why should anyone care?
Danny: Patience. Patience is really important for us. We don’t do instant gratification.
Sam: We try to do everything personally.
Daniel: We use our own hands. We do things properly.
Sam: The writers and the artists put everything into their work and so we here at Lazy Gramophone put everything we have into the design and production of the physical piece.
Philip: We mean it.
Daniel: Yes, our notepads are made on lovely handmade Indian papers with hemp string, our shorts series is letter pressed with real metal type… All our Lazy Gramophone creations are very carefully put together.
Sam: It all feeds off of itself. If people like what we do and continue to support us then we can continue running projects and putting out quality work. Like Rooms magazine, we simply wish to create and publish as much new work as possible.
Rooms Mag: We actually have one question for you. For such an energetic collective, what’s the origin of the name Lazy Gramophone?
Daniel: It really depends on who you ask. Sam would tell you that his great Granddad Charlie had a Gramophone repair service called Lazy Gramophone in Witney, back in the 1800’s. Phillip was inspired by Donnie Darko’s ‘Cellar Door’ scene with Drew Barrymore. Dan would tell you that if you assign numbers to the alphabet A=1, B=2, C=3 and so on, Lazy Gramophone adds up to 181 which is the number on the house he was born in, in Maidenhead.
Lazy Gramophone’s next publication:
Green Dobermans by Liz Adams, will be released in October.
illustrations by Tom Harris: lazygramophone.com/tomthepen