Touring music band
Belleruche is a band that performs 'Turntable Soul' music. Comprised of Kathrin DeBoer, Ricky Fabulous and DJ Modest, they have several albums with independent label Tru Thoughts.
Organising music tours
Belleruche have played Glastonbury, Montreaux Jazz Festival and the Sydney Opera House, as well as touring Europe and putting on shows in Tunisia and China. But they quickly admit they would not have been able to survive if they hadn't kept their day jobs.
“We play as many gigs as we can, but there's no guarantees. We consider ourselves lucky to be able to do this."
"It's difficult," says singer DeBoer, "but having a day job keeps you sane at times. The music industry can be utterly consuming of both your time and mind.
“Creativity and music can be first thing to suffer when you get caught up with the logistics of a band. Most of our weekends are spent touring. And since we don't have a manager, it's up to us to be organised and make things happen - setting up photo shoots, printing t-shirts, booking photographers and liaising with venues."
"We all have different roles,” says Fabulous. “I book the band’s train travel and that was daunting at first. You have to balance the travel time and cost. But as I became familiar with the train networks, it became less daunting - just a regular part of what we do.
"It helps in other aspects of life, as you gain confidence in tackling other challenges. We are really independent and autonomous, so we have a sense of control over our lives rather than someone telling us what to do and when.”
Marketing the band
The band was a challenging act to market. “We called what we do 'turntable soul music' when we started,” says Modest, the band's turntablist. “We didn't know what else to call it. Our music never fitted neatly into traditional genres.
“Because the band includes a turntablist, we were initially booked for lots of DJ-style gigs in clubs. Over the last two years this has broadened into shows at jazz festivals, electro and rock events.
“We had a big breakthrough when we were invited to play at Montreux Jazz Festival. We've sold well and toured extensively in France and Switzerland because of radio support. We've done a lot of French festivals in industrial parks and some odd locations - the last one we played was a disused hoverport near Calais.”
Setting up your own label
“Creativity and music can be first thing to suffer when you get caught up with the logistics of a band. Most of our weekends are spent touring."
“If you look at Ornette Coleman and lots of other jazz musicians from the 60s, they often set up their own labels," says Modest.
"Being resourceful is part of making music now. Everyone faces the same challenges, and you have to get results without the backing of a 'traditional' music industry structure. Essentially, that’s all falling down around us as the world of music distribution changes".
“We started out by releasing our own records on our own label, Hippoflex Recording Industries,” deBoer adds. “We kept everything from design and printing record sleeves to distribution in house. But then we didn't really have a choice in the early days: either we did it or it would not have happened. Either we walked our music to the music stores or it would have sat in our basement gathering dust.”
Getting signed with a record label
It was setting up their own label that led Brighton independent label Tru Thoughts to notice Belleruche. The band agreed a three album deal, releasing 'Turntable Soul Music' in summer 2007 and 'The Express' in October 2008.
"Our relationship with Tru Thoughts is pretty much a partnership, as is our relationship with our booking agent,” says Fabulous. “We now have more time to write and produce music. DJ Modest still does all of our artwork but the distribution, printing and production is now not something we have to worry about.”
"We don't want to do the work of a record label right now,” says Modest. “I think a musician can make music, have a part time job, or they can put out records. You might be able to do two of those things well simultaneously, but not all three. And you definitely can't make good music if you're too tired or stressed to spend the time on it".
Even though they still work part-time, the three are pleased with how the band is progressing. “We play as many gigs as we can,” says deBoer, “but we don't think there's any guarantees. We consider ourselves lucky to be able to do this, we hope it continues but who knows what’s coming up next?”