Playlist: Philophobia Music


In the latest in a series celebrating independent record labels, Mike Pinnington speaks to Rob Dee, founder of Wakefield’s Philophobia Music…

An independent record label founded in Wakefield, Philophobia Music was established in 2008 by Rob Dee. This year they celebrate their 10-year anniversary with a compilation, a special “End of 10 Years Bash”, and the publication of a book looking back over the highs and lows of a decade in indie music.

The Double Negative: What inspired the label?

Rob Dee: I guess it wasn’t the ideal time. The boom of indie music in the mid noughties had died down a bit. But prior to Philophobia Music, I’d been running Louder than Bombs Records, which was borne out of the club night of the same name that a few friends had been running. I enjoyed doing that, but with it not being something that I’d started, it didn’t feel quite right, so I wanted to start on my own with something from scratch. I was managing a band called Lapels at the time, and it felt like they didn’t fit fully into Louder than Bombs. It made sense to start something that felt did fit with them. There was just something about them that stuck with me.

What is the sound of the label?

Not so much now, but for a good few years everybody was saying that every indie band in Wakefield were a combination of Pavement and Nirvana. It didn’t matter which band it was, you could guarantee that Pavement would come up at some point. It’s nice now we have released a song with [Pavement's Stephen] Malkmus on, which was quite funny when that came about.

How did that come about?

It’s a band called the Ship-Tones – one of their members came up with the idea of giving indie hits a reggae backing. Through his checking work – most notably with the Cribs – he’s met a lot of people. Malkmus was one of them.

“There’s no geographical requirement – it’s just whether I like them or not”

Is it the label focus to sign Wakefield bands?

There’s probably less Wakefield bands on the roster now than there’s ever been. It wasn’t meant to be Wakefield bands, they were just the first bands I came across. It’s never been a geographical requirement – it’s just whether I like them or not. There’s been times when I’ve been out and about and come across bands further afield that I’ve wanted to work with. Sometimes it works out. There’s probably been more recently where I’ve been able to do things with stuff that’s sent to me more. And there’s also being a little bit pickier.

Is it full time?

I work a day job. This week I’ve got a week off and I’m trying to get a little bit ahead. It feels like doing two full time jobs at times.


Tell us about the decade.

One of the highs is that we’ve got this far. When we started it was “let’s put this stuff out”, and there wasn’t really much of a plan other than that. That we’ve got this far feels pretty special. There’s not that many DIY labels that have reached this point, so I wanted to mark that occasion. It’s a long time – even when things are going well, there’s not necessarily great financial rewards. There have been plenty of points where you question going on, then something happens, and yeah, it’s worth going on! The reaction of people who had no idea this band existed. It’s getting music to other people who might like it. When you get bands doing sessions on [BBC Radio] 6 music, it astounds me at times.

It still feels quite organic, almost old fashioned.

Yeah, it’s still something that people hold in high regard, if you’ve got a BBC session, this is an endorsement that you’re good. We’re looking at the possibility of putting a BBC session album out next year because of that very reason.

“It’s important to have that physical release”

What formats do you release on?

It’s a mixture of analogue and digital. Where possible, we try and put vinyl out, but the costs are prohibitive for certain releases. We’ve not put any vinyl out this year. We’ve put three albums out and they’ve all been on CD. Partly because of restrictions on what people can do to support the release. But it’s important to have that physical release. It’s kinda weird from an indie label point of view with vinyl. When we started, we put out 7” singles – easily sold  them. Now it’s too much – £7 or £8 realistically you have to sell them for, and I don’t want to pay that for songs myself. Because on the top level vinyl’s had a resurgence, the newer releases on vinyl have been pushed down a little bit. People are buying loads, but they’re buying reissues.

PhiloWBaR digital cover copy

Tell us more about the celebrations.

Ten years is quite an achievement and, in that time, I think we’ve put something like 140 releases out – there’s quite a catalogue, so we thought it would be a good idea to do an intro for those that have not noticed us before, but also a reminder of the wealth of the catalogue. It was a difficult one to track list; I didn’t want to have three or four songs by one artist – trying to find a definitive song for the artist was difficult. I think it’s a good collection, but I’m not sure it’s a definitive one. There are 22 tracks on the compilation. We’ve got a few of the acts on the label to cover label mates, so that goes alongside the best of. There are some really good reworkings of the songs, and it shows the versatility of the bands we work with.

For the festival, we’ve got almost all the current roster playing all on one day, so that should be a good day – I’m looking forward to it, and it’s a while since I’ve seen some of them play as well. Hopefully it’s the start of a really busy year next year.The final part of the anniversary release is a book – I’m not sure what prompted me to do it, but I decided to recall tales from running the label over the years. It was fun. Hard work! I don’t think I fully realized how much work it would be when I started, but it’s been good to look back and properly analyse what I’ve done before.

Was it funny to look back at the roots of the label?

Funny at parts. Other parts less so. Looking over things that had gone wrong, scratching my head and wondering how we managed to get past that to where we are now!

A chance to look forwards as well?

Yeah, I feel like I’ve had to look back and now I’m looking forward to looking forward.  While it’s still exciting and I’m able to put time and effort into working with a band, I’ll keep doing it.

Mike Pinnington

The Philophobia End of 10 Years Bash will be at Warehouse 23 on Saturday 8th December with doors open at 1pm. Get tickets here.

Posted on 30/11/2018 by thedoublenegative