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In conversation with Stephanie Roberts

Jack Barton speaks to the founder of The Record Press.

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Image Credit: The Record Press

The Record Press is a magazine that has burst onto the York music scene since its launch alongside the partnered independent record label, WAHAM Records. Providing a “creative forum for artists everywhere”, and hosting a wide variety of budding new journalists, the magazine covers all kinds of media, including music, photography, illustration, and poetry. The first issue sold out in a few days, and with a longer second issue on the way on 1 July, I caught up with the founder, Stephanie Roberts.

In late 2020, Stephanie’s band Everything After Midnight founded WAHAM Records. “It’s been so cool to have the tenacity and courage to start a label. It’s a lovely circle of people who just want to build each other up. I hope the bubble never bursts”. Stephanie felt that an online magazine would be a great accompaniment to the label, and this gradually grew into a magazine that was full to the brim with various artists, themes, and writers. Although originally intended to focus on music, the move towards the wider disciplines “came quite naturally” to Stephanie, due to her own participation in the arts at university and York more widely.

The transition to print was an “exciting but nerve wracking” process. Stephanie notes, “what I found really interesting is that the majority of customers want the in-print copy”. As mentioned above, the printed magazine sold out very quickly for a first issue, which is quite surprising “in a world where everything is online”. With the resurgence of the imperfect analogue vinyl and its tangibility, it would appear that this is translating into more appeal for independent magazines too. Funding proved to be an obstacle in the first issue, as although “it’s so great to have so many talented younger writers”, some had to be cut to bring down the printing costs. Stephanie is looking to use the funds gathered from issue one to ensure that issue two covers more articles by the vast array of talent that The Record Press now boasts.

Launching the magazine during a pandemic has not been easy, and neither has working in a band; “I really commend artistic industries, with some of the stuff that has come out of this year”, Stephanie says. She notes that, although the band made an effort to work from home, there is a limit to how much you can do. Now, with the pandemic on the way out, “the fact that we are back recording, and we have a load of gigs lined up is an amazing feeling”. Bands such as Pavilion and Bull topped her list of favourites in the vibrant York music scene. In fact, The Record Press has now branched out into merchandise too, selling an anti-slip mat, alongside other pieces such as their pink caps which are flying off the shelves.

The magazines are set to be released on a seasonal basis, giving Stephanie the freedom to pursue other things too. When asked whether the magazine could become something she could rely financially on full time, Stephanie responded that “my instincts right now say don’t be ridiculous, but also never say never. You really don’t know where things may take you”. On the topic of money, Stephanie notes that “You tend to be most creative when you are limited, as opposed to spending thousands of pounds on a set”. This intricate line between creative freedom and commercial success is a theme that Stephanie says she would love to discuss with Lady Gaga; “you want to be really outrageous whilst also appealing to the masses, or you want to create art whilst also being commercial. How the heck do you do that?”. Stephanie does not want to have to tow this line, which is why she does not want The Record Press to be her main occupation, she explains, she would rather keep it as a “passion project” so that she can “do it without worrying about the repercussions”.

As a female lead-vocalist, the discussion around gender imbalance came up: “when talking with other artists, at this level it's less of an issue. In terms of her own influences, Stephanie credits Wolf Alice who she names as a “huge inspiration to me, because it's female led, considering how on reflection I have usually been listening to male indie-rock artists.” As to how the gender divide in the industry can be changed, “the realist in me thinks any change has to come from the ones at the top, whether it is climate change or gender. It has to filter down, little people like me creating something run by women might make a difference in some sense, but the big difference is from the people up top”. Stephanie went on to mention:  “we need more female producers, we have female artists, but we need women running the show…. Finding these references really helps… It’s a catch-22, if you don’t know any sound, how are you going to create a new one?”. Stephanie mentions how this becomes ‘self-fulfilling erasure’, but on the other hand, how “if there are no female sounds, you are immediately going to stand out, because you are a female singer in a sea of men”.

For now, the least we can do is to support women in this industry by supporting their independent creative ventures. Look out for Issue 2 which will be hot off the press on 1 July.

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