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Transparent Records

Sad and beautiful pop music from the Camberwell 7” label

South London’s Sahil Varma and Jack Shankly are inspired by: “Labels that are bold in their own taste, who don’t worry about the zeitgeist, or even what's going to sell records because all those things will come if the songs are good.” The two owners of Transparent Records are barely into their twenties, initially starting with a print zine and parties, and now as a blog and label, their 7”s specialise in, “strange, sad and beautiful pop music.” In September ‘08 the imprint kicked off with the electro Americana of Emil & Friends, last year releasing the shoegazey pop tinkerings of Washed Out and Small Black. Varma and Shankly’s earnest endeavours steam into 2010, recently with LA’s Active Child, whose epic ballads sound like Jesus and Mary Chain fronted by Robert Smith. Denver’s Weed Diamond and Seattle's Perfume Genius are next on the hit list for the Camberwell duo.

Dazed Digital: What other labels inspire you?
Sahil Varma: Labels like Postcard, Creation and early 4AD are all really inspiring for the way in which they effortlessly had such a well-defined aesthetic and ethos. There's an attitude, a set of principles there that runs through them all and it seems totally organic. Newer labels like Captured Tracks, Woodsist, True Panther Sounds and Old English Spelling Bee have this worked out perfectly too. They're just wonderful communities.

DD: What is the thread that links your releases?
Jack Shankly: I suppose the key link has been that they are all pop songs, in the truest sense of the word. They're romantic and melancholic about love and loss that don't really try and be anything else. They're scratched and damaged with but at their core they're totally accessible and honest.
DD: Creative, lo fi, drifter, dreamer music... anywhere close?
SV: A lot of the artists have been the product of just one person, on their own, in their bedroom and it's quite awe-inspiring to think when you hear their output. It's so grand and it's achieved through pure force of imagination. The best music should be an escape route, it should be conducive to dreaming. I also think it's great when you have to pluck a golden melody from a really cloudy song. It shouldn't always be easy!

DD: What do u want to see from new bands in 2010?
JS: More of the same, I guess. Just bands who aren't afraid of writing pop songs and have interesting ideas about what that can mean. Maybe more guitar solos, too? I feel they've been much-maligned for far too long and someone needs to reclaim them for the good.
DD: Any plans for more publications and parties?
SV: Not sure about publications, really. I think we're pretty set with the blog the way it is, although I do kind of miss the little printed editions we had. We'll definitely be looking to throw some more parties though. Smith Westerns, Washed Out and Fergus and Geronimo are all headed to the UK. Other than that, we're hosting a stage at this year's SXSW which is very exciting.