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HIP HIP FOR OFF THE HIP
Two things you'd be reluctant to do in the music business
in the past decade: One, start a record label. Two, open
a CD shop. But Mickster from Off The Hip has made a success
of both ventures, with his Off The Hip label celebrating
its eighth birthday this month, and his shop - at 381 Flinders
Lane in the city - going well. And Mickster tells Howzat!
he's looking forward to the label's 10th birthday - and
beyond. "We're in a very good position at the moment," he
says. The label is celebrating its birthday with its first
vinyl release - a seven-inch single from the label's biggest
international seller, Johnny Casino. Off The Hip started
in 1992 with the release of the first Stoneage Hearts' album,
Turn On. Their biggest local seller has been The Dolly Rocker
Movement's 2006 debut, Electric Sunshine, while they have
also released albums from Little Murders, Dom Mariani, The
Breadmakers, The Bo-Weevils and The Cheats - Howzat!'s favourite
party album of 2009. (The Cheats are playing this Saturday
How tough has it been running a label for the past eight
"It was much tougher in the beginning when shops would only
take stock on consignment, and then they might not even
pay once sold. Now we have more than 90 releases, mostly
albums, so we have a solid catalogue, and only deal on regular
invoiced terms, so it's a lot easier these days. And now
it's a full time job, so I get to devote more than 40 hours
each week to the label and shop."
What are the origins of the name Off The Hip?
"It's a rally cry, like 'Make Love Not War'. Major labels
keep your hands off the hip artists!"
Was there a model or label that was the inspiration for
Off The Hip?
"In the beginning we just wanted to release a few records
by bands we loved. Over time, I've come to look closely
at what makes a good label tick, like Norton, Bomp! and
In The Red."
Which three local releases are you most proud of?
"Dolly Rocker Movement, Johnny Casino, and the debut Frowning
Is there much difference between your sales online and in
"About the same, actually. I couldn't survive on shop sales
Why is it important to still have a shop in this online
"It's convenient for me 'cause I have to warehouse more
than 90 label titles, and our mail-order has grown to more
than 7000 items (mostly vinyl), so I have to house it all
somewhere. Off The Hip is far too big to run from home,
as I did in the beginning, so I need an office of some sort,
so I just combine it all into one space in Melbourne's CBD.
Wanna drop in and have a beer while buying records? Sure
thing, drop in any time!"
Has the label's "DIY ethos" changed much over the eight
"Not at all. We still do all our own distribution, packing,
invoicing, mailing, dealing with bands, radio, press …"
What are your plans for the label's 100th release?
"We've got Jon Auer of The Posies producing the Sole Stickers'
debut album. Very exciting."
Lots of Aussie acts are heading to this year's South by
Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas. Loene Carmen
- who was in town last Sunday to launch her new album, It
Walks Like Love - went to last year's SXSW. So what was
the experience like? "Illuminating, exhausting, fun," Loene
says. "But it definitely opened my eyes to the fact that,
even in the independent scene, a band isn't going to get
very far these days without 'hype' and 'heat', and it takes
a hell of a lot of money and dedicated effort to manufacture
that. I didn't realise quite how naive I was to all the
business stuff actually, having always been a DIY kind of
GIG OF THE WEEK
Local folk pop combo The Tealeaves have delivered a delightful
debut. Their self-titled set is warm, witty and wonderful.
It's already drawn comparisons to Cat Stevens and Simon
& Garfunkel, and they would also find a happy home alongside
The Waifs and The Little Stevies. The Tealeaves launch the
album at the East Brunswick Club on Friday.
The new Gabriella Cilmi singles lands at number 19.
Sweet Disposition THE TEMPER TRAP (number 15)
On A Mission GABRIELLA CILMI (19, debut)
Black Box STAN WALKER (20)
Art Of Love GUY SEBASTIAN (22)
One Way Road JOHN BUTLER TRIO (28)
In The Air TV ROCK FEATURING RUDY (37, debut)
According To You ORIANTHI (38)
The Birds of Tokyo' orchestral live album arrives at number
Wrapped Up Good THE McCLYMONTS (number 10)
The Broken Strings Tour BIRDS OF TOKYO (11, debut)
Conditions THE TEMPER TRAP (14)
Black Ice AC/DC (23)
Hazardous VANESSA AMOROSI (26)
As Day Follows Night SARAH BLASKO (27)
Golden Rule POWDERFINGER (31)
Bran Nue Dae SOUNDTRACK (34)
Walking On A Dream EMPIRE OF THE SUN (37)
Introducing STAN WALKER (38)
Wonder LISA MITCHELL (39)
Barefoot & Beautiful THE TEALEAVES
Goldmine TOBIAS CUMMINGS
Will You Shine? PERRY KEYES
Sometimes I Just Don't Know SOLE STICKERS
Oh Apollo! LOENE CARMEN
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