Saturday, 2 August 2014

Cardinal Fuzz Records interview with Dave Cambridge!

When the blog first started, Cardinal Fuzz Records, or more simply, Dave Cambridge, was one of the very first people to share the blog, and show an interest in what I was doing. Since then, Dave has gone onto release countless amounts of great music, including The Cult of Dom Keller, The Janitors, and The Shine Brothers. With all these amazing records being produced by the label, I thought I'd catch up with the man behind it to learn a bit more about how everything worked, and operated. 


Dan: Hey Dave, Cardinal Fuzz Records have been going for some time. When did it begin, and why did you choose to start a label?

Dave: Well, it started through doing the Optical Sounds fanzine which started back in the Summer of 2010, though at that time I had no intention of doing a label; I just wanted to do a print magazine, giving coverage to a whole music genre that was getting totally overlooked by the mainstream press. Quite a few of the bands I was really into had no vinyl output, and I would be interviewing them and asking when the vinyl was coming and a few said if I did a record label they would gladly let me release it. Still seems crazy to me that no-one was releasing The Dead Sea Apes or The Janitors or The Cosmic Dead at the time. Anyway, once that idea germinated I was selling old records to raise money! I'm the type of person who when he says he is going to do something, I go and do it.

Dan: Even though I would say the sound of your label's output is somewhat hard to put a finger on, there is definitely some consistent themes, one for example being that you tend to put out acts from all over the globe, as opposed to just one location. Does your label try to achieve a certain sound?

Dave: My whole musical landscape is shaped by Spacemen 3, and The Heads. I think pretty much any band I release you can see the connection back to those 2 bands.  Pete Kember is a genius and I'm glad that after what seemed like a while of not getting the recognition he deserved, he is now, and is highly in demand it would seem. Still wish he would finish just one more Spectrum LP. Forever Alien is a much overlooked gem in his back catalogue – seek it out please.

Dan: As I previously mentioned, you source artists from across the international spectrum. How do you normally source the acts you put out?

Dave: I'm just like most music obsessives, I just scour the internet. Sometimes bands tip artists my way or it's just a word of mouth thing. I get really excited when I find a new band and become pretty obsessive. Myspace was great for that a few years ago, and I found so many great bands that way like Hills,  Magic Lantern, all the Santiago bands and The Cult Of Dom Keller and now there are so many places to find bands and hear their music. Some people might argue there is too much clutter out there making it harder for the better bands to be heard, but personally I don’t agree – good stuff will always shine through and of course what is good is always different for all of us.

Dan: How does the collaboration between the label and band usually work?

Dave: So far, it's been really good. I get completely obsessed with them and offer them a good deal and I think the bands can see that my enthusiasm is genuine. It helps that there has been a very, very positive buzz around the label with pretty much ever release selling out and that of course helps as the band knows it will get out there and create some excitement. However, I don’t do contracts, or any of that - though if the label does get much bigger I guess that would have to change…not for a while though. Bands do have full control, but I’ll always give my input and try to get what I want as well – be that on the art side or the track listing – but it's done out of a passion for everything to look and sound the best it can.

A Cult of Dom Keller test pressing.

Dan: Cardinal Fuzz doesn't seem to learn toward one medium over another, but what if you had to choose from cassette, vinyl, or CD, what would you choose and why?

Dave: The first few release were all on CD with the ever great Sam Giles doing the handmade vinyl replica sleeves that I really love. Small pressings because that’s simply what I could afford. But, I do much prefer Vinyl – I love everything about vinyl, especially the artwork which has sucked me into so many great albums. Also, what I love about vinyl over CD and digital is that you cannot skip songs or fast forward through tracks (well I know you can), but I  sit down and take each side in and it feels immersive. It always feels special as well when you get buy a vinyl record compared to a CD. And course I fucking love that the some of the music industry tried to kill it off - haha, clueless idiots.

Dan: How do you normally decide on what is the right physical medium to put out a band's music on?

Dave: Vinyl is always first choice for me, but I also wanted to do a live rehearsal room series. Really raw sound with guitars cutting you down, no hi-fi audio, and rough as a badger's balls and for that to me it seemed CD would be the right medium as a lot of people might not share my enthusiasm for everything in the red recordings! And more to the point these would run to 60-80 minutes and double LPs are bloody expensive. I’ve already released 4 double LPs by bands that had never even released one vinyl record which looking back scares me! I promised myself I wouldn't do any more doubles and now I'm committed to two more!

One of Sam Giles' vinyl sleeves.

Dan: Additionally, how do you usually source artwork for your releases? I've noticed most of them are quite innovative, and/or original.

Dave: The band normally has their own idea's and even if it's not been to my liking – if they are 100% sure, I’ll go with it. Hills and The Oscillation let me go ahead with my own idea's though which was much fun. I roped in Sam Giles to do the Hills one which looked great (based of course on Hapshash and Marin Sharp's artwork).  For The Oscillation I had my own idea's which Brett Savage helped with and in the end I changed and inverted the sleeve after Brett sorted out a cool warped background. Printed on the Mirror Sleeve, I was extremely pleased how that looks and feels. We have just found a great screen printer as well and I'm really pushing bands to go down the screen printing route as I love the look of hand screened sleeves.

Dan: Being so closely involved with record output, do you have a collection of your own? And, if so, what are some of your most prized pieces?

Dave: I reckon people would be pretty disappointed if they saw how little my collection is! Well the wife would not agree but compared to some of the collections of friends its tiny. Prized bits - The Heads and Spacemen 3 vinyls of course and some of them are worth (to others) a fair bit but to me they've never been sold so it doesn’t matter. I've got a real nice Seeds album, 'Future' on a South American label (lovely little op art logo) with all the titles in Spanish…sounds like shit though! Pretty Things SF Sorrow though I would reckon to be one I do take extra special care off as it’s a first press.

Dan: I have to ask, Cardinal Fuzz is an unusual name. Does it have a special origin, or suchlike?

Dave: With both the fanzine and the label the links are to bands I love, so Cardinal Fuzz is The Heads, and Optical Sounds is The Human Expression. Much love to each of those bands.

Dan: Is there any advice you would like to impart to prospective label owners?

Dave: Just don’t be too downhearted if/when things go wrong – because everything will! You have to be a stubborn bugger in this game to keep going. But, the rewards of releasing music you love far far far outweighs all that. The sleepless nights you will encounter are all worth it for the day the vinyl pressing arrives at the front door and you get first play – it’s a great feeling. Work out all your costs - know what your brake even is. Don’t rip off the bands you are working with – these are people you love so treat them well. I don’t promise fame or fortune just that I will get you music pressed on vinyl in a real nice package and I will get people excited about your band. Hopefully then you can sign to a proper label!

The Optical Sounds Fanzine.

Dan: Lastly, how do you feel about the digital age, and the way it has shaped music listening culture?

Dave: Personally I think its brilliant – I hate elitism - maybe that’s a British class thing but it used to be only those in the know got to hear all them mythical recordings. Now anything you want is there at the tip of your fingers. It used to be you only got to know about a very small amount of bands through the weekly press – now there are some great blogs out there pointing you all in whatever direction you want to go in. A band in Santiago releases a record and everyone in the world can now hear it – that has to be good. The media  like to tell you nowadays because of the internet we all have the attention span of a gnat but for me I've only got the attention span of a gnat when I'm listening or reading something that doesn’t excite me. Its great to read a blog where their excitement for a particular band or record is coming through and within a few clicks you can be sat listening and making your own mind up and maybe within a few more clicks buying the vinyl/CD/download.


With new records for Kikaguka Moyo, The Myrrors, and more, skewed for release soon, make sure to like the Facebook page here to stay up to date.

Also, to find all of the current Cardinal Fuzz catalogue make sure to check out their Big Cartel site here.

The Optical Sounds Fanzine can also be found here.

Interview conducted by Daniel Sharman.


  1. Great piece, I am a big fan and love what this label and others like it are doing - keep up the great work Dave!

    1. Thank you for your kind words...if you like this interview, please check out our interview with Nikolas Rayne of Sky Lantern Records!

  2. I first 'met' Dave when he emailed me that he enjoyed the show I do. Since then I've had the great joy of watching his enthusiasm go from a rabid fan, to the fanzine to spear-heading one of the best labels around. Needless to say when we started thinking of branching out into a label ourselves, I picked Dave's formidable brain relentlessly … I still do. I'm honored to count Dave as one of my best friends I've 'never met,' a mentor, guru, and now supporter. Long may the Cardinal reign …

    1. Amen! Thanks for the delightful comment!