Tabernacle Records: "We are pursuing a labour of love"
One year in, Tabernacle Records owners Andrew Ingram and brothers Joel and Jasper Shaw tell us how their Glasgow club night spawned a label
When the owners of an independent electronic label commit to a costly policy of ignoring the digital revolution by releasing on vinyl only, it becomes clear that this is a label driven by firmly held ideals above all else. Tabernacle Records emerged from the seeds sown by Glasgow club night, Slabs of the Tabernacle, and it is characterised by the same zeal that made those parties such a success. The label’s quality has been firmly established with the release of tracks by techno torchbearers such as John Heckle and Xenogears, Glaswegian analogue electro duo, Fancy & Spook, and Slabs regular Arne Weinberg.
Is there an ethos that shapes the label and the kind of music that is released?
Andrew: In terms of the kind of music we aim to release, a lot of the previous artists accrued over the years from the Slabs events. But now we are looking further afield, contacting older artists and undiscovered artists. I think we’ve always wanted to stress that quality is of the greatest importance to us. A lot of time is invested in sourcing the right tracks, creating artwork, and coming up with concepts for future releases. So we treat what we do with the label as seriously as we can. It needs to be treated with this focus in order to survive, especially in such competitive times for the industry.
Thus far, Tabernacle Records has been limited to vinyl only releases. Can you explain this decision?
Jasper: For starters, we are all vinyl heads and only DJ with vinyl. By choosing vinyl over CD and digital releases, we are pursuing a labour of love rather than a motivation to try and make a profit. With the physical release it is also a platform not only for musicians that we like but also for visual artists. There is something more satisfying and enduring about the physical form – both in music and in art. Our preference is for DJs to play records, and vinyl is the way we all consume the music. Why would we release on any other format?
With changes in the way music is distributed, and digital sales beginning to dominate in electronic music, how does Tabernacle Records fit in?
Jasper: I guess we don’t fit in with these changes. We were recently speaking with another small label owner about this. He suggested that releasing vinyl is like a form of quality control. With digital releases it’s all too easy to put anything out without putting anything into it in the first place. We’re not saying that all digital sales are rubbish or that all vinyl is excellent – but you are more likely to think about what you put out if you are spending lots of your own hard earned cash to release a product.
In what ways are small independent labels like Tabernacle Records important?
Joel: Small labels help to inject personality into a predominantly sterile music scene. They help to contribute to a community that is reducing in size by the year. It is therefore important that we try to keep it alive by releasing good quality electronic music. Hopefully this might also encourage more promoters, artists and musicians to start up their own labels.
Finally, we have to ask, what are the origins of the name Slabs of the Tabernacle?
Joel: The name came from a Radio Magnetic show we did. At the time we liked the fact that it caught people off guard. There were, and are, too many nights with rather uninspiring names. We wanted to distinguish ourselves from the pack with a name that was a little different. As for the origin, you’re not getting that! It would become a lot less mysterious if we told you.