Stef Nienaltowski recently caught up with Dom Elton, who runs Mayfield Records based in the north of the city. It was a fascinating discussion, and once again proves the creative talent we have in this city of ours.
Dom and his team have a brilliant facility and his passion for his art shines through when you meet and listen to him.
Stef Nienaltowski: Good morning, I'm talking to Dom Elton, the owner of Mayfield Records. Good morning Dom.
Dom Elton: Good morning Stef.
SN: Dom, the branding on your website says "The South Coast's premier recording facility, offering bands and singers the complete package". That's an amazing accolade! Tell me, how long have you been established?
DE: We've been established three years. The approach to that statement is, I took it from the point of view of me, as an artist playing in a band, and being able to essentially break through. Involved in that would be the various steps required to allow that, and I wanted, and there's nothing really like that in Portsmouth currently, or wasn't then, that would allow an artist to record and write, and then release and distribute, and then, obviously, with the opportunity to play live as well, altogether within one organisation. So, although the business started off as a studio, a recording studio, it's a high-end professional recording studio right here in Portsmouth, what we saw quite early on was a lot of very very good artists come in and record. And I would ask them, "what are you going to do with this song?" and generally it's a question of just uploading to a free music site, and that's pretty much it. So, after I suppose a year of running the studio as a recording, production facility, that I thought that we need some kind of infrastructure to allow those songs to go further. The top line with Mayfield records here is to get some of our amazing singers and song-writers and bands some kind of national recognition, in other words to create some kind of music scene here in Portsmouth that's recognised nationally, and I don't think we've ever had that really.
There's been the odd individual artist that've broken through, but I think what I'm trying to do is create a scene. And that really has to be able to offer artists the, well what we say here, the complete package. So, it's the recording that we support on an artist development programme, song writing as well, you may have an artist that literally just has a tune and a lyric but doesn't play an instrument. We can offer artists a band, and a range of session musicians. Because, what pre-empted the studio was in fact the Mayfield Band, which has been going several years with the same brand, and the same logo. And that band has now evolved to what I'm now calling Mayfield Records House Band. So, it's going back to the old Motown days, where a studio would have a house band, that would have a core team, that would then support artists coming in. That house band has been utilised several times now, in different productions, because we've got a range of singers, we've got a full brass section, we've got obviously guitar, bass, drums, keys, and all of that. So, for that individual artists that have got some decent songs, we can provide pretty much everything, right up to release, and the opportunity for them to play live. This year we've got the opportunity to showcase our artists at Victorious Festival. Been running a stage at Victorious Festival for three years. Each year we've stepped up a bit, and this year we've got the opportunity to actually showcase artists we've signed and released on the label.
SN: So, when you say 'the complete package', it is The Complete Package!
DE: Yeah, it is, because it's very very very difficult for artists, very competitive, and a lot of them are obviously very young, and unsure of where to go, or how to go about it, and I think what we can offer is some kind of, I suppose plan, plan of action, to allow them to realise their dreams. I mean, it is a tricky business, and to take this on at my age I must be crazy, but...
SN: Not at all!
DE: ...but I'm passionate about music, and I'm also passionate about trying to make a difference, and it'd be great wouldn't to put Portsmouth on the map, musically.
DE: Because, the talent's there. I was at a gig last night down in Southsea, and heard an amazing band, and the average age in that band is 17. And I put a little video up this morning, and someone commented "I can see the future!" This band were THAT good. So, I've already contacted them this morning, and invite them to come on to our stage at Victorious. Omar Baba is the name of that band.
SN: Omar Baba?
DE: Omar Baba, yeah
SN: We'll listen out for that one, fascinating. And while we're on Victorious, have you seen, because of Victorious, a growth of people wanting to get into the music industry?
DE: Well, from my point of view as a studio owner, I've obviously seen bands that we've worked with at Victorious then come in and record, and that's obviously part of why we have the presence there at Victorious Festivals. You just think how many local bands and singers are performing there. We have, from the outset really, offered all artists that perform at Victorious, a 25% discount to come and record here at Mayfield. Great incentive for them to come in and record, which means that these band get the opportunity to produce some high-quality recordings of their music, which is what you need to take it to the next step. These tracks need to be radio-ready, that's part of what we're about. So, if I'm honest, from my point of view the business has grown in part to a very healthy music scene in Portsmouth, in part obviously to Victorious, and in part to us being there with our brand, and talking to these artists, we run a great sound setup there, so they're impressed with that when they come on our stage, and obviously that, they hope, would reflect in the in-studio recordings. Yeah, I mean, Victorious is brilliant for Portsmouth, and we want to be part of that growth in music, and the interest and love of music in Portsmouth, which is great.
SN: It's amazing! And what do you see as the main challenges, for you to grow that vision over the next three years?
DE: Ok, obviously, this is the music industry, so there are massive challenges. I mean, I've worked in health care before, and I never got involved with a business where there are so many potential gate-keepers. It's very competitive, the market's shifting continually. For that reason, I've joined an organisation called AIM, which is the Association of Independent Music, based in London, which involved me going up to London once a month, to sit in meetings, conferences, and workshops, to really help me, personally, understand the business. I can then come back to Portsmouth, and sort of impart that to various people I'm working with. We've now set up a monthly label meeting for all of our artists, so we can update them with things like sync deals, which is a great way of earning some money from their music, which is basically matching their music up with TV and Film. I've got a guy, Tom Wells, who's a member of Kassassin Street, the band, he's kind of managing that side of things. So, it is a business, and we have to approach this as a business, even though it's in the creative arts. So, I kind of think, if I can approach this business how I did with my previous business and learn from the experience and mistakes I made there, we may just have a chance. But, it is the music industry after all, and I'm going to give this my very best.
SN: So how can we get in touch with you?
DE: Okay, well, www.mayfieldrecords.com. What you've got there is information about the studio, but also importantly, detail of the releases on our label, of which we are literally putting out new artists every month! So, we've been going 12 months, and we have 12 artists, bizarrely, there you go. With more to come!
SN: Dom, it's been a real pleasure to meet you, I look forward to coming back and seeing the success over the next few months, thank you,
DE: Thank you!