Founded by musician Harry Taylor, Mystique Records aims to bring Adelaide's thriving psychedelic music scene out from the underground.
Introducing Mystique Records
Harry Taylor is a few minutes behind schedule when he meets with CityMag at Lucia’s just after 9:30am on a Thursday.
He’d performed on Three D Radio the night before with his band, Smudge Stain, and then spent the night deliberating with himself over how the performance went.
This internal monologue spills out into our conversation as we exchange introductions.
Artistic integrity is important to Harry, and he tells CityMag he’s always looked up to artists who’ve “found a way to share their own voice with people” in a way that is “true to whatever their intention is”. Trying to achieve this in a live broadcast environment, though, was “depleting”, he says, hence his mild malaise.
Smudge Stain is a psych rock group, with Harry on drums, that wears its ‘60s and ‘70s influences proudly, as evident in their searching Pink Floyd-esque single from last month, ‘Swan Song’.
As an artist actively producing and releasing music, Harry knows of the difficulties in balancing both the creative and commercial sides of the industry.
To orchestrate an effective release strategy for a new single, and thereby help it find an appreciative audience, means committing “almost equal effort… as much as making” the song in the first place, Harry says.
“If you’re doing that out of balance, then it gets detrimental and you can’t sustain it properly,” he says.
Many of Harry’s friends in the music industry expressed this same feeling to him, and so he saw an opportunity to help.
Inspired by friends and contemporaries who had launched their own labels – such as Swirl Records and PAK Music – Harry decided to launch his own, Mystique Records, which has been running for a little over a year.
Harry’s aim is to take as much non-creative burden off the musicians he signs as possible, to allow them to focus on their art.
“I’ve basically just decided to really take a stand and make sure that the artists doing stuff can be considered as best as possible,” Harry says.
Through Mystique, Harry runs showcase gigs around Adelaide, and he works with bands on single and LP releases – organising videos, merch and tours to support the new works, and making the music available physically in CD, cassette and vinyl formats.
“There’s definitely been a lack in the local scene of something that can provide that service to bands in that kind of genre of music that I [work with],” Harry says.
“At the moment, the scene is definitely thriving in a lot of ways. There’s a lot of bands out there, playing gigs, putting out releases, getting on air, doing physical or digital releases of their music.
“There’s a big shift happening with not just the number of bands and fans, but I think the level of quality is definitely improving, in terms of performance, in most cases, and just the level of output that bands are willing to go through in order to accomplish their endeavours.”
For Harry, Mystique’s purpose is to help this thriving scene flourish into greater public consciousness.
“The music industry, it’s quite a diverse landscape,” Harry says.
“There’s a lot of the underground. There’s a lot more groups coming through, and there’s definitely a keen audience for them. I feel like there’s something lacking in the climate that allows people to gravitate, connect, towards that.
“I’m just trying to make a real community that has a very integrated connection with each other… so that it’s all functioning in tandem with each other.”