Infirmary Records – An Interview with Nick at Third Kind

This month I had the pleasure of chatting to Nick who runs Third Kind Records in Brighton, discussing the label, his thoughts on physical releases and the wider music industry. If you’re looking at releasing your own music via a label or starting one yourself, read on…

third kind records


Hi Nick, can you tell us a little bit more about yourself, Third Kind and how it came about?

“I’m somebody who has been making music since I was about 14, but never really did it as a job despite flirting with soundtracks, production music (library music) and starting labels. The early 2000s, when I was starting to get some of that stuff together, was a very bad time for musicians in my opinion. The 20th-century model was dead, but we still didn’t have any good internet tools or connections. By the teens, things started to get more interesting and now there are more useful established systems. 

Third Kind came about in 2013 due to a number of things aligning. I was starting to accumulate a lot of unreleased music, as well as working a day job with many friends who were making really good music. One of those friends, Molly Askey-Goldsbury, was doing really nice design work, and her friend’s band were selling cassettes at their gigs. I was amazed that people would buy cassettes in 2013, but then started looking into it and realised there had already been this emerging underground tape scene full of interesting music. I asked Molly if she wanted to start a label and we had a lot of fun coming up with the ‘brand’ and A&R and the product design.”

third kind vinyl

For someone who doesn’t know the label, how would you describe it? Do you have a particular ethos or focus for the music you release and the artists you work with? 

“It’s an experimental label in the sense that I like to experiment with how we release music. There are so many options with formats, packaging and novel ways to release things, all things to play with currently, but in terms of style, it’s hard to describe because it’s not really genre based. I’ll release anything that I really love and I’m interested in all sorts of music. I like to work with artists who have a ‘unique voice’ and who continue to grow or diversify in interesting ways.

One of the reasons I asked to chat with you about Third Kind was the focus you put on physical format releases – cassettes, vinyl, minidisc etc. Over the last few years there’s been a marked increase in labels and artists offering these formats, why do you think that might be?

“There’s a really long answer to this, much of what has been said before, but in a nutshell, I’d say this. The 20th century was a bit like a constant pursuit of the perfect reproduction of recordings in a convenient way. It dominated the music industry entirely and each innovation offered massive economic growth. Once we reached the pinnacle with uploadable and easily accessible master recordings, the music (and the music industry itself) lost a certain type of value. What’s more, the cultural importance of perfect reproduction simultaneously disappeared. Formats like vinyl and cassette are imperfect, but they’re good enough for enjoyment, and they allow listeners to quantify and value music again in a tactile way rather than feeling like they’re just renting something altogether nebulous and overwhelming in quantity.”

third kind cassette tape

What have you found are the main pros and cons of releasing music in physical formats? 

“When I got back into buying cassettes around 2013, it was like I had found a filter, a way to be able to manage to listen to new music without it being too overwhelming. I would be just browsing the new tapes, and I think many do this with vinyl particularly. I would love to see current figures on this from Spotify and Bandcamp, but there’s obviously a new album being uploaded by someone, or many people, every second of every day. I honestly think having releases come out physically just acts as a filter for many people who buy formats. We need those filters now, filters are good since it would probably take a lifetime just to listen to all of this week’s new releases. 

The disadvantage of releasing on physical formats is that hardly anyone buys music. This isn’t necessarily a problem though, as long as you can keep finding those few people all over the world, it can add up to a lot of people. That’s the hardest thing though, and social media plays a big role in that and takes up a lot of time.”

third kind vinyl and tapes

One of the things I personally enjoy about physical releases is the importance and consideration for artwork, not only does this offer another dimension to the release itself, it brings musicians and artists together to create something that complements one another. How do you go about sourcing or selecting artwork for Third Kind releases?

“I’m always keeping an eye out for artists whose work I like or that I feel have a sort of musical quality and, most importantly, are memorable. So often when I hear a new album that’s been submitted, I’ll very quickly imagine a style that perhaps matches up with one of those visual artists. Sometimes nothing quite fits at all, so I’ll resort to doing the art myself. One thing I find very tricky is commissioning art because it can be very hard to explain an overall feel that you’ve imagined to an artist, so it’s better to find appropriate art that’s already been created in my experience. Some artists are very good at understanding these things, but it’s usually because they’ve had years of design experience, and I would say, have often been quite involved in music themselves.”

rupert vinyl

Here at the college a lot of the students are taking their first steps into producing and writing their own music, recording EPs, singles and releases. Looking forward, the focus is often on digital distribution via Apple Music, Spotify etc so as an independent label do you have any thoughts on these platforms and their value to those looking to pursue a career as an artist, producer or songwriter? 

“I’ve made quite a conscious decision to not go down that route so I have little advice except one thing: hold something back. Not all of your music has to be available all of the time to everyone. I honestly believe it devalues your work if it’s too easily accessible. Correlations between value and scarcity of commodities is a whole separate lesson in economics but don’t be fooled into believing that none of it is relevant to music. Secondly, learn as much as you can about this area and keep abreast of changes in that industry. Streaming isn’t going away but I firmly believe that the status quo will change before too long. Hopefully, it will change for the better, I certainly don’t think Spotify are the final word in streaming. Let’s see what happens over the next few years.” 

Starting your own record label is an exciting prospect, do you have any advice for our students who may be considering something similar, whether this is to release other artists’ music, or to self-release their own?

“I want to come back to the idea in question 2 of an experimental record label.  It’s one way to experiment with how you get music out into the world. It is one option to try, not necessarily exclusively, and simply by trying it out, you can learn quite a lot. Building a label over time takes a lot of work, but a lot of it is varied and fun. Ideally, it can help you build a community of artists and fans that makes you forget that it’s even working at all. There are so many different approaches or even manifestos for running labels that it would be hard to give specific advice here. I will say this, only release music that you are truly passionate about, that way you’ll never have any serious regrets.”

Thanks Nick! 

You can find out more about Third Kind Records over at 


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