Label Love: Trunk

A label like no other is embraced by our loving arms this week. welcome to Trunk.

Posted on Jul 15th, 2011 in Features and Interviews, Basil Kirchin, Trunk / By Peter Clark
Label Love: Trunk Words like 'cult' and 'kitsch' are always thrown about all too easily when people find it hard to describe/like something that's not necessarily mainstream fodder. However, the kitsch is what Trunk Records specialise in, by releasing lost or forgotten film scores, TV music, sexploitation, and library music, to an audience it may have completely passed by, or who want to rekindle nostalgic memories.

The main thing to drive this kind of work is passion, something with which Jonny Trunk has in droves.

Bearded decided to have a little catch up.

Hello. Firstly, who are you and what do you do?
Jonny Trunk. I run Trunk Records and when I’m not doing that I do other interesting things, like broadcasting, making books and anything else I think I can get away with.

Where does the name Trunk come from?
It came from a drunken conversation about 16 years ago. My friend Ralph said he thought Trunk was a good name. I agreed.

How did the label start out? How did you decide to focus on releasing such ‘cultish’ music?
It was born out of a passion for film music and related recordings. By the mid 1990s I’d got to a stage when I realised that the music I really really wanted to have on vinyl was not available and never had been, so I decided to make it available myself. I guess the cultish bit comes by accident. It just so happens that the music I was after came from more peculiar British films or slightly disturbing sources.

How does the average day/week pan out for you?
It’s a mixture of confusion, passion, excitement, anxiety, oddness, madness and that’s probably just Monday morning. The best thing about it all is that I do what I really want.

How has your job changed since you started?
In some cases it’s easier as the internet allows quicker contact with old artists, archives, estates, that sort of thing. Before (I mean in the 1990s) it was a case of proper detective work, faxes, chains of letters, phone calls that were never answered, that sort of thing. There are also now lots of companies doing a similar thing to me which also changes the market dynamic a bit, making the whole scene for unreleased peculiar music more competitive. And of course less people buy music these days, and have less patience because so much is now instant. So the window for selling people music is very small indeed. When I started you’d have about three months to sell a new release through stores, these days it’s about three minutes.

In an ever changing world of music formats and distribution, how do/are you evolving and keeping current with today’s scene, and where do you see the future of Trunk heading?
I try not to think about that too much, I’ve always just continued doing the same thing and people still buy the releases. Obviously there is a digital side to the releases which seems to be getting a little more active, but many of the people who buy my releases enjoy something a little old fashioned. Like buying records through the post, with a stamp on it.

By concentrating on kitsch, film scores, sexploitation, and unreleased TV music, is there a danger that one day you’ll simply run out of things to release?
Well I haven’t run out yet. And I have enough releases for a few years yet.

How do you source your releases? How do you choose what you want to be released and what should remain lost into the doldrums of time?
Releases come form all over the place; my memory, watching old films, talking in the pub, finding an acetate, meeting a musicians, an email from someone strange, all over the place really. And I have always chosen what will be released from a purely selfish point of view. I have only issued albums and singles I really want myself on vinyl, luckily there are others who want them too. As for the schedule of what comes next, there is no real system in place, but most of the time it’s sort of chronological, based on what I’ve licensed. But then again there are recordings I licensed about five years ago that I still haven’t released yet, and that’s because I don’t feel that the time is right, or that I might have just missed the right time and I’m now waiting for it to come back again. There’s also this selfish thing going on,

When you look over the music released back in the 1960/70s where a lot of your releases originate, do you fear for today’s music scene? Have we had the golden era on music, or are good times still ahead?
As long as people keep making and listening to music then everything will be alright. I have my opinions about old music and new music too which goes something like this – whatever era of music you are into there will be some great music, and some real shit.

Can you see a resurgence in independent record stores, or have things changed so much that there’s no going back? Does the magic of a record store rummage still work for you?
A new record shop has just opened up down the road from me. How exciting is that! And yes, when I have time and I don’t have my two small children screaming at me and demanding toys, food and comics, then a good old rummage is the best thing ever. Apart form sex. And eating.

It’s been over 15 years since your inception, what have been some of the highlights and lowlights of your time at the label?
To be honest it’s all been smashing. But being called a “cunt” recently by a pensioner who I was trying to license music from was interesting. Not sure if that’s a high point or a low one.

Where would you advise someone to begin when wanting to discover the music of Trunk?
Go to the website and buy anything I have in stock.

Any advice for someone wanting to set up their own label?
Have a go. If I can do it absolutely anyone can.

Do you carry an ethos or mantra?
Do not rest on laurels. They go a bit flat.