If you read my pieces on a consistent basis, you will know the genuine love and excitement I hold for our local Geelong music scene. We are in the incredible situation where the accessibility to great local acts and 10 dollar shows seems endless, but yet the harsh truth is that usually these acts performing to an elite standard are still unsigned.
But they won’t be for long considering there is a new locally-based record label on the rise.
Bonsai Records is the brainchild of Ella Jeffries and is the newest label to reel in the freshest crop of local talent. And she’s not wasting any time, with Bonsai having already signed Pollyman and Bones and Jones upon its inception. But how did the idea of starting a label actually come to fruition? We caught up with Ella to find out more.
“Well, I’ve always lived with musicians and have always been into the gig scene, and I found myself thinking that I was sick of being a bystander and that I wanted to get involved in any way I could,” she explains. “I started researching everything and emailing all the independent labels that I look up to and just got stuck into it!”
Interestingly enough, Bonsai’s first signing Pollyman was actually an influence on Ella’s interest in music expanding, after she encountered him at one of her first-ever gigs. “He absolutely blew my mind,” she recalls, “I remember standing there and thinking ‘more people have to hear this.
“I guess I was really drawn to his songwriting. There was such a focus on straight-up songwriting and that really resonated with me. His lyrics just move the entire audience and that is something I haven’t seen in a long time.”
Speaking of the hardships of starting up a business, Ella elaborates on how important it is to back yourself and why you should never be afraid to ask for help. “When I was starting my research I was so overwhelmed with everything and Billy from Anti-Fade was so helpful with giving me a bit more confidence and pointing me in the right direction.
“Milk! Records is another label which I think is fantastic, Flightless obviously, just everyone really! I think it’s so good what these labels are doing. The music scene is thriving at the moment and I feel they are such a big part of that. I emailed Milk at one point and they told me to just do it and see how it goes and I feel that approach is spot on.”
“At the start though, it was pretty daunting,” she continues. “I had a bit of money saved up and I didn’t really know what to do with it. I started going to Uni and was so out of touch with that and as soon as I started looking into this and realised that’s what I wanted to do that was how I knew I wanted to spend it. But to me, being a young person who is sacrificing that initial money to start at a loss is so worth it; just to get the bands out there is enough for me.”
If you’d like to show Ella and Bonsai Records the same support she has shown local musicians, get down to their launch show in August.
“We have a Bonsai Records launch show coming up at the Gaso Upstairs on August 2 and we will have some merch on sale there as well. I think it will be a really fun night. We will have both Bones and Jones and Pollyman performing that night, as well as a bunch of people spinning vinyl in between. I’m really, really excited to get it all up and running and hope to catch you there!”
Written by Alex Callan