Independently established in East London by husband and wife duo Nick Corbin and Sophie Heath, Big AC Records is all about creative collaboration, working with contemporary artists and bringing brand new funk and soul music to our turntables! The market is filled with other labels countlessly reissuing older sounds and of course there is nothing wrong with that. It’s just refreshing to see a label with their sights firmly set on the future of funk and soul music. They work with new talent to create brand new, beautifully packaged compositions and of course Mods Of Your Generation share the same passions as them when it comes to supporting and promoting new music. Therefore we are delighted to learn more about the duo, an upcoming tour, the artists they have worked with and the direction in which the label is heading.
Interview with Big AC Records Founders Nick Corbin & Sophie Heath
Firstly, Please introduce yourself and tell us about your backgrounds and expertise before founding the label?
Myself and Sophie met through a love of soulful music – My band, New Street Adventure, had just signed to Acid Jazz and were in the middle of recording our debut album. Sophie had recently started collecting records alongside her career as a graphic designer and as the collection grew she began DJing with Emma Noble; the two of them going out as ‘Noble & Heath’.
How have you managed to remain creative and inspired to continue, especially after the past few years due to the pandemic?
Big AC Records actually started during the pandemic as a necessity: I had finished recording my first solo album in late 2019 and had decided to self-release so I could keep my options open. The distributor we were working with needed a name for our ‘label’, so I chose ‘Big AC Records’ in the hope that fans of New Street Adventure would make the connection between the band and myself.
Throughout the Spring and Summer of 2020 I was writing loads of new songs and having a bit more time on my hands meant that I was sharing ideas and collaborating with other artists.
Sophie has always helped promote my music through her DJ connections and we realised we had built up a sizeable mailing list between us, plus you could have 7″ singles pressed in 7-8 weeks back then, so we thought, why not try releasing a few more records?!
Nick as an artist and now label owner do you feel your extensive experience as a song writer adds value to those you work alongside as a label manager?
I hope so! I’ve certainly been writing for a while now and I feel I have a good idea of what can make a great song but it’s always subjective so it’s important to keep taking in influences from all over and trying to improve. I learned a lot from my time with Acid Jazz in terms of production and arrangements and I think that experience has helped shape the sound of the music we release.
What has been the biggest challenge that you’ve faced in terms of getting the label off the ground?
As I mentioned earlier, vinyl lead times were only 7-8 weeks in early 2020. It’s very well publicised how long the waiting times can be now – at least 6 months in some cases. The prices have also increased by more than 50% since we began having records pressed. Our vision was to press all our releases on picture sleeve 7″ vinyl but it’s just not feasible at the moment, so we’re promoting the label and the artists we work with in other ways now!
You have fantastic up and coming artists on the label, Can you give us an insight into each of them and their music?
Our first release after my album was with Abi Farrell, who I had met at a jam night in Hackney Wick in early 2020. I was blown away by her voice and we got on very well, so we kept in touch and over lockdown we wrote a song together called ‘I Will See You Through’, which we released on the B-side of ‘Empowered’, an original song she had already been performing live.
Abi loves Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan and is also a big fan of Carole King and Fleetwood Mac – she can sing anything, has a fantastic stage presence and writes really meaningful lyrics. She has a new single out at the moment called ‘Nobody Else’, which was recorded in one take – it’s absolutely stunning!
Carmy Love was a backing singer in New Street Adventure so we have known each other for a long time now. We used to include one of her original songs, ‘Rebel’, in our live sets, so we were really keen to get that recorded and released on Big AC.
Carmy’s Mum and Step-Dad are DJs and record collectors too – she grew up around loads of reggae, gospel and soul and has a very unique tone to her voice. She’s an amazing personality and everyone wants to party with Carmy when she gets on stage!
Emma Noble is the other half of Noble & Heath alongside Sophie and a fantastic singer and songwriter too. Her music is positive and uplifting, perfect for getting you ready for the weekend! Emma was also in New Street Adventure alongside Carmy and has since worked with the likes of Lack of Afro and Matt Berry.
We have written a couple of songs together, including a duet called ‘Back On Track’, which Emma’s label, Cosmos we’re kind enough to license to us for a 7” vinyl release.
We were also very lucky to be a part of music photographer Dean Chalkley’s project, New Perspectives. In association with the clothing brand, Sunspel, Dean assembled six musicians; Laville (vocals), Kitty Liv (Drums), Amané Suganami (Keys), Solomon Douglas (bass), Lewis Durham (producer) and myself on guitar.
We called ourselves Phono 48 and in two days we wrote and recorded a track called ‘So Pure’, which was released on 12” single alongside a photography exhibition and documentary. It was a one-off release but very much in-keeping with our musical style!
You have announced a UK tour which features the artists on the label. What can we expect from their performances and the tour as a whole?
It’s a really unique show and I think it has to be seen to be truly understood. Luckily we are covering a good few miles so hopefully most people will be able to get to a show, wherever they are in the UK.
Unlike soul revues of the past, where each artist would perform a set and then make way for the next, we have four singers on stage at the same time, alternating between lead and backing vocals. This way of working epitomises the ethos of Big AC Records: it’s a co-operative community and everyone is equal. It also means there are no filler songs in the set, just all-out singles so the fans who come along know every word and can get involved too.
Here are the dates of the tour and tickets are available from www.bigacrecords.com/tour
Fri 2 Sept – Sally Brown’s, Bradford
Sat 3 Sept – McChuills, Glasgow
Sun 4 Sept – Music Box Festival, Darlington
Fri 28 Oct – The Piper, St Leonards on Sea
Fri 4 Nov – Hoochie Coochie, Newcastle
Sat 5 Nov – E-Rooms, Skelmersdale
Fri 11 Nov – The Louisiana, Bristol
Sat 12 Nov – The Hope & Ruin, Brighton
Thu 24 Nov – The 100 Club, London (2nd Anniversary Party with Special Guests!)
Is there any promising new artists in the pipeline that you’d like to sign to the label?
We are always looking to connect with great singers and songwriters and although we have a couple of potential new collaborations coming, it’s too early to announce anything just yet!
You sign an artist to Big AC Records. What happens next? Can you give us a general overview?
Because of the way we started, we don’t really ‘sign’ artists in the traditional sense.
We’re still learning and don’t want to tie people down to long contracts or take an unfair percentage of their future earnings, so my approach has always been to write with people first. If something good comes of the collaboration then we will discuss how we go about releasing their music and what we can potentially do to help them. If they decide not to carry on with us then at least a song has come out of it and the experience of co-writing is always interesting!
Your goal is to work alongside contemporary artists to bring brand new funk and soul music to our turntables. Tell us more about your passion and vision as the label continues to grow?
It’s still very early days but I hope that with a good few releases under our belts and the revue show continuing to make a name for itself, we can continue to grow our roster and establish ourselves amongst fans of all good music. When I look at labels like Daptone and Colemine, the quality of their output is something I’d love to aspire to. What I have learned over the last couple of years is that the more you put yourself out there, the more opportunities come your way so I’ve always just said our ambition is to be busy!
Is there anything else you both want to add or mention that I haven’t asked you about?
Just that we’re always happy to hear from people who are open to making great records!
There are so many brilliant singers out there who maybe just aren’t sure of what kind of music to make or how to reach a certain audience. We always have time to work with people who are ambitious and committed so do get in touch if you think you’d like to work with us!
If you want to find our about any future releases then follow us on social media and sign up to our mailing list here:
Mailing List sign up – https://www.bigacrecords.com/subscribe
YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-0_TSOmN1GZc87PED5vIrA
Instagram – www.instagram.com/bigacrecords
Facebook – www.facebook.com/bigacrecords
Twitter – www.twitter.com/bigacrecords
We’ve also got a few Spotify Playlists for soul lovers, so head over to our Spotify page to give those a follow!