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Have A Cigar: Sel Belamir on launching a label with a difference

A shot of Sel Belamir

Making good art against all odds is a sentiment that Sel Belamir agrees with 100 per cent, and it’s the ethos behind his new record label.

As the frontman of Amplifier, Belamir has both been signed to major indie labels and released material independently. But it was shortly after 2014’s Mystoria, which came out via Superball, that he began thinking about a new DIY approach that would benefit other bands as well.

“[Our touring buddies] Awooga wanted to make a sort of community-based record label and asked me if I’d like to get involved,” reveals Belamir. “We spent a bit of time setting it up, but then with all the austerity cut-backs, the funding disappeared. Around the same time, Sony acquired Superball, so it just made sense to carry on with the idea. I knew I could put a record out because I’d already done it with The Octopus and having a label meant I could put Amplifier out, as well as bands like Awooga.”

Belamir defines Rockosmos as “eclectic rock music for travellers” – the first physical release was the trippy vinyl edition of Awooga’s Alpha – and he’s keen to push the multi-disciplinary approach of his new collective. “I don’t really want the label to work in a conventional sense,” he explains. “There will be a small roster, 10 acts at most, and I want it to function as an artist’s studio. In the music industry, there’s a clear and sharp distinction between creativity and commercial activity, but it doesn’t have to be like that. I’m going to try to bridge that chasm.”

Although the label is a one-man enterprise, Belamir has the support of sales and distribution company Red Essential, who are also involved with the day-to-day running. “It would be impossible for me to hire staff,
I couldn’t afford it,” he says, “but if there’s ever any problem, it can be resolved within 48 hours, which makes a big difference to my stress levels. Now I can just get stressed about putting stamps on things.”

It’s early days for Rockosmos, but the future is looking very bright. Amplifier’s Trippin’ With Dr Faustus and the new Thumpermonkey album are both due out this year. “I’m super-excited,” Belamir says of his plans. And so are we!


Natasha Scharf

Dark prog (and chocolate) fan Natasha has been a Prog regular since 2009. News Editor between 2014 and 2019, now Deputy Editor, she is the only member of the team to have appeared on Prog's cover.