Saturday, 14 July 2012

Cape Town indie record label - Mountain Records

Mountain Records
Cape Town July 2021 (updated) -

Mountain Records, this label anyway, is the longest surviving indie record label in Cape Town. In fact it may the the longest surviving active (still making releases) indie label in South Africa. When we say indie, we mean independently run by people not working for a major company. Other local indie labels which come to mind are Dave Marks', Third Ear label and Lloyd Ross', Shifty Records.

Since Patrick Lee-Thorp started the label in1980, there have been a number of Mountain Records labels arriving on the international scene.  This is the blog of the oldest (as far as we know) still active, Mountain labels anywhere in the world.

We know of only one other Mountain Records that existed when we started (though when we started we did not know about them - if that makes sense). They were a UK based record label and we were South Africa based.

The mountain referred to in the label designs and the inspiration for the name is Table Mountain in Cape Town. Table Mountain is depicted in different ways in the designs of the label over the last 32 years. The original version of the current design was done by Clive Helfet.

Some of this blog was written in 2000 (before blogging) when we saw that some parties were simply sucking things (our history) out of their fingers, particularly about the role of Mountain in the creation of the musical careers of our acts and background to the label itself.  We did not publish that material at the time.

The staff of Mountain Records at the height of its busy phase, in 1982 to 1985, while occupying a floor of Market House in Greenmarket Square, Cape Town, was owner and boss Patrick Lee Thorp, known as Paddy, management assistant and 2IC, Rosalie Katz, known as Rosie, Candy Horn (the wife of a session player, Gary Horn) in accounts and Coleen Nama (singer in one of the bands we were working on), doing admin. Promo specialist, Andy Darlington was representing the label in Johannesburg as a freelancer.

From the end of 1992 the management of the label moved to the UK and in 1996 to Germany, though throughout the 32 years of existence the label has maintained an office in Cape Town and has concerned itself almost exclusively with African music or music inspired by Africa.

Policy - It has always been the policy of this label to be free of state or party political influence. We have never been funded by any commercial sponsors, regional or national governmental agency and have never sought such funding. This does not mean that the management do not have political preferences but the driving forces have been broader social priorities and commercial considerations.

Mountain Records grew up in the time of the so called cultural boycott of apartheid South Africa. While opposed to the political system in the country, as demonstrated by many of the label releases, the management of the label was also opposed to the undemocratic way in which the boycott was applied, further disadvantaging already disadvantaged artists. 

The lack of support from the ANC government in post apartheid South Africa, for many of the artists whose careers were sacrificed by the likes of the so called "cultural desk" and other groupings not even in SA, was the source of a great deal of bitterness among many of the recording artists who worked with the label.

Contact -

PLEASE NOTE - this entire blog page - all the posts hereon - is a work in progress and is edited as we get time. NO PART HEREOF MAY BE REPRODUCED WITHOUT PERMISSION OF THE LABEL.

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