Montgomery Burns Interview [BMR]
I met Montgomery Burns last year on a video shoot with Cold Logic whilst filming for his single ‘Ignorant Bliss’. Monty‘s facebook bio states his position as ‘the lord of the manor at Burns Manor Records’. I’ve heard the label mentioned here and there over the last few years and met a bunch of the artists but still don’t know that much, or as much as I would like to know. So I thought I’d sit down with him (send emails back and forth) and ask a couple questions….
Montgomery, how did the name come about? Both your name and the labels.
Hi Ollie good to speak to you, I’ve actually been rocking the ‘Montgomery Burns’ moniker since way before I was producing hip hop (stemming from my long nose and somewhat ‘elderly man’ physique).
When I began making beats, circa 2012, a friend (shouts to Juppy) suggested that I use it as my artist name. I thought it fit with the aesthetic I was creating so just sort of rolled with it from there, it was never really a conscious decision until it was already in place.
When I began collaborating with other artists during my time in London, I started referring to my home studio (rather ironically as it was usually just a dingy flat) as Burns Manor. After moving to Bristol I met Swamiin’ and recorded an EP with him as a duo (WNS) and formed the label in 2017 as a platform to link my solo releases with these new collaborations. It seemed only natural to name the record label after the studio in which the majority of the music was created.
Ha ha I hadn’t noticed the ‘somewhat elderly man’ physique, I’ll have to watch our video again! When we were filming you mentioned the label currently has 18 artists, that’s a lot!… Is there a common thread linking all the artists, or something that we should expect from any Burns Manor release?
If I’m honest I really didn’t put much thought into it at the beginning, it all fell into place super organically. I’d met The Caravan Collective, Dr1ver & Red i at the first ‘Hip Hop Coffee Shop Sessions’ event and we’d started recording together pretty much straight after. By the time anybody had anything ready to release there was no need for a conversation about if they would be put out through BMR or not.
More recently I suppose I’ve had to think harder about what/who fits with the label with new artist submissions. If I had to put words to it I’d say the majority of our artists have a similarly heavy boom bap sound between them, but we experiment with a lot of different branches of that.
I’d say the thing that matters most (apart from being able to create listenable music) is their ability to gel with the crew in a social setting. Collaboration is something I love to see with my artists (and others) so it’s really important for everyone to have a good connection. We all hang out together outside of recording/performing, we’re a family more than anything else.
I like that philosophy, with so many active artists on the roster you really need to all be on the same page, but even then it still must be difficult to keep an eye on all the releases and have shit running smoothly, how do you maintain control of it all?
The first year or two was pretty overwhelming for sure, but in hindsight I think I just got too in my own head about it and actually ended up putting a fair bit of pressure on artists to meet the deadlines we were setting.
These days I’m a lot more relaxed with it. Everybody can more or less release what they want, when they want. With this many artists it’s fairly easy to keep the content regular, and I’ve always got more than enough music of my own to pad out any gaps. My one rule that I tell everyone nowadays is that I won’t even think about a release date until I’ve got all the finished elements of a project. You never know when life could throw something unexpected at you, and I never want to be in a situation where I feel like I’m hassling my artists to finish things. Music is supposed to be fun at the end of the day.
Dope, I’m the same with releasing music videos, I want to have the video fully finished and agreed with the emcee before promoting the release date. What recent or upcoming projects should we be looking out for from the label?
We’ve just put out EP’s from B.Ramble (Ramblin’) and Dr1ver (You’re Too Cool To Go Crazy). I’ve got a sequel to my 2019 ‘Dumb Rap Mixtape’ dropping in April, then we’ve got an EP from producer ian shirtman with a bunch of the gang featured on there. Our newest signing Dan Stays Peak has got his debut EP ready to go, then we’ve got a new EP from Criptic and another project from Cold Logic that’s entirely produced by me.
That’s just what I have finished and scheduled in the calendar. Past that we’ve got probably another 5 or 6 projects that are in the finishing stages of mastering and getting videos sorted, and then a whole load of stuff that’s not far behind. Basically every artist has at least one project that should be ready for this year.
It seems like a lot when I write it all out, but the truth is people’s attention span for new content is a LOT shorter than it used to be (especially with everyone spending more time scrolling the internet in lockdown). I feel like these days you can release an EP or album or whatever and a week later people have forgotten about it in place of something new, so it’s pretty comforting to know we’ve got enough in the vaults to keep the interest alive and stay ‘relevant’ (whatever that even means).
So what’s the goal with the label, is there something you’re working towards?
This is probably a really boring/un-ambitious sounding answer but I just want to keep having fun making music with my friends.
Personally I couldn’t give a (insert suitable expletive here) if anyone listens to the music I put out. I just really enjoy the whole process of creating and organising releases, once it’s done and dusted I’m on to the next without much of a second thought for how ‘successful’ it may or may not be.
That said, I guess I do have a responsibility to my artists to help them achieve what they want with their music so I tend to give a lot more attention to projects from others rather than my own.
I suppose festival bookings would be the next short-term goal as it’s a great way to get your name out to a crowd who aren’t necessarily there to see you already (plus who doesn’t love spending a weekend in a muddy field without having to pay for a ticket).
You mentioned earlier in the interview that you moved from London to Bristol, how do you feel about the scene here, like what do you like, and what do you think could improve things?
To be fair I was only in London for about 3 years and never really tried to integrate myself into the music scene there, so I can’t really compare the two.
The Bristol hip hop scene has felt extremely welcoming to me. Like it’s a really tight knit community kind of feeling, whilst still being accessible to newcomers if that makes sense. It might have just been a case of right place right time but it seemed really easy to get to know people and develop relationships without feeling like I was trying to force it.
It’s such a creatively diverse city with so many great artists doing different things, and I think the only downside to that from what I’ve experienced is an imbalance in the ratio of performers to promoters. For a place with so much good hip hop, it only ever seemed to be the same handful of events brands putting us on.
It will be interesting to see if and how the landscape changes when we can get back to playing shows again. Undoubtedly everybody from performers to listeners is bristling with anticipation for it to return, so I’m really looking forward to the explosive re-emergence of the live music scene.
So as we wind down the interview, what question should I have asked but haven’t… and what would your answer be?
Jheez that’s a tricky one, this has been a pretty in-depth interview.
I guess I’ll close by touching on the difficulties of running a small independent label.
Without the ability for us to earn money performing live shows, now more than ever it’s really important to support your favourite artists in different ways. As much as we do this for the love, it’s an expensive business when you come to sorting out music videos, printing merch, putting on events, etc.
So if there’s music that you enjoy listening to (not necessarily from us) then find it on Bandcamp, directly from the artist, or however they market their art, and donate a quid for an EP, buy a t shirt, whatever you can. A little goes a long way and (in my opinion anyway) helps a lot more than a few streams on Spotify.
Agreed, that seems like the right way to wrap things up, thanks for your time bro it’s been interesting to hear your perspective and learn more about the label you’ve built. Peace!
To check out the various releases from Burns Manor records peep their catalogue here