There are still precious few women at the helm of record labels, let alone Indian women, but Vinita stands out as a proud anomaly… a champion of the underdog, an underdog herself, a surrogate mother to unsung musicians, a relentless workerbee, a fan, a carer, a catalyst…’ (Richard Milward, from the Rocket Girl 20 book)
2018 marked the 20th anniversary of Rocket Girl, one of the most eclectic and resilient small independent labels in the UK, steered single-handedly by Vinita Joshi. To celebrate this milestone, in March 2019 Rocket Girl will release a very specialcollection of music and literature, comprising a 16-track CD compilation of Vinita’s artists past and present, a collectable 7” and flexi disc, exclusive Anthony Ausgang print, full 20 track download, plus a strikingly illustrated 70-page hardback book uncovering the history of the label.
Based on extensive interviews with Vinita, with contributions from many of her bands (Füxa, God is an Astronaut, Coldharbourstores, Pieter Nooten), the book’s text is written by Faber author and long-time Rocket Girl supporter Richard Milward. Beginning with Vinita’s formative years in Rugby in the 1970s and 1980s, the story covers not only the eventful history of Rocket Girl but also Vinita’s teenage initiation into the music industry: managing The Telescopes, founding Ché with Nick Allport out of the ashes of Cheree, before finally going it alone and setting up her own label in 1998. It is both an inspiring and bittersweet tale. Vinita’s staying power alone in such a challenging industry is worthy of its own tribute: she has built a record label on her own terms from scratch, she has overcome the loss of loved ones, survived a breakdown at the height of her label’s popularity, and all in all her immense love of music, her strength and positivity in the face of adversity blazes throughout the book. Along the way we learn of the hits (and why Kurt Heasley’s vocal cords seemed to be malfunctioning during the Lilys’ Top of the Pops appearance), the near-misses (including a never-before-seen letter from Richey Edwards of the Manic Street Preachers), the triumph of Vinita’s first self-released LP A Tribute to Spacemen 3, her heartbreak losing Jason DiEmilio of The Azusa Plane in 2006, plus sad revelations concerning Television Personalities’ Daniel Treacy’s condition following his brain trauma in 2011…
Regular Rocket Girl designer Xiaofei Zhang has been given access to Vinita’s vast collection of personal photographs, letters, flyers, press clippings and other keepsakes, arranging these alongside the text to give the book the feel of a technicolour scrapbook, a vivid chronicle of indie music past, present and future.
As Milward writes: ‘The artists Vinita has worked with over the years are undisputed luminaries of alternative music, and stand up to any major indie label’s roster:Spacemen 3, The Telescopes, Bark Psychosis, Disco Inferno, Lilys, Low, Bardo Pond, Mogwai, Cocteau Twins’ Robin Guthrie, My Bloody Valentine’s Kevin Shields, Patti Smith, Jonathan Richman, Television Personalities, to name just a handful.’ Likewise, the artists featured on the accompanying CD compilation reveal just how far-ranging Vinita’s taste is, and how loyal her bands have been to her over the years. The disc opens with a special ‘Rocket mix’ of Silver Apples’ ‘Susie’ –the band that adorned the A-side of rgirl1, the label’s first 7”. From here, there are cuts from Rocket Girl stalwarts like Füxa and Bell Gardens, as well as tracks contributed by friends and supporters of the label, such as Andrew Weatherall and Mogwai. Arguably the most notable track(certainly the most poignant) is the Television Personalities’ ‘All Coming Back’, one of just a few unreleased songs recorded before Treacy’s accident, and released here with Daniel’s sister’s blessing.
Vinita began her career selling Loop/Telescopes flexi discs on New Year’s Eve 1988 and, in homage to this bygone format, she has included a 7” flexi (featuring ‘Fight For Work’, an outtake from Mogwai’s most recent LP, Every Country’s Sun) as well as a standard 7” bringing together rare tracks from two Philadelphia bands she has championed since their formation: Bardo Pond and The Azusa Plane. The three discs are housed in pockets found in the book’s inside covers, and there are yet more gifts: an exclusive print by Anthony Ausgang (the instantly recognisable artist behind MGMT’s Congratulations and Füxa’s Electric Sound of Summer covers), plus a free download code for all tracks featured across the various formats of the collection.
Vinita’s story is anything but ordinary, and this extraordinary collectionis the most fitting tribute to the label’s legacy so far: a treasure trove of rare tracks and unheard stories for Rocket Girl devotees, a comprehensive introduction to the label for the uninitiated, and both an inspirational chronicle and cautionary tale for anybody interested in the history of British independent music in the past thirty years…
1) Silver Apples ‘Susie’ (Rocket Mix)
2) Mogwai ‘Fight For Work 7’’ flexi
3) Bardo Pond ‘Out Of Nowhere 7’’ vinyl
4) Kirk Lake ‘Go Ask Adorno
5) Azusa Plane ‘ Pop World’ 7’’ vinyl
6) P.S I Love You ‘The Sun, The Sea, And The Song
7) Coldharbourstores ‘ Seven Minutes’
8) July Skies ‘Swallows And Swifts II’
9) Fuxa ‘ Sun Is Shining (Congo Hammer Remix)
10) God Is An Astronaut ‘Reverse World (quiet)
11) A Place To Bury Strangers ‘A Million Tears’
12) Robin Guthrie ‘Flicker’
13) Television Personalities ‘All Coming Back’
14) Pieter Nooten ‘I Want You’
15) Anthony Reynolds ‘Losers Like Us Take The Bus Download only
16) Jon DeRosa ‘Golden Dawn’
17) Bell Gardens ‘Might Be You’
18) White Ring ‘Heavy’
19) Andrew Weatherall ‘Cosmonautrix’
20) Transient Waves ‘D Jam’
Rocket Girl RGIRL120