“It’s been a crazy week,” says Emma Coyle when Broadsheet calls on a Saturday afternoon. “I’ve had to move house and start a new job in the last few days.” She’s now a music project officer at youth arts organisation Carclew, a role that complements her side-gig selling merch, doing artist liaison and working as a “general hustler” for touring acts. She also has two young children and yet has somehow found time to start a record label with Adelaide musician Joel Byrne.
Part Time Records seems like an entirely appropriate name for the label given how busy Coyle is, but she says it was Byrne who came up with the name. Either way, “It’s really fitting because most people we know run part-time businesses, including the artists we work with.”
Part Time Records’s office is in a Renew Adelaide space on Hindmarsh Square – meetings take place around a Pelican tour case rather than a table. It’s a souvenir from Coyle’s 15 years in the music industry, doing artist management, festival and event management, publicity and “dabbling in record label management”. She’s worked on management teams for artists such as Paul Kelly and Sarah Blasko and currently manages Heaps Good Friends (who won best pop artist at last year’s SA Music Awards).
Byrne also has impressive pedigree as a founding member, lead guitarist and vocalist for ARIA-nominated psych-rock band Wolf & Cub. For the last few years, the two of them have run management and events company Sundial Productions together, and often talked about starting a record label. The catalyst to turn words into action came when a friend sent Coyle some demos he’d recorded.
That friend was Chris Panousakis (better known as local singer-songwriter Timberwolf) and the tracks were recorded with his partner Bree Tranter, who was in Queensland band The Middle East and now plays regularly with Matt Corby. “And these demos were amazing,” Coyle says. She describes the duo, dubbed Siberian Tiger, as “folky and dreamy, very instrumental and evocative. It’s exactly what you would expect from a combination of Timberwolf and The Middle East.”
There were 15 home-produced tracks in all, and Coyle says “I could hear at least four singles straight away ... He was just sending them to get an opinion and he had no release plans, but I said, ‘You have to release it’. Then Joel heard it and felt the same way, so we decided to set up the record label.”
The first of those singles will be released later this month and Coyle says other signings to the label will be announced soon. They’ll benefit from national distribution, as Part Time Records is the first Adelaide label to sign a deal with venerable indie powerhouse Remote Control Records. Coyle is excited to take advantage of their expertise, citing their “immaculate taste and understanding of independent Australian music”.
We think Byrne would agree – at one point Wolf & Cub were signed to Remote Control’s in-house label Dot Dash. His role is to work directly with the artists to get everything sounding perfect, fine-tuning the music and working on the branding. “He brings a really good perspective, being a musician and touring artist,” says Coyle, who does all of the admin, most of the publicity, marketing and legal work as well as working closely with the team at Remote Control Records.
Between them, the pair is connected, creative and very invested in the local music industry. Two decades ago, every major music label (plus Festival Mushroom Records) had an office in Adelaide. Today, there’s not a single rep based in South Australia, which means a lot of local bands slip under the radar.
Part Time Records is about “changing that and sharing their music with a wider audience”, says Coyle. It’s not a get-rich-quick scheme but an investment in Adelaide’s music scene, and success won’t be measured by record sales as much as how Coyle and Byrne are able to help artists grow. It’s an attitude summed up in Byrne’s description of what they offer: “Part Time Records, full-time love.”