Like many great ideas, Rice Is Nice was born out of love for some very unique musicians and a sneaking suspicion that taking a different path might just work out. “I’d seen the pros and cons of working with record companies,” says the Sydney-based half of the duo, Julia Wilson, “and we just wanted to do it ourselves.”
When she and Ben Shackleton met Sydney musician SPOD – who was also sharing a similar dissatisfaction with the music industry as it was – through mutual friends, they soon teamed up to release his Aminals 7” in 2009 and the rest is history.
Why SPOD? “Well, he’s unique. And [his music] should be publicised, people should know about it,” says Shackleton, who is currently based in Adelaide. This soon became somewhat of a mantra for Rice is Nice the label. Five years later, not a lot has changed despite the exponential growth of their signee artists.
Wilson comes from a background in promotions and management, while Shackleton, a graphic designer, handles the web design and visuals. There is a genuineness amongst the pair that is not often found in the cutthroat, trend-driven music industry and talking with them feels like you're just chatting about music with your mates.
While bands like The Laurels and Seekae are currently receiving a great deal of attention, Wilson is adamant that, “We don’t sign artists because of what others may think of them, we sign them because we know they have longevity and something different.” And it is clearly paying off, given the wave of critical success and sold-out shows across the country for both bands.
One of Rice is Nice’s main drawcards is the diversity of its roster. But, from the 70’s karaoke disco stylings of Donny Benet to the folky Shady Lane, there are still similarities. “The bands Rice is Nice sign have come about purely from us liking them. A lot. The common thread with the bands would be they are all exceptional and innovative, they stand out to what others are doing and are really walking their own path,” says Wilson.
It seems fitting that Rice Is Nice is taking this unique approach across to the US in a matter of months. While already offering artists distribution in America, the move will mean Australian bands will have even more exposure to audiences across the world.
“Moving to the states is a large move and one that has been taking a lot of time and effort. We feel like there is a lot of support there for our artists and [once] on ground, we will be able to properly utilise these opportunities,” she says humbly.