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BOUQUET: Elderberry Place (7″, Caramel CARAMEL ONE, ?)

Bouquet - Elderberry Place

Ah, records don’t get much more archetypally cute indie-pop than this! This was a self-released record that came out in the early nineties. Bouquet were something of a big player in the letter/fanzine-based indie-pop scene of those times; they contributed to a lot of compilation tapes, flexis and fanzines, including some that I put out myself. This was their first hard vinyl record, I think, and I have no idea whether it was available through any other means than through the postal service. Indeed, the flyer inside even states ‘If you can help sell some singles, please write to…’ which makes me think that no great big distribution deal had been sealed on this release. That’s really admirable, and I guess it’s the (much more physical) forerunner of today’s means of bypassing traditional distribution methods by using the internet. So much of this stuff went on throughout the eighties and nineties – an entirely self-sustaining industry of records, publications and communications that existed completely outside even the farthest fringes of the ‘mainstream’ music business. The two worlds didn’t often collide, except in a few rare cases.

One particularly relevant example of this was the bizarre time in 1997 when White Town got to number one in the actual, real pop music singles charts with ‘Your Woman’. It’s relevant here because this Bouquet record was recorded at Satya Studio, Derby – aka the home of Jyoti Mishra, the man behind White Town. He was a friend of a friend of mine many times over, but I never met him properly. I used to spend a lot of time visiting Derby and corresponding with people from Derby, many of whom were very close friends with Jyoti, but for some reason the closest I ever got was a very brief and drunken hello whilst attending an indie disco at which he was DJing, at the Blue Note in Derby. He played both My Bloody Valentine and The Field Mice that night – and both went down equally well.

Oddly, Jyoti Mishra also has the honour of being the first person that I ever e-mailed. When I was at university in the mid-nineties I was trying to arrange a fanzine interview with him (this was pre-number one, I was very on-the-ball at spotting stars-in-waiting…) and for some reason I decided that the best way to approach this was using this mysterious internet that I’d heard about. At the time, e-mailing wasn’t a case of firing up Mail or Outlook and tapping away. There was a convoluted process of using Telnet to hack into the global internetwork, negotiate through a series of stark MS-DOS style lines of instruction in order to access the corner of the online world that I wanted, and then the careful process of constructing, saving and ‘broadcasting’ a message to a mysterious list of numbers which was, I know now, an e-mail address. The recipient would also have gone through similar hoops to find out if they had ‘received’ an ‘e-mail’. None of this checking one’s e-mail every minute to distract from other things – this was a thing in its own right!

Interestingly, the official name of the single that featured ‘Your Woman’ was in fact ‘Abort, Retry, Fail’ – perhaps influenced by these early electronic communication difficulties? Maybe not…

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