Into the Tropical World of Paradise Palms: An Interview with Trystan O’Brien

Category: Blog

By Janice


Hi Trystan, could you tell us a little about Paradise Palms and the work you've been doing?

Paradise Palms is a local bar in Edinburgh selling a lot of Scottish sourced spirits (gins & rum as well as whisky), beers and cocktails alongside a very tasty vegetarian soul food menu. We’ve got a little stage for live music and cabaret plus a vinyl record shop and we also sell print work from local illustrators, writers and artists. 

When did you get the idea to launch a Paradise Palms record label?

There’s so much talent around in Edinburgh. Its an incredible city to live so creative people are flocking here from the rest of the UK and around Europe. These people might have regular jobs but technology and new software means making music is a lot easier so you can set up a studio in a spare room or bedroom and pour out some incredible and beautiful music on the side. For example Ikotu who’s on our Bonnie Tropical compilation LP is from London and works in IT and M.O.T.O is a history of art professor who’s originally from Africa. These creatives both call Edinburgh home now and both make incredible music during any spare minute they own. 

What made you decide to start your venue and label?

Sometimes I feel having a bar or venue is really just an indulgent excuse that allows us to follow our passions and interests and loving music is why I have always done this.  During my 20+ years in the industry I’ve been lucky and worked with some great partners around the world opening my own venues in Sydney, Ibiza and Auckland but Paradise Palms is in my hometown and the partners here are my half brother Andrew Rennie and an old school pal Jamie Raeburn. Jamie runs Central Station Records which is one of Australia’s best known independent record labels so it seemed to make sense to take that love a little further and try to use the platform of the venues to promote and support some of the music being created locally. Hopefully we can do some of the music justice.

How useful are digital tools in marketing your venue and label?

They’re everything. We still put out a few traditional posters and engage in a little guerilla marketing and they still have branding value but people get their information on-line these days and so that’s where our focus is. Facebook, youtube, instagram and twitter work best for us and we try to tailor each platform with specific posts more relevant to those platforms – facebook is the general go-to for events and whats on, instagram and twitter are great for food and more targeted markets so great for the record shop and sales, youtube is also great for music. For internal organization we used to use basecamp but now all use google drive as everyone has easy access and its free. For internal comms we use various closed facebook groups and generally 90% of my business communication is now done through facebook.

What are your future ambitions with Paradise Palms?

We set up a small venue in Ibiza earlier in the year and we’d like to partner with good people in other European cities to ultimately create a network that allows easier collaborations and swapping of ideas, recipes, music and jobs between sites.  More immediately though we’re looking at perfecting the perfect veggie Sunday roast dinner and commissioning some student film makers to make music videos.

Have you learnt anything useful along the way that you feel might be insightful for others thinking of getting involved in setting up a record label?

If you’re thinking about it, just do it. Start with one or two acts you know well and can work with and help build and encourage them as much as possible to keep creating and push them to be as productive as possible. Hard work is the cornerstone of any great artists work and you only ever get back what you put in. Also don’t worry about making mistakes along the way… better to try and fail then to just keep thinking about it.

The internet has dramatically changed the way people consume and discover music, do you have any thoughts on the positive and negative affects of this?

When illegal downloads started to disrupt the music industry I felt it was a positive thing – stripping out the financial motivation, the manufactured boy-bands, the cheesy dance covers and thirst for stardom, leaving a music industry less driven by greed, fame and financial reward. I naively failed to spot the rise of reality tv and x-factor however and so that soulless void has merely been replaced by an emotionless vacuum haha. I still think the disruption has had a positive impact though and its important to remember that the same technology that stripped away record sales also made reaching a global audience easier. So down on the ground what I see is far more people making music then ever before and they seem to be doing it for themselves rather then chasing a dream of fame and fortune. That’s got to be a good thing.

Paradide Palms Records compilation Bonnie Tropical is out now on spotify, i-tunes, all good digital stores and also available on heavyweight vinyl.

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First published on Company Connecting October 2016
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