Hayley Scott pays tribute to the family mentality of Fortuna POP! with the help of founder Sean Price and musicians released by the label over its honourably unfashionable history
One thing comes to mind when thinking about the demise of beloved indie pop label Fortuna Pop, which says its goodbyes this month with a string of RIP shows across London: the notorious announcement of the end of Sarah Records in a 1995 issue of Melody Maker that declared via half page adverts that the label’s 100th release (‘Sarah 100’) would be its last. ‘A Day For Destroying Things’ was blazoned across the top in big, bold type, and a lengthy, passionate denouement explaining why it was necessary read: ‘Nothing should be forever… habit and fear of change are the worst reasons for ever doing ANYTHING. Stopping a record label after 100 perfect releases is the most gorgeous pop art-statement ever.’
Similarly, Fortuna Pop’s founder, Sean Price, decided to announce that his own label would be closing its doors after 20 years by means of a letter to the label’s core proponents in an Indietracks festival programme in 2016. Granted, a less bold and costly way of doing things than spreading the news all over half-pages in music magazines at a time when it wasn’t cheap to do so, but it doesn’t make it any less important or bittersweet.
Indeed, Fortuna Pop has a lot in common with Sarah Records. Not only has it released some of the best indie pop records of a generation (including those from Crystal Stilts, The Lucksmiths, Joanna Gruesome and The Pains of Being Pure At Heart), but it also operated in ways that other labels didn’t, by never interfering with artistic decisions, and rejecting trite notions of indie music being a boy’s club by actively championing women. Fortuna Pop had more bands with women in than not, in fact, although rather than that being a conscious decision, Price argues that it is something that should be normalised as opposed to being a novelty. “I haven’t instigated any positive discrimination,” he insists as he looks back on the label he started in 1996. “It’s not like I have some kind of quota, I just find that boys in the band thing a bit of a tired rock’n’roll anachronism. But yes, I think it was important to me for women to be properly represented on the label, if only because they aren’t on other labels and in society as a whole.