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Sarah Records: How Can You Have A Revolution Without Imagination?


Okay, this is a hard article to write, just because I’ve been obsessed with this label for years (IMO the best label of all time), and because there’s so little widely-available info on Sarah Records that my knowledge comes from only a couple different places (one being a documentary that interviews both of the founders as well as all the most important artists on the label, I highly recommend it). I’m gonna do my best to feature the coolest parts of the label.


Sarah Records was started in Bristol in 1987 and run by just two people (a couple), Clare Wadd and Matt Haynes, Clare being just 18 when she began the label. From the very beginning they were on the attack against the incredibly male-dominated heteronormative climate of the English music press, starting with the name of the label, which was meant to be both a female reference as well as personifying the label as a woman. Clare and Matt both came from (and met in) backgrounds in distributing fanzines (which back then was your only source of hearing indie music along with John Peel), and they carried this into Sarah Records by not only distributing fanzines as part of their catalog, but also distributing random mini-fanzines in all of their releases (I own two myself).


Clare had an absolute acid tongue for sexists in the music world, and would write angrily in her fanzines about how people would call asking for Sarah Records, and then assume that she was some kind of secretary and wait to be passed to her boyfriend. Sarah Records was often referred to as “Matt Haynes and his girlfriend Clare” in the music press. In her fanzine "Lemonade" (number 14 out of Sarah’s 100 releases), she writes:


“This SARAH thing, it’s two people: joint decisions, equal finance etc. He maybe does more of the boring drudge stuff like letrasetting and packing up records into envelopes because I do other things - right now earning the money for the new releases, other times studying. No so-and-so and his wife/girlfriend 'I couldn’t have done it without her, she was so understanding and did all the typ