For an accidental master class in DIY, you can’t go past the humble origins of Flightless Records, which sprang together from founder Eric Moore being forced to mail out vinyl releases in pizza boxes from his bedroom in Fairfield, VIC.
Keeping those early catalogue releases to limited, collector-friendly runs, helped forge the label’s identity as a close-knit independent operation focusing on hard to get and beautifully detailed products.
“We always wanted to keep every release really special and limited,” says Moore. “We could also only produce within our means. You’d put up a pre-order to be able to pay for the records, and maybe you’d sell some, maybe you wouldn’t.”
Of course, Flightless sold much more than some, thanks to King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard’s herculean output and an extended family of talented friends in The Murlocs, Pipe-eye, Traffik Island, Babe Rainbow & Leah Senior. Moore had always wanted to work in the music business, so when he had trouble shopping around the early King Gizzard stuff to proper labels – “No one really cared … or they all just thought the name was dumb and we were really bad” – it was a no-brainer to do it himself.
That independent ethos and hunger to succeed obviously struck a chord, with every limited release selling out almost instantly. Moore was soon able to take the label from share house bedrooms to a small office space in Brunswick and onto their current location at a larger factory in Coburg VIC.
“It’s a bit of a flagship,” says Moore of the new factory in Coburg. “We’ve got our offices here, warehouse, music room, shopfront and a bball ring. Everything you could ask for really. I would live here if there was a shower.”
Now coming into its 10th year, Flightless is striving to become more environmentally sustainable, whilst continuing to develop new and exciting arms to the business. With the pizza boxes long gone, the label has developed their own range of custom recycled vinyl mailers & cardboard sleeves whilst also eschewing single-use plastics by banning shrink-wrap on all products, using bio-degradable packaging and implementing eco-friendly wax into their releases.
With 2021 also seeing the launch of Flightless Distro – a vinyl only distribution service for select artists and labels – their passion for keeping the tactile experience of vinyl is well and truly alive. Flightless Distro will bring in some of the best new labels from across the globe all of whom share a very similar DIY ethos. Some of the labels they are currently working with include: Space 44 (Skeggs, Ruby Fields), Bongo Joe, Anti-Fade Records, Guru Guru Brain, Research Records, Ourness and Third Eye Stimuli.
Coming just a few years after buying all those pizza boxes in bulk, that’s not a bad result. “It’s just nice to have a reason to get out of bed in the morning, I guess,” laughs Moore.