Donny Makes Holidays: The Launch Of Holiday Maker Records

Holiday Maker Records is a brand-new record label co-founded by Andy ‘Don Hog’ Hodges of eclectic purveyors of indie-exotica, Donny Love. With the impacts of COVID-19 cutting a swathe through the lives and times of most inhabiting the creative realms, Andy, together with label co-founder Sean McMeekin, who recently returned to these parts after spending time in Melbourne, have taken the plunge and given birth to their new venture from within an old Windsor caravan.

The self-stated manifesto of the label is to embrace and nurture those more obscure elements of music, art and culture that may otherwise tend to fly under the radar. To kick off their endeavour, Andy and Sean’s first official release under the Holiday Maker moniker is the enticing new single from rootsy rag-tag collective Family Jordan (which we review in the new music column of Blank GC).

To illuminate us further on the Holiday Maker journey, as well as gain a glimpse into the pending new workings of the Donny Love universe, I fired off a few questions to Andy at Holiday Maker HQ.

So you’ve jumped in at the deep end and set up your own record label – congrats on taking the plunge! How did it all come about?

Yes, amidst a global pandemic we have taken the plunge. Sean McMeekin is an old friend of mine and at the beginning of COVID-19 he moved back from Melbourne to a caravan in Mudgeeraba, so that was the main catalyst for our launch. The label has been a work in progress for the last year or so in varying forms.

Sean lives in the caravan, dubbed the ‘Holiday Maker’, and we spend most of our days there, so it’s both his temporary home and the current headquarters for the label. The caravan has become our symbol for travel and discovery, and we’ve used it as the logo for Holiday Maker Records. For the enthusiasts, it’s an old Windsor; beige in colour, with grass green and mountain brown trimmings.

Your manifesto is to work with some of these regions more interesting and under- represented artists, such as your first signing, Family Jordan. They’ve been lurking around the peripheries for awhile now manifesting their beautiful noise. How did you go about signing them as the first band on the Holiday Maker Records roster?

We both love the music and mythology surrounding Family Jordan and they’re undeniably one of our favourite Australian bands. When isolation began I found myself listening to their last album ‘Homo Exotica’ most days, it possesses a certain reflective sensibility which was heightened by the state of the world. The whole process of signing them happened quite naturally through conversation and we were given a few strange signs throughout our discussions, with the main one being the fact that ‘Big Grass’ (the first song released by the label) was the name of the caravan that lead singer Jordan Rochfort was living in at the time, and that is where he wrote most of the songs on the album. Caravan duality.

Family Jordan’s new single, ‘Big Grass’, is a cracker! Serving as the title track to their upcoming new album, is it indicative of what we can expect to hear from the rest of the record?

Cracker indeed! It really captures the spirit of the band and the production and instrumentation of the new album. It takes a certain type of band to rock a fiddle like they do too…

How did the production process on the Family Jordan record play out? I understand the band worked with such esteemed names as Mikey Young and Samuel Joseph!

The band record all their music themselves. This allows them to really take their time to fully realise all the songs and you definitely hear their natural, thoughtful writing and recording process in the music. Samuel Joseph is the producer and live engineer for a bunch of great Australian acts like King Gizzard and Babe Rainbow, and the partnership between him and Jordan Rochfort on the song writing and production is really solid and takes the songs to a whole new level. The record was mastered in Melbourne by Aussie music icon Mikey Young.

Is there anyone else on the Holiday Maker roster yet, or who you’re working towards getting?

Family Jordan are our first ‘official’ artist signing so far, but we have around five other artists we’re currently working with for upcoming releases on the label. We have our eye on a heap of other artists from Australia and abroad who we’d love to work with in the future too…

And finally, what’s the latest in the Donny Love universe – is the new album still on the bubble? You’d be self-releasing your own future stuff on the label too I imagine?

Well, Don Hog is quite a difficult bloke to negotiate with so we’re still in talks with the band at the moment, but we plan on signing them and releasing the next Donny Love album later in the year. It’s a lively one, stay tuned…

To keep abreast of the Holiday Maker Records journey, be sure to keep tabs on their website and Instagram page. 

And to wrap your ears around Family Jordan’s fab new track, ‘Big Grass’, head here.

IMAGE (C) Mitchell Schultz

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