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Brisbane-based artist manager/journalist Neil Richards and Sydney dance music artist/producer/label-owner Josh Beagley have teamed to form funk label Personal Best Records.

Taking cues from seminal US labels Salsoul, Motown and Philly International, Personal Best launches with a focus on single releases recorded with an in-house backing and collaborative band, the Personal Best Orchestra (PBO).

The label’s first release sees PBO collaborate with Holiday Sidewinder, ex-singer of Bridezilla, for the single Born On The Wind. The track will be released on digital and vinyl on August 15 and distributed through MGM.

Both Richards and Beagley have long-running ties with the music industry. Richards’ clients signed to his 18-year-old artist management firm Square One Entertainment have scored ARIA, APRA, AIR and Grammy Awards; he was also the first Managing Editor of Brisbane’s Scene Magazine in 1993, a post he held for almost four-and-a-half years.

Beagley was a member and producer of the ARIA-nominated funk-pop act SWOOP in the ‘90s, before joining funk acts Professor Groove & The Booty Affair, Confection and Fatback 4Way. Beagley also co-founded Sydney-based boogie label One Stop Funk Shop with Richards in 2007.

Genna Alexopoulos’ Super Duper PR agency has been brought on board for a three-month publicity strategy.

To find out more about the joint venture, TMN chat to co-founder Neil Richards.

How long has the label been in the works and how did it come about?

It’s been in the works for about a year. We had a small boogie label called One Stop Funk Shop for a few years but had been wanting to do something less generic and wanted to expand so a new label and business partners came into play.

What’s the dynamic like with Josh?
It’s a nice combination of Josh’s creativity and musical contacts and collaborators and my industry skills. We complement each other well.

Launching with a house band is reminiscent of label proceedings back in Motown’s heyday, was that the goal with Personal Best Orchestra?

Yes we’re definitely trying to replicate that vibe, Josh has a crew of extremely talented musicians  - and producers, engineers an remixers – that he has been playing and working with for years from back in the SWOOP days and with Professor Groove. We are very keen to restore some live musicianship and holistic band recording back into contemporary music. PBO is a further development of that – a team of really consistent great musicians who are all on the same page creatively.

What ethos have you taken from the labels which inspired you?

Hit Factories! Just a focus on releasing consistently great music, and probably more singles based. We would like to be releasing about a track a month either with the house band or with guest singers like Holiday Sidewinder. Over time we will be completely open to external artists as well but we probably have a good 6 months of releases already ready to go.

Why have you chosen to focus wholly on singles?
Its just a bit fresher and keeps the fun and productivity up – albums can be great but they can also take years to make.

Will you release singles from solo artists and PBO or are you open to recording bands with PBO too?

Open to anything and anyone with music that feels like it fits under our umbrella.

Do you have an office, where are you both based?

We have an office and studio  in Surry Hills, Sydney, but I live and work near Tambourine Mountain in Qld.

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