Feature image by Dan Ledley
All other images by Rhys Davies
Words by Hannah Tinker
Ever faithful to the DIY allegiance, Kalum Winters founded Do Your Best, in 2017, while residing in London. At the time he'd just finished University and was left with that all too well-known disheartening feeling of the past few years seeming like an elaborate fever dream with the sudden confrontation of having to simply exist, in "the world of mundane work" and taxes.
Like a self-confessed magpie, Kalum had always been privately and personally invested in music, always "collecting and seeking out new things" so in the hour of need music in turn, gave back, by providing a contrast to the newly accustomed banality. He was on a path of exploring London's live music scene, more in-depth than before, seeking "-anything confrontational, anything loud and anything odd-" whilst spending a lot of time at venues like the infamous Brixton Windmill, when a chance encounter with a certain experimental five-piece, spawned Do Your Best: "I went to see POSA at a small pub in North East London and it was just so good I started the label just basically to book them."
From there, in tune with the idea of setting up POSA for world domination, Do Your Best became a gig promotions outfit, hosting events featuring underground acts such as Uncle Tesco, Honkies, Starlight Magic Hour, MOLD and Pet Grotesque, with POSA always slotted in amongst the line-up. The tone was originally to keep Do Your Best as an alias of sorts - "a secret organisation that POSA operated through, kind of like how The Residents ran The Cryptic Corporation all along". Not quite in the guise that the aforementioned masked collective presented, but instead mysterious in a manner closer to home: event descriptions were ambiguous featuring talk of "-notorious wallet thieves, the lord our saviour Emile Heskey and all sorts of nonsense just to throw off the scent." The artwork has also similarly been inconceivable, works of art in their own right featuring distorted imagery, oft penned by Do Your Best affiliate and POSA member NGA D'Grayt aka Theo Eze.
There's been a sense of progress, or rather, alteration and recasting, particularly recently, having adapted to the change in landscape within the music industry. Looking back, there was a Do Your Best collaborative tour with Manchester-based promoter, Dentcha, in 2018 featuring POSA and MOLD, followed by the addition of "Whitby’s answer to Nurse with Wound", Chermansog, who joined the Do Your Best family in early 2019. Around the same time there was also a move to Manchester, which came in early 2019, with a farewell affair featuring Goat Girl and of course POSA, amongst others. Following the move, more Northern events soon followed, taking to various venues including The Peer Hat, Castle Hotel and Withington's own Fuel Cafe Bar.
Do Your Best have also collaborated with ourselves on various occasions: providing POSA at a selection of our events; hosting a night with Aldous RH and friends at Fuel, when we hadn't yet expanded to a venue; spinning, selling and, if the rumours are true, even eating vinyl for us at Partisan, The White Hotel and more. Just before the pandemic hit, DYB also curated one of our nights at the Old NatWest in Withington featuring Algernon Cornelius, Humint, POSA, 6a6y 6 DJs and a select super-group of allies including Bunny Hoova, halfs, Bianca Scout, j.b.glazer and others performing, a live version of an improvised session only previously presented on NTS concluding of ambience, samples and vocal improvisations.
The pandemic has definitely been a curveball in the structure of Do Your Best in that they've now, almost accidentally, become a cassette tape label and their roster has spread to a much wider group. Allowed by an organic method of finding artists through online research and communication or simply stumbling across them. "I’m sure there’s a surefire way to get it done, whether I’ll ever work that out we’ll see. For now I’ll stumble my way through it!" Winters is essentially, doing his best, and it's resulted in the label still remaining fruitful in the midst of a global pandemic.
Indeed, in the past year, the selection of artists has widened to include Adrian Steele, Tabú, owl., and both Another; Country $$$$ and Klavier Gruppe (6a6y 6) whose debut albums you can find with us. As a reaction to the now even stronger struggle for income amongst artists, there's also been a compilation release, providing funds give to those featured who have been negatively affected financially due to the pandemic. Titled 'Music To Stay Home To', the digital release - found on the Do Your Best bandcamp - features some twenty-eight or so various musicians offering works from an array of genres, from unearthly electronics to eloquent ambience.
Whilst there's never been a particular genre or theme surrounding the artists on the roster - "there is this almost intangible thread that seems to run through all of the releases and artists associated with Do Your Best, but I’m still unable to place my finger on exactly what that thread is." Perhaps the answer that the similarity runs through the artists featured being like-minded souls, unified in a similar ideology to the Do Your Best stance. An agenda to support the underground music scene as a whole and prolong the provisions of music to accompany losing your wallet.
Future plans for the ethos to continue include a some live sessions, a whole host of new releases coming from Manchester and further afield, the return of "real life live shows" as well as movement on Do Your Best's part in the upcoming versions of Sounds from the Other City and Fair Play Festival. But for now, "we wait, keep putting out stuff we like and plan a return in some shape or form."