Pink Lizard: a safe haven for new music in Brixton

Pink Lizard is a music development company based in Brixton and run by artist and musician Tris Taylor. It’s aimed at supporting unique and independent musical talent – Barney Evison caught up with Tris to find out more.

Tris Taylor (aka Benbo), founder of Pink Lizard Music
Tris Taylor (aka Benbo), founder of Pink Lizard. Photo by Ray Fiasco

“I want to make Pink Lizard a safe place,” says Tris Taylor, the founder of Pink Lizard, “where people can trust that their creative vision will remain untouched.” Pink Lizard is a local music company that puts the artist first, with an emphasis on supporting musicians to have more control over their music.

Set up two years ago, Pink Lizard has released records by Riz Maslen (aka Neotropic), the Fatty Acids and Benbo, Tris’ own musical project. The company provides label services, publishing, mixing and mastering, with supportive A&R to ensure all the artists are completely happy with their final product.

Artwork from their latest release - Rocker by Fucu
Their latest release Rocker by Fucu. Artwork by Zeroh Studio

Back in 2014, with a desire to push himself musically, Tris embarked on a mission to record 52 collaborations throughout the course of a year, one a week. It was a natural progression from his previous challenge in 2012 to complete one drawing a day. He started making music with friends, then friends of friends, and ended up working with artists in Dubai, the United States and across the world.

Tris ended up making 35 collaborations in the year, falling 17 tracks short of his target, but in the process developed a huge network of passionate artists seeking support and advice on how to bring their music to a wider audience. Thus Pink Lizard was born, named after a discarded children’s toy found by Tris on the streets of Brixton.

“The myth of the democratisation of music is half true,” says Tris, noting that easier access to music technology has spawned a generation of bedroom musicians. “But on the other hand, people can’t finish their music.” What he means is that while artists are finding it easier to write and record songs quickly, it’s a struggle to mix, master and manage the rights for their music.

Photo by Ray Fiasco
Photo by Ray Fiasco

Tris has also had enough of the capriciousness of major labels and mercenary nature of the music industry. “We decided that we needed an alternative industry infrastructure… I’ve seen the great and the good behaving badly.” The ethos of Pink Lizard Records is very much like that of what some people see Brixton as – an inclusive, safe place nurturing creativity and unique talent.

It’s not easy learning the ropes as a new artist and Tris has plenty of advice for up-and-comers: “Decide whether you want to control your own material [ie. not just pursue major label signings].” If so, collaborate with others, don’t trust anyone other than fellow artists and make music the way that makes you happy, he says. “It’s impossible to work too hard,” adds Tris.

“Every piece of music has a home,” he insists, “whether that’s an in-flight soundtrack or a pop record.” That’s Pink Lizard’s mission, to find and nurture independent new music, across genres and find an audience for it: “I grew up listening to John Peel…we’re genre-agnostic.” It could be ’90s trip-hop reissues, John Cage-esque minimalism or Backstreet Boys pop mashups.

Tris is always up for people getting in touch with new music, although warns that his schedule of releases is chock-a-block for 2016. “I just love to hear bonkers things,” he says. There are also live events, the Pink Lizard Parties, which have mainly been held in Shoreditch so far, but Tris is keen to put something on closer to home in future. Watch out Brixton, Pink Lizard is coming!

Check out one of Tris’ tracks ‘If You Feel Emotional’ below – it was recently used on BBC’s The One Show and in BT Sport’s MotoGP programming.