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What started as a one-post Instagram project has become a DIY record label on a worldwide scale.

Most teenagers listen to music, some start bands – but there are few who establish their own record label while at school. Fed up with a lack of music she connected with, one student did something about it.

Corkscrew Records began last September from a single social media post and has grown as Tanvi gives a platform to artists from the US, the UK and India. The link between them is not necessarily style, but their background.

“The first thing I ask artists is: what’s your story? Why do you make music and who are your influences? Corkscrew Records is a label, but we put out really interesting stories.”

Tanvi

Which is fitting, as Tanvi’s story is compelling. Her parents moved from the south of India to the UK – where she was born – but relocated to Switzerland when Tanvi was four. She plays trombone in the ISL concert band, recently picked up the guitar, but mostly wants to promote others with a similar perspective: “As an Indian teenage girl, I found it hard to find voices like my own. Music in general is niche, it’s not widely represented.”

…and Corkscrew Records was born.

“At ISL we spend eight months on a personal project and I researched how other founders started a DIY record label.” The project began with an Instagram post – much of Tanvi’s A&R is done via social – and artists from around the globe responded.

Tanvi said: “We put out a cut-and-paste flier and started an Instagram account. We wrote down our values ‘…are you sick of the same male, CIS, white narrative hogging the spotlight, would you like to work on a bedroom-based project…’ and I put out our mission statement to attempt to diversify the narratives within the DIY scene, to always be run out of a bedroom, be open to all and a community-based project.”

Bands submit tracks (and stories) for consideration for albums which Tanvi distributes via Spotify and Apple Music. Most artists are high school students and share that DIY ethos – they don’t want traditional record company backing: “In the DIY music scene, there is a lack of representation in terms of the narrative – I wanted to create a space for non-men and
people of colour and teenagers.”

Corkscrew’s DIY (think of it as contemporary punk) ethos comes partly from the Riot Grrrl US bands in the early 1990s. Armed with guitars, they addressed issues affecting women through music, protests and conventions. Tanvi says things have moved on: “I was inspired by these women and took the opportunity to study Riot Grrrl in my history class and saw its
limitations. It wasn’t diverse and they were focused on gender being binary – it was a big moment when I saw something I admired wasn’t as it seemed to be.”

For Tanvi, Corkscrew Records gives her the chance to hear more of the music and the stories of undiscovered artists she admires – and send them out to the world for more discerning listeners to appreciate. You can hear Corkscrew Records compilations on Bandcamp (corkscrewrecords.bandcamp.com) and follow the label on Twitter and Instagram @corkscrewrecs. The name itself? Nothing to do with the vineyards of Vaud: “I liked the name and no-one else had created a label called Corkscrew.”

ISL Gradient Magazine cover

Gradient Issue #1: The new magazine of the International School of Lausanne

In this issue we take a look at what the future holds for education, we discover the passion of a student who created her own record music label and meet the teacher who spends her free time circus training. You will experience 24 busy hours in the life of one of our families, meet some of our alumni and see how our secondary students are reacting to some of the biggest challenges of the 21st century.