Stray Dog Army is a label focusing on processed acoustic tones, multilayered instrumental textures and organic melodic structures. It was started in late 2004 in Bristol, UK by James Brewster, primarily in order to release his own recordings as Mole Harness. He had previously released on (among others) Bristol labels Float and Silent Age, both of which flourished on a collaborative ethos, and provided independent artists with a supportive framework to help promote and distribute their music. Working with these labels (especially Float) allowed him to gain the knowledge and confidence necessary to gradually take control of every aspect of the releasing process himself. As a result starting his own label seemed like a natural progression, and Stray Dog Army took on many values, methods and contacts from these previous relationships.
The first release on the label - in November 2004 - was the ‘Stray Dog Army’ EP by Mole Harness, which had previously only been available in Japan via the Universal Frequencies label. By this point James’ brother Jonathan Brewster had also started making music, and it soon seemed an obvious step to help him release something as well. His debut EP (under the Jasper Leyland alias) came out in August 2005, with Jonathan funding the release himself as well as making up and sending out all the copies. James merely provided a guiding hand and overall framework – updating the website, writing the press release and compiling a list of contacts to send the EP to. It was satisfying to help another artist in exactly the same collaborative manner that other labels had supported him in the past, and this way of working together set the template for future releases.
Early 2006 saw album releases from both Mole Harness and Jasper Leyland, together with an attempt to promote the label on a slightly wider scale. As a result both releases received wide critical acclaim as well as extensive radio play around the world.
In June 2006 James moved to Malmö in Sweden, and from this point on Jonathan become more involved in the overall running of the label. Still based in the UK, he took over the process of putting together and dispatching all website orders, promotional copies and stock for shops.
With each Stray Dog Army release the maximum care and attention to detail is put into every aspect of the finished product, especially the packaging, and the CDs are sold through the website and at live shows, as well as being distributed independently to a handful of shops.
All CDs produced by the label come in black card sleeves, and each release has a different cover photograph taken by Cecilia Ek (who is also responsible for the pictures on this website). In addition to providing consistent quality, the ultimate aim for the label is to have a coherent aesthetic – both musically and design-wise – spanning all the releases.