Morpeth man's experimental record label celebrates 10 years with charity compilation album for The Toby Henderson Trust

Steve Strode has been running Cruel Nature Records as a hobby for 10 years.
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He wanted to do something special to celebrate this milestone, and Spectrum is that celebration. It is a compilation album featuring many of the “experimental, left-field, underground” musicians the cassette-based record label has worked with throughout the decade, and all the proceeds will be donated to charity.

The album, sold on streaming website Bandcamp, is raising funds for a Bedlington-based charity that supports people with autism and their families called The Toby Henderson Trust.

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The IT professional from Morpeth said: “I wanted something that represented the diversity of the label.

Steve Strode, who runs Cruel Nature Records, and the Spectrum album cover designed by Aaron Lock.Steve Strode, who runs Cruel Nature Records, and the Spectrum album cover designed by Aaron Lock.
Steve Strode, who runs Cruel Nature Records, and the Spectrum album cover designed by Aaron Lock.

“The other thing is that the tracks are all exclusives, so they have not previously been released elsewhere.”

In the past the label has worked with artists from all over the world, including China, Russia, and Iraq, as well as local musicians, and produces music that is unusual.

“It is largely based on my taste really,” Steve said. “If it is something I really like then, there might be some logistical challenges to get over, but a lot of the time everything can be done with the internet.”

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Music has always been important to Steve, with the label now the sole focus of his interest.

Steve Strode and his son Davy.Steve Strode and his son Davy.
Steve Strode and his son Davy.

The 53-year-old said: “I played in different bands. I used to run a label as well in the early 2000s with a friend of mine.

“I grew up in that sort of cassette culture. The idea of starting a cassette-based label came about through the sort of people I was interacting with.

“I launched the label back in 2013 and then 10 years on, here we are.”

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The label has managed to continue despite Brexit-linked shipping problems and the pandemic.

Steve said: “It is just something I do in my spare time. I do not make an income from it or anything like that.

“Anything that comes in to the label just pays for the next set of releases. It is just a labour of love really.”

The decision to support The Toby Henderson Trust was a personal one for Steve. His 10-year-old son Davy has autism and ADHD, and the trust’s support for the family has been invaluable.

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Steve said: “I think we had some calls with them, just general guidance and support, and they were really useful in that respect.

“Then there are these activity clubs which Davy attends and they are really good in terms of providing opportunities for socialising.”

Contributing to the charity’s work meshes well with the diversity theme of Spectrum, and over £650 has been raised so far.

Steve said: “It chimed in terms of the neurodiversity conditions that The Toby Henderson Trust supports.

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“When I started publicising the pre-sales some of the artists who were involved in the compilation were saying they either work in that field, they are neurodiverse themselves, or they have personal connections in that space.

“It has opened things up in terms of an awareness aspect.

“It makes it personal on two levels because it is the celebration of the fact that we have got 10 years here and also it has got that connection in terms of being a fundraiser for The Toby Henderson Trust.”

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