My name is Vlad Matveikov, I am one of the bunch responsible for everything terrible that Small Pond does.
What is Small Pond?
Small Pond is a collection of individuals housing the following activities under one roof and a single name:
1) Rehearsal spaces
2) Recording Studio
3) Promotions and booking company
4) Record Label
When/Why did you start it?
We have been bouncing ideas around for a very long time, trying to consolidate them into something, and finding a feasible way to make them happen. While the ideas have floated around for a while, we started working on live sessions three years ago and dived into putting on shows shortly after. Last May we started building our HQ on Castle Street and opened it to the public in October.
None of us are originally from Brighton, we had all moved here to study and over time we became good friends. We are all driven individuals who wanted to work in music. I think it was the realisation that no-one was going to hand us jobs or opportunities to do this, that eventually put us on the path to doing it ourselves.
What would you say to anyone thinking of starting their own business?
I would suggest taking your time with it. Starting your own business means taking a lot of risks and you should try not to rush into compromising situations. Take your time and study your surroundings, competitors, opportunities, and as many other variables as you can before you commit to a big move. A lot of people confuse “taking your time” with “taking it easy” and there is a direct correlation between this confusion and whether people end up achieving their goals…
Small Pond is a year old! What have your learnt?
This has been such a challenging year that summing up what I have learned in a few sentences for this interview is just not going to do it justice. One thing I did learn is that everyone can play “THE Lick”.
What’s the highlight from your first year?
I have had two moments.
One of them was when I took my first holiday and went away for a while, a year into building and opening Small Pond. It was such a busy and intense year that I had lost all perspective, and once I was on the other side of the world I completely disconnected. On a boat in the Coral Sea something just clicked, and for the first time I thought: “f*****g s*** on a stick, we’ve actually gone and done it”.
The second one was this October – when we had completely stabilised the business, given ourselves a raise, fixed our working hours, and allowed ourselves the luxury of having a balanced life.
Now maybe we can enjoy something of what we have done, and consciously forego our sanity and time to start a new project…
Any hurdles you’ve hit along the way?
There are too many to name. I think that in general a lot of people I meet are very reluctant to say, “I don’t know”.
It’s important to be informed about what you are doing and knowing your limitations. There is no-one who knows everything and doesn’t encounter unexpected things in their trajectory. So since we all come across the same hurdles, the only thing that sets people apart is how they deal with those hurdles when they come up.
I think it is important to (a large extent) let go of the fear of failure when tackling challenging issues for the first time; to be honest about your limitations, not to be worried to ask for help, and to try and understand a situation without entering a state of anxiety or feeling overwhelmed.
When setting up a new business, even if it is in the industry you think you are well versed in, you are inevitably going to face a whole lot of situations for the first time. Rather than be daunted by those tasks I think we should treat them as opportunities to really meet oneself. What I mean by that is that everyone has good intentions in theory, but it’s when you are put in front of difficult tasks that may have big repercussions that you really meet yourself.
Being under pressure can bring out the worse in people; one can start behaving like an asshole to colleagues, and disregard core values of fairness and equality, just to solve whatever is at hand.
I think we all show our true colours in our most challenging moments, and we will all have them individually and collectively. This last year has been a big lesson in how to approach these situations and how to deal with these challenging moments. It is important to approach these in a way that makes sense beyond the immediate situation, and in a way that you can be proud of yourself and your company when looking back at any given situation.
Did your experience at BIMM Brighton play any part in Small Pond’s making?
BIMM, its change of ownership, and its continued growth, is in large part what has allowed Small Pond to open. These things created the demand and we just stepped in to provide the supply – not in the theoretical way you learn in class but from being part of Brighton, its music scene, BIMM, and understanding exactly what people wanted.
Personally I am grateful that I met some amazing friends and future colleagues while studying at BIMM, plus some amazing teachers. Two that instantly come to mind are Damien Morris and Andy Bray; I really hope that this new generation/wave of students appreciates individuals like that teaching them! Cam Dawson who was in my year has made the leap to becoming a member of staff as well now and I have a lot of love and respect for that guy. All in all BIMM has got a lot to offer if you are willing to work hard and persevere rather than slipping into the many temptations that can come with being a musician and student in Brighton.
The best thing/skill your learnt from BIMM?
This question is too broad and complicated and I worry that giving a one word answer might cheapen so many important experiences, so I am going to shy away from being serious and say – “THE Lick”.