Today we’d like to introduce you to Vique Martin.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I’m a herbalist, writer, organic gardener, animal lover and I’ve worked in the punk/DIY music scene for the last 25 years. I started writing a zine and running a record label when I was twenty, in college, and heavily involved in the punk/hardcore scene in the UK. I did this for about seven years, before moving to California to run Revelation Records, a record label based in Huntington Beach.
I worked there for 20 years before starting to work for Pirates Press Records – 18 months ago. During this time, I continued to write, releasing a book of my collected writings about eight years ago (available from the Vitriol Records website or contact me) and continuing to release records on my own record label, all under the name Simba. I also apprenticed as a herbalist from 2015-2016 and launched my own range of products under the name Punk Potions. I have an Etsy store for that, which most recently I’ve utilized for selling masks – I’ve made over 1450 of them, tons donated, and most of the proceeds going to charity for the ones sold – over $3400 so far – mostly to LGTBQIA+ safe spaces, food banks, doctors without borders and animal rescues. Currently donating to various BLM/social justice funds. I also paired my passion for music with my ability to sew by getting lots of shirts from leftover tours donated by Pirates Press Records and I made masks with them 🙂
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
There have definitely been struggles along the way. My mother died of a sudden heart attack when I was 23, and my father of suicide when I was 26. I think this shaped my life choices in a lot of ways. When my mother died, I had just completed my Masters in Psychology but I veered from this path and have never returned. Education is never wasted though! The changes within the music industry have also been challenging, but I have tried to ride them and so far, I’m hanging in there and we are managing to make things work. The current situation for our bands being unable to play shows and tour is just one more wave that we will ride. We’ve just been trying to support our bands and our record stores as best we can during the last few months and planning for the future.
Punk Potions / Simba / Pirates Press Records – what should we know? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Pirates Press Records is an amazing company to work for. We have a true family ethos, an owner that cares about us all, and a group of bands that are working hard to spread our shared political views via the most creative means possible. I love working there. I have more experience in doing what I do – pressing records, selling records, promoting records, working with bands and handling accounting than practically anyone within the independent and punk music world. I obtained my green card for being a ‘person of exceptional ability’ many years ago, as not many people understand the international punk/independent music market the way I do. So I would I say that I guess I do that best, but it feels weird tooting my own horn like that. But no matter how you spin it – 24 years of working in this field is a lot of experience. And most importantly – I STILL love it 🙂
My own writing in Simba started in the nineties and embodied the concept that the personal is the political. I write about love, death, sex, politics, feminism, monogamy, and everything and anything I want to. It makes people uncomfortable because it is utterly ‘over-sharing’ and that’s the point. Pushing boundaries of what is ‘normal’ to share. True connection can only come through people being vulnerable.
Punk Potions isn’t radical in its herbal products, but I believe that as a herbalist I am unique due to my background in psychology, my ability to listen, ask difficult questions and provide support.
What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Making a difference in the world, first and foremost. Working for a greater good, rather than merely financial success. Whether that’s in the field of supporting or caring for those in the health or mental health field, teaching, educating, growing, building homes, repairing plumbing or delivering mail. These are all examples of integral parts of a society I want to live in and I value all of these things. For me, making a difference, in whatever small way I can, is success, whilst being financially self-sufficient. If I can work a day job that makes a difference in the world that pays my bills and supports me and all of my adopted animals, I know I am succeeding. If I can spend the rest of my time being productive and creative, then I am succeeding. If I feel intellectually stimulated, emotionally grounded and physically tired, I know that day, week, month, year, has been a success. And in general, we don’t need more people achieving what is generally considered to be ‘successful’ – because that’s all too often measured financially in our culture. We need more people to be compassionate, kind, empathetic, community-minded and respectful. That, to me, is success.
- I sell masks for Covid-19 on www.etsy.com/shop/punkpotions for $12.50 including postage – 50% of all proceeds goes to charity