Growing up in Southern Ontario, I was fiercely loyal to a small independent Toronto label called Ready Records. It was only in existence from 1979 to 1985, but considering I was 15 in ’79 it was disproportionally influential. With a refreshing (at the time) focus of promoting and developing local artists, the label quickly developed a strong presence; if it was on the label it was probably worth buying. I’ve transferred some of that independent label loyalty to Chemikal Underground. Looking a ways down the road, what can both artists and music fans come to expect from Comets and Cartwheels?
“We hope that a few years down the line we’ll be known as a label that puts out great bands and works hard to get their artists out there. We’d love to build up a good list of acts and get a few album releases under our belts, as this is where the great reviews and attention really seem to come in. From early teenage-hood right up to now I’ve been obsessed with the ethos surrounding great labels like Saddle Creek, Bella Union, Fence, Sub Pop, Arts and Crafts etc… to whom I would consistently return to discover fantastic new music. If we could be known as a label like that one day I think we’d be sporting some smiles on our faces. I guess just being known as a collective family of musicians and creatives would great too. We’re also really look forward to building up our catalogue of music promo videos. We were lucky enough to work with a very talented London based director called Mat Sheldon on Quickbeam’s debut single Seven Hundred Birds, and it turned out stunning. I’d highly recommend checking out his short films at crushfilm.com.”
How did you conjure up the label name?
“It’s nothing too profound. Paul and I just decided to pick one word each, I don’t know why I chose Comet, but Paul chose Cartwheels cause it’s his favourite Reindeer Section song.”
Currently you have 3 artists: Endor, Quickbeam and Partwind Partwolf. It is a nicely balanced bunch. Do you have a strategy, perhaps better said – a philosophy, for how you intend to seek out or attract other artists in the future?
“At present we are really open to receiving demos from anyone and there are no real rules as to what we would and wouldn’t consider signing, since our tastes are pretty eclectic. At present everything is still within the indie/rock/folk vein but that’s not to say we wouldn’t want to branch out in the future into other genres. Ultimately as long as the music affects us and we feel it has artistic merit then we will be willing to work with the artist. I’d like to think that those bands looking for labels will judge whether they want to work with us based on our previous releases and the previous success we’ve had with our roster. Ideally I’d like to put out a mix of singles, EPs and albums, with the latter of course being released in physical formats too. We’d like to secure a distributor in the next year and continue building our relationships with press/radio and music video producers in order to continue offering our artists a full release package. I’m really excited at the prospect of possibly working with some international artists going forward as well, particularly because we have strong music links with Canada through friends there.”
The first release on April 9th is from Quickbeam and it is digital only. How soon can we look forward to a physical release? Will vinyl receive any special attention or emphasis?
“I think we’ll avoid 7″ singles, but I’d be very interested to release an album on vinyl/cd and digital. Endor are currently working on new material for their second album and if we get the funding together I think it’d be great to release that on vinyl if the band were up for it. We’re keen to offer high quality physical product that has real aesthetic value, and vinyl definitely ticks those boxes, and widens the scope for working with visual artists on designs for album artwork.”
Pedro and I took in the Creation records documentary the other week. When is someone going to make a Chemikal Underground documentary?
“Give Forest of Black a call, they make awesome documentaries. I know I’d watch it! Our friend Hubby (RM Hubbert) signed with Chemikal last year, and absolutely everyone should listen to his second album, it’s incredible.”
I’ve fairly recently re-discovered vinyl. The appeal is obvious. I’ve also noticed a smattering of cassette tape releases. My personal experience with the format was quite horrible. Is this purely a novelty or is there another dynamic I’m missing?
“My band actually released an album on cassette last month. I’m not really sure what the motivation behind it was but it seemed to garner us some really good press attention! I have a cassette player but the catch on the tape deck is broken and won’t stay shut. So I can’t listen to it. I’d vote vinyl any day over cassette, though I do love the portability of those iPod thingys.”
If I could wish upon a Comet and Cartwheel, I’d wish for the re-emergence of an A.C. Acoustics record. Isn’t it about time? What would you wish for?
“I’d wish for a Reindeer Section reunion show!”
I’ve just downloaded the new Quickbeam single ‘700 Hundred Birds’. Up until now I’ve only listened to snippets and practiced my translations skills on a few German reviews. It is a lovely delicate song that even though it runs for 3:46 seems to end all too quickly. ‘Empty Space’ continues in a more plaintive and melancholic vein. I can’t wait for the full length. Hopefully they’ll go well north of 10 tracks. Don’t forget to take advantage of the earlier free release of ‘Tide’. http://quickbeam.bandcamp.com/album/seven-hundred-birds