Features Music Year End 2013 Pass The Mic: Record Labels on 2013

Year End 2013

Music: Pass The Mic: Record Labels on 2013

Sean McCulloch (Anti-Matter Records)

1. What are your top five albums that were released in 2013? (In order 1-5)

I limited my picks to releases that I had actually purchased and were not on my own label.

  1. Ensemble Pearl - Self-Titled (Drag City)
  2. Mamiffer/Circle - Enharmonic Internvals (For Paschen Organ) (Sige)
  3. Theologian - The Chasms of My Heart (Crucial Blast)
  4. Transatlantic Rat's Atom/Bird Eye - split (Streaks)
  5. Noothgrush/Coffins - split (Southern Lord)

Worthy Mentions:

  1. The Haxan Cloak - Excavation (Tri Angle)
  2. Kwaiden - Make All the Hell of Dark Metal Bright (Bathetic)
  3. Integrity - Suicide Black Snake (A389 Recordings)

2. What band did you discover in 2013 (can be a brand new band or an older band) that had an impact on your life? What made them significant?

Power Trip - Manifest Decimation (Southern Lord)

Bands such as this just always remind me of what I love about fast aggressive music. I started off as a punk kid and so whenever I hear something that's so heavily influenced by the punk aesthetic, I tend to gravitate towards it. It seems that no matter what kind of music I may gain interest in, be it different styles, genres, or bands, the one thing that always still gets me pumped and amped up is something fast, heavy and aggressive. There's a few active bands going right now that seem to be getting back to that root principle. I think that so many different bands and genres of music have an undeniable connection to the punk sound, attitude and aesthetic. There's a certain mentality and thought process that is connected with it and I think ANYONE that's involved in the underground music scene can appreciate and respect that. When you see bands such as Power Trip, Trash Talk, Fucked Up, etc. you can't help but to fully realize what they're trying to achieve, and trying to achieve by and large on their own and independent of the high price, glitzy, glammy outlets, regardless of the fact that you might not even like their music. To me, that's a huge factor into a lot of the music I like and something I try to take into great consideration when running my label. I think that's something that many other label owners try very consciously to pay attention to as well.

3. How will you remember 2013? (In terms of music)

I will remember 2013 as being the year that I learned so many great lessons about running a label. I feel like I've learned a lot about organization and planning/scheduling. This was my first year with the label for which I learned about my own limits with releases, budgets, organization etc. I'm greatly looking forward to applying what I've learned in 2013 to my release schedule and organization of my releases in 2014.

4. What can we look forward to from you in 2014?

The first half of they year I'm hoping to take a bit slower and focus a bit more on PR kind of stuff for my previous releases, working on getting my releases out there into more brick and mortar stores. The second half of the year I have numerous releases already planned that I'm really excited about and I'm hoping to just keep up with good, quality releases. I also hope to see a little bit more diversity injected into the type of releases that get released on the label.

5. What records are you looking forward to most in 2014?

  1. 1. Sunn O)))/Ulver - Eternal Return (Southern Lord)
  2. Barren Harvest - Subtle Cruelties (Handmade Birds)
  3. Deathstench/Trepaneringsritualen - split picture disc LP (Malignant)
  4. Bird Eye full-length (I hope this see's the light of day at some point in 2014) (Fuck Yoga)

6. There is a lot of debate over streaming sites and royalties, namely with Spotify. What is your stance on the economic policies behind the current streaming services? Do you have a preferred one?

I feel as though I'm always at a battle of conscience over this topic. There's a part of me that completely hates the idea of having digital versions of all of my release, but I'm also realistic about the importance of it as well. When I started the label, it was my intent to remain pretty true to analog formats and to stay away from digital ones. The problem is this... there's always going to be someone that's going to create a digital format of your releases. I figured, if someone's going to put it out there, it might as well be the one to do it. I might not be 100% into the idea of creating digital versions of my releases, but I'd prefer to be the one to do it and make sure that there is a high quality digital version out there rather than a poor quality version and have no control over it at all. At least this way, I/the artist has total control over the finished digital product.

As for which I prefer, I use Bandcamp. After spending much time and effort researching different sites such as iTunes and other sites/companies, I just eventually came to the conclusion that Bandcamp was the site that seemed to make the most sense for me and my needs. I suppose I ultimately like the idea of iTunes, but after consideration, it just seemed that I was sacrificing too much, both creative control and fees to someone other than myself and/or the artists. I'm realistic and honest with myself about the idea of some people making money from running a label and distro. But for me, that's not my main concern. It's EXTREMELY important to me to retain as much creative control of the day-to-day operation of the label as well as for the artists I work with to retain as much artistic control as possible with their release(s). To me, it's about making myself as accessible as possible to the people who may have an interest in what I'm doing. For so long, I refused to use certain social media outlets but after much urging from a friend who suggested it for purposes pertaining to the label, I finally did it. As it turned out, it was one of the best choices I've made with running my label. I'm able to have so much interaction with the people who are making purchases, creating music, creating art, etc. I greatly love that aspect just as much as finding and releasing music.

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Words by the SPB team on Jan. 11, 2014, 4:46 p.m.

Photo of vinyl records by Dan Machold.

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