Some questions for Michael Thiel from Weyrd Son Records!

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Michael Thiel is the son of the man that was Snowy Red, whose name was Marcel Thiel. With the first release coming out from his newly started label, Weyrd Son Records, which was a tribute to Snowy Red by a multitude of synth-artists – his label became a part of what might be a future legacy. This son of Belgium is the sole proprietor of the label, and he makes everything work. Since he shaped the idea for the label back in 2012, it started to become a real label when the compilation “_ever Alive – a tribute to Snowy Red” was released in May, 2013. Which had the catalog-number WyS-001. I’m all about this label, so I sent Michael some questions about it, hinting on future releases, the symbolic nature of the first compilation, the artists featured on his label – and much more. Tune in for another questionnaire, that is simply too great to be overlooked. At least if you ask me, but I hope you’ll enjoy reading it.

Your label is pretty new, since it’s only been around since the late December of 2012, from what I’ve noticed. The first release, the tribute to Snowy Red, seems to have been a huge success. What was it like in the process of starting your label?

– Indeed. I officially announced the creation of Weyrd Son Records around late December 2012. A full tribute album to Snowy Red already crossed into my mind a while ago, but it was in the morning of a day in April that I clearly stated; that from that day on, I would work seriously on that first release. I had a few band names in mind, but for some reason I thought it would be quite hard to find a record label that might be interested to release a records with so many “new bands”. I didn’t want anyone to impose any bands or artists I wouldn’t work with, so I immediately thought I would do everything by myself and create my own brand to have a full control of that project.

How hard was it to gather all these artists for this huge compilation?

– I would be lying to say it was a piece of cake doing this. The most difficult part was to be sure I would receive all the tracks on time, which didn’t happen. It takes a lot of energy to give everyone the same motivation that you have yourself. They were of course motivated, but as long as the project is not 100% theirs, you can’t really expect for them to be involved in it – as much as you are. I mean, from that morning of April 2012, I decided to dedicate the biggest part of my time to everything related to the compilation. All those great artists have their own life, their own music and duty, it’s a normal thing – that they would put me on hold for some days. Plus, I didn’t want to push them too much, because I wanted them to take the time they would need to do what they do, in the best of ways. I guess I was just too confident about the deadline. Now I know what it’s like, for the forthcoming releases.

I’m just guessing that you are the brother of Marcel Thiel, so it seems pretty obvious why a tribute to Snowy Red was the first release. Was this a symbolic act for you in honor of his memory?

– Micky Mike was my dad.

It’s true, I didn’t want anything else to come out first on the label. It was at first pretty symbolic, indeed. I had already experienced such a workload three years ago when I was in charge with the art direction of the 5 LP boxset of Snowy Red that got released on Onderstroom. I insisted to do the artwork, and write the text for the whole booklet, so what I did was to get in touch with everyone who was close to my dad and worked with him; photographers, musicians, make-up artists, film makers, sound engineers, friends, etc. I then started to interview them all and my whole work was based on what I’ve learned about him. It was my way to get closer to my dad and to his music, I guess. I was only 4 when the first Snowy Red record came out. Of course I knew all the records by heart already, but I needed to have another approach towards the music and the artist himself. I used to listen to the whole discography while working on the designs and texts. It was pretty inspiring and I did exactly the same thing this time, with the tribute album. Every time I discovered a new facet of Snowy Red, and even more now when other people are playing it.

You’ve got a lot of artists featured on your “roster”, which is pretty weird since the label is very new. Since you aim on giving them total artistic freedom, would that be why they’ve joined up with Weyrd Son Records?

– I can’t really speak for them, but it’s true that I to give the artists 100% control of what they work on for Weyrd Son Records. I really think giving everyone the space they need is the best way to get great things in return. I would never tell anyone “hey, you should sound more like this or that”, or: “that voice part should better be done this way instead”. Who am I to pretend that I know better than themselves, in what their true musical personality is?

Are you the only guy working with the label, and how much time does it consume from your everyday life?

– I’m officially the only person involved, as I’m the only one making the decisions in the end. But there are a few people around me like friends, my sister and my girlfriend, who are giving their opinion – or simply giving me advice. But there’s always one person that is constantly around that I speak a lot with. I would say that it helps me to understand what people are waiting for, what kind of things they would expect from a label. I don’t really buy everything he’s saying, but at least it’s really interesting to hear someone else’s point of view.

Since you’ve already revealed what you’re going to release on your label, both for me and Radio Campus, I was wondering if there’s something you’d like to cover about these releases that haven’t already been said?

– So far, I haven’t really been talking about the fifth release, which I know is some kind of event. It’s about a fresh new band out of the LA-scene. Their name is High-Functioning Flesh, consisting of the duo Susan Subtract (Branes), and Gregory Fronczak. They released a four-tracked tape four months ago and the whole synth-scene in LA went into a mini-blast. I immediately fell in love with them, and I’m counting them in amongst my future projects, which is truly my biggest pride.

Have there been any other labels that you’ve taken influence from, when you decided to start up your label?

– I guess that every single label that has a true and strong personality has or had an influence on me. They are most of the time pretty different, musically speaking, to what I tend to work on – but things like visual communication or artistic coherence are always good lessons to get influenced by. Sometimes I listen to every single artist or record that the label is showing to the world. My interest for a label is sometimes as strong as for music itself. To speak more about the ones that impacted me greatly, I would say that the following three, were those responsible of influencing me: Ideologic Organ (a sublabel of Mego), Sacred Bones Records and Sige. I truly love their artists, but I’d say that it’s pretty far from what I’m working with, musically. But I admire how coherent they are, and the quality of their products, design and inventiveness.

What kind of artists and bands have gotten in contact with you, besides those that are already confirmed?

– Actually, Marburg, the Polish band that is on the tribute to Snowy Red, have gotten in contact with me. There have been a few, mostly doing synth music, of course. But the one I got the biggest interest for was a band doing some true rock’n’roll music. It kinda reminded me of POP 1280, which I ‘m quite a big fan of. I hope I won’t sound like an asshole, but I don’t really like the exercise of being contacted by bands. The reason is that most of the time people aren’t really fitting my vision of what I want to work on. But if I like their stuff, I’m always ready to help.

As a celebratory gesture, you also released the mixtape “The Weyrd Dig Nasty” – celebrating the release of your label. Did it live up to your objective of the label?

– That mixtape was a way for me to put something out that was related to the label, with almost all the artists involved in the tribute, being featured on it. I wanted to give an overview of what Weyrd Son Records was all about, at least for the next few months of action.

When thinking about the label itself, how much response have you gotten from people since the start?

– I got lots of great response so far. Both from the artists I’m working with and people who have heard about Weyrd Son Records, that purchased the first release. Those great comments are making me thinking this was definitely the right move, and certainly the best thing I’ve ever started.

If you got to pick for yourself, what kind of artists or bands would you like to have on your label as a complement?

– Oh, wow. There are so many. There are awesome new bands that I really love, like BOAN, Ssleeperhold and Keluar..They’re all releasing their first record this year on great labels. But if I had to pick some names among confirmed artists, I would say Mushy, Lebanon Hanover and Scorpion Violente. Also, if we were to speak of other music that can’t be fitted into what kind of genres I deal with, I’d say that Chelsea Wolfe, who’s become my biggest musical crush since a decade ago. Or, if we move in the periphery, Eyvind Kang, if we’re going to speak of someone who blew my mind for the last two years.

Since your label is an independent one, are you going to expand in any direction or keep it smaller?

– I’m really not thinking about the possibility to expand. Plus, I think that it would be a mistake. I don’t want to loose a dimension that works, which makes me so happy right now. What I like here is that I have a privileged relationship with everyone, and with the bands. I also try to have a great contact with the customers by replying to every single request or remark. It takes time, but it gives me a really strong feeling to read that someone’s happy, from having a nice reply in the mail. I guess that only I will do for now. As long as I can do everything by myself, I will.

When you package things, they seem luxurious. Do you devote a lot of time to make it unique?

– I don’t think they’re so luxurious right now. But I guess what you could say is that I want them to be more and more luxurious. I’d like to make even more beautiful packages. But that takes so much time, because mostly I have to ship forty copies in a day.

The general aesthetics of Weyrd Son Records seem to be somewhat  industrially influenced, but also minimalistic. Where do you seek your inspiration for that?

– Graphic design is one of my biggest passions. I studied fine arts at school and I used to be really inspired by ancient Japanese art and paintings. Mostly because they use space and “visual silence” as a dialogue with forms and colors. The purity of a line, and of a shape is important to me, as they’re much like a signature. It’s also true that there’s something “industrial” about it, like the logo I created, and the colors I use. I want it to be something in between old fashioned and contemporary – but always classy.

Alright, it’s time to wrap up. What’s going to happen in the coming months?

– The next six months will be pretty busy, filled with lots of surprises. I just sent the artwork and mastering for the second release to the pressing plant, which is the Mushy/Meddicine split EP. It is a re-release on vinyl of the split tape that got released a year ago on Meddicine’s own label Sixsixsixties Records. Then there will be another reissue that will see the light of day around September. Which is the Linea Aspera 3-tracked EP. They released the amazing tape “II” right before they split up. It got sold out almost immediately and I was so pissed off that I missed it. The artwork of that one will be pretty special, but I won’t say too much about it now. The fourth release, that will actually have the catalog number WyS-003 is a three-EP boxset of White Horse. It’s the solo project of Ben Chisholm, who’s a full time member of Chelsea Wolfe’s band. He recently changed the name of White Horse into Revelator, but since he created all that music under the name of White Horse, we both agreed it was better to keep it under that name. This masterpiece in three volumes is titled “The Revenant Gospels”. Haunting and haunted.

I’ve know this music for two years now. I’ve been waiting for someone to release it, and for me to have the chance to hold a copy of it in my hands. But for some reasons that puzzles me, regarding the so outstanding quality of it, it never happened. But I’m ultimately happy that no-one did, because I’m so proud being part of this. And the fifth release will be a six-tracked EP from High-Functioning Flesh. The band that I was talking about earlier.

Listen to the tribute compilation for Snowy Red, that was released by Weyrd Son Records some time ago, down below.

Spotlight: Various Artists – _ever Alive – a tribute to Snowy Red

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I just thought I had to push for this compilation, because it’s awesome. A truly great one, which is a tribute to Snowy Red, which was the moniker for Marciel Thiel. One of the more influential artists within the minimal synth genre. This release feature a lot of the up and coming people, mainly from America, whom have contributed a whole lot to their own scene. But there are also a lot of artists from other parts of the world. The following are represented: Bestial Mouths, //TENSE//, Strange Powers, Mushy, Violet Tremors, Mirror Mirror, Meddicine, Nové Můra, Jessy Champagne, Revelator, Freddy Ruppert, Animal Bodies, Newclear Waves, Safyée, Led Er Est, Bright Future, Marburg and Deathday. So, it’s jam-packed with the best of the best, covering songs from albums like “Snowy Red“, “The Right To Die“, “Vision” and “The Beat Is Over“. Meaning; virtually every album he ever released. It’s inspiring to hear such a flawless re-interpretation of those legendary songs. All from different areas of the minimal synth sound. This is surely an investment, as you get a gatefolded double-LP, 180 gram, with hand-numbered packages limited to 500. You’ll can get this for twenty-two euros, and you really should, because it’s a great release. It’s also the first release on Weyrd Son Records (WyS-001), but surely not the last. Artwork was made by Betsy VanLangen.

Review: Vandal X – God Knows

77075_10151176287253883_2050433331_nVehemently outrageous hardcore, mixed with noise, rock’n’roll, psychedelia – and have some tendencies to drone. Compromised by a duo that could’ve been a whole orchestra, for all that you folks care. Günther Liket and Bart Timmermans are tiling up the world throughout a maniacally combination of wickedness. The first track which is also the title-track, “God Knows“, is a rattling piece of noisiness. Focusing on the wide sphere of combining spontaneous, no-wave-ish vocals with the stop-and-go technique of a rather monotonous but rhythmic arsenal of guitars, baselines, figurative drums – with spontaneous outbursts of playful and angered vocals. Nothing is holy when their vile notion of virtual reality is colliding with the place that we call Earth. This formula seems virtually unchanged at a first glance, within the next song “How Sick Is That“, but changes rapidly the more you get into it. Here’s more of the noisy and uncontrollable rock’n’roll you’ve always wished you could master. With atonal messages, spoken with worthiness – Vandal X are the true vandals of the confined space. Getting claustrophobia is easy, as you’re pushed to the edge of a tiny room.

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Review: Mong Dosus – We Are Ready

553702_496099710412205_506324006_nCrazy psychedelic rock, with groovy punk-vibes. Dissecting each way of an ordinary sound-scape with their bare hands, instrumentation aside, the unconventional yet conventional approach in one, is a 2-in-1 offer. With the first track “We Are Ready“, their sheer humbleness can be felt through the chorus, while at the same time; being unafraid of anything. Proclaiming that: “We’re Mong… Dosus!“. The heavy bricks of perfectly laden psychedelia, crazily offering the best of both the rock’n’roll sphere and the punk outfit they’ve covered themselves in. It’s simple, but at the same time complex. Two worlds collide with a heavy effect, your mind is ready to be swallowed by a synthesizer gone berserk and four guys gone totally mental. As if that isn’t enough, the next song “I want my X back” is introduced with an 8-bit mayhem. The apocalyptic suddenly went out into space, covering two layers of a delusional world. When the galactic emperor meets his earthly counterpart, you can count on the punks to prevail. Heavy, fast and wicked riffs, overwrought havoc in tubes of greasy green matter. A little hint of psychedelia, but more of their quick and merciless punk hysteria. Add to that a laid out Alien singer and sufficient synthesizer, in a smoggy mess of disco balls and lights.

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Thee Showcase [#8.6]: Id3m and Deuil!

2953837284-1Thee Showcase is back once again. For everyone with taste or distaste for music, you might actually find your own fix. First up is the Spanish crossover band Id3m. Last year they released their first album which was recorded at Studios Area 61 and it’s titled “New world nemesis“. There’s something interesting about their manufacturing of grindcore, hardcore and metal in one. It’s a rhythmic specimen which often takes its turn, decimating both the realms that are bestowed upon them, but also introducing an unconventional method of crossover. Usually, crossover is all about punk and hardcore, but I decided to use it here because I see it as an apt description. It actually also carries some hints of the all so famous Gothenburg melodic metal sound. I also think that they manage to combine the general grittiness of real death metal, with the more brutal and speedy grindcore, with hints of their melodic self. Some of the parts that are less melodic seem to float neatly into the more melodic nerve of this band. It’s everything you’d want a cheesy melodic death metal band to be, melodic but also with hints of overall brutality. Actually, some of the hardcore that floats into their metal parts form a little bit of metalcore at the edges, but not too much. I’m not very fond of metalcore, but it should be done right or at least be minimized to just a minor influence. This is the metal I could recommend to anyone that simply wants everything from metalcore, hardcore, grindcore, gothenburg melodic death metal, death metal and everything in between in one sound-scape. If they turn it up a notch, get a little bit more tight and decide which influences to cut, just to make it less messy – then they’ve got the world at their feet. Tracks range from “Here come the puppets” to “Spider web to the little near“, it was released by themselves in October last year.

2095305637-1Another band that is being featured today is also in the same department. They might not have the same influences, but could be categorized as metal. But they’re surely beyond that one label. The Belgian band Deuil have put their effort into an entire different category, with their release titled “Acceptance / Rebuild“. A general topic that they seem to revolve around is the notion of destruction, but also the notion of starting once again, but from scratch. After an almost spiritualistic introduction, á la monks and almost tribal hymns, they’ve put a line in the sand between ambiguous and thoughtful. Even though I don’t really prefer the mix of shoegaze, drone and black metal in one – they’re worthy of taking at least a little bit of the crown for being purveyors of an interesting sound. It’s been around for sure, but they utilize it in a totally different manner. With extremely long songs, featuring everything from droopy drones, to fluorescent shoegaze and finally the huge impact of raw orthodox black metal. Their slow and noteworthy escalation of the sound-scape itself is wonderful, as it progresses through a multitude of landscape before the unhinged black metal environment starts to engulf everything in between. I’ll also have to say that they include the element of doom metal with a pretty interesting twist, amongst old and forlorn samplings that can almost be heard in the wobbling noise that is their current destructive landscape. Nocturnal would be the word, destructive another and abandoned a third. It’s a pretty tempting landscape, but I must say that you need to have heard the likes of it before you venture into it. This is not for the meek, as you’ll transgress both noise itself and wander into unknown territory where you won’t know the in and outs. Featuring the two tracks “Acceptance” and “Rebuild“, released by themselves on the 31st of January this year.

Thee Showcase [#8.1]: The Tragedy We Live In and Bombardier!

1553268848-1These tragedies just keep on coming. No, it’s not really those tragedies, but in Thee Showcase you will know which one. Opening for this edition is The Tragedy We Live In from Belgium, which is one of the longer names being featured here and also one of the more emotional ones, musically. Later this year they’re releasing their first self-titled album “The Tragedy We Live In“. Some doom here, a little bit noise there and a whole lot of post-rock. It begins by heightening the expectations, with an equally as long introduction. The suspense is given in an early stage, with a lot of focus on the instrumentation doing the job. Well, it’s because most of the music is totally instrumental, if you don’t count sampling as a sign of breaking the instrumentality. Most of it focuses on giving the calm and acoustic passages some kind of opposition, like two polar opposites fighting between each others. Good and evil, evil and good. Suddenly, it can embark on a noise-driven post-rock journey which smashes everything in its wake. Until a clearance is given for it to slow down, whatever that could be, then prancing along with the calm and ambient-oriented acoustic nerve of themselves. It also seems like each sampling is properly cut up and cut out for each song, which isn’t just a random sampling, like in the song Wahnsinn which is driven (in the beginning) by a shouting Alex Jones. There seems to be a thematic order, concerning these samples, or at least something that can be organized. However, both the sincerity of the acoustic passages and the externalized energy of the post-rock mayhem at hand, gives nothing else to ask for. It is enough to instill a certain form of peace or a certain form of havoc, whenever and wherever you can hear it. That’s how I like it to be, if it doesn’t cover everything, I will not be happy. Songs range from “The Tragedy We Live In” to “Soultaker” and it will be released in two weeks on vinyl. It also seems to be a total D.I.Y-endeavor.

1559499263-1Now, for something completely different. This is a guy going solo, or yeah, he’s been solo since 1998 – under different names. He goes by the name of Bombardier and is currently up to something sinister. His latest mission is a track that goes by the name of “Vice“, which is not an album, I understand. But I had to do this anyway since it’s a pretty great track. The industrialist nature of it, the clashing and sinister environment revolving around it, the booming bass drum that simply cannot prevent itself from getting into your brain. It’s oriented in its own landscape, so the focus in it is very atmospheric. Even though it might not enter the sphere of industrial as a whole, it’s certainly got some layers that would hint of this putrid influence. Also, the overlaying framework of electro meeting techno is enough to even get the most hesitant to grab his headphones and start listening. Slowly pacing, endless macing. It feels like the predator is catching his prey in a labyrinth of some sort, with mechanisms that are located throughout it. There’s a race against time and you need to be quick to even understand what to do. While the crushingly heavy synthesizers race past you and give you a hard time, as the bass drum in the shape of a hammer, jams itself into the sound-scape. Everything here is about force, everything is aggressive and there’s no way out of it. It’s an experience to listen to and it belongs to the gritty environments of other genres, but holds itself confined within techno and electro for the most parts. Only track featured is the track “Vice” which was released on the 24th of February, by Bombardier himself.

Slowday Showcase [#7.3]: Hungry Soul and Delphine Coma!

224176309-1I remembered, vividly, that I hadn’t included electro yet. I thought it was because of the lack of authentic electro, but I was wrong. First up is the sublime Hungry Soul from Antwerpen, Belgium. His latest endeavor is the release titled “Afterlife Resort“, which gives a rather mushy impression. I’ll explain why. The taciturn yet expressive landscape of both a futuristic time, yet induced and sprinkled with a feeling of nostalgia, has you hooked beneath your kneecaps. Maybe the robots are attacking, but they’re no elites. No, they’re drunken of oil and impaired due to excessive oiling. This could be described further, as they run berserk in your neighboring town, hurting nothing but the infrastructure and themselves.  They do really hate anything even remotely close to them, so they want destruction. It might not be noticeable at first, but the cleanliness and sublime nature of the music arcs into a terribly malevolent situation of electronica and electro joining forces with man instead of machine. Some of it might seem arrhythmic, but it’s really rhythm through and through. That old-school wobble, those analog and those alien. Fearing before caring, locked up in different dimensions, miles apart from each other. Yet something forcefully eradicates your control, which make you a spastic piece of fabric for them to work with. Everything seems remote, but still connected to a centralized authority of electronic(al) magnitude. Actually, the probability of this experimentalism couldn’t be counted on. I was thinking more on the lines of AS1 and instead I got Hungry Soul. But now I know why the soul is hungry, because it wants more of that rhythmic stuff that is delivered through tubes of electro synchronicity. It’s spaced-out, yet confined within its own realms of progression and ambition. Ambiguous at least, ambitious at most – but in between is the only certain thing. Featuring the four tracks “Afterlife Resort“, “Heaven Was High“, “Blunted Beach” and “Jack Lag“. Released on Jack Playmobil Records on the 23rd of February.

1846120871-1Also, it’s been a long time, since I heard anything bombastic within darker genres. Either they limit themselves, pending from bombastic to minimal, or just stay within the confined limits of the minimal genres. Now I’ve found something else, something really special, a duo from Houston, Texas called Delphine Coma. It might not be an actualized release right now, since it was released a month ago, but I had to include it. Their release “Exit Isolation” is anything in between cold wave, minimal synth and darkwave. It’s weird, since it’s only minimalistic in the way the landscape progresses and maybe also the vocals. Everything else about it is monumental and bombastic, utilizing the best of two worlds to withhold the minimalism, but at the same time showcasing both minimalism tendencies with a bombastic core to sit on. The overlaying beauty of the sound-scape is wickedness with melancholic intent, but not to a degree that makes it totally ridiculous. It feels like I’m stuck in a dark vortex, slapping me around and carrying me back each time I take a listen. Everything with it grows on you and the tracks differ in both their attitude towards the listener and the general sense of belonging. They’re inviting you to a world of hurt, but you’re too damn attached to even look away or try to make it out. When you’re sitting on the top of a glacier, looking down on the magical spectacle that is Delphine Coma. It might frighten you at first, but when they’ve got you in their grasp, you’re theirs for the taking. I believe that this is what I think of when recognizing the different genres that influence them. This is exactly how it would turn out, but without me knowing it. There’s a sense of gratitude towards them, at the same time, there’s also an edge to it – which takes you from a non-believers perspective, to a cultist worshiper. Even though some of it could be predicted, their unpredictability and underlying sense of movement makes it such a different experience all-in-all. Transgress and transcend from your own apartment, include yourself or be included. You really have no choice in this matter, because it’s in their hands, which is powerful stuff. Something that isn’t going to be reserved for memory lane, it’s something now a part of you. Featuring the two tracks “Exit Isolation” and “Sothis ▲ Dog Star“, released on the 7th of January, on the label In Aeternum.