Interview with James Light of the Die Song label!


Die Song is a label that I actually got into by an accident. I slowly scrolled by on Facebook and found that one of my friends there liked this label. I imminently decided to check it out and was strangely attracted to the aesthetics of it. They were dark, they were somewhat nihilistic – almost on the verge. The first thing I got into was Carrion Sunflower, which had released their album “The Romantic Youth Of Jesus“. At first I was startled when I listened to it, and I couldn’t really fathom who would be into it. But after a few listens, it actually grew on me. James Light is the man behind this label, and it’s a label that is situated in the United States. He’s also released a split between Fistula and Radiation SIckness, which could be titled as the second release by this label. So, therefore, I decided to get in touch with him and ask him if he was interested in being interviewed. Now we’re here, with an in-depth interview in front of us. I asked him about the future releases, the meaning of his aesthetics, his craftsmanship, relations to other labels and many more questions. I hope you’re going to get your questions answered, and I hope you’d be as intrigued, if not more – as I was when I first stumbled upon Die Song.

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The top 5 interviews on Invisible Guy in 2012! (Part II)

Another one of these coming up on the site. I was sifting through all the interviews I’ve ever done and I noticed that I’ve done a lot of them. When I once started up this blog, it was nothing more than a hobby project. Even though it still is, I’ve added a layer of professionalism when it comes to the content written. I really had no idea how WordPress worked until I had used it for a long time. As I look back on the interviews I did when I first started out, I’m not really ashamed about them, but I see what kind of progress I’ve made since then. My questions have improved and I have also learned what questions that work and those who don’t. Hopefully I will learn to do even better interviews and increase the amount of interviews that I do in real life. I was thinking about starting up a podcast-oriented series where I interview the bands before they go on stage and ask them a little bit of questions. It’s a formula that I’ve been thinking about, but I don’t really have time for that right now. I’ve been planning on doing a lot of more interviews and there’s a huge one coming up soon.

Welcome to Part II, hope you enjoy your stay!

belaten-header3. Interview with Thomas from Beläten published 2012-06-08

I remember how I found out about Beläten from a totally different source than normal. After that, I also found out about other great labels. Beläten had gotten one of the most intriguing designs and continually updated the website of his label. There are many interviews that I’ve done, but I believe this is one of the absolute best I’ve done for a while. As I stepped into his domain, I asked him a lot about philosophical questions and important issues that we’re facing in the world today and I think I got adequate answers. It was a very interesting thing to do and it rendered in someone using my interviews for his students to see and practice on. I don’t know if he did though, but it feels good that someone appreciates the interviews that I conduct. I also think that this interview marked the clear cut line between the better questions and even longer interviews, which is a great thing. I would like to quote a passage from this interview:

What’s your opinion on internet piracy? Have you been affected by it?

File sharing affects everyone to some degree, and of course it will only get more and more difficult to sell records and tapes. There are still enough people around who wants the actual artifact, but we’re seeing a generation of kids that have NO relationship with records. And I think THAT is the root of the problem, and it can all be blamed on the music industry. They’ve worked very hard at making pop music utterly disposable, turning records from beautiful artifacts into a lifeless storage medium, and in the process turned music into something that just isn’t worth any money to most people.

I think the question of piracy is quite difficult. I fully support the concept of intellectual property, but if the price for maintaining it is constant state surveillance, then I say to hell with it. I try to support the small labels that are around, by buying their releases, because I like records, and I pay for downloads if there’s no analog format available, but I am quite aware that at some point, there won’t be any records around. It might not happen soon, but it will happen eventually.

I think the saddest thing about being able to download just about any record ever made, is that it has devalued music, even for me. A new record used to be an event, something almost sacred, and you would listen to it over and over and over. Nowadays you hear so much music, all the time, that it’s rare to spend any time getting to know an album. That’s something I really miss actually.

196279_1901977398166_1503655181_2067577_4706497_n2. Interview with Strap On Halo published 2012-11-19

This is actually one of the latest and longer interviews that I’ve published recently. Even though I have some more coming up, this interview is a good representation. I think that the questions were thoughtful and I got some pretty great answers from this band. This was one of those interviews that took some time to get back, but when I got it, I loved how the answers were a representation of thoughtful answers. Which is something you get as a reward when you think up better questions than you’ve done before. Even though this project is still on the hobby level, I think this interview is one of the best that I’ve conducted for this blog. I would say that I could do even better interviews, but that will be postponed for next year. But due to the lack of quality interviews, I believe that this one if still pretty much one of the best. So I would like to quote from this interview to give you a little bit of insight:

I read that you’ve had a long tour this summer, how was it to embark on the west coast and Texas? What have been memorable? You played four shows with The Spiritual Bats in September, as if that wasn’t enough – you also played at the Age of Decay festival. Were you stoked and is there anything you could tell me about this? 

West coast has always been a planned destination for us. Marc being from Seattle made hitting it not even a question, as with Texas for me. Seeing family and old friends seemed to hit the top of our unwritten priority list. Touring is always exciting and the things we see always sparks conversation that we share over and over, only to extend the “post tour blues”.

Having The Spiritual Bat as tour mates was probably one of the most memorable experiences from this summer’s tour. We met Rosetta and Dario in 2009 at the start of our “Quick Fix Tour”. We hosted a show in Omaha for them, met in New Orleans to perform at the same festival and during some off time that we had in-between both our tours we met up in my hometown of San Antonio, Texas. We really connected and kept in contact. So in 2012 they asked us to join them on tour. I had already booked and confirmed gigs for our tour so it was unfortunate that we could only do the Midwest part. Weekends were spent on the road playing shows and during the week we retreated to the Strap On Halo home base. We had an evening ritual and would converge in the studio just to enjoy each other’s company. It was fantastic to have them stay with us at our home and truly spend time with our friends. The house was full and alive. A comment Augustine made stuck with me. He said, “It’s all Straps and Bats in here”! He was also bunkered down with us for most of the summer. The past two tour was just the three of us and this time we had the pleasure of taking our good friend/roadie Augustine Strange who ended up being the best tour assistant ever. I honestly don’t know how we managed this long without him.

Age of Decay was a perfect end to our summer tour. Our hosts Alethea and William Carr were amazing. Florida goths are extremely welcoming and have made for us a permanent stop each year. We made new friends, had time to talk with all the bands and look forward to seeing them all again. The event had such a fulfilling vibe, I can say with full confidence that everyone had a great time and all the bands were happy to be there. I couldn’t have asked for a better finale to 2012.

This year was an extremely good year and I cannot wait to see what unfolds in 2013!

fishrider_eco_bag1. Interview with Ian Henderson from Fishrider Records published 2012-06-10

The interview I did with Ian Henderson of the mini-label Fishrider Records is one of the longest interviews I’ve conducted. But it wasn’t only long, it also delved deep into the influences of the label, Ian Henderson himself and everything around him. I also liked the appreciation that was aimed my way, because many people loved this interview. Even though I have chosen interviews on the basis of that I like them, I chose the first place for this interview because I got a lot of people telling me how great it was. It is a great challenge to be on the top when you’re an obscure and underground blog, but one of the nicest things is the appreciation when you do something good. Like helping the smaller labels and artists, which an interview could do too. Since they almost never get to tell their own story, Ian Henderson got to tell his, even though he’s done it before. But I think it turned out really good and this interview is probably the best I’ve done this year so far, hopefully you’ll enjoy the interview. I will quote a passage I like from it:

So, when a band is signed to Fishrider, what makes you different from major labels and other labels around? What defines your attitude towards the artists and creativity?

Bands don’t really ”sign”. We just talk and exchange e-mails confirming the arrangement. In general I work on the Rough Trade 50/50 profit share after expenses model. But with pressings of 500 CDs and 200 LPs there are not a lot of profits to share! So mostly what bands gain from being on Fishrider is only not having to pay to record or release their music. They also get some promotion and sometimes some help with expenses and stuff.

Each arrangement is different depending on the circumstances. The label exists to help the artist release their music. Of course I want to cover production and marketing costs and get a little return to help finance the next release. But the deal should alway favour the artist over the label.

If I have made or paid for recordings myself Fishrider still doesn’t own them exclusively. They belong to the artists, although they usually insist Fishrider at least co-owns them, which is what Opposite Sex did when I tried to give them ownership of the recordings I made for them.

Vinyl is hard because a 200 pressing will often just recover costs if you sell it all because of the freight. There is no pressing plant in NZ, Australia is way too expensive, so I get records pressed in Nashville get them freighted back to NZ so I can post them around the world! It’s crazy. That’s why I’m so happy about the UK pressing and release for Opposite Sex.

I think it is important for labels to have these discussions upfront and for everyone to be aware what is happening and to be happy with it.  My arrangements might be unusual and not very business-like but the business part of the label is just a necessary evil and a means to an end. My goal is to mix altruism with commerce and for Fishrider to be ”music arts & crafts” more than ”music industry”. I hate the word ”industry” used in conjunction with music. It is art, not industry. Sadly most commercial music labels are ”industrial”.

I read a lot about labels and managers being irrelevant now. Musicians don’t need them and can do their own thing now.  Yes they can and, if they want to, then they should.  But not everyone has the time, skill or self-confidence to run their own business and market and promote themselves and their music. Few in NZ can survive on music alone so they have to balance work and/or study with music. Opposite Sex and The Puddle don’t want  to do the business side of things, or maintain websites and don’t have the time or skills to do that. I would rather they concentrate on making music and trust a friend to be a partner to help with the non-musical stuff for them. I can’t make the music they do, yet I want to hear it made. So I offer the skills I do have so they can make and release their music. I said it was altruism, but really it is selfishness!  I do it to get the rewards of pleasure and satisfaction from it.

So, I think there is still a role for labels and managers but it has to be for the right reasons – a partnership to facilitate the artists’ art, where everything is transparent, fair and done with mutual agreement

I also believe the artists have artistic control. I still like to have ideas and make suggestions but in the end it is the artist’s decision.  It can be a fine line between being encouraging and pushing too much. Sometimes I do things that need to be done without checking with the artist to save time or not to disturb them. Opposite Sex have strong ideas on visuals and this caused a bit of tension once. I know what they expect now.

Thank you everyone for making Invisible Guy what it is today! Hope you have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!