Electric Voice Records is a record label based in Canada. It focuses on such musical styles production as Industrial, Minimal Synth, Post-Punk, Punk and more. As it is announced on labels' website, the team is formed of four talented people (Matthew Samways, Courtney Rafuse, Darcy Spidle and Brett Wagg) operating from different cities. Conceived in 2009, Electric Voice Records has gradually developed into an independent record label and distributor, releasing audio works in physical format from all around the globe. Music presented on this label can be characterized as lo-fi and 80s sound mixture of saturated live instrumentation. Label is continuously developing musical flavor that was strongly influenced by the past and its fundamental structural ideology.
The main operator and owner Matthew Samways says: "Firstly, I am a musician and have been living on the Eastern coast of Canada playing in a variety of groups & working sub-par jobs in support of my label & travels since 2008". He is a man who took a challenge to build a record label in not very friendly Canadian distribution environment and to spread it worldwide. Samways answered Secret Thirteen questions about his record label existence, concerns, exciting and promising future plans frankly and in detail.
While reading this sincere interview we suggest you not to miss exclusively recorded mix that clearly reflects philosophy, intentions and knowledge of the label.
What is the Electric Voice Records sound and audience?
I do not believe there is one. We do not abide by any guideline when selecting music we are releasing, allowing us to reach markets and audiences abroad. Though, naturally our output solely reflects music we desire and what we want to see materializing. As all things, Electric Voice has experienced an evolution and slowly has developed as an avenue for us to materialize contemporary music that we admire as well as unearthing music from decades past. We are interested in exploring the spectrum, not a specific genre or sound. I don't necessarily visualize a sound but an energy, movements in timbre and themes. We are joined by like minded artists worldwide from decades past to present. These consistencies include our favourite musical styles: Industrial, Minimal Synth, Post-Punk etc.
No doubt that a lot of hard work is involved in the label. What have been the biggest challenges that you faced?
Running a record label out of Canada is very difficult. There is one operating vinyl manufacturing plant in Canada and because of that prices are very high or if working with a brokerage firm you have to deal with imports and custom fees. Needless to say, Canadian shipping prices are unreasonable and are a completely obtuse contrast to American shipping prices. This is a major deter for customers in and outside of Canada wanting to purchase our records. It is not an easy place to release music.
As a musician I have put much neglect into my own creation and the maintenance/development of my own working environment with equipment and such, in turn having to compromise my own musical identity. I have yet to find a balance. Thankfully I am so young, and have much time to give to both processes.
Another challenge with running a label is remembering that we are operating as a business, and often personal pragmatic perspectives are blinded. As my own philosophies and standards continue to grow, it is important not to let that to affect the output and consistency of the label - but I would imagine it is like that with all businesses and is a common interference. It is by no means professional, but my mild neurosis can interfere.
How do you benefit from online distribution?
There are only benefits to online distribution. The only deterrent with mail order for us is Canada Post. Absurdly over priced shipping rates, often acting as a deal breaker with our international customers. About 5% of the records we sell are in Canada. Most of our records are not sold out of house, been through our leading distributors like Revolver USA in North America etc.
Though, speaking about the New Year, we have a good friend in the United States who is going to help us with shipping, so we can offer American shipping rates to our international customers and even in North America. I am thinking it is going to make a big difference.
Where do you find most artists to work with?
It varies. The Internet is definitely a tool in contacting artists. When the label began I was strictly doing releases for my friends in Canada and the United States but as it progressed I started reaching out to others. A lot of our releases have formed organically, which in most cases is better. It helps when the working relationship is backed by friendship. It makes the experience more animated and enjoyable. Though in more recent times, we have been working with artists communicating over the internet and by post. This is fine, it just becomes less engaging which could also have it's benefits.
What essential elements an artist needs to find the audience and to be properly released?
This is a very tough question. We release such niche music and its also a variable. I do think artists’ need to have somewhat of an open mind to marketing ideas etc. The record industry is very saturated right now, and it is not easy to sustain a business operating within the industry. I am not only speaking for an independent label like Electric Voice but also major labels are losing money because of downloading, bootlegging and all of that bullshit.
In my experience the most “successful” musicians have organic, non-verbal qualities that attract labels, audiences, other artists, etc. that want to work with said artist. You need to have a certain amount of drive and need to be willing to work for your music to be heard or accept having someone to work for you. I am personally attracted to people that are making great music but not with the intentions of being heard - creating out of passion for the music and process. It is those artists’ who should be rewarded with a good label. A lot of music from years past that I highly regard was naive, or absent from their environment, completely unaware. That said, I also appreciate the obsessive, and compulsive tendencies of musicians that take years to complete their work.
What could great-sounding recording do for an artist’s career?
It depends. Some musicians really do not benefit from high fidelity recordings. As stated previously, much of my favourite music is favoured because of what it is able to convey in it's organic condition. I am interested in what transcends through music consciously and unconsciously and through a variety of mediums and qualities. I do not believe there to be any major benefits in having a high fidelity recording unless that is how one wants their music to be heard. Of course I value production, and it is possibilities/limitations using stereophonic and monophonic sound reproduction, but there is something quite beautiful with creating something with nothing.
Which other record labels do you admire?
First label that comes to mind is Dark Entries Records. I am not sure if he knows it or not but DE one of the most prominent labels in the last 30, going on 40, years in documenting obscure and underground wave, minimal synth etc. It is obvious he is passionate about his work with the label and is doing it out of pure heart. Some of my favorite records and cassettes in the past decades I have discovered or been reminded by DE unearthing these releases. His consistency from release to release and attention to detail with the aesthetics (inserts, layouts) are important elements in a label's character. As a lot of my favorite recordings happened years before my own comprehension or even before my birth, I look toward other outlets to discover music and acquire the recordings. It is labels like Dark Entries that make that possible, and it is a huge inspiration to what I do.
Another massive role in the inspiration to start taking Electric Voice seriously was another Nova Scotian label Divorce Records. Darcy (Owner of Divorce) handles the EV Public Relations, and also runs a local fringe experimental art & music festival the Obey Convention, which I work for. Divorce has been running since 1999, so through our working relationship Darcy's experience and knowledge has provided me with the basics into starting and sustaining a record label. Not only do we work together well but we are good friends, which makes a huge difference.
Do you have any predictions for what might await the Electric Voice Records in the future?
Electric Voice has been doing a lot of one off unique collaboration records, compilations, singles, cassettes and split releases, which was an element I really wanted to celebrate - specialty releases. Though, in the next year we will be working with some artists on some LP releases and we will also look forward to expanding our roster with new music, as well as digging up old and archived music.
Next year we have an EP release of Philippe Laurent and HNN that will come out on 12". Philippe's side is an outtake from his 1984 "Hot-Bip" sessions that were re-issued on the American label Minimal Wave. HNN is a contemporary Minimal Synth project lead by Gregg Anthe and is affiliated with the 80's Minimal Wave band Martin Dupont. Their side features a collaboration with Electric Voice's own Jeff & Jane Hudson. Though in the song the pitch is not intact - in this piece Jane recites a beautiful prose she wrote titled "Authority".
"We finally believed in a singularity, one manifestation of our consciousness and unconsciousness. It is the institution of kingship, the power of life and death, the sovereign last word, that humanized the personality/nationality/universality nexus into a body of rules." (Jane Hudson in "Authority")
Prior to that EP, there will be a new compilation LP issued simply titled "Electric Voice II". This compilation is pretty special to us, highlighting the "spectrum" and the development of these Industrial and Minimal Synth styles. It features recordings from 1980 dated up until months ago. A lot of the artists are already affiliated with each other and have never appeared on any of our releases before. It features previously unreleased, exclusive tracks from some of our favourite contemporary musicians as well as from decades past: Genesis P-Orridge & Thee Majesty, Martial Canterel, ADN Ckrystall, Martin Dupont, Tropic Of Cancer, Frank (Just Frank), Ike Yard, Vita Noctis, Nine Circles & Das Ding. This compilation LP will be available as a limited LP and digitally, complete with artwork from Juan Mendez (of Silent Servant) and Dmytrij Wulffius.
I am aware that in this decade there has been increased interest in the Wave/Minimal Synth styles of music which has fabricated an idea of a renaissance or a revival. I am totally against this. I do not believe anything has changed, and I believe that these styles of music are still evolving and adapting to culture. A major change is the communication medium in which music is presented: the Internet. All the same tools and analog technologies are still being used and celebrated. I want nothing to do with this revival. Our work is often cited as part of this and following in the footsteps of other labels reissuing and releasing these styles of music. We are not following a trend. We are passionate about this music and we are passionate about exercising a label imprint. I am sick of being associated with this fabricated movement, although we are definitely not cited as a leading outlet and for that I am happy.
- Show Playlist
01. Ceramic Hello - Gestures (Mannequin, 1981; Suction Records, 2012)
02. Martial Canterel - Who Will Remain (Electric Voice Records, 2013)
03. Geisterfahrer - Das Ufer (Konkurrenz, 1980)
04. Jeff & Jane Hudson - Computer Jungle (Intrustmental 33 RPM) (Electric
Voice Records, 2011)
05. Loom 14 - Exculsive Offering (Dersire, 2010)
06. Horrid Red - Colored Lights Part II (Electric Voice Records, 2013)
07. Glenn Winter - Va¦êgg (Bruna Hundars Död K7, 1986
08. Automelodi - Ikabe (Electric Voice Records, 2012)
09. ADN' Ckrystall - Cocaina Vitamina (Dark Entries Records, 2012)
10. Femminneilli - A Que Quieres Jugar (Electric Voice Records, 2012)
11. Art Fact - Building (Dödsdans, 2012)
12. Tropic Of Cancer - Fall Apart (Electric Voice Records, 2013)