Just as a recap, the Record Label Spotlight series will focus on the dedicated people at work behind the scenes of our favorite records and bands - the ones out there discovering new music and finding a way to bring that music to us - the record labels. Believe it or not, there are some labels that are still honest, passionate, and fair to their artists. The Force is strong with them. These are the labels When The Sun Hits want you to know about.
Record Label Spotlights include an interview with the label, tons of information about the bands on the label (including in depth spotlights on 5 bands on the label), videos, links, photos, resources, and a FREE downloadable mini sampler put together exclusively for When The Sun Hits readers by the record label (downloads are in mp3 format). In short: It's a win.
And so without further ado, we present to you The Awesome.
Wyatt Parkins of Saint Marie Records.
1. How did Saint Marie Records get its start?
I worked as a web and graphics designer in my free time for many years working with The Polyphonic Spree, Guitar, Piano Magic, Clairecords, Good Records, etc. I established friendships with many artists, labels and other music industry related people during that time.
One of those friendships was with Swedish artist, Patrik Torsson. Patrik was a well established artist by the time I met him. He had a couple of releases on the Swedish label Hapna Records, as well as one on Power Shovel, out of Japan.
Patrik had recorded a great new record named At The Line of the Border and released it only in digital format. The album was a departure from his more organic, electronica sound but still equally as great. I felt like the album deserved a physical release and took it as an opportunity to fulfill a dream. I spoke to Patrik and asked if he would allow me to release the record as the first for Saint Marie. After many months of planning we went live with SMR in February of this year.
The Sunshine Factory. Twisted and Clover.
Not exclusively, but those are my two favorite sub-genres. Much of the label will and has fallen under those two, to some degree. Others, off the top of my head would be, electronica, indie, indiepop, mellow-fi and beyond.
3. How do you choose the bands that are to be represented by your label? Is there a specific sound you are looking for?
Not to oversimplify, but I know it when I hear it. Many people who know me well can see my musical interests in my artist selection. I am always open to new sounds but will only release music I am passionate about.
The Spiracles (Luis of Resplandor, digital single with an EP this summer and LP planned for late this year)
Elika (LP planned for the fall)
Sway (LP released earlier this year)
The Sunshine Factory (LP released earlier this year)
We also released records this year by Patrik Torsson and Niels Neilsen, who don't exactly fall under the shoegaze/dream pop scene, but I feel strongly that most who like our other artists will enjoy their records as well.
5. What do you think of the modern shoegaze/dream pop scene?
I believe the scene has broadened and is even stronger than the first wave. Obviously, many of the greats were part of the first wave; Slowdive, My Bloody Valentine, Curve, Lush, Pale Saints, Secret Shine, Cocteau Twins to name a few, and that can never be duplicated.
The Spiracles. Fireflies.
6. Are there any other shoegaze/dream pop record labels (old or new) that you admire?
There are many, but I would have to say that Clairecords has been the biggest influence on me. Dan and Heather are great people and played a huge part in keeping the scene alive over the years. There is nothing like getting a package in the mail from Clairecords/Tonevendor.
Our most recent signings are Elika and The Spiracles who both have records coming out this year. The Spiracles have an EP named How Things Went Well When I Met You coming out this summer. It includes a beautiful cover of The Field Mice and a remix by our very own Elika. Then, there will also be a full length later this year.
Elika has a full length later this year that is turning out to be something really special. I have heard a couple of pre-mastered tracks, and they are dark, crisp and emotionally charged. Both full lengths by Elika and The Spiracles will be available on 180 gram vinyl as well as CD and digital. These will be our first releases on vinyl and hopefully not our last. We are talking with several other acts about joining SMR and hope to put out a compilation later this year as well. The Sunshine Factory is always touring and put on a great show. Check them out if you can!
To help keep the hard format alive alongside digital. To bring the world great music that we love and want to share. Music that means something, unlike the auto tuned mess heard on the radio today.
9. How do you feel about the ever-changing music scene currently? What do you think about free downloading?
As far as the "mainstream", its a joke of course. There are some interesting things happening with the indie scene. My friend, Glen Johnson, of Piano Magic, Textile Ranch, Future Conditional has a hand crafted label named Second Language, which offers subscriptions with the subscribers getting exclusive bonus CDs, among other things. Most releases are completely handmade and extremely limited: Secret Furry Hole is also a hand crafted label and has put out an EP by Glen Johnson as well as Simon Scott (Slowdive). Make Mine Music, is a label completely ran by its artists and funded by its artists.
As far as "free" downloading goes… Hopefully, applications like Spotify will eliminate the "free" downloading.
Elika. Let Down.
10. What is your philosophy (on life), if any, that you live by?
Life is short, live for today not tomorrow. Don't talk yourself out of your dreams, go for it.
5 Saint Marie Acts YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT
Honey-coated vocals lay atop a bed of textured guitars, synths, throbbing bass & meticulously programmed drums. Having toured the UK, USA, Peru & Canada, Elika has been well received across continents and cultures. They have opened for their friends Ulrich Schnauss at the Bowery Ballroom in NYC and Asobi Seksu at The Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn.
“Elika from Brooklyn—an incredibly exciting, radical fusion of shoegaze and electronica elements.” – Ulrich Schnauss
The Sunshine Factory
The Sunshine Factory exists on a foundation of juxtapositions. Here are a group of kids from the Gulf Coast channeling the spirits of late ’80s/early’90s Thames Valley subversion – two seemingly disparate environments. Band founder Ian Taylor, worked solo until 2010 then added vocalist/bassist Sally Robertson, Ian sought inspiration from a variety of sources – including the engrossing chant music he enjoyed with his Eastern Orthodox upbringing. First drawn to the energy of punk and metal, Ian began looking for something more. Ian discovered shoegaze and psychedelic music and as they say, the rest is history!
While true to the cannon of shoegaze and psychedelia, The Sunshine Factory infuses the foundational aspects of these genres with diffuse elements from the mellotron-heavy paisley underground to ancient chants. The Sunshine Factory weaves these mosaic tapestries as they continue their serendipitous journey of juxtaposition. The music is resplendent with whammified sonic assaults, electronic flourishes, and classic psychedelic instrumentation. The Sunshine Factory is at the same time fulfilling the dreams of shoegazers past and blazing new trails into the future. They are playing their part in a wonderful and ever expanding movement of sight and sound.
Now a solo project of founding member Andrew Saks, Sway began making noise in 1999 in Ventura, California. Sway was originally a four-piece garage rock outfit consisting of Andrew, Amber Carlson, Seth Eubanks, and Vince Alatorre, playing shows and confusing audiences up and down the west coast with its blurry wall of sound. Sway has previously released a few indie EP’s including the shoegaze renaissance classic The Millia Pink And Green EP in 2003. The most recent release, This Was Tomorrow is both Sway’s first full-length release and it’s last with musical contributions by all four of its original members.
Andrew’s songwriting and sonic ideals are deeply rooted in the music he was surrounded by while coming of age, late 70′s and 80′s pop music. Falling asleep nightly while listening to 1980′s pop and R&B, and then waking up, late at night in a dark dreamlike haze with New Order, Swing Out Sister, Talking Heads, Pet Shop Boys, Lisa Lisa And Cult Jam whispering through his Walkman’s headphones, the sonic memory of such experiences keep Sway from ever giving itself over fully to the traditional shoegaze idioms. The quest to recreate these musical properties is what later led Andrew to embrace and be further influenced by the blissful textures of dreampop visionaries such as The Cocteau Twins, Medicine, and My Bloody Valentine.
The latest addition to Sway’s sonic palette is the 8-bit textures of 80′s video gaming consoles. These unmistakable textures add to the nostalgia, and help Sway move closer to Andrew’s goal of writing the score to his childhood memories. Andrew now lives in Nipomo, California with his wife and two kids.
Luis Rodríguez was born in March of 1975, and he is a songwriter/guitarist. Since the beginning, he was influenced by bands such as R.E.M., The Smiths, Aztec Camera, Slowdive and Sergio Mendes among others. In the mid 90’s he began to write music and recorded demos with his first band Ritual Ensueño, but they never saw the light of day. However, Who’s To Blame (aka Downfall) was recorded in 2008 with his current band Resplandor. It was released on the acclaimed album Pleamar.
In 2010, Luis decided to bring alive all his musical influences in The Spiracles, his own personal project. Now, under Saint Marie Records, The Spiracles’ first release Fireflies has received great reviews that will be followed by an EP this summer and a full length by the end of the year.
Patrik Torsson was born in 1975 and is living on the west coast of Sweden. He has previously released material through labels Rush Hour in the Netherlands, Häpna in Sweden and Powershovel Audio in Japan. Apart from that, many unofficial CDR’s, mp3′s, remixes, mixing and producing for others have seen the light of day.
Saint Marie Records Free Downloadable Mini Sampler
Click the link below to download (FOR FREE) a mini sampler of some of the bands on Saint Marie Records, compiled especially for When The Sun Hits readers!! Enjoy, and the comp set list is below!
1. Sway - Palos Verdes2. The Sunshine Factory - Twisted and Clover
3. Patrik Torsson - Say OK
4. The Spiracles - Fireflies (Radio Edit)
5. Niels Nielsen - Crawling Home