Aloud Music, a record label from Barcelona, is a unique project and music hub that shares tons of passion for experimental, post rock and instrumental music.
February 2013 marked the label’s first music festival presenting ten exciting performers, who took hundreds of listeners to another dimension. I caught up with Aloud’s representatives back in January and then came back for more details after the festival.
Go here to listen and purchase their music, but first make sure to check out this introduction – my interview with one of the most novel and interesting experimental music labels on Earth:
Howdy, guys! You’ve just announced the final line-up for your first ever music festival. Tell us more this sweet event. [smiles]
Sergio Picón, director of AMF:
Well, we are really excited with the final lineup. As fans of instrumental rock, to have in the same event bands like YNDI HALDA, THE SAMUEL JACKSON FIVE, TOUNDRA or GIARDINI DI MIRO is like a dream. We started to prepare the festival some months ago, it was a crazy idea because there´s a big crisis actually in Spain, and make a new festival sounds like: “WTF are you doing?”. In the meantime, it seems people are happy with the idea, we don´t have any instrumental / experimental festival here, and there´s a lot of fans waiting for it.
Were you inspired by a particular festival to do this?
Absolutely. There are 2 festivals, one in Belgium called Dunk! and one in Germany called Denovali Swingfest. They are labels making a festival, like us. They are an inspiration for us, or we are a copy of them [laughs].
In Spain, there are no labels with ‘open bands’ festivals like #AMF2013. Normally, when a label makes a festival, bands who play are bands of the label. I think some people here don´t understand the idea and ask us: “Why there are just 1 band of Aloud playing at the fest?”. When you make something new in a country like Spain, is always difficult to explain to the people. But we feel Europeans, and it´s a good chance to demonstrate that Spain is more than sun, paella, bullfighting and stupid politicians.
It’s the tenth anniversary of the label, right? Tell us about the beginnings of Aloud.
Right. Well, we started the company as a hobby, we were owners of Muzikalia, an independent online music magazine, and were working with 2 or 3 bands as managers. One of these bands were BLOOMINGTON, they loved indie-rock and Aloud were our project to release their second album.
After that, we released THE APPLESEED CAST’s “Two Conversations”, we get some press coverage, and decided to release Spanish bands, like NOTHINK, HEDTRIP, TOUNDRA, (lo:muêso)… All of these are important bands actually in Spain if you like alternative rock.
We feel so proud of our work in these first 10 years. I can listen to every record and say: “Yes, we released a great album”. That makes me feel comfortable and happy.
How many people are involved in your team?
Actually on the label we are 3. Natalia takes care of press & promotion. Nuria makes a hidden work into editorial rights & festival production, and me. It´s a very small team, but we really cannot pay for more. Probably for the festival, there will be a bigger team working these days.
How difficult has it been running the label? Have you encountered many difficulties throughout all these years?
The most difficult thing is to find money to pay the records [smiles]. Actually it´s been hard and hard every day, but not just for a label like us, Spain is under a big crisis and have a cultural company like a record label is not easy. Culture in Spain is different from UK or USA, for example. In the 60s, you listened rock and roll, and we listened flamenco. We have interesting roots, but you still have an advantage of 30/40 years.
But, leaving money and culture far behind, to have a label is not difficult. You release bands you like, you enjoy a lot with their works and shows, a lot of friends in the way, … It has been a beautiful walk in these last 10 years.
What about the distribution? How do you distribute your releases?
We auto-distribute our albums in stores. Is really hard to do it, last year we have a person (Diego) to make this, but actually we are doing ourselves. Probably in the next days, we will have another person to help with this. We are in a few big stores, like FNAC, and in a lot of small music shops, our natural place.
Our main point for distro is our website. We sell without shipment costs in Spain, and we feel really happy with the results. Actually, I have to say we sell a lot through our website, cd´s, vinyls, t-shirts, so it means people trust us, that´s very important in this business. There´s a great communication between buyers and us, it´s so funny to speak with the people who buy your work.
We also have a digital distribution through The Orchard (Itunes, Spotify, …), and we have a complete and free download of all our works into our website. I think we have to make it easy to the people, so they can listen to our bands in bandcamp (for free), download (for free), buy digital (itunes, spotify) or buy physical (cd or vinyls). So complete! [smiles].
How do you work with bands? Do you release a record at a time or do you line them up for a contract? Do bands come to you or do you put the offer on the table for them to accept? How do you go about it?
Any band has their own history.
First of all, we hate contracts. I was working in the music scene for 10 years, and I ´ve seen a lot of bands destroyed for the contracts. One of the most interesting things in Aloud Music is we think as a musician, not as a label. Musicians and bands are the most important here. This is not just a business. We really work for change some stupid things in the industry.
We don´t have a contract with any band. We release record by record. If all of us are happy with our work, we release the next one. It´s a simple way to work. I cannot force anyone to work with us!
To sign bands, sometimes they send us links to listen to them, sometimes we find a band in a live show and we fell in love with them, sometimes we follow a band being ‘hidden’ and then we say them we wanna sign… Every band is different. But I think all the bands are happy with us, in the way we are not ‘sharks’ trying to bite into them. I think there´s a QUEEN´s song, in the 70s, called “Death on two legs”, talking about this [smiles] I don´t want to see any Aloud band making a song like that [laughs].
Do you have some funny/crazy stories about the beginnings of cooperation between you and particular bands?
First time I saw FIRA FEM was into the FIB Festival. They played in the Red Bull Bus. They were drunk, said me after. It was 16h, maybe 200 degrees, really really hot. I was the only person watching the gig.
After that, I send them an email saying I’m interested in them. And they say: “Really? You were the “Sub Pop” t-shirt guy?”
It was a rare show, but I detected their talent in the worsts conditions to play [smiles].
In the last months, I like to not say anything to the bands I want to sign. Is really funny to saw the faces of the members of the bands when you say: “mmmm… I’m interested in the band, do you want to sign with Aloud?”
Normally, the beginnings are always full of smiles.
[laughs] You have a business sense, I’ll tell you that! [laughs]
Ok, and what about your band? Tell me more about it.
Oh, I’m sorry, but I´m not playing in any band, fortunately.
Natalia plays in a band called SANTA RITA. It´s a 4 pieces rock band, we recorded together (I’m sound engineer) an EP and actually, they´ve recorded an amazing first album, will be released in March / April 2013. They grow up really fast making a hard work on rehearsals and being better in every show. I really like them.
Nice. I can’t wait to hear it [smiles]. Why wouldn’t you like to start a band? [smiles].
I´m going to tell you a small secret. I was playing guitar for 3-4 months with 3 friends. We were THE SANITY CLAUSE, an instrumental rock band. We made 6-7 songs. It was in 2006-2007.
Maybe, the worst band ever. Or not. We really enjoyed a lot, never were on stage, and sometimes we talk about to come back, just for fun.
I´m not a musician, that´s an important reason to not start a band [smiles].
[laughs] Fair enough.
So what motivates you to support bands and release records?
I love music, and I live in a country where music is a stupid business, full of stupid people and stupid songs. If you put the radio here, you will cry a lot.
I´m interested in change this point of view. There´s a lot of creators working hard from a lot of years ago to change it. I´m just one of them.
Supporting bands is a hobby and passion. I´ve found my best friends in the bands I work with. So it´s a lifestyle, I think.
Do you think there is a future for independent record labels like Aloud?
Of course. There´s no future for majors! [smiles]
It depends on what you mean for future. If you wanna be rich, this is not the best way, but we are looking for other things. I think in the last 2 years, there are between 10 and 15 new labels just in Barcelona. This is a good new for the music scene. There´s a lot of people trying to release music, so independent record labels future are safe.
How come? What unique advantages do you bring then?
Actually, a musician want to work with friends, I think. Maybe in the past, the idea was to be famous as fast as possible, but actually people prefers to work with people who think similar like them.
And majors are sooooo slow, like dinosaurs. We move so fast. When they arrived to Facebook, we had thousands of fans. So, actually, they are running after us, and they are old and will be tired so soon [smiles].
What do you think about tools like Kickstarter and funding artists’ releases by fans? (here’s an example)
That´s great. All the contact between artists/bands and people is welcomed.
Maybe the problem will be if someone doesn´t make a project if they don´t fit the money to do it. I mean, a label who said: “A crowdfunding to make a video”. Then, they don´t get money and what happens with the videoclip?
I´ve paid for some interesting project, for me as a listener is great to help artists & bands to make things [smiles]
A month after the big party, it’s high time to ask you guys. How was the fest?!
Tell me everything! How was the feedback, how many people came, etc. [smiles]
Oh, it was soooooo good! First day we got a sold-out with the Barcelona bands. Second day we get almost 400 people with the international bands, and Saturday was crazy with more than 1000 people (photos here). A lot of people said us the atmosphere was different: people was happy to be part of the festival! From our side, as a team, was maybe the best moment in 10 years. Not only Natalia, Núria and me, we got a lot of friends helping us, like Albert, Sonia, Helena, Pocho, Cesc, Cristina, … I remember these days and smile a lot [smiles] Hope to see you here next year!
Did everything go perfectly fine? Did you face any organizational problems?
I must admit we didn´t have ANY problem. I´ve made a lot of gigs in my life, and all the possible problems were in my head, but finally anything bad happens. The bands were so kind with us, with the Spanish bands we were friends, but Giardini di Mirò or THE SAMUEL JACKSON FIVE were so professional and I think they enjoyed a lot! Maybe the 2 most beautiful moment were with YNDI HALDA. First of all, they playing a song for their tour-manager (who died some years ago), and all the people in a complete silence. 400 people listening them. Wow. Last moment, when we let them in the airport, and they gift us a wine bottle and some beautiful flowers. It was the end of the festival, with Nuria crying [smiles].
Sounds amazing! So what’s up next for Aloud? Can you share some upcoming plans you’re particularly excited about?
Yes, we are releasing a band called SANTA RITA… mmm, I think I´ve talked you about them! It´s Natalia´s band. They have recorded a fantastic album, called “High on the seas”, and we feel so excited with it. They will be touring Spain in the next months, but we will go to Berlin and Germany in July. Surely, we will make a Russian tour with EXXASENS in May, and another one with TOUNDRA in September. Our main idea is to arrive to Europe, to get distribution and release more albums and having fun [smiles].
Great! Thank you so much for your time. I really hope to make it to Barcelona or Portugal for round 2 of the festival [smiles]. Would you like to add anything else?
Well, you have actually a Portuguese edition of Primavera Sound! This a serious festival, our fest soooo small [smiles] I´ve been in Porto and I love the city. Hope to make a Portuguese tour so soon, we will look for you!
Thanks so much for your time!
Thank you very much and sorry for my English!
Live photo by Stereofox.com.