- BLOOD MUSIC (LABEL - ENGLISH VERSION) par MADRIGAL - 6332 lectures
Here's the English version of the Blood Music interview you can find on the website


I know that 2015 has been a pretty tough year. A simple question, How do you feel?
Pretty exhausted! The label has taken on a life of its own, and its growth has never slowed down. I guess many people would instantly scale up with employees, but I prefer to take things slowly and continue to make sure that all parts are handled accurately. Scaling poorly could topple such a fast-growing organization with poor, inefficient, or untested solutions. Finding those solutions does take a lot of time, so I continue to wear most of the hats here.

One day, I look forward to not being tired again, haha.


How did you come to do what you do? When did the first idea of creating the label came out?
I was freelancing in media, and my opportunities completely dried up around 2009 during the major economic depression/scare. I didn't get any work for more than a year, and I simply gave up. My career was already going a direction I wasn't satisfied with, and it gave me the courage to admit that my work situation was broken. It was scary at the time, but I was lucky in retrospect.

I got rid of nearly all my possessions and went hitchhiking around for a year to clear my head. I ended up back in an attic in Tampere, Finland with a portable turntable and a handful of my favorite LPs. While my job search was fruitless, I started getting heavy into collecting vinyl again as my main passion. It was such an intense hobby that I eventually became annoyed that so many great and obscure albums weren't ever released on vinyl or were released in such poor editions that I never wanted to spin them.

I decided as a hobby to try out my hand at releasing a record. I was warned beforehand that I would catch the 'bug.' I was waiting for that 'bug' to happen and sure enough it came quickly and strongly. My first release [a pretty epic one for a first release – the maudlin of the Well 4xLP + 7 inch box set] sold out, and I went a bit crazy after that. :]


Some statistics, since the label was created in 2011, how many releases, how many vinyls and how many packages/parcels have you made/send?
The first pre-orders began in the end of 2011, and those were physically in my hands around March 2012. Actually, I was living on the fourth floor of an apartment building without an elevator, and the poor delivery guy had to take 30 minutes to haul all that stuff upstairs during his normal route. He looked like he was going to collapse.

So the label is a bit over four years old at this point. To me, it's still very young. I think most people assume the label to have been around for 10+ years because it looks so established.

Counting CD, vinyl, cassette as its own release (each one has its own special preparation characteristics) and including represses, It must be around 175 releases by now. Let's not forget 15 shirts, 7 hoodies, 5 slipmats, 3 books, 1 DVD, posters, patches, pins. You don't just press a button and it's done. You have to source a reliable manufacturer and prepare all printing specs accurately, accounting for specifics of that medium.

The number of vinyl printed, wow … at least 50.000 individual albums. And CDs, shirts, books, box set boxes and other materials would surely put this number well towards 100.000-150.000 pieces.

In terms of packages, I'm sure I've sent between 25.000-35.000 parcels in four years. It's mental when you look at the numbers, where has my life gone? :]


From which country do most of your buyers come from?
Just looking at statistics now, the top ten are: USA, UK, Canada, France, Germany, Finland, Australia, Sweden, Norway, Netherlands. Although there are a lot of customers from Belgium, Italy, Spain, Greece, Austria, Russia, New Zealand, Mexico, Japan as well.

I've sent to Brunei, Azerbaijan, Thailand, Bolivia, Greenland, South Africa and many other cool places too. I'm always excited to see how wide the music spreads!


What is the release of which you are most proud of?
This is hard because the goalpost is always shifting. Until recently, it would have been the Strapping Young Lad 7xLP + 7 inch + Book box set. That was the first 'major' release to put the label on the map, and it pushed my skills to the limit. Also, Perturbator 'Dangerous Days' because that was the label's first breakthrough album, and I think it also came out flawlessly on the production end.

I took the knowledge I gained on those releases and applied them to even larger projects, and I think it might soon be the Emperor 24xLP + 7 inch + Book box set; as well as Perturbator 'The Uncanny Valley' and GosT's upcoming second album. The amounts of coordination and skills that had to go into these releases were so large that it would even challenge a team of seasoned professionals, and I'm hoping they will eventually stand as immortal pieces for the label!

Not only that, I was able to meet Emperor who has been a favorite band of mine since my youth. And it feels invigorating to help Perturbator continue to jumpstart his career.


Can you describe to us what a typical day at the office means to you?
Every single day is different. For instance, tomorrow I should spend all day calculating royalties for bands. The next day I should spend all day filing sales taxes and compiling monthly records for the company accountant for annual tax returns.

This week, I also have to finalize layouts for several albums, approve print proofs with the pressing plant, compile DDP images (final CD masters) for several releases, submit audio for cutting several albums to lacquer, write the text that goes outside shrinkwrapped CDs, meet with the bank, go to the warehouse to send out 500 records to my UK distributor, write one sheets (sales sheets) for my distributor in USA to send to stores, finalize printing orders on slipmats / shirts for the Perturbator release, send shipping instructions to the manufacturer for the upcoming Perturbator releases, compile promotional materials (bio and photos) for upcoming records, answer licensing and synch requests for Perturbator's or GosT's music, etc.

Actually, it's never boring around here, and you never know how a week will start and end! It involves many dozens of disciplines, some exhilirating and some as boring as dirt.


The Emperor box set is almost there and has been highly anticipated. When did you first thought of creating it? How much time did it take?
Once the Strapping Young Lad LP Box sales stabilized, and I knew the label wasn't doomed, I was on the hunt for a new project. I was already deep in preparing the Moonsorrow 14xLP Box and knew that each box needed plenty of time for preparation, so a shortlist was created, and Emperor was on it.

From memory, it was the first one I went after, and Candlelight said yes. It was pretty crazy because finding the rights for an entire band's catalog and making sure they're available for licensing is NOT easy! I had been digging around earlier for other box sets and a lot of mails were just ignored completely.

I didn't have the entire concept in mind when I pitched the set, only that the set should exist and what should be in it, musically. So, after the deal was signed and sealed, I started building it conceptually with the band. The process was incredibly long – I think it took nearly 3 full years from start to finish. I expected it to take 1-1,5 years. But this was a logistical beast.


What was the band first reaction when you got in touch with them for this release?
They immediately said yes, which I didn't think much of at the time.

I was lucky to be able to meet all the guys a few weeks ago in Norway, and they were all such cool people. Not only that, they were genuinely excited for the release, probably more than any other band I've ever worked with. Which was a huge surprise and honor!

Through my talking with them, I realized that they turn down most requests that come to the band (and they still get a LOT). So, I'm now shocked it was so easy for me.

I did work on Ihsahn's 'The Adversary' before and Odium 'The Sad Realm of the Stars,' which was originally released on Samoth's Nocturnal Art Productions label. So, I had some introduction to working with the guys before. I guess it was lucky that from the quality of work on those projects and our previous communication together that they trusted me not to fuck around.

They were excited about a complete retrospective on the band. I suppose no other label would've taken the crazy energy and expense to pull that off properly, and the previous Back on Black releases leave something to be desired. So, ultimately it seemed like a strange but great idea.


What is the crazy fact/story you can tell us about the releasing of this amazing box set?
The craziest thing was the work itself!

Also, I initially turned to a very professional mastering engineer for the box set, and he happily took on the project. But the masters he turned in sounded awfully wrong. I let him know, but he insisted they were correct. I sent in one album for cutting just to test, and it sounded terrible to me.

I was running out of time, so I had to fire him from the project and redo the entire box set from scratch with another engineer (with me listening closely this time). And without any refund from the original engineer!

That, in addition to trying out something with about 10 different artists to draw new material for the covers – every single entry was rejected either by the band or myself.

There was a point about halfway through the set, after it was remastered a second time and the test pressings were already cut, where my energy just bottomed out. I was about 75% sure that the project was done, that I would never finish it. I couldn't admit that publicly, but I was really almost positive.

I still think it's crazy that I finished it (or almost did, it's pressing now). I had to dig beyond reserves of reserves of reserves of energy and go into the abyss to find the final stamina. I can't imagine anyone making another box set like this within metal. I wouldn't wish that amout of strain upon anyone! But I'm glad that I mustered the courage to complete it with care.


Why do you choose to release all the vinyls in 45 RPM?
I don't release all on 45, but whenever the timing of the album allows it, I go for it. In the case of Emperor, it was just a choice to make a monolithic high fidelity collection, something that had never been done before within metal (more common in jazz and blues circles).

45RPMs sound better when mastered and cut correctly. They have the opportunity for wider grooves, offering better dynamic range. Also, the wavelengths on the vinyl are longer, thus minimizing distortion as the needle tracks through the grooves.


When did you choose to extend you musical repertoire to Dark Synth Music like Perturbator and just electro music like Carbon Based Lifeforms (by the way we’re still waiting for the vinyl release if i’m not mistaking)?
I decided from the first ten seconds of hearing Perturbator's 'Nocturne City.' It was posted by someone on the Blood Music private forum (which should be opened to the public shortly). I don't manage to check nearly every track posted there, but I heard Perturbator and was instantly in love. I wrote music like this myself in the late 90s/early 00s, and I thought he was successfully doing what I set out to achieve. I harrassed him until he'd talk to me, haha.

Carbon Based Lifeforms was a logical extension of this. I've been listening to electronic ambient music for decades, something I didn't expect metalheads would ever latch onto, but given the success of Perturbator and GosT, I thought it would be worth expanding the label with my own musical tastes and trusting others to follow.


Did you ever think that Perturbator would become this big?
I had the inclination that the reaction would be strong, but I couldn't tell whether positive or negative. A huge part of me thought it was going to be the death of the label. Like, too gutsy of a move to add pure electronic music to a label that revolved around metal.

But another part – the part that has been listening to horror and sci fi soundtracks for decades – knew that other metalheads are horror and sci fi fanatics too. I thought it could explode, but I'll say that the magnitude of the explosion was way beyond what I expected. I thought we'd sell 1,5 vinyl pressings and WOW that would be big, but here we are later with 4 pressings of 'Dangerous Days.' I couldn't envision the magnitude of the reaction or what that would be like.


What was the basic idea when you created membership? Some people just see it as a way of making more money… And why did you stop in 2016?
There has been a lot of confusion over the membership, and I can understand why. Basically, I've never clarified it.

Blood Music started out as a legally registered non-profit. The label eventually became too large, so it had to be switched over to a company form. I don't believe a ton of philosophy has changed since then (of course, certain things in order to account for helping build artists' careers, etc.). In any case, having members is a necessary part of running a non-profit. So, a membership program was invented with specifics perks. The difficulty in demolishing the program earlier came from the fact that:

a) A lot of people were excited about the membership program.
b) The label hadn't yet reached any kind of serious financial stability.

It was an opportunity to get the 'best' supporters a way to have easy access to all releases. Additionally, to help the label get on its own two feet.

By this point [aside from daredevil investments like 24xLP boxes and massive Perturbator releases] the label is standing strong. The membership was getting so intense that it was causing twice the amount of work for me with pre-order launches and confusion over what the membership promised.

I eventually decided to disband it because even the money it brought in was no longer worth the work involved. I'd much rather make less money and have more time to work on perfecting other things. It seems a little controversial thus far to disband it, but I think people will get used to it being a thing of the past.


Are you making enough money now with the label? To live, i mean…
Yes, but I keep most of the money inside the label, regenerating new projects. Now, I pay myself a fairly modest annual salary. I probably personally earn the same or less money than the average customer. The rest of the money is to try out crazy projects with!


Have you ever thought about quitting?
As with any stressful project, yes. But the thing that keeps me going is the development of new projects into directions I've never gone before. As well as the very obvious building of artists' fanbases.

As long as the label keeps pushing me, I'll keep pushing it back. The fan response is also a huge help in those regards. I wouldn't feel comfortable to put crazy amounts of money and energy into projects if I didn't think they would break even. It's like having a band on stage – if you cheer them on, they play harder for you. I think it's a give and take scenario which seems to be working perfectly at the moment.


What is the biggest mistake you made since the creation of the label? Same questions with the better choice? Would you change anything if you could?
This sounds ridiculous and doesn't make for a dramatic answer, but I don't think I've made any major mistakes other than just getting excited about too many bands, which led to too much work. I already made modifications to that as of a year ago and am starting to feel the (more positive) effects now.

It's just a matter of testing the limits of what can and should be done and what are the possibilities. Sure, there are some deals that went sour that I wish happened, but not everything can go your way. I cannot think of anything I would do differently. The only issue with testing things inside the label is that the effects usually aren't felt until 1-2 years afterwards, due to the long lead times of vinyl these days! Even a small, one-person company may have parts that move very slowly.


What was your first musical Memory as a child?
Holding LP jackets while my parents listened to vinyl, and also, getting excited about cartoon theme songs when the cartoons came on TV! Also, being forced into piano lessons and being like 'fuck this!' but then later wishing I had continued, haha.


What are the best 2015 releases for you? in general…
From my own releases, I'm equally proud of all of them but most especially GosT 'Behemoth' and Dan Terminus 'The Wrath of Code' because that put two more great artists on the retrosynth map who were previously obscure.
Additionally, it was great to see Kauan finally break through with 'Sorni Nai' – as it was our 5th or 6th release together!

The developments with the Perturbator back catalog were awesome, as it took a lot of work to catch up to speed on pressing his old materials and getting those in people's hands.

The Thy Catafalque 3xLP box set was something crazy and in planning for a long time that was built by hand and great to get out there.

I was also pleasantly surprised to see a strong reaction to Corpo-Mente, who is not a very dark band at all (more melancholic) and Irreversible Mechanism who rocketed from 200 Facebook fans to 7000 from a single album together. Really great stuff to see fanbases growing!

On other labels, I greatly enjoyed Akhlys 'The Dreaming I,' Abigail Williams 'The Accuser,' Sigh 'Graveward,' Tribulation 'Children of the Night,' Sulphur Aeon 'Gateway to the Antisphere,' Secrets of the Sky 'Pathway,' Shape of Despair 'The Monotony Fields.'

The groundwork for incredible media has been laid, perhaps due in part to huge influences coming through internet. Bands are getting better and better, as well as films and other forms of media. I'm really excited for everything that's happening out there!


What are the big 2016 plans for Blood Music? you can give us releases dates…
Perturbator 'The Uncanny Valley' is a huge undertaking for me and for Perturbator, as well!

There is also GosT's second album, which should be a very interesting release too.

As well, there will be the reissues of Carbon Based Lifeforms [legendary ambient project] on vinyl for the first time, Sleepytime Gorilla Museum [legendary art rock project] on vinyl for the first time, amazing debut albums by Astronoid / Grey Aura / Rïcïnn / Digital Velvet, first-time vinyl pressings of Irreversible Mechanism and Dan Terminus, the first-time publication of a long lost Finnish death metal album by SCUM from twenty years ago, and a few more unannounced signings!


Last question: DIY for life?
I don't think of DIY as an absolute. It's not the only method that works for everyone. But if you want ultimate control over your output, it's the only way to ensure that. I believe that most of the great masters in their craft, those who want to preserve their integrity, keep their circles of trust extremely small. Once you expand beyond that, the risk of compromise grows dramatically.

There is nothing inherently wrong with wanting to expand your company, audience, art, etc. and taking the 'normal' method to get there. But seeing so many artists whose albums go platinum claiming bankruptcy and so many large media companies crying poor, I think those who seek only to be known on their own terms are going to wind up surviving this stage of media flux the best. And also coming out the most satisfied with themselves as well.

So, DIY until a better offer arises; such as a turnkey solution with total funding and same level of autonomy. But whether that offer ever comes, I doubt it. We just have to blaze our own trails.


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