Many Winnipeg record labels are gearing up to release music by a variety of local artists and out-of-town musicians this fall.
Regardless of the genre of music they deal in, each label is founded by people who, at first, just wanted to help out their friends.
“I’ve made some mistakes in the bands I’ve played in so I figured I could use that knowledge to help other bands and give them some guidance, whether it’s putting out a CD or getting some press,” Jay Fulmore says.
Fulmore owns The Newform Label – the home of The Ripperz, Waster, Dangercat and Clipwing – and puts on shows through BE:Cause Industries. He was the drummer for now defunct local rockers Lives of Many.
Fulmore says Winnipeg’s isolated location makes things difficult for ‘Peg performers, seeing that the next major centre – be it Calgary, Toronto or Minneapolis – is hours upon hours of driving away.
“I see this more as a labour of love than anything else,” he says. “There’s lots of support here, but you’re probably not going to run into distribution heads at shows. You don’t run in the circles with the people who make the next levels of the music business happen.”
Still, it’s not impossible for a Winnipeg label to turn heads in larger markets, something that Pipe & Hat strives to do.
The label was officially formed in 2009 by former Noble Thiefs drummer Tim Jones and Kenny Huynh, who eventually recruited Josh Hynes as a business partner.
“We survive by traveling like crazy, that’s the biggest thing,” Jones, 28, says. “We have an incredibly robust music scene in Winnipeg, but the problem is some people seem to have a chip on their shoulder. They don’t want the help of those outside of Winnipeg, they want to prove they don’t need it, but by doing that they’re just limiting themselves.”
“I hope more people start coming here to be honest. We’re definitely trying to make a name for Winnipeg and show people you don’t have to be in Vancouver, Toronto or Montreal to have a successful industry.”
There are many Winnipeg imprints that are striving to make an impression, locally and globally, here’s a taste of what’s on our radar.
The Newform Label
After the demise of Smallman Records in 2010, this label seems to have picked up some of the slack by working with a number of great Winnipeg punk bands.
“It’s not on purpose,” Fulmore says of Newform’s punk-heavy roster. “I never set out to limit it, but that’s kind of what’s happened. If I came across a great pop band or hip-hop group I’d have no problems doing those records too.”
Newform released a split LP from local punk band Clipwing and France’s Icons Down! back in July and Fulmore promises the coming months will only be busier with a label showcase on Nov. 16 at Union Sound Hall. Also, Waster, Newform’s heaviest act, will be releasing a brand new batch of metal in Feb. 2014.
Founded in 2011 by engineer/producer Cam Loeppky (Weakerthans) and Polaris Music Prize nominee Greg MacPherson, Disintegration has been growing steadily; its most recent signing being veteran Winnipeg hip hop artist Pip Skid, who’s slated to release new material in 2014. Rivers & Rust, the latest from indie rock band Haunter, was released on July 9 and MacPherson’s new album Fireball drops Oct. 29.
Pipe & Hat
While Pipe & Hat is home to such Winnipeg artists as The Revival and Mise en Scene, it also operates on an international level with the help of a distribution deal through Fontana North.
“To survive in Winnipeg you have to be willing to leave and come back,” Jones says. “We started working with The Hush Sound out of Chicago mostly because I met their manager when I was at a conference in France called Midem.”
Case in point, The Roseville Band is all the way from Wales. Pipe & Hat released the rock group’s Temper on June 25. Up next for the label is Toronto-based band Fast Romantics, whose new album Afterlife Blues drops on Oct. 8.
While this electronic music label started off in 2001 with a primarily local roster, the tables turned and now most of the artists come from a variety of different cities.
“We survive by scaling things down a bit,” Adam Hannibal, Balanced Records’ owner, says. “We used to rely a lot on CD sales, but we’ve shifted more to licensing music to TV shows, films and different compilations.”
Balanced released Music in the City in June, the latest from Montreal producer/DJ Rise Ashen. The label plans to release Vault 2, the latest collection from French producer Stephane Lefrancois in early November.
T66 began in 2002 when Art MacIntyre started working with Winnipeg rockabilly band The Rowdymen. However, T66 really got serious in 2005, when MacIntyre asked 18 Winnipeg bands to record songs for Guess Who’s Home, a Guess Who tribute album. In July, T66 released an album by Regina rockers Black Thunder and on Nov. 19 the label will release North/South, the latest from local troubadour Scott Nolan.
Head in the Sand
Founded in 2009 by Les Jupes vocalist Michael Petkau Falk, the label features mostly local artists but branched out by signing Vancouver indie rockers Rococode and Iceland’s buzziest band, Apparat Organ Quartet. This September has been particularly busy with the release of Yes We Mystic’s Floods and Fires and Les Jupes’ Negative SpaceEP.
Golden Oak Record Co.
This is one of Winnipeg’s newest labels, founded in the summer by Greg Arcade, who plans to release a bunch of rock ’n’ roll/country records.
“I kind of vowed to never do a label again after A1 (Arcade’s former ska music label), but certain outlets don’t have the label they need and not everyone wants to do the auxiliary jobs so this is me doing that to help good people put out good music,” Arcade says.
Arcade plans to put out new records from himself and The Reverend Rambler, but says both won’t see the light of day until late this year or early 2014.