1. To some extent it seems that Matinée has picked up things where Sarah or Creation left off. Do you believe that’s true? How much were you into Sarah Records at the time?
I discovered Creation in 1985 and was fully into what they were releasing from that point onwards. The Bodines, Biff Bang Pow!, House of Love, Weather Prophets, Revolving Paint Dream…all brilliant bands that I still love today. I discovered Sarah around the time Creation was flirting with all that dance nonsense. I really admire both labels but I hope Matinée is not simply picking up where they left off. Some of the Matinée bands are obviously fans of Creation and/or Sarah, and some band members actually recorded for one or both labels in the past. I think most artists on the label have influences well beyond standard indiepop reference points though.
2. Could you summarize the ethics and the scopes of Matinée (if there are any)? Is there any label you feel close to Matinée in spirit?
Matinée was designed to be a label that people can trust. Those who discover the label because of one band are encouraged to explore the breadth of the catalog and often discover new favorite bands in the process. We hope that the Matinée label is a trademark of quality that will keep people coming back to check out the latest releases and the newest bands. Some of the current labels with whom we share this spirit are Labrador, Fortuna POP!, Firestation Tower, Drive In, Apricot, WIAIWYA, Elefant, Shelflife, Bus Stop, Foxy Boy, Long Lost Cousin, Lost and Lonesome, Candle, Annika… All are top quality pop purveyors worthy of your last Euro so buy up their back catalogs (as you work to complete your Matinée collections of course).
3. Do you feel there is a continuity in indiepop music between what was done back in the 80s/90s and what is being done today?
A lot of familiar faces from the 80’s and 90’s are recording and releasing new music today so of course there will always be some continuity in the small world of indiepop. I think the 60’s are as big an influence on current indiepop bands as the 80’s or 90’s though. Luckily, 70’s influences have not taken hold yet!
4. Some indiepop only labels (more recently Kindercore) have tried to broaden their field of action: do you see Matinée as an indiepop-devoted label or do you believe that in the future it may possibly publish different genres?
While I primarily listen to indiepop music, my wife lived in Brazil for five years so we have a great collection of bossa nova and modern Brazilian music that we play around the house as well. Matinée is an indiepop label though, and will most likely continue in this genre. Several current bands are pushing the envelope and broadening the label sound in good ways…Sportique in the direction of punk-pop, the Liberty Ship in the direction of 60’s-pop, Pipas and Simpático and Lovejoy in the direction of dance-pop. It’s all still indiepop but with a bit more varied sound.
5. What are the difficulties of setting up and running an independent pop record label today?
One of the biggest difficulties is trying to compete with thousands of other releases in any given year. With advances in recording technology and cheap CD pressing costs, just about anyone can record and release a CD these days so there is a lot of new music coming out all the time. I used to think mp3’s were not going to affect indie labels in the same way that they affect major labels but that is also changing with a new generation of indie kids whose entire music collection is contained on their laptop. Aside from the glamorous aspects of running a label – hanging out with popstars, hearing brilliant music before anyone else, and living the international jet-set lifestyle – the rest of it involves a lot of hard work, an enormous amount of money, and having a lot of faith in what you are doing.
6. What are the means of promoting your music in the US? College radio, shows or what? How much do you rely on the Internet for promoting and selling records?
The Internet is critical to promotions and sales. The indie music market is much more global that it ever was in the past and the only way to effectively reach people in so many distant lands is via the Internet. The US is actually one of the most difficult countries in which to promote a record because of its size – the country is nearly 40 times the size of the UK and 30 times larger than Italy. Bands can come here and play a handful of dates but unless they have a month or more to spend touring, there is no way to cover towns all across the country. College radio used to be a great way to get records heard but that business has turned corrupt as stations play right into the bribes offered by major labels. As a result, I try to promote Matinée in foreign countries as much as I do here in the US.
7. There seems to be a wide community going across countries as different as USA, UK, Spain, Japan, Sweden… and referring to sites as Indiepages/Tweenet. Do you feel the presence of a network that supports indiepop is important or it doesn’t affect your work anyway?
The global network is one of the greatest aspects of the indiepop scene. Total strangers from around the world offer to help book a show for our bands, play our releases on a radio show, or review them in a magazine. Some of my best friends are people I met through the label because they are also running a label, or they are in a band or write for a fanzine. More than half of all Matinée sales are currently outside the US – in some obvious places like the countries you mention but also in Australia, Italy, Greece, Germany, France, Korea, Philippines, Singapore, Brazil and elsewhere. This network of like-minded popfans is essential to running the label and spreading the word about Matinée bands.
8. How wide is the audience worldwide for the records you produce? Is there a typical pressing quantity for your CDs?
The audience is still quite small. Most singles are limited to 1000 copies although we press 1500 to 2000 of some titles. Several of the early singles are now sold out and others will be soon. Initial album quantities range from 1000 to 3000 depending on the artist, but we repress albums when necessary. We recently started a fanclub that offers an occasional newsletter to anyone who subscribes (see the fanclub section of our website for more information).
9. You publish bands on both sides of the Atlantic. What are your means of discovering and promoting new bands?
We receive a stack of demos every week and occasionally we like one! A number of Matinée bands first contacted us through a demo, including our most recent signing – Pale Sunday of Brazil. We are not actively looking for new artists but we are always open to demos.
10. Matinée’s website is one of the most updated and well-kept on the indie world. What is your opinion on the impact that the net will have on the current music scene, especially with regards to the file-sharing systems?
Thank you! Most of the credit for the website goes to Chris and Arianne at IndiePages. They took my design ideas and converted them to HTML in splendid fashion. The site requires a lot of work to keep it current but it is great fun. The website is critical to reaching people around the world so we try to keep it up-to-date. I admit to being a luddite as far as file sharing goes. We offer Real Audio versions of songs from every release on the label and a handful of downloadable mp3’s. Hopefully these sound files will help people listen to bands they may otherwise never hear. Ideally they will convince people to buy something!
11. Are there any bands you would like (or would have liked) to work with?
I work with all the good current ones already, don’t I?