Saturday 19 October 2013

Interview with Jurgen from Roadburn Festival/Burning World Records

Today it is my honour to be interviewing – Jurgen – from the Roadburn Festival and Burning World Records.

Jurgen is a legend within the Sludge/Doom/Stoner Metal scene for his tireless work with Roadburn and Burning World Records. Some people owe their careers to the Roadburn Festival. That's how important he is to the scene. Jurgen has kindly agreed an interview with ourselves at Sludgelord which I can only thank him for.

So folks, lets see what Jurgen has to say to ourselves.

Jurgen on the left - Hard at Work as usual

Q1 – Hi Jurgen. How's things. First of all I am a massive fan of your work. Thanks for doing this.

No problem, It’s always nice to hear someone is interested in what you are doing.

Q2 – So where do I start first. Can you tell people how you became involved with music and how this got you involved with Roadburn Festival.

My mum and dad met in a record store, my mother worked there and my father came to pick up the latest Everly Brothers singles. So basically it’s in my genes. Later on that manifested itself in the 80s when I was in high school and copied all interesting albums I could get my hands on on cassette. Later on in the 90s when I got my hands on some more money I started to buy more and more vinyl and because I was working in a concert venue go to a lot of gigs. I think I went to 3 or 4 gigs a week for 6 or 7 years.

Q3 – Roadburn has became the most important Stoner/Doom/Sludge/Sonic Music festival for underground artists. Has it surprised you to where it started from to what it has become today.

Of course it did. It’s not only the festival that grew but the whole genre has grown with it (not that we take credit for that, we – among others - just spread the word). When we started we could pick a few bands that were playing stoner and doom but I doubt we could have put together 1 day of Roadburn in the late 90s.

Q4 – Obviously this takes a lot of time to arrange on a yearly basis. How do you decide which acts to book for the festival as it seems a massive undertaking.

I can make this a long and complicated answer but basically it’s bands that Walter and I like. We make a list each year in the summer and try to get the names on that list to play the festival the next year. Of course after that some names will be added and practicalities like a band getting a tour together or if a band is within our budget. My part in this is the easiest, I just name the bands that I like, Walter has to put everything he has into it to make it happen.

Q5 – I love the idea of Roadburn getting famous bands/musicians curating the festival. How did that idea fist came about and how do you decide on who curates the festival.

Like most things on the festival it’s something that happened organically. When we wanted to invite Current 93 to play at Roadburn in 2008 we didn’t want him to play just a set but make it a really special day for and around him. When we were talking about 2009 after that we said to each other: why not give one of the artists a whole day? If we choose right those curators will book bands we never would have thought of or which we never could have booked. Basically it broadened the Roadburn horizon.

Q6 – Which musicians/artists/bands have impressed you greatly at Roadburn. Or who have been your favourite acts you have seen perform at Roadburn.

That’s a hard question to answer as every year there’s artists that make a big impression. Neurosis blew me away in 2007, Comus was really impressive the first time they played and last year Nihill really made the greatest impression on me. I watched it on the side of the stage (which helps as well as you are as close to the eye of the hurricane as you can get) and when it was over I looked at the people beside me – which turned out to be Kim Kelly and Adrian Begrand - we looked at each other and knew we had witnessed something really special.

Q7 – Roadburn seems to become more popular with each passing year. Does this cause any stress and anxiety for your team in doing something bigger and better for the following years version of Roadburn.

I don’t think getting bigger is something we are aiming for. Getting more popular, who could say no to that ;-). As for stress and anxiety, I always say as long as we keep on organising festivals we want to go to ourselves we are still on the right tracks. At the same time: nothing is forever so we never know when things will change. But change they will if not now then later so we have to keep anticipating on that.

Q8 – Enough of the Roadburn questions. Now lets talk about Burning World Records. How did that label started. Was it your idea or were you asked to become part of it.

I started Roadburn Records in 2006 because I wanted to do something with all the contacts I had built up through Roadburn. Walter decided that he wanted to primarily focus on the festival so I took this up myself. At first only releasing stuff that could have been played at Roadburn but when that came to limiting I started Burning World Records to release stuff that would be too out there for the festival. But through time they grew together and now Roadburn Records is only for live recordings from Roadburn en Burning World for all the rest. I do Burning World Records now whit a friend of mine of 25 years. He has a comics/toys shop and we keep our stock in the basement of that store. All though we are thinking of moving to Amsterdam in the new year to separate the 2

Q9 - Where did the excellent name came from. Burning World Records.

It’s a combination of a few things. First thing that comes to mind is the Swans album The Burning World. And they based it on the JG Ballard novel. Next tot hat there’s also burn in Roadburn of course and my last name is Brand, which means fire/burning in Dutch.

Q10 - What is the label's main mission or objective.

There’s not really a dot on the horizon where we’d like to go top be honest. Doing a label on our lever is not really a full time job, so as long as we can release good music, don’t lose too much money and meet nice people along the way we’ll keep on doing it.

Q11 - How do you decide which bands to sign your label. Is it a complicated process. Or is it more based on luck and talent.

It’s a combination of quality and coincidence. Quality on the part of the bands, coincidence in that we have room in our schedule, a band wants to work with us and has material that we think fits the label. Luckily there’s a lot of good music being made at the moment so we never have trouble filling our release schedule for a year or so.

Q12 - Is is it a struggle running a label nowadays especially with the download culture going around on the Internet..

I have no trouble at all with downloading. Nowadays it’s an attention society. There’s simply too much stuff out there to listen to. We are happy with everyone who picks up one of our releases, listens to it and gets into the band. I’d rather have more people know our bands through illegal downloads than have control over who listens to it and who pays for it. Those days are long gone.

Q13 – It's a brilliant label which we are all fans of at Sludgelord. You have released some brilliant records which I have bought on almost every format possible. CD, DD, Vinyl and DVD. Mainly the Live at Roadburn Series. How did that series of records start.

The 1st few Roadburn were recorded by the 3VOOR12-network who basically were the Dutch Pitchfork at the time, even before there was Pitchfork. They recorded the sets and put them online for people to listen to. Accidentally I used to work at that network so when they said that they did not want to record the festival any more because it was getting too expensive. At that moment we decided to do it ourselves. Since 2007 we have all sets that we played at Roadburn on multitrack so we can mix and master it for release. I was so impressed with Wolves In The Throne Room when they played Roadburn for the 1st time I decided to approach them for the live record. Graciously they agreed!

Q14 – How do you decide which Live At Roadburn sets to release. As you guys feature tons of gigs at each festival. Do you listen to them all and decide that will be the one that will be released on CD and Vinyl.

I try to listen tot hem all but it’s a lot ;-). No, we normally have a few options of bands me or JP pick out up front and try to see the gig of at Roadburn. When it’s really good and the recordings turned out OK we get in touch with the band in question and try to work something out. If so, we have a release, if not, the recoprdings stay in the Roadburn vault.

Q15- Though I know you guys branch out into signing original artists such as Monomyth. Now that is a fucking brilliant record which we raved about recently. Can you recommend any more artists signed to your label that we should check out.

One of the artists we have been excited about for years is The Angelic Process, brilliant music (a mix of My Bloody Valentine and Neurosis) but with a tragic story. Give their release Coma Wearing a try ( Next to that we just released Atlantis, a dutch post-rock band with all sorts of influences shining through. Good stuff.

Q16 - What are your future plans for the upcoming 12 months or so. Anything we should be excited about.

You should be excited about the Drunk In Hell album. It’s a few years in the making but I am convinced it will happen in 2014. Nihilistic, abrasive punk. More Brainbombs than Brainbombs with Mike Vest from Bong on guitar. Next to that we are releasing the live set of Elder at Roadburn and the new Nihill album. And Monomyth are very productive so I would not be surprised if they would release another album before 2014 is done.

Q17 – You have a brilliant relationship with the underground blogging/zine community. How important have they been in regards both to Roadburn and BWR.

As I said above: exposure is everything. Apart from the big fans from the bands you need people to be exposed to your music. So the more we get mentioned on Forever Doomed or The Sleeping Shaman for instance the better it is. And it’s better than old fashioned advertising (which we don’t do) as people trust those sources.

Q18 – BandCamp in my opinion has been a mini-revolution for the underground scene. A lot more bands and artists music now easily available which yourselves have started recently using for your Live At Roadburn series. Will you continue to use BandCamp.

Yes of course. When a platform grows and gets mass you need to be on there. Doesn’t matter if it’s called MySpace, Youtube or Bandcamp. If people are looking for you stuff there you should have a presence there. We put all the sets from Roadburn as ‘pay what you want’ on there and that works very well.

Q19 – One more question about Roadburn. It has inspired many Stoner/Doom/Sludge Rock Festivals around the world. Are you happy that Roadburn has inspired so many people to start their own Stoner/Doom/Sludge Festivals. Do you have any personal favourites such as Stoner Hand Of Doom. Desertfest etc...

To be honest: not really. I know Roadburn is expensive to go tos o I get it that people look for alternatives closer tot heir homes. But I don’t get inspired by it. It’s not that if I look at Desertfest or the other festivals as something where I’d really have to go. Roadburn is enough for me in that regard. I’d rather go to a festival like Supersonic or Incubate which we share some acts with but they have their own take on it and where you get to see acts that you don’t know and can be surprised by. For me that does not happen on the festivals you mention.

Q20 – Obviously we all need time to relax away from the day job. Unless Roadburn is your relaxation away from your day job. How do you relax or unwind in your spare time.

Actually Roadburn and the labels are my relaxation. Next to that I play soccer, have a 4-day a week day job, a girlfriend and a young daughter. And another one on the way so there’s no danger of getting bored.

Q21- Final question. Promise. So where do you see the Sludge/Doom/Stoner/Sonic Noise scene heading in the next decade or so. Or what do you personally want to happen.

I like adventure so every turn of the genre that incorporates elements from other styles or genres I welcome. It’s always interesting to see what the Sunn guys or Ulver come up with. As I am not a musician myself I don’t have a clear view on which way the genre should or would go. I think we are done with all the Kyuss/Neurosis-clones as there are too may already. So I applaud every experiment to bring something new to the table. Even if it fails. Better then to just go on on the beaten path.

Jurgen, Thanks for doing this. I wish you every success with both Roadburn Festival and Burning World Records. We are massive fans of the work you guys do day in and day out. Keep it up.

I want to thank Jurgen for taking the time out to talk to us at Sludgelord as we are massive fans of his tireless work within the underground scene.

Check out all the work Jurgen is inolved in from the links below

Roadburn Official Website
Roadburn Festival Facebook Page

Burning World Records Official Website
Burning World Records Facebook Page