Sunday, 16 March 2014

Interview with Désirée Hanssen from Lay Bare Recordings and Burning World Records

As you know on Sludgelord we try to interview as many important people as we possibly can. And today's guest is no exception to the Doom/Sludge/Stoner Metal scene.

I am pleased to be interviewing Désirée Hanssen – who works at legendary record label – Burning World Records and Roadburn Records and who has just started her very own excellent record label – Lay Bare Recordings.

Lay Bare Recordings have only released 3 albums so far including the two hugely impressive listed below.

Mos Generator "In Concert" - Live at Rockfabrik Nürnberg, 25-03-2013
Ancient Warlocks "s/t"

Two bands we rate very highly here at Sludgelord. Ancient Warlocks made my best records of 2013. I thought it would be cool to catch up with Désirée and she has kindly agreed to talk to us at Sludgelord HQ.

Q1 – Hi Désirée, Thanks for doing this. How are things with you today.

Hi Steve, I am doing just fine and at the moment I am listening to some live vinyl of Frank Marino - Mahogany Rush. Maybe you know it, maybe you don't. I LOVE LIVE releases! Anyways, thank you very much for showing interest in my label and I am HONORED to do this interview. Always happy to make a contribution when it comes to talk about music.

Q2 – Can you give our readers a brief history of how you became involved in music.

Well, I grew up with a jukebox that was always playing its tunes in the bar of my grandparents. My aunt and me where following the charts and music shows on radio and TV. I loved to pick up those 7”s at the local record-store to give them a spin in our jukebox. From that time on I am in love with music.

When I left home I worked during my study at a venue called ‘Doornroosje’ where I was lucky to see so many bands. At that place I became good friends with Jean Paul (JP, Burning World Records), Jurgen (Burning World Records/ Roadburn Records and Roadburn Festival) and Walter (Roadburn Festival). We all have 1 thing in common, our passion for music, especially for vinyl and gigs. If people want to know more about my history related to music I would say: check out this awesome book: ‘Passion For Vinyl’ from Robert Haagsma. He did some great interviews with different kind of people, each one related somehow with those great pieces of wax!

Q3 – Congrats on starting your own record label. Lay Bare Recordings. Why did you start your own label. Any specific reasons for you doing this. As you have worked for Burning World Records for quite a while.

Thank you very much! I had the idea for a couple of years and was talking about it with one of the owners of Burning World Records, JP. He was at the beginning very interested to manage a smaller record label with me besides his own. We know each other for more than 20 years and are always talking about options when it comes to new ideas.

But on this one, the label, he took a long time to decide. JP owns besides the label a Comic Book and Toy Store, ‘Señor Hernandez’, here in Nijmegen. After a while we decided that it wasn't realistic to have another label besides the 2 companies. So I had 2 choices, either the label would be off or I manage it on my own. Well as you know, I choose the last thing.

But JP and Jurgen (the other label owner and also one of the 2 directors of the Roadburn Festival) are mentoring me and they offered me the possibility to do the distribution.

Q4 – Was it a hard decision in starting your own record label. Or is this something you always wanted to do.

No it wasn't a hard decision to start it at all. I was a bit nervous and insecure though when I decided to do it on my own but well, its better to make a choice and make a dream happen than doing nothing and regret it later on. I have more things in my life I want do but managing a label fits perfect at the moment. I have been for many years related to music, especially attending live gigs.

Seeing the most awesome music and watching the bands work very hard for spreading their music around. It was about time to make MY CONTRIBUTION to those musicians and give them a possibility to spread their work on vinyl on a wider scale. It felt just right.

Q5 – Why did you call the record label – Lay Bare Recordings

Happy you want to know this!

I was looking for a description that covered the idea, showing the world those precious things that have been ‘underground’ too long. Those exceptionally gems that are worth to expose their brilliance to the surface.

I stumbled on 'To LAY BARE something'.

It means: to discover or tell people about something that was not previously known or was previously kept secret. To make obvious that was not known before. That was the perfect way to describe what my label stands for.

Q6 – You have released two excellent releases so far. Mos Generator Live Album and Ancient Warlocks S/T Debut Album. Two albums I rate very highly indeed. How did you become involved with both bands.

First I have to tell you there is a new release coming up from an Italian band and I just released my 3rd one.

Totally overwhelmed with the fact that this 3rd one already sold out on pre-sale. I am talking about: Orange Sunshine, a power trio from Dutch soil, that catches the very soul of the motor-blues garage-punk and acid proto-hardrock era of the late '60's and the early 70's. It's live recorded at Freak Valley Festival 2013. Some people say it reminds them of Blue Cheer.

I befriended with Tony Reed of Mos Generator in 2008 at Roadburn. When I saw Mos Generator killing those strings, beating the skins and stomping on stage, I was immediately sold. Mos Generator with Tony Reed is a live band pure-bred. I had a long chat with Tony Reed before they went on. And in 2011 we met each other again, this time when he was touring with Stone Axe and played the Roadburn fest again.

We kept in touch and I talked to him about me starting my own label. And the idea was born to put a Mos Generator album out. And as many friends of me know, I am totally into attending live gigs, it was obvious that it would be a great idea to come up with a live performance. Tony and I are frequently talking about new stuff to Lay Bare. Obvious not all of them in the same genre but we talk about to explore different styles.

I saw Mos Generator on their tour with Saint Vitus, and from there on I knew, it had to be from this tour. Hard-working musicians touring their ass off, working hard on stage to build up a European fan-base. 

Tony got me into contact with Ancient Warlocks. When I heard this band I said to myself: these guys deserve a bigger audience. All fits together in this band: the voice, drums, bass and guitar. They are totally rad!

Orange Sunshine came up when I got in contact with Jens Heide and Michael Hackler, these men are having a great fest called Freakvalley Festival in Germany and they asked what I thought about a collaboration with the fest on doing live releases. I immediately said yes, because I was at there and saw Orange Sunshine play. So pure and raw, thrilled to have the honor to capture that moment on vinyl!

At the moment I can tell you there is a fourth release coming up. It's the debut album of an Italian band called NAGA, titled Hēn. 5 tracks of doom and post-core, a black monolith which recalls Black Metal atmospheres. Mastered by James Plotkin. Of course again on vinyl, 300 copies and hand numbered. If fans want it on cd, It will be released by the Italian label Fallodischi at end of March.

Of course there are more items coming up.….

Q7 – How much involvement did both bands have with the design of their record. Or was it all down to yourself.

The bands come up with the design themselves.

They deliver the greatest artwork, like Mr. Frumpy Frumpedia, he did the cover of Mos Generator, I really love his work! Mehdi Godspill designed the cover of Orange Sunshine, Mehdi plays bass in the band as well, a very talented artist, musically and in designing. And there is Adam Burke, his ‘wizard’ came out beautiful in the gatefold of Ancient Warlocks. Of course I tell them if I like it or not but I am at the end I am only involved in the choice of the color of the vinyl.

Q8 – Your records are currently being distributed through Burning World Records. How co-operative were the people over at Burning World Records to distribute your records. Have you hooked up with any more distro’s.

Burning World Records is very co-operative. They moved their record-base recently to Amsterdam. They asked me to join them to Amsterdam, so I did and now I share my spot with them.

Other distributors I hooked up with are: Konkurent, Code 7, Cargo, Season of Mist, Outer Battery, Kozmik Artifaktz, White Dwarf. Ripple Music (US) and HeavyHeadSuperStore (US) sell also stuff from Lay Bare Recordings occasionally.

Q9 – Do you have a set or rules into signing a band/artist to your label or wanting to work with them.

I really like to keep it SIMPLE. At the moment no contract is involved yet. I like it that way. There is enough contact before and in between. So if there are questions or changes we talk it through. Until now, it works out pretty well.

Q10 – Which bands and artists started your love affair with music. Any particular albums that stand out.

Haha, a love affair! Nice way to describe my passion. Nevertheless not an easy question to answer because each episode in my life has several genres and therefore different bands and albums.

I grew up with the twist of Chubby Checker, the voices of Elvis, Emmylou Harris, Johnny Cash and the piano and sax of Fats Domino. Got influenced with Kiss, Herman Brood, ZZ Top, Status Quo by the boys in the neighborhood. And then there was a nephew who introduced me to Crass, Stiff Little Fingers and the SKA scene from Britain.

From there on I made a dive into the world of EBM and new wave, Front242, Skinny Puppy, Laibach, Christian Death, Coil, The Residents, Young Gods, Joy Division, Cocteau Twins, Bauhaus, Big Black and Sisters of Mercy.

And when I went to university and worked at Doornroosje I drowned myself into Pungent Stench, Godflesh, Prong, Coroner, Neurosis, Black Flag, Fugazi, Big Black and Clutch.

And of course there are the genres; Southern Boogie, Jazz, some Classical Music, Country and Heavy 70’s, they have always been involved my life. Lately its doom, drone, exploring soundscapes, psychedelic rock, dark - and experimental jazz.

Q11 – Netherlands Sludge/Doom/Stoner Metal scene is starting to produce some excellent bands to check out. Monomyth, Komatsu, Dresden/Leningrad to name but a few. How is the underground scene currently going over in your lovely country.

I think The Roadburn Fest does a nice contribution to uplift this genre. A lot of bands are able to expand their music from up there. Most of the time with a gig at the Afterburner. From there on, there is a good change to be picked up in the scene. It still is pretty hard to put up a good tour in Belgium and Germany but if you succeed in it, you are guaranteed with gaining some new fans. Especially Germans and Belgians are crossing countries to attend a live performance.

And lets not forget about the Dutch Doom Days Festival, they concentrate for many years on this genre. Alas, never been able to attend that fest.

The genre could use more promotion in the Netherlands. Sometimes I have the idea that other countries pick up these bands quicker than here in our country.

Q12 – Now, Holland is primarily known in the Doom/Sludge/Stoner Metal world as the holy land with the legendary Roadburn Festival. Do you have much involvement with Roadburn or are you just involved with Burning World Records.

I have known Walter and Jurgen since I was 19. We are good friends. Like I said, we worked at the same club here in town (Doornroosje/ Nijmegen). So of course we saw many bands together. I don’t have any involvement with the fest its self accept that I work,

I think this will be the 7th year now, as Burning World’s stall-ward, selling the sweetest vinyl! Each year it’s awesome to work there and meet people from all over the world. Great vibe, nice people!

Q13 – What is your fave ever Roadburn Festival memory. Any band or artist that impressed the hell out of you.

Yeah, there are absolutely some bands that impressed the hell out of me. Conan and the Mount Fuji Doomjazz Corporation crushed me completely with their extremely heavy sounds. Jesu, High on Fire, Current 93, Godflesh, Mos Generator, The Pretty Things, Dragged into Sunlight definitely left their impressions. And Coroner, The Young Gods and Voivod, they gave me goose bumps all over because they brought up so many memories.

Q14 – If you could change anything within the Vinyl Record Scene what would it be.

The SHIPPINGCOSTS are killing! I really wished I could do something about that. And the fact that it’s hard for bands to get a proper tour booked.

Q15 – What things annoy you the most within the Doom/Sludge/Stoner Metal scene

Not this scene particularly but people who make assumptions too fast. I am talking about people who are rude or impatient. I have a day job that has nothing to do with music. I make a lot of hours on this job, besides that I help out the men from Burning world Records and now I have a label as well.

Consider that as 3 full-time jobs. The label is not about making money, I will be very happy when the day comes that I can break even. But when people are upset with something, just contact me personally first, instead of assuming.

But actually Steve, I like it more to look on what I LIKE about being involved with music. Especially when it comes to certain ‘niche’ music, that has its fans spread all over the world and meet occasionally at festivals or on a tour. I am very happy to experience there is a lot of help and collaboration between DIY’s, musicians and some labels. I mention Ripple Music (US), The Sleeping Shaman (UK), Desert Highways (AU) and Head of Crom (UK). Always down to earth! They all deliver!

Q16 – If you could provide any advice to someone wanting to start a record label. What would it be.

Just do it! If it is your dream, don't hesitate. Be prepared to invest some of your savings. It isn't about money making. It brings you friendship, music, conversation, joy and some great results: Shiny pieces of vinyl!

Q17 – What is your view on labels providing digital download codes with their labels. Some labels do provide this but some do not due to high costs.

I can be short on this one, it hasn't my interest yet.

Q18 – What is in store for Lay Bare Recordings in 2014. Any exciting plans that you can tell us about.

First I have to settle with my label in Amsterdam and after that aiming for more genres on my roster f.e. some Dark and Doom Jazz, Sludge/ Doom, Heavy 70s and Psychedelic related music. And I am always open to discuss some collaboration with other labels or festivals.

Q19 – Which bands and albums are you most looking forward to over the next 12 months or so.

I am really curious about the live performance of Oranssi Pazuzu. Looking forward to see Corrections House play again. They didn’t convince me on stage last year. And I hope that there will be a release from Wrekmeister Harmonies or to see a solo act from JR Robinson again, that’s pure beauty!

I mustn’t forget RUSH, I hope they will plan a tour again soon. RUSH is love for life!

Q20 – Finally, Thank you for doing this Désirée. Hope you release more great releases in 2014 and keep up the excellent work as usual.

Thank you Steve, it was a total surprise to me you popped up the question that you wanted to do an interview about my label. Thank you for the patience, it took me a while!

Keep spreading the word about MUSIC, absolutely one of the biggest connectors in the world!

Sure I will Lay Bare a couple of interesting pieces of wax again this year. Just keep following me on one of my greatest adventures in my life. Travelling on this road and digging up some brilliant gems is worth to share.

I want to thank Désirée for this great interview. Lay Bare Recordings is a fantastic record label to check out with some stunning releases so far. Expect many more great things from Désirée and the brilliant label she has created.

Check Lay Bare Recordings from the links below



Written by Steve Howe