Bad Sekta - Independent Label Questionnaire
(Answered for an MA Diploma Thesis by Ivan Benco, focusing mainly on Slovakian alternative music but also that of other countries)
1. How do you decide which artists you choose to work with? Are there any rules they must live up to?
Probably around 90% of our roster is friends or friends of friends, the remainder sent us demos via the internet. We’ve no hard & fast rules for being on the label, although we do try not to work with people who we find disagreeable personally, talented or not. Whilst very diverse sonically, everyone that we’ve released tends to have loosely similar outlooks on the creative process, DIY culture, experimentation & the like. We’ve also (so far) stuck to only working with electronic artists, although we may become more flexible with regards to this in the future...
2. What are the biggest advantages & disadvantages of running an independent record label?
The advantages are legion: total creative freedom, making new friends, fostering a sense of community, personal growth & satisfaction, skill sharing, experimentation, chaos! Disadvantages would include lack of funds (we are a two-man operation), limited time/staff, ‘real-life’, current state of music sales, lethargy...
3. What do you consider to be the most important factors for a working independent music scene (in your country but also a little country like Slovakia)?
For a crew such as ourselves, I would think that this would be similar in most places; Passionate & enthusiastic people (producers, fans, promoters, etc), cheap/easy access to audiovisual hardware & software, decent independent venues, a healthy squat scene, good communication/promotion, independent record shops, the internet, common sense, hard work & dedication - the whole DIY ethos.
4. What do you think of the notion of “alternative music”? Is it still up-to-date in the 21st century or has it been replaced by some other notion?
The notion of “alternative music” is so vague as to be ridiculous - alternative to what exactly? Even the term “independent” is of little use these days, encompassing as it does many pseudo-independent labels owned by the majors. I would prefer terms which, while necessarily loose, describe the feel of the music in a better fashion.
For example, my personal output (as Phuq), meanders between many genres (often in the same song), is influenced conceptually by many more & is limited sonically only by my abilities & current whims. Some call it breakcore (but then others disagree), some IDM (same again), some a combination of the two & other genres, but I would say a simpler way to describe music drawing from such a spectrum would be something nearer to “experimental” (although I personally term my own sound "wonk").
To be honest, I would say that most attempts to label modern music verge on the pointless - the arbitrary lines previously drawn now seem very blurred to me! Much commercial pop music draws on a wide variety of influences these days - the clichéd & now ubiquitous dubstep wobble being an obvious example of this. Another would be big name acts like Outkast name-checking Squarepusher, Radiohead's dabbling with the electronic underground, Madonna wishing to work with Aphex Twin, Die Antwoord's strange blend of pop, hip hop, dance & comedy...
Basically, don't create genres, create music!