Greetings! How are you doing today? What's up with GWN?
(REMI) Pretty good! Busy as usual man! We just finalized the films for our NECROLOGY "malignancy Defined" CD now... Going to press next week! And we are working out details for the AMAZING new MERLIN album "They Must Die"... It will kill everybody late december 2000... Amazing band really! Plus we are finalizing the last details for the official opening of our Euro office in The Netherlands... opening November 1st 2000!!!
(Stephane) Yeah, I'll be working on the cover for MERLIN in the coming weeks... A lot of stuff is up and we are trying to stay one step ahead when it is possible because it is extremely time consuming! But I can tell you that so far, the answer is just fucking awesome and more important than we would have predicted!
Let's get back in time and talk about the very beginning of your career as a label's manager. As far as I know, GWN was previously known as Soundscape Music, or am I wrong? Anyway, unfortunately I don't possess any info covering that period... Moreover, I don't own any stuff released under the banners of Soundscape. Therefore, please enlighten me on your past activities.
(REMI) Man, it goes way before that my friend! We are both, Stephane and I, responsible for the creation of NEW WORLD SYMPHONY RECORDS in the early 1990's... We've done amazing things like the CHAOSICK EP, MORKEUM / GORELUST split EP, the now "Cult" CD release from GORELUST, later on BOOTLEGGED by the well known thiefs from CRYPTIC SOUL PRODUCTIONS (Italy)... We did various compilation CDs, etc. We've decided to quit the label to concentrate on our personnal lives at that point and we were pissed off because of the Bootleg version of our GORELUST cd. So we said "fuck it for now"! That cock sucker still owe us $2300.00 US today... Anyway... After that, in 1997, I started SOUNDSCAPE MUSIC and released OBLIVEON's "Whimsical Uproar" MCD and SUNCHARIOT's "Betrayal Light Of Fertile Ground" MCD. Then I also had to quit because of heavy problems with my healt... Then when everything was back on track, Stef and I decided to get back to it with GREAT WHITE NORTH, which's going great! We have great bands and things are going well! We released GHOULUNATICS' "Mystralengine" and SUFFOCATE's "Exit 64" cds thus far... NECROLOGY will be available in a few days now (It Killz!!!) and after that, Russia's best technical Death band MERLIN will unleash "They Must Die" in late December 2000... We already are planning ASGARD's "Cold Season" and DIACHRONIA's debut for early 2001... Ouf!!! ;-))
(Stephane) But I should add that when we started Soundscape Music, we also started the Soundscape Webzine, which was also edited by both me and Remi... But we Remi's health collapsed, I kept on doing it... Until now; The up-coming issue (#10) will be the last because I just don't have enough time anymore with the label, OBLIVEON (with whom I still work since 1987) and my personal life and everyday job...
Furthermore, what was it that guided you in choosing the label's moniker (both former and present one)?
(REMI) We've always had good label names in my opinion! Different from the Norms and I guess original monikers... NEW WORLD SYMPHONY was taken from a Tchykovsky theme for piano... SOUNDSCAPE MUSIC had a little "computer" type connotation since we build the label almost 75% online! It's also the name for our online Magazine, like Stef just said! And GREAT WHITE NORTH was a name found by a friend of ours in the late 1980's!!! Some people believe we are a BLACK METAL label because of that moniker but we are not strictly dealing with this particular style of Metal... GWN is a reflection to my country, CANADA. A lot of historians and people from abroad are describing Canada as "the great White north'... So there you have it!
(Stephane) It has always been a traditional qualificative to describe our snow covered country, except for the summer time of course! ;-))
How do you pick up your bands? Are there any special reasons explaining why have you inked a deal with this or that group?
(REMI) that is a simple one really... We are fans, my partner and I, of all of our bands! That's it! That is why we are hooking up with them at the first place... We wouldn't bother releasing something just for the sake of making a quick dollar, ya know? We invest time and money in our releases and we need to push something we BOTH like as fans, that's it!
(Stephane) You got that right... I certainly won't put all the time and energy that it takes to release an album for a band that would just annoy me. It is absolutely necessary that we love the band! Then we can sit down and analyse the product objectively and try and decide if it would be a good release for us and and buyers... But we need to love the band first, no doubt!
What was your most successful release as well as the worst failure (in your personal view and in terms of sales)?
(REMI) Since we are quite young as a label, I cannot honestly think we've had failures thus fare... GHOULUNATICS is almost sold out again and that is our second pressing. So we are soon repressing it and going for 1500 cds... Our SUFFOCATE CD is almost sould out now and was released it a month or so ago. So it's not bad at all for now... NECROLOGY will have MUCH better distribution than any of our other two releases and should do well. Same for the others. We will have our cd printed in Europe next year so it will go even better I'm sure. Still, I though the GHOULUNATICS would do better locally but we've recently changed our distributor for Canada (Now with our pal from WARFARE RECORDS) and it should sell a bit more I guess.
(Stephane) On the other hand, I guess we could consider New World Symphony as some sort of a failure... Not that our products were bad, but because of the fact that we had absolutely no experience in the business of selling albums and we probably trusted people too easily: The result, that motherfucker from Italy screwed us real good and that brought to the label's end.
Perhaps you know that certain labels (mostly small ones) have some kind of a "favorite" getting the best promotion/publicity they're able to provide 'em with (Holy Records / NIGHTFALL, Prophecy Productions / EMPYRIUM)... Consequently, is there anyone whom you'd name as the contemporary "top priority" band at GWN?
(REMI) Well, honestly, our bands are our top priority! Although I obviously will like one more than another but everybody's equal under our banner and we are busting our asses for all of them!
(Stephane) The advantage a band has to sign with a small independent like us is that all bands are important since we do not have a roster of 50+ bands...
Is it important for you where the bands emerge from? For example, would you sign Mongolia's act if they managed to compose undoubtedly stunning works?
(REMI) I have no problems with working with a band from MARS if needed!!! Music is international and I don't mind having bands from around the world... Just look at our bands: MERLIN's from Russia, NECROLOGY from Holland, SUFFOCATE is from Slovakia, GHOULUNATICS and ASGARD are both from Quebec/Canada, etc... We have an international rooster with various styles and that's what we will be aiming for in the future. We are now adding a few other bands to the fold and one is from POLAND and the other one is Canadian...
(Stephane) One of the most important thing about underground music is the fact that it is boundryless! I respect people and cultures from everywhere and that goes for the music! In fact, I enjoy discovering and listening to new bands from now areas, which brings new sounds, new ideas and new blood to the music! Underground Metal is truly boundless!
What about the reviews (response, feedback) on the CDs you've put out so far? Who enjoys the most wide popularity among musical critics and who's being treated in a most negative way by the mass media?
(REMI) We must have a guardian angel working for us because thus far, we haven't received any bad comments about our stuff... We are still colllecting good reviews for our available release and it's honestly a great feeling! It's obvious that we'll get bad feedbacks once in a while and it's part of the game. I won't get pissed for that, not at all.
(Stephane) Positive and negative feedback are all part of the process... I have found with Obliveon that you always learn a great deal from both! Positive reviews give you great motivation and pride, yet negative feedback keeps you cold headed and pushes you to do better the next time!
It's time for you to say a few words in regards to the GWN compilation CDs, if you had (or will have) any. Besides that, I wonder if you arrange any specific Metal fests? If yes, what about the Great White North Records' video?
(REMI) We are looking forward to release our GWN label sampler in 2001 with stuff from all of our bands. It will be a low priced sampler for promotional use only. No other compilation project beside that. No, we are not producing any shows ourselves due to a lack of time. Stephane use to run QUACK PRODUCTIONS who was doing great shows in the 80's but now we are much too busy to do this. We are going to have our own bookers in Europe soon... Same for Canada as we are looking at the details now.
(Stephane) Yeah, booking shows and getting the visas and hiring the security and checking if everything is okay with the stage manager and checking if the soundman has all that he needs and providing interviews for medias, etc, etc. That is way too much work for the amount of time that we have these days! Booking shows was fun when I was 20 years old... Now, I guess it's more painful than it used to be!
What is your common attitude to other genres than metal? Is there any chance to see either dark ambient or goth band signed to GWN?
(REMI) I am listening to a wide range of music, going from progressive rock to extreme metal... Same goes for Steph! But GWN records is for EXTREME MUSIC ONLY... No Goth or whatever will be available from us on a short term. Maybe in the future and this would probably be on a side label of some sort... But again, GWN is EXTREME MUSIC ONLY!!! DEATH, GRIND and BLACK METAL is our main interest for the time being.
(Stephane) Besides, I wouldn't know what to target for fan and medias... But I doubt that we'll ever do a nice "smooth art band", if you know what I mean! We are into gruesome, brutal stuff and so, that is what we'll release. I am personnaly not interested in releasing a Goth band or something like that, eventhough I do listen to a WIDE RANGE of different music... But my main thing is still Death Metal.
Do you know anything regarding Russia? What's your attitude to the country of mine, as well as its people? Any Russian bands you've heard of lately? Moreover, is there a possibility of adding any of them to GWN's roster?
(REMI) We already have MERLIN on board, so we have one foot in Russia right now! More seriously, I've always been attracted to Russia and I will hopefully travel and visit your country one day. It's part of my plans. I always watch and read everything I can concerning your political situation and other things... I'm a big FAN of MENTAL HOME and ROSSOMAHAAR!!! Bands like TALES OF DARKNORD and obviously MERLIN are great discoveries for me!!! I'm looking forward to cross more Russian bands path man... They are different and original. I also like RAKOTH too... Spacy! ;-)) I have distribution overthere via MORE HATE, so I get all of their releases on the rebound, exclusively for Canada. Bands should get in touch!!!
(Stephane) I could also add that there are several similarities between the Russian and Canadian people: Just like us, you have a great hockey tradition and the Russian players are godly! I will always remember that in the last years of the cold war, when we were slowly starting to see your players, my idol was Vladislav Tretiak!!! One of the best goalie ever!!! Then there is our weither, which is pretty similar... We both get loads of snow and ice cold winters! And your people do not live on pretences: You are cordial, yet direct people and I do like that! No hypocricies! I can assure you that the world is a much better place since Russia took its place among the democracies of the world! I do not pretend that everything that's happening in Russia is great: There is still a lot of poverty to be dealt with, but the fact that your people can now speak their mind is awesome! It gave us the oportunity to discover tons of new killer bands!
Can you name me the other people working at GWN? The permanent staff, you see.
(REMI) Well, there is me... Remi Cote; I'm taking care of the financial side of the label as well as doing most of the representative work and PR... Plus, I also do all of the distribution work and mailorder and deal direct with all the stores, etc. My Bloodbrother Stephane Belanger is doing all the website stuff and all of the promotional side of the label (mailing, etc)... As well as doing all of the designing work for albums, etc... He's the best! He also use to edit Soundscape Webzine. We have Jeff from ASGARD doing some promotion and helping out with direct sales in the eastern part of the Quebec province... Mainly in and around Quebec city. We have a few other guys helping out around here... Christine Garton is helping us out with mailorder and direct sales and promotion in the western part of Canada... Eric and Edwin Pisters are opening up our Euro office soon, etc. We are building a nice network of friends... GWN is a growing family! ;-))
Does any kind of collaboration take place when it comes to you and other Canadian record companies? Can you name me few most worthy ones?
(REMI) We are involved with distribution and trading of other labels merch around here, like NEOBLAST, DISCORPORATE MUSIC, CDN, etc... Our most appreciated partner is definitely WARFARE records... We mostly do our things without anybody helping out anyway... We are quiet type people and we prefer to work on our own.
(Stephane) But Warfare does handle most of the distribution of our goods in Canada... So that's why he is our closest partner! I guess I could also add Stephane Houle and Louise Girard of Sang Frais Fanzine/Aphasia, who's always doing some extra promotion for us! And we should not forget about Stephane Mellul of Brave Concerts International, who always offers us some place to do boots at the shows he produces!
This is penultimate question, (as always) regarding the future plans of yours... Please, get us acquainted with your release schedule on the years of 2000 / 2001.
(REMI) Ok, here it is!
GHOULUNATICS "Mystralengine" CD out now!
SUFFOCATE "Exit 64" CD out now!
NECROLOGY "Malignancy Defined" CD out NOVEMBER
MERLIN "They Must Die" CD out late DECEMBER
ASGARD "Cold Season" CD out FEBRUARY
DIACHRONIA "XX's DECLINE" out spring
GWN CD SAMPLER out summer
MYOPIA CD or SPLIT CD out fall...
That is how it looks thus far. We might add a few things in 2001 but we want to stick to our schedule as much as possible. We are also working on our very first NEWSLETTER (pro-printed) THE EXTREMIST for early 2001. It will also be available in Europe. A final issue of SOUNDSCAPE should be available within the end of this year as well.
That's a pity, but we've come to an end of this rather long interview. Your last words and wishes...
- Thanks soo much KAI for the support! We really appreciate it! We want to say that we are always looking for excellent bands... ALL EXTREME Russian bands should get in touch, we might be able to squeeze your release somewhere in our busy schedule for 2001. We are hoping to see ASGARD touring in Europe during summer 2001, if anybody can help, get in touch... Bands, labels, mags, get in touch!
Thanks again! Support Extreme Metal!!!
Contact GWN at <firstname.lastname@example.org>