Label Focus: Labrador Records
Labrador label owner Johan Angergard has been in his share of bands, including the Legends, Djustin, Club 8, Acid House Kings. So it’s perfectly natural that he started his own operation. One that’s lasted twenty years.
TIDAL chatted with Angergard — who put out a record titled Nightshift with Legends recently and Voyagers on May 5 with Djustin — about starting a label…and having very specific tastes.
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How did you get into the music business? What motivated you?
I was a huge music fan as a teenager. I still am. Possibly an even bigger now actually. I discovered the Smiths and the Jesus and Mary Chain at the age of thirteen and then moved on to less famous bands like McCarthy, Felt and Razorcuts, and then on to even less famous bands, preferably on Sarah Records. Then I got into even less famous bands who sold absolutely nothing and that no one had ever heard of and that’s what inspired me to start a label.
It seemed fun, easy and a great way of doing even more with my already huge interest in music. My first label was called Summersound Recordings and released a couple of compilations called The Sound of Young Sweden with bands like Happydeadmen, the Concretes, Shermans along with my own bands Acid House Kings and Club 8 and Edson and Leslies who were already big names in my world and who we later signed to Labrador.
Which, if any, labels were your own role models or guiding stars when you started up?
It’s no secret I was a very big Sarah Records fan. I loved pretty much everything they put out. I loved the idea of running a label where you could buy everything without ever having heard a single note from the bands and still rest assured you’d love it.
I wanted Labrador to have a very distinct profile (not the same profile as Sarah of course) but a profile just as distinct. We actually took it even further by not only narrowing it down to musical style, we also only released Swedish bands up until last year.
What does Labrador stand for as a label?
Labrador is a mirror of my taste in music. And even though my background is in 7” singles that sell three hundred copies I would like everyone in entire world to share my taste in music.
I’m sure it sounds silly or perhaps even self-righteous but I think the world would be a much better place if everyone loved the same music as I do. It’s all very anti macho. You don’t go around killing people or voting for Trump listening to Club 8, Maria Usbeck or Pheeyownah.
What has been your biggest achievement as a label?
Twenty years without ever producing a single popular band must be it. I guess it’s a natural outcome of only releasing music I love.
Did you have an initial idea of what the label should be and how it could evolve in the future when you started it?
The only idea was following in my taste in music and force it upon as many people as possible.
What are you looking for when signing artists?
Something I haven’t heard before or not in a long time. Something I’m longing to hear in this particular time in my life. Something that moves me. A whit of surprise.
How have you been able to stay in business for so long?
Having paid ourselves really shitty salaries most of the time has probably helped quite a bit. But I would like to think the quality of the music and our uncompromising attitude has played a part too.
Do you think it helps if label owners are (or have been) in bands?
It obviously helps you understand both sides of the work of releasing music better. A lot of the times it’s a good thing, but it can probably have the opposite effect as well.
Where do you want the label to be in ten years?
On top of the world releasing music no could ever even imagine being recorded.
The music industry goes through rapid changes these days. How have those challenges affected your work?
In more ways than I could find the energy to write down. Most of it for the better!
What’s the next thing you’re excited about that you’re releasing?
Djustin’s Voyagers is out this Friday so I’m absolutely thrilled about that. It’s our debut.
Pheeyownah is working on an album and she has a really interesting way of writing songs and producing them, the music is kind of dark and mysterious and lovely, so I’m very excited about that. It’ll be her debut album too. Releasing debut albums is the best.
How would you describe Labrador… without using adjectives?
Love. LOVE! L.O.V.E.!!
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