Curiosity involves a lot of energy, time, money, attention and love
Two. Yep, I finished counting rather fast. Two. Thatís how many friends Iíve got. Well, I canít blame them because Iíve got not much to offer: Iíve got a bad back so I canít help them out if theyíre moving and Iím always short of cash so I canít lend my friends much money if they ask me to. But if they release a record, I can write a review for them and if they start up a label, Iíll do a label profile interview with them.
Four. Yep, I finished counting rather fast. Four. Thatís how many records Catherine Plenevaux her outsider pop label Lexi Disques released until now. Four 7Ēs by Benjamin Franklin, Mudboy, The Rebel and TG. Too early for a label profile interview, you think? I say: if you want to read interviews with people with an impressive back catalogue, youíre on the wrong pages. Thereís Mojo and Rolling Stone for you.
At first, the 'only' thing was a joke, but a friend did a Disques Lexi poster before the first release and she put 'seven-inches only' on it. Now I have to stick to the poster. You know, sometimes, it's good to let things go their way out of your control.
For many years now I mainly buy records after concerts. I buy seven-inch if there's one: it's cheap, it's generally beautiful and it's a souvenir, a track in every sense. It's an easy object, easy to press, easy to trade, easy to send and to give.
As a child, I used to buy it at the local supermarket. 7-inch is not serious and it's short. I like it when it's too short, not when it's too long: frustration is a good drive and allows fantasy. Musicians can play with its limits. I can listen to a song a hundred times.
Thatís a song I still sing a lot when Iím home alone: ďTu ne comprends rien ŗ líamour, rester la nuit, rester toujoursĒ. (ďYou donít understand anything about love. You said you would stay for the night but you stayed foreverĒ, jb) Beautiful! Iím fond of popular songs.
I guess I should show you mine now: at the age of 12 my first 7-inch was the one of Ofra Haza called Im Nin Alu. I bought it in a GB supermarket between the vegetables and the hygiene products.
As a child I never needed to buy records because one of my sisters was 4 years older and was buying it for all of us, mainly 7-inches. So I was a late buyer.
I was a bass player at 16 in what we can barely call an indie band as we played 2 gigs in total: 2 metal covers and 1 absurd punk track about a TV show. I was so shy at that time, in order to play in front of 10 people I needed the same amount of beers, the second time I was so wasted I couldnít even hold my guitar.
In fact I never sincerely wanted to become a musician: I sold my dusty instruments at 19 to travel.
At 18 or 19 I began writing for the newborn French music magazine RifRaf. I met Serge Coosemans in a cafť and he was looking for people to collaborate. I immediately accepted. I was a nerd, I had no money, I could receive records every month and meet musicians I loved. But I was no good writer.
Well, I stopped writing for the journal a couple of times because I was bored and probably boring too. My last collab was around 2003.
The label: I began thinking about it when I discovered the independent label underworld at 15. The DIY philosophy of labels such as Sarah fascinated me. But it seriously came to my mind when I first heard Benjamin Franklin 12 years ago. He was releasing his own tapes, distributing it to people. His music was incredibly beautiful and moving: I wanted to share it with other people and said to myself: the day I run a record label Iíll release a record for Benjamin Franklin.
Yep. We studied history together.
Mudboy is directly linked to Benjamin Franklin through a bunch of coincidences. Letís say that with the first trade I made with the US for Benjamin Franklin, I ended up with a pack of Mudboy 7-inches. I met him at a concert in Antwerp 2 months later, he was playing the same night as Benjamin Franklin but in another bar.
Ben Wallers gave me a T-shirt to protect the morality of my neighbours but we never really met. Itís a peeping-tom story involving no real life and no virtuality: a distance thing.
Iím not gonna explain that. Sorry.
I met TG at the Schip in Brussels during a Chocolat Billy concert. He released a Benjamin Franklin tape on his own Disques de líOubli label.
Because sheís cheap. But also because she has a nice way of talking Flemish with her Italian accent. And she likes to insult me. And she loves Dalida and The Clean.
No, I lose money on it. Not because of the records but because of postage. I try not to think about that too much.
I canít but I can give them records and gratitude and free housing in Brussels whenever they want. We all do what we can.
Many. But I cannot give any accurate figures. I guess it should be around 40-50 each time and so far. Not that many for TG but itís just out. I love trading: it generally fills me with joy. And itís a good way to discover new music.
I never expressed it to myself as such but yes: it would make a happy family picture. It might not be an accident but itís not a decision: is it a fatality? Male is a strong majority in music, I still donít understand why. The educated part Iím not sure: Itís more about curiosity I think. But obviously wearing glasses is a plus if you want to release a record on Lexi.
Buffle never promised anything but Historiaens, a part of Buffle, did. And Iím still waiting, but thatís the way I love them.
The Kurt Vile thing is not gonna happen. But it was a curious proposition I made at that time. Alcohol is sometimes part of the curious things I do. I still feel uncomfortable thinking about it now. Thanks.
I donít know. Being in the public can be passive. But I donít believe that the listener occupies necessarily a passive position all the time; curiosity involves a lot of energy, time, money, attention and love. There are so many ways to involve yourself in music. Running a label might be one step forward if you wish, to me itís just a perfect option when you like sharing your crushes with people. There are equally good ways to share music: to copy a tape for a friend, communicating a date of concert you think will be great, writing on music or making a radio show. Itís only a question of scale, degrees and shape and what you can do at your own level.
But a record is something you can touch, putting it out is rewarding and very comforting for the mind. Maybe releasing records is also an unconscious way to pay my debt to those who did it before me.
Basically I donít think about it when I decide to release a record. Making a record is a labour of love and itís sometimes a declaration. If I think about bringing something to music, so called underground or not, whatever that means, Iíll just stop making it, itís too intimidating. And Iím not in a good position to estimate if I contribute to something or not anyway. I never had this ĎOh, yes, Iím part of it nowí feeling. I just can hope that at a certain point it gives pleasure to someone somewhere.
Yes. I rarely turn down an offer. I sometimes play in cafťs. But I donít like doing it too often: Iím a happy clumsy record player.
I would be delighted!
-- Joeri Bruyninckx (26 May, 2010)