Working as a music journalist I get to experience different things, hear a lot of great music and meet some awesome people in the industry. Yesterday was one of those moments for me. I was honored to have the time to chat to Sydney (Australia) based Art As Catharsis label owner Lachlan and talk about the bigger moments in the label’s history, it’s triumphs and of course their upcoming albums.
Most people seem to forget that behind their favorite bands, there is usually a label that’s hard working, enthusiastic and under appreciated or unnoticed by the band’s fans. I got the chance to hear just what goes on behind some of my favorite acts.
Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions, I imagine things are getting busier and busier for Art As Catharsis?
We’re definitely getting more orders than ever before and more people are discovering my humble little record label which is really cool, but I’m pretty careful not to burn myself out. On top of running the label I also play in 4 bands, work full time and study – so it’s a bit of a balancing act.
Back in January I ran the Sydney edition of the stoner/psych festival Devils Kitchen. I also co-ordinated (and played on) a 10-date tour in support of the Battle Pope vs. Jesus Christ Posse split 12” LP. They were both huge pieces of work, so I’ve backed off promoting shows a little bit for the time being.
What are your responsibilities at the label, how much time do they take up?
That’s an easy one. Art As Catharsis really is a one man show. I write the press releases, I pack the orders, I do the promoting, I book the venues and I balance the accounts. In the past my ex-girlfriend helped out a whole lot with sending off orders, but now it all falls to me. I like it that way. It means the label really is an extension of me and my love of music. I’m not out to sell a million records, I just hope to introduce people to some awesome new music.
If there’s any one achievement you’re most proud of, what is it and how has it made such an impact on the label?
There have definitely been a few. It was really cool to release our first record to kick off 2013 (Battle Pope vs. Jesus Christ Posse split 12” LP) – there’s just something satisfying about vinyl. Also convincing Fat Guy Wears Mystic Wolf Shirt to release their latest album through us was another high-point; I have so much love and respect for what those guys do.
Come to think of it, this label is really built on moments like that; getting Hydromedusa’s cassette tape release together was great, getting those Killsong maniacs to sign with me, having Space Bong (hands down the best doom band on earth by the way) agree to release their upcoming record on the label; getting Roadburn to cover our Australian stoner/doom compilation; helping raise donations for Black Wire Records, having Serious Beak’s Huxwhukw hitting 1,500 downloads – it goes on…
I get to release and promote music by bands that I am exceedingly passionate about. It’s a fucking blast. If you go into a project like this with the right attitude it really is just one reward after another.
The label caters to some “left of field” bands, Killsong being one notable group. How does a band that quirky appeal to the label and how does a band like that appeal to the labels fans and listeners?
I would love to think Art As Catharsis fans can embrace a broad mix of styles. So far we’ve hit stoner, psych, prog rock, breakcore/IDM, drone, sludge, grindcore, punk, shoegaze, post-rock/post-metal and ambient music. I hope we continue to expand and diversify this list.
Honestly I don’t even think about limiting the styles Art As Catharsis that caters for. It all comes back to why I spend my time, energy and money to promote these artists; I do it because I am honestly passionate about the music they create. Since my tastes are pretty diverse it’s just academic that the music on the label is also going to be pretty diverse. That might not fit what I learnt in Marketing 101, but it makes me very happy.
You play in a few of the bands on the label, which are they and do you at all feel stretched between band, band and label? It must take a fair amount of creative input to prevent projects from sounding the same.
I play in Serious Beak (progressive/mathy metal), Adrift for Days (psychedelic stoner/doom), Battle Pope (sludge rock) and an un-named improve noise collective. I’ve also got a few new projects coming up – a sort of dark hardcore/sludge vibe band, and a stripped back, acoustic trio.
I don’t think it makes a whole lot of sense to be in multiple bands that tread the same band – it just wouldn’t be particularly satisfying. I’m always on the lookout for new bands and music to keep me inspired, and I want the bands I play in to be a reflection of that too.
As for balancing my energy between all those projects? I’m used to it. I work full time as well, and study, and read a lot, and do a bunch of writing, and I draw. My energy ebbs and flows between all these different passions. I find keeping a nice balance between them all contents me.
How do bands get in contact with the label, either to be added to the label or for touring, is there a better chance of them getting on the label if they’re local or is it a little more complex than that?
My dream is to just keep putting out music from new groups that inspire me. I’ve been deeply passionate about all the bands that have appeared on Art As Catharsis – so I’m not really calling out for new bands to send me music. I try to have a focus on Australian music that is “progressive, psychedelic or different”, but the bottom line is I have to care deeply about what the band is doing.
And, of course, the band has to vibe with what I do as well. If they don’t like my approach then why force things? I’ve also got to be pretty sure I’m not going to over-extend myself and fuck things up, so I only take on a few projects I feel I can do well each year.
Are there any upcoming releases you’d like to mention, any bands currently recording? If so when can we expect to hear new music, or is all that being kept under wraps?
Anyone who follows the label should know how much I love the South Australian doom six-piece Space Bong. Seeing those guys live for the first time really changed how I viewed heavy music. They are one of the best doom bands in the world. Those guys have promised to release their new album through Art As Catharsis, but unfortunately their recording process is a slow one. It’s been running for over 18 months off and on – but I’d love to finally get that out later this year.
Other than that? Adrift for Days and Serious Beak have been hard at work writing new music – Adrift for Days are actually going to be releasing ‘Come Midnight…’ as a double 12” LP later this year via Doognad Records, so I’m really hoping we can get a tour together for that.
My two new projects have also kicked off and are writing and rehearsing – I’d like both bands to release something this year. What else? I’d love to pull together a really diverse mini-festival sometime in the next 12 months, but I’m not too sure on the timing for that one.
I’m sure a few more things will pop up before the year is out.
Thank you for being so forthcoming, it’s great to see just how hard people are working in the music industry. It’s also important to realize that behind their favorite bands are labels working hard to help maintain a workable level of success. We look forward to seeing more great acts!
Thanks mate, your support is very much appreciated.
For those wishing to find out more about the label or the acts the label works so hard to promote, share, sell and enjoy you can find them on Facebook, Bandcamp, and Twitter.
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