Today (February 10th) see’s the release of the Sub Culture Records Label Compilation ‘Cultural Differences – Vol. 1’ a compilation with a selection of 30 tracks from Sub Culture Records artists!. The Alt/Electro/EBM label which is based in Norway has whipped up the brilliant ‘Attrition’ as well as Black Flag fan favourite ‘Naked Lunch’, plus a catalogue of other great acts and seems destined for world domination this year.
Run by Per Aksel Lundgreen of the band Cronos Titan, with help from everyone from Martin Bowes to the lovely Jet Noir, the label is following the punk tradition of being DIY and keeping everything in house. We caught up with Per to get the low down on this fantastic record label……
The Black Flag: Firstly tell us a bit about yourself. What’s your background?
Per Aksel: I come from a family where my father was an artist, a sculptor, painter and ceramist, and my grandfather was a painter, and so was my great-grandfather. So I was brought up with a lot of ”classical culture” surrounding me, but I was always ”the rebel” of course, and already at a very early age, around 10 I think, I started doing kind of ”sonic experiments” with 3 different tape-recorders we had back at the house. We also had a lot of instruments, and I would record onto one tape recorder, things from the two others, and add voice and instruments. Pretty far-out stuff, and without knowing it, very much in the vein of the tape-loop-cut-up stuff that William S. Burroughs etc had done many years before. So, recording music, or sounds, or noise, call it what you want, was always interesting to me.
In 1987, at the age of 17, I recorded my first material to be released, it was a tape with loads of ”environmental sounds and found objects” on one side, and on the other, it was electronic experiments, rhythms, drum patterns and stuff like that. It was later released in 1991 under the name ULL, and the title was ”Staalull”.
In 1991 I joined Apoptygma Berzerk, I had my own record shop, I worked as a DJ, I had my one-man project Angst Pop, and it was all about the music. I also later had a radio-show, initiated the first Norwegian electro-compilation, ”Sex, Drugs & EBM”, arranged concerts, and kept recording. After leaving Apoptygma Berzerk in December 1994, I started the bands Cronos Titan (darkwave industrial) and Chinese Detectives (synthpop) and did that for some years. I worked in a record shop, and later at a couple of big record companies, but that kinda killed my soul, as corporate leadership and money was the driving force, and not creativity and music.
I worked too much back then, and got caught up in the whole ”sex, drugs & rock’n’roll” thing, and crash-landed in the summer of 2001. I had to do something else, so I started working for child protective services, and got an education as a drug councelor. I did that for some years, but the music kept calling me back to the scene. So in 2012, I did a comeback with Cronos Titan and also with Angst Pop. And then it was like being back in the saddle again, and since then it’s just been going and going! 😀
TBF: Tell us a bit about Sub Culture Records. How was it funded and who’s involved?
PA: I had in 2007, after Tatra Records went bankrupt, bought the masters to my old releases from Cronos Titan, Chinese Detectives and Angst Pop, and I contacted a guy I knew in the business about digital distribution, and he put the stuff out for me, which was great, as to my amazement, people bought it and streamed it quite a bit. After that he invited me to work with him with his label, and I signed up some bands to it, but unfortunately, things did not work out with him for various reasons. The name Sub Culture has stuck with me for many many years, inspired by the song by the same name by New Order, and I had often thought that ”one day I will use it for something”. So, having learned the basics of digital distribution now, and with my previous record company experience, I ventured out into the ”unknown” and formed Sub Culture Records. Most of the bands I signed with the other labell followed me over to Sub Culture, and this together with my own releases made it a great roster to start with. Initially I did it myself, it was my baby, but without people like Roy Julian Digre a.k.a. Technomancer who’s done videos, production, remixes, artwork etc, as well as being a tremendous support and a brilliant friend, and Jet Noir who’s been promoting the Sub Culture releases and the labell itself in an absolutely fantastic way, I wouldn’t have gotten it where it is now. Other important ”supporters” that are also involved more or less, are Martin Bowes of Attrition, Mark Warner of Rossetti’s Compass, and Carlos Perón, formerly of YELLO.
TBF: Has the label got an ethos?
PA: Well, being called Sub Culture, it’s not exactly ”chart toppers” we’re aiming for, and as long as it’s within the electronic or alternative realm, it can fit in here. And the labell is kind of ”a family affair” and we all help eachother and support eachother. Electro-hippies! Ha ha! 😉
TBF: What bands are signed to the label?
PA: Signed directly to the label is: Attrition, Rossetti’s Compass, Naked Lunch, Carlos Perón, Shatoo, Laboratory 5, Dag Brandth, John Costello, Technomancer, OLLEY, Touching The Void, Engram and Zone Tripper.
Others that are lisenced distributions of back-catalog are: Hard Corps, Johnny Yen, Clockwork Orange, Downers, Famlende Forsøk, Horsemen, Overgament, Posh, Rosegarden, Spoon Feed and Sven Kalmar.
Also, my bands/projects: Angst Pop, Cronos Titan and Chinese Detectives are on the labell, both for back-catalog and for future releases.
TBF: Which bands have had the most success with and which ones are you most excited about at the moment?
PA: The most successful band at Sub Culture at the moment is Attrition, no doubt about it, and I’ve known Martin for over 20 years now, so we work very well together. They have a huge following, also in the US, play a lot of gigs, release a lot of records, and indeed also sell a lot of records/downloads. Shatoo, a band that I’m in myself is also having a lot of success at the moment, so that’s great to be a part of! I am also totally excited to have Naked Lunch at Sub Culture Records, a band that I’ve liked since the 80’s, and they’re now just about to release their new album in February, and this will be huge, trust me! 😀 Another exciting artist is the young wiz-kid Roy Julian Digre and his project Technomancer. Great songs, great production, and he’s also a brilliant remixer! Watch out for that name!
TBF: The labels based in Norway but you’ve also signed bands in the UK? Do you see the label as an international entity?
PA: Yes, it is a very international community of bands, artists, promoters, remixers etc. And a lot is happening in the UK for example, all mastering is done there at The Cage by Martin Bowes, or in Germany by Carlos Perón, and a lot of the promotion is being done from the UK by Jet Noir who’s not only keyboarder in Naked Lunch, but also Head Of Promotion for Sub Culture Records. And further up north in Norway, Roy Julian Digre a.k.a. Technomancer is located, and he’s head of the Sub Culture Records creative department. Big words and titles maybe for such a small labell, but these guys do big jobs, so why downplay it?
TBF: How would a band go about getting signed to Sub Culture Records?
PA: Ha ha, yeah, the eternal question isn’t it? As we’re as I said, a small ”family of bands”, we only include/sign up bands that are of the same nature and who wants to and who can put some work and effort into not only their own band, but into the whole roster and the label itself. So, so far, I haven’t signed up one single band who’s just sent in their demo-tape so to speak. I have been looking a what they have done with what they have, how they present themselves, how they treat other bands, stuff like that. And based on this, I have invited bands in to be signed to my label. We have a close relationship between bands here, we work FOR each other, and we love each other… That’s how we roll… You can always send us a tape, but it is who you are and what you do that will decide.
TBF: Where can we find out more information about Sub Culture records?
PA: We’re not that heavily represented with homepage etc yet, but on Facebook: www.facebook.com/norwegiansubculture And also on Bandcamp: subculture.bandcamp.com
TBF: Can we catch up with any of your acts in the UK this year?
PA: Yes, absolutely! Attrition and Engram have been booked at a couple of festivals, and Naked Lunch and Rossetti’s Compass are doing some gigs now when Naked Lunch release their new album. We’re also hoping to get Cronos Titan and Technomancer over for a festival in Coventry later this year.
TBF: Where do you see Sub Culture Records in the next five years?
PA: Hmmmm… I don’t know really, but I really do hope that it still consists of the people and the bands that it does today, and that we don’t lose that personal touch and feeling of unity that we have today. If things get too big, they often get out of hand. I’d rather be a small and happy fish, than a big stressed and miserable one…
Cultural Differences – Vol. 1 is available from Bandcamp http://subculturerecords.bandcamp.com/ for only £6 and it is also available via Spotify, WiMP, iTunes and Amazon. For a taster check out the Sub Culture Spotify Playlist:
Check out Sub Culture Records online www.subculture.no