Since this interview gives a nice insight into what goes into the label I figured I might as well include it in the official website. Thanks to the fine folks of PEST Webzine.
Please present your label, when and where was it started, who is involved in its activities and what genres are promoted by it.
My label is called Caligari Records and at the moment is focused on tapes only. Hopefully, in the not so distant future I’ll be able to release seven inches and 12 inches but that’s nowhere in sight at the moment since I am extremely busy with my releases and the distro and surely, the current finances wouldn’t allow for releasing more expensive formats.
Caligari Records started about a year ago in the same place where it’s run from now, my house. Basically I have a little studio I work out the ‘logistics’ out of and a big fucking closet that I have conditioned to function as the distro, which also solely focuses on tapes.
Caligari Records is myself and whoever wants to help out. Basically, I finance all the releases and the distro, which is growing out of wholesale buys and trades. I have a few people who have been instrumental in getting the label off the ground, my artist collaborator Ronald who did the layouts for the first two releases and who will hopefully be able to help out in the future and my wife who is also an artist and dominates Photoshop and who to my annoying insistence helped out with the layouts in the subsequent releases. Also, I would say Kenny from Wohrt Records was pretty instrumental in the launch of the label, more as a mentor though, since he already had gone through what I was about to go through with my first releases, he functioned, I’d say as a ‘business advisor’ if you wanna throw a stupid fancy term.
Genres? I wouldn’t want to pigeonhole the label this early, but it’s fair to say that Caligari Records is a metal label and an underground label. I don’t focus on any specific subgenres. As long as I dig it and it’s not some type of polished metal bullshit, I am open to it. Also, I’ve got no delusions, this music is meant to stay underground. That’s where it belongs, so Caligari Records is an underground label.
Tell us a few words on each or the most important releases of your label, and which of them are still available for purchase.
All of my releases are important for different reasons. Alas, I have only six releases so far and I should have my seventh release out in a couple of months. Details are being worked out of that one. All of them are still available but the first two are down to just 2 or 3 copies.
1st release – DEATHCULT – The Test of Time – Special because it was the first and because I had always wanted to start a label and when I got the CD version of it I thought it would look perfect on tape. Also, it is rather traditional black thrash metal and it was sort of a good first statement on what the label would be about: metal!
2nd release – UNRU – Demo MMXIII – This recording blew my mind when I heard it. It’s black metal but very unorthodox. It’s really wild music, full of freedom and rage. At the time I caught on, it had only been self-released on CD and I was skeptical that it would garner much attention in part because of the music itself and in part because it seems to come from a group of musicians that I wouldn’t describe as your traditional black metal dudes, but it is the release that has so far garnered the most accolades.
3rd release – DON JUAN MATUS – Espejismos –Don Juan Matus is a heavy band that I would not classify as metal but whose music is dense enough to have grant them the pleasure of sharing a split with Angel of Damnation. This tape features a few new tracks and some alternate takes of songs included in their full-lengths and still Espejismos functions as a full experience and not some random cut and paste compilation job. Every once in a while I run into people who seem to be solid fans of Don Juan Matus and it surprises me because of where they come from. For instance, I had this dude from Malaysia asking me to press more than 100 copies and then there was a writer from Zero Tolerance Mag who was a big fan. In both cases, I was like, ‘really?’
4th release – FUOCO FATUO – 2 Ep’s in One Tape – I think this band will stand out in the near future. The track I’ve heard from their upcoming full-length is the type of doom metal I dig the most. I came to know Fuoco Fatuo while surfing around the web, their name got my interest and a full listen to their 2 EP’s convinced me that it would be nice to hopefully help raise their profile a little. I think that the evident aural progression between the two EP’s reveals how talented these Italians are and hopefully how much growth their music will experience moving forward.
5th release – SKELETHAL / INISANS – 2012 Demos Split – I love old school death metal. As I kid I grew up listening to classics like Maiden and Priest but I was about 17 when the whole Swedish wave broke out and I just remembered those years as being pretty fucking magical. Dirty music, rotten sound and absolutely heavy noise; that’s what it was and that’s what these two bands capture. Skelethal and Inisans reminded me of that wave of musicians and I think their 2012 demos deserve a bit more attention. I really hope both bands have more music in stock for us.
6th release – RITUAL DECAY – The Conquering Darkness – This band from Memphis is fucking raw and The Conquering Darkness is their first recording. Ritual Decay seem pretty dedicated and portray themselves exactly as what they are; bloody merchants of evil. Their music is pretty intense and the vocals are just obsessive. Ugly all around and I support that.
What are the most important features you look for in a band that is or has the chance to be signed on your label?
OK, no band is signed to my label. There is no contract, just a beginning and an end and a whole bunch of e-mails in between. There is no signature, just two metalheads in a pact but I know what you are saying and what I look for is grit, sincerity and identity. I don’t like polished music and I hate symphonic arrangements and pretentious attempts. To me, music needs to be raw and true and it needs to have its own identity. I am not looking for a whole lot of originality, just a solid sense of what the band is and what the songs reflect. It all comes down to that. And oh yeah, being heavy helps.
How can a band get in touch with you? What should bands know before submitting their promos for your consideration?
Bands can reach me by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org. I respond to all e-mails as soon as I can though if I ignore you please don’t be surprised. They can also reach out by visiting our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/CaligariRecords) and sending a message there. I also have a website at www.caligarirecords.com where you can entertain yourself by looking at pictures against a black backgroun
What's the most important thing in the relationship between you and your bands? What is your label offering to its bands?
To be honest we don’t offer much besides the opportunity to be edited in a pro tape pro j card format and the promise that we will treat your music with the utmost respect. Tape is after all, the format of the traders, the format that in many respects helped foster the genre during the languid but prolific 80’s. Other than that, we reach out to bands we want to release because we love and respect their music and that is the ultimate treat. There is no money involved, just music and tapes and love, care and respect for the artform and for what the artists have created. So yeah, ‘love, care and respect’, very metal, right?
Is there anything you planned with your label and has not yet been completed?
Not really. I and my label live day by day. Tomorrow never comes, you know? I first hope to get Caligari Records to a point where it is self-sufficient and I don’t have to put money out of my pocket to keep it alive and I think I am getting to that point. There has been great support from certain individuals to whom I am very thankful for but let’s face it, by focusing on the tape format I am not doing myself any favors. On the contrary, I am cutting down my target market by about 98%. So yeah, in an ideal world there are a lot of things I’d like to do but most are just out of the question. So for now I’ll just be happy hoping that there will always be cool bands open to the idea of releasing their music on tape format via a small underground label.
How does the future looks for your label? Any major projects you would like to share with us?
I hope the future exists for a label like mine and I think it’s clear that metal is a genre with a very resilient following. We rehash our music, we pay tribute and we remember the greats and the underrated, so as long as that attitude continues I am good. I hope my tapes will live on people’s collections long after I am gone and long after the tape itself stops emitting a hi fi sound. Major projects? No. I produce tapes limited to 100 copies, so what can I tell you?