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Label Focus – FatCat Records

Alex Knight talks us through the past, present and future of the legendary, genre-spanning FatCat empire

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WHAT’S THE NAME OF YOUR LABEL, AND WHO RUNS IT?
We are FatCat Records but have several imprints including the highly regarded “130701”, “Split” and “Splinter Series” as well as the electronic music imprints of “FCR” and “6dimensions”. The label is managed by co-founder Alex Knight, with a strong team of David Howell (130701, split and splinter), Samantha Orton, Lucille Vasseur and Sofia Jonsson.

WHEN & WHY DID THE LABEL START?
The label’s first release was in the autumn of 1996, WEB’s EVA EP” and felt like a very natural progression from the retail store and record shop. With the store closing in 1997 the label became the priority business and the focus for all FatCat activities.

GIVE US A BRIEF SUMMARY OF WHAT YOU’VE RELEASED SINCE THEN….
The label is renowned for its diverse and eclectic output, from noise to punk, from electronica to no-wave, from classical to dance and everything in between. We have worked with some incredibly creative artists and have been lucky enough to be instrumental in the careers of Sigur Ros, Mum, Animal Collective, Vashti Bunyan, Frightened Rabbit, The Twilight Sad, Max Richter, Dustin O’halloran, Hauschka and many others. We’re lucky to have a fantastic current roster which includes the creative genius of Shida Shahabi, Resina, Ian William Craig, Holiday Ghosts, Jennifer Touch, TRAAMS and The Psychotic Monks, amongst others.

WHAT QUALITIES ARE YOU LOOKING FOR IN THE MUSIC YOU RELEASE?
We like to blur the boundaries between genres and are looking for music which pushes the envelope or excels within its field. Music which impacts and makes you feel and think differently.

WHAT KIND OF VISUAL IDENTITY DOES THE LABEL HAVE (ARTWORK, VIDEOS ETC) ?
The label has always maintained a strong visual identity, the logo being instantly recognisable. We have also maintained a strong relationship with the designer Dave Thomas who has been responsible for the creation and execution of several striking covers and artworks. We do however encourage the artists we work with to forge their own links with creatives and strongly encourage collaboration.

WHAT’S BEEN YOUR BIGGEST SELLING RELEASE TO DATE? TELL US A BIT ABOUT IT AND WHY YOU THINK IT WAS SO POPULAR.
Sigur Ros must be the most popular artist we have released to date. We worked closely with them on their first two records, the internationally lauded Ageatis Byrjun and ‘( )’ LPs, both of which were critically acclaimed. The band have an ethereal quality, their music otherworldy and unlike anything else, they’re captivating and unusual and struck a chord with a massive audience. They also worked extremely hard, toured relentlessly and built themselves a formidable live reputation.

NAME ONE RELEASE THAT YOU THINK DESERVED TO GET MORE ATTENTION THAN IT DID
We released an LP from a Seattle based band called Welcome back in 2007. The album is called Sirs and is still a formidable body of work. They were an incredible live band too, bustling with ideas and energy. The record still sounds as fresh today as it did back then.

IF YOU COULD SIGN ANY ARTIST, ALIVE OR DEAD, WHO WOULD YOU CHOOSE AND WHY?
A bit of a cliché I know but I would have loved to have signed Radiohead, a band that are always evolving, always pushing the envelope but who have managed to maintain a broad fanbase across multiple albums.

WHICH OTHER LABELS DO YOU ADMIRE AND WHY?
You must take your hat off to anyone that has the balls to run a label in this current climate, especially given the cards we have been dealt in this past year or so. There are literally so many excellent labels out there doing amazing things, Dark Entries, Super Viaduct, Hornin Sounds, Pressure Sounds, Zam Zam, LTM, FHXE and Paranoid London are all on my go to list as are many, many others!

WHAT CAN WE LOOK TO FROM YOUR LABEL NEXT?
We will celebrate our 25 year anniversary this year alongside the 20 year anniversary of the 130701 imprint. We are in the process of curating a number of bespoke anniversary editions of classic albums across the label as well as a number of new and exciting releases from new and existing signings.

Label Focus – eel

Annie eel aka Hockeysmith gives us her guide to the slippery beast that is Falmouth’s eel label
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Label focus – Trauma Collective

We profile Madrid’s fledgling but fast rising Trauma Collective on the eve of their latest tough techno release

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Label Focus – Slow Dance

Label focus: Slow Dance talks fifth annual compilation, boat party beginnings, label ethos and upcoming releases

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Label profile – Youth Sounds

From punk bass god with Killing Joke to Orb collaborator and super producer, Youth has done pretty much it all. Here he tells us all about his Youth Sounds label himself
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Label focus – Mike Paradinas on 25 years of Planet Mu

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WHAT’S THE NAME OF YOUR LABEL, AND WHO RUNS IT?
Planet Mu. I run it but there are other people who run it with me, mainly Thomas Quaye, who is the label manager, he sorts out things like accounting and dealing with distributors and shipping, all that sort of stuff. There’s a publishing company that’s run by Gavin Burness and Marcus Scott does the press.
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Label focus – Richard Fearless tells all about Drone

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The release of universally acclaimed Richard Fearless album Deep Rave Memory last year truly put his Drone label on the map, but as we discover, from studio neighbour Daniel Avery to Michigan’s D’Marc Cantu, there’s a lot more to the stable than just Fearless himself.

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Label focus – Steel City Dance Discs

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We glimpse into the world of Steel City Dance Discs, run by four best friends from Newcastle, Australia…

Steel City Dance Discs has picked up an international following a genre-fluid aesthetic that, in their own words, takes them “from house to gabber” and back again.

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CPU Records – Beyond The Binary

Label founder Chris Smith discusses how Central Processing Unit is continuing Sheffield’s strong electronic music heritage. 

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MinimalRome: Keep it in the Family

The Rome collective whose roots trace back to the city’s heady ’90s techno era speak with Richard Brophy.

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Searching For A Feeling: Area & Kimochi Sound

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The man behind Kimochi Sound goes under the spotlight. 

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Further Records – Approaching Something More

The focus is Seattle as the founders of our favourite label of the past 12 months speak with Tony Poland.

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Mannequin Records – The Line of Darkness

Alessandro Adriani opens up with Flora Pitrolo about his label Mannequin, his Rome upbringing, Italian Wave, the appetite for reissues and much more.

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Nous – Something More To Say

Where does Berlin operation Nous fit into the current label landscape? A straight talking George Mavrikos sits down with Rose Mardit to discuss the label’s emergence. 

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Nothing Short of Total War – The Blast First story

Ian Maleney tracks down Paul Smith, founder of the Blast First label and its successor Blast First Petite, and responsible for facilitating the rise of everyone from Sonic Youth to Pan Sonic via HTRK.

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Berceuse Heroique – Finding The Edge

Berceuse Heroique founder Gizmo opens up about his past, influences and the freedom of running a small label.

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Domestica: Authenticity, Creativity, Personality

Flora Pitrolo tracks down Domestica founder Jordi Serrano to discuss the Barcelona label’s development over the past five years and its distinctly DIY approach.

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Giallo Disco: Tracks of our Fears

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Giallo Disco founders Antoni Maiovvi and Vercetti Technicolor speak to Richard Brophy about how the label has swiftly gained a cult following after its somewhat unlikely beginnings in Cologne.

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Umor Rex: Graphic Representation


Emma Tucker discusses the clean typography, use of geometric shapes, bold colours and striking photography that distinguishes Mexican label Umor Rex with founder Daniel Castrejón.

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The In-Betweeners: Welcome To The Weevil Neighbourhood

James Manning joins the dots between drum and bass, dubstep and techno with Martin Heinze in The Weevil Neighbourhood.

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