giovedì 11 febbraio 2016

HEVISIKE RECORDS: Interview with Jay Ackerman, the man behind HeviSike Records (ENG-ITA)

Today we have the pleasure to have here as a guest of our blog, Jay Ackerman.
Jay is the young founder of HeviSike Records, a label focused into vinyl press with limited and unique editions, he is now a point of reference for all the Heavy Psych lovers since 2013. 

Let's give the floor to Jay, we wish you happy reading...

Hello Jay, Thanks for your time first of all! Probably not all the people here in Italy are aware about you and about what you do, lets start with the beginning of everything, can you tell us how HeviSike Records was born? From the choice of name up to today.

"Hi Mari, Thanks for inviting me to answer your questions! The name HeviSike was simply a username I was using when blogging about my favourite music; heavy psychedelic rock such as Causa Sui and Colour Haze. The name was inspired by a compilation of psychedelic rock named ‘Pop-Sike Pipe Dreams’ (Bam Caruso, 1987)."

"I was discovering a lot of very cool bands whose music was not being picked up by record labels. As
a big fan of physical media such as cassette tapes and vinyl records, I decided I would get involved myself. HeviSike Records was born. The very first release I worked on was a cassette tape by UK doom metal band Witch Charmer. The CD was released by the Italian label Argonauta Records. The very first LP I released was the self-titled debut by Brunt. They’re an instrumental  psychedelic/stoner band from Guernsey."

During these years you have published a lot of bands (Craang, Alunah, Prophets Of Saturn, Tunga Moln, Dead Feathers and many more) and 2016 saw the release of Italian Elevators To The Grateful Sky's “Cape Yawn”. I was curious to know how you got in touch with them and how you decided to produce them.

"ETTGS are a wonderful band and very nice guys. They got in touch with me in Summer 2015. I very rarely work with bands who submit their demos to me, in fact ETTGS are the only band I have picked up from a demo submission!"

"It took me a while to decide I wanted to work with them. The more I listened to the demos for Cape Yawn, the more I realised what a great record it was. I met up with Giuseppe (Guitars) to discuss working together and we got on really well. I’m pleased to be working with the band because they have a very positive work ethic; they have the energy and hunger to work hard and achieve their goals. In fact, they are already working hard on their third album before the second is released!"

How does the process go about signing a band? How do you decide on how many copies of a release to print up?

"The process generally changes with each band I work with. In the early days I would simply find an album I liked on Bandcamp and approach the band and ask if I could make an LP of it. These days I tend to work with a band from much earlier in the process. For example London-based heavy rock trio Bright Curse recently signed to the label - I have been in touch with those guys since before they even entered the studio; before I heard any demos I knew I wanted to work with them. Their first EP (Bilocation, 2013) was sensational. Regarding the number of copies, it really depends on the popularity of the band. I started by only pressing 300 copies at a time, for example the US stoner rock band Desert Suns. That record sold so quickly that I regretted not making 500. We have recently reissued this record with the band’s American label, Ripple Music. It doesn’t really matter to me if I sell 50 copies or 500 copies. I release the music I like. It isn’t about making money. I do this for the love of the music. I know I won’t get rich selling psychedelic rock and doom records."

Are there any Italian labels you work with or that maybe you simply are aware of? Among our bands, are you into some?

"Well I am a big fan of the label Beard of Stars which released records by Ufomammut, Gorilla, Los Natas, Nebula and Josiah. That label was a huge inspiration to me. I can’t avoid mentioning the highly respected Heavy Psych Sounds Records. Although their name is similar to HeviSike, I was not aware of the label when I first started. I am a huge fan of Black Rainbows - their album Hawkdope was one of my favourite releases in 2015. They’ve been working with bands like Naam, White Hills, Farflung, Stoned Jesus, Mos Generator. That label is probably the most exciting in Europe right now. In terms of bands, there’s some cool stuff coming out of Italy at the moment; Rama (based in Turin) are one of my favourite new bands. There’s Psychedelic Witchcraft who have a massive future ahead of them and then there’s the super cool sludge metal band Grime whose album ‘Circle of Molesters’ was released by the Amsterdam-based label Argento Records."

What do you do in your everyday life, you have another job or the label take all your time? How do you manage yer time between label, mailorder etc and the daily routine?

"I operate HeviSike full time. This is my job, my career, my passion. I’ve had many, many jobs over the years. They all got in the way of my one true love; music. The mail-order takes up most of my time. I spend maybe 4 days a week on that and then the rest of the week will be admin - keeping in contact with bands, liaising with suppliers, publicists, artists and distributors. I sometimes work 6 or 7 days a week. I wouldn’t have time for another job. The difference between working for myself and working in another job is that I love my career. It doesn’t feel like a job, it’s my hobby."

Well. You’re a vinyl aficionado. When did you start buying LPs? Which was the first LP you bought?

"My vinyl collecting is my father’s fault. He used to buy and sell records when I was a kid so I’ve always been around vinyl. I didn’t start my own collection ’til I was about 14 years old. I think I started by buying Iron Maiden records. It was around 2003. I loved the artwork and that’s what I’ve always preferred about vinyl;  being able to hold a slab of artwork in your hands."

 If somebody was thinking about starting up a label what advice would you give them?

"I would say to them; don’t expect to make much or even any money. Don’t forget the importance of good artwork; nobody will buy your record if it has boring artwork, even if the sound is amazing. Make sure you have an agreement in writing with the musicians you are working with. Most importantly, have fun with it. If it becomes too much hassle, it takes the fun out of doing it. Also, don’t ever be afraid to contact another label for advice. I got loads of good advice from friends who run labels. Most of them got their start by asking advice from other guys. I would not be where I am today without the support of the other labels in our community."

Looking forward to meet you in person one day maybe at some festival, here is my last question, apart from the passion, what is the thing that pushes you trying to fulfil your projects and what do you have in mind for the future?
"The thing that pushes my to fulfil my projects is the satisfaction I get from seeing people with
albums they have bought from me and hearing how much they enjoy them. It really makes me smile when a customer sends me a photo of their record. I love every album I’ve released but it means so much more to me when I see others enjoying them too. In terms of the future, I have many more releases planned. I am planning to put together a tour of great bands for some shows in Europe. I have no doubt we’ll bump into each other at some festival! There are so many cool festivals in Europe these days!"

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