Interview for Record Store Day now available in English
Quality and involvement
On Record Store Day Miller Records will be participating with 3 Dutch releases; Catching Currents by singer Fridolijn, Acacia by Grey Lotus and Have You Heard The Hype? from The Hype.
For now owner Eric Molenaar wants to continue releasing music on vinyl that so far has only been available digitally. A high quality and with intensive involvement from the artist are paramount. However, the ambitions for this Zwolle-based label extend further.
Was having your own record label always a dream of yours?
“Absolutely. I think anyone who really likes music and, like me, can not sing or play an instrument, has dreamt about owning a record store or label at some point in life.”
You only release vinyl at the moment. Why is that?
“I really love the tangible side of it. Spotify is of course quite handy for various reasons, but as a child I already flipped thru the CD booklets and read everything in there. With an LP there's this even bigger thrill with the size of the artwork. I think that beautifully crafted artwork is an essential part of the whole experience of listening to an album. Spotify and iTunes lack that experience.”
In 2014 Miller Records released its first album with Lonesound. What's the story behind that?
“Lonesound is the moniker of British singer-songwriter James Ewers. In 2012/2013 he released a few EPs digitally and on CD. And those EPs made a huge impression on me. I thought they deserved a vinyl release. So we put the three EPs together on one vinyl album. And releasing it was such a great adventure that I quickly began thinking about releasing more music on vinyl.”
Then it stayed quiet for a while and only this year you're coming up with three new releases. What was the cause of this long delay?
“A lot of it has to do with arranging everything. Doing lots of homework for it. And in addition of all that, it takes a while before you obtain the rights to release certain albums. It takes many calls, emails and much paperwork. Some negotiations with the management of some artists are running for over a year now.”
What is the philosophy behind Miller Records?
“Doing everything right. It's not uncommon to see re-issues with a pixelated cover caused by enlarging a CD cover. And in extreme cases using a CD as master. Covers are often grainy and no effort was put into proper vinyl mastering. We set the bar very high. We always try get in touch with the original designers of the artwork, so we are able to reconstruct the artwork for vinyl. In the case of the upcoming release of British artist Just Jack's album Overtones, known for including the hit Starz In Their Eyes, we are creating a brand new cover, because the company that made the original artwork doesn't exist anymore. This, incidentally, in collaboration with the creator of the artwork drawings, David Foldvari. We also pay much attention to the mastering of the music. Everything, from the cover to the vinyl, has to be high quality. And everything in very close collaboration with the artist, which is not standard for re-issues. We're also not afraid to obtain from releasing an album if we can not deliver the high quality we want.”
Can you tell me about the plans for the long term?
“For now I'll continue releasing so called “first time on vinyl” albums, but there are plans forming for releasing new music thru Miller Records. This is mostly the result of my way of working with the artists, who are very enthusiastic about my approach.”
What can you tell me about the three upcoming releases?
“The Hype is the former band of singer Yorick van Norden, who's been on the radio, tv and touring quite intensively since his solo debut album Happy Hunting Ground came out in 2015. The Hype album was released in 2011 and the band split in 2013. The Hype album contains some strong songs that still hold up 6 years later. Yorick still plays some of them during his live shows. Reason enough for me to release it on vinyl. It was also Yorick who put me on track of Grey Lotus. I think he posted a video of one of their songs on Facebook. I Break The Waves was the first songs I heard of them and I was immediately captivated by it. I got in touch with the band and we decided to release an album with acoustic versions of their songs because of demand from their fans. Fridolijn I met at North End in Haarlem, a record store where we had a very successful instore gig with Lonesound in 2014. I was very impressed by her voice and the mix of styles and influences. We started talking after her instore performance and the idea of releasing her solo debut album Catching Currents, which was released via V2 Records in 2015, on vinyl was born.”
The three upcoming albums are all Record Store Day exclusives. What do you see as the main advantage of this?
“Record Store Day is always surrounded by much publicity. Which is very useful for a small and unknown label like mine. Since the list was announced, I noticed it immediately. Especially thru social media, I saw a lot of positive responses about my releases. If I had released them on a regular day, the buzz would've been much smaller.”
Have you been able to make a wishlist of titles that you'd like to score on Record Store Day?
“I haven't had the time yet to go thru the complete list yet, but as a Bowie fan I definitely hope to get my hands on those titles.”
As a consumer, what are your thoughts on Record Store Day?
“It's a great initiative. Online shopping isn't really my thing. I prefer shops myself. As a little kid at the age of 11, I already spent my pocket money at Coco Records in Zaandam, where I was born and raised. Everyone can sell an album, but receiving advice about new and undiscovered artists that fir your taste, to me, that's priceless. Not to mention the feeling of good old crate digging.
But like I said, it also benefits smaller labels like mine. I do question the value of some of the releases. But I think we're heading in the right direction again. There has been quite some criticism of both consumers and record store owners themselves, about the prices for example. This year as well. Which I think is a shame. It would be good if the record companies did something with those complaints. Because it doesn't benefit Record Store Day at all and it would be a shame if it would start working against Record Store Day in the long run.”
Mon, 03 April