– interview by Kate Turgoose & Miguel de Sousa (March/April 2007)
Active for nearly 10 years, the North America-based label D-Trash Records grew out of a D.I.Y. attitude and spirit of cooperation between artists from many fields of electronic music and from all over the world. From their beginings as provider of underground electronic music over the internet, D-Trash has grown and consolidated to become a reference name in the field of electronic music, with a roster of artists that spans genres as diverse as digital hardcore, breakcore, punk, metal and noise (among others) without losing the touch with its underground roots.
1 – How and why did you come about starting D-Trash Records?
I joined up with D-Trash Records sometime early 1999, as a means of helping to promote my music as “Schizoid”. At that point it was a crew of kids who had great electronic music released (either CD-Rs, or online MP3 releases) and wanted a means of unifying that under a single banner, D-Trash, kind of in a D.I.Y. collective spirit. Everyone does the CDs and puts the D-Trash logo on their stuff and then people who get into Artist A, will find about Artist B, and so on. It was great and good to use the internet at that time to our advantage and kind of form a network of like-minded artists. Around 2000, the first generation of people involved in the movement kind of got burned out on the scene and music, and at that point I stepped in and put out one of my Schizoid discs as the first real pressed CD-style disc, and used the label name for my disc, for the first DTECH01 release.
Since then we’ve kind of run two labels simultaneously under that moniker, one of which, (D-Trash Technologies) has now 7 full-length pressed CDs that you can buy in stores or online, and one line (just referred to as D-Trash Records) of CDs which we’re close to 100 discs worth of material of full-length albums you can download in full as MP3 along with the artwork. Both share the same style of music, which in all essence is a combination of electronic music styles ranging from industrial, digital hardcore, breakcore and noise. But also a whack of our discs have a very definitive punk/metal vibe, giving the music a very abrasive edge over the multitude of wishy-washy “electronic” music out there.
2 – When you started D-Trash Records, were there any labels that you could say were a reference/inspiration for your efforts?
Definitely, at the time right before 2K, labels like Digital Hardcore (and its sublabels Geist, Less Than 20 and Fatal), Ambush, Praxis, Zhark, Mille Plateaux and a bunch of others. I think, overall, our stuff resembles that stuff but also I know in the 1990′s I really dug the types of sounds that Earache and Relapse Records were doing. There was a lot of classic electronic-fuelled metal releases, really bizarre stuff, like Meathook Seed, (old) Ultraviolence, Dead World, Candiru. Hearing that stuff back in the day made it so that when we later heard a band like Atari Teenage Riot, it was totally the type of music we were waiting for. Hearing a lot of Earache and Relapse compilations from those times got me into all the types of music and genres I’m into now. Many artists release music, and in time, end up creating their own record label whilst performing their own projects, like Atari Teenage Riot for D.H.R., or Exit-13 for Relapse and I always dug that type of approach, seemed like a lot more hands-on and direct of an approach, instead of rattling a begging bone at the mercy of some other record label.
3 – Almost mandatory question, how did the name “D-Trash Records” come about?
I wasn’t behind the label name, but I’m told it was a reference to the “D-Jungle” scene of music, stuff like DJ Mowgly and what not. The D doesn’t stand for anything, it’s whatever you want it to be. At times, we said “Data” or “Digital”, but that was just in passing.
4 – Since the inception of D-Trash Records, are there any events in the history of the label that you’d consider as particularly relevant, from difficulties and setbacks to successes?
Well I guess one could say that the entire process of starting a record label and making it continue to grow of a course of almost 10 years, you find out things about how the ‘music business’ game is played, and how best to reach the type of audience you’re looking for. Our music is ultimately rooted in extreme or at the very least, rather different music than what most normal types of people are used to hearing. Some has a wider appeal, and when that happens, we try to act on it and take every opportunity to try to make the most out of certain releases. We found early difficulties in our earliest incarnation by having only CDRs and MP3 releases and find that limited our channels of distribution, hence, we formed D-Trash Technologies, the part of the label that does manufactured CDs. That was a pretty relevant step in our growth over the years, switching between doing the CDs, and then doing the online/MP3 style releases to stay in touch with the underground.
Offhand, some personal highlights over the years in running D-Trash I’d say are the Toronto Digital Hardcore Fest 2006 that we threw last year where it was a live D-Trash fest basically, with all bands from the label performing in support of one of the artist’s new CD. Also I’d say having a number of our artists appearing on D.H.R.’s “Don’t Fuck With Us” 3 CD compilation was pretty cool. Having the defunct band Candiru give us a whole album of material from their second unreleased album to release on our label, that was really cool as a Candiru fan. I think it’s cool that we have an affinity with many of the artists and labels that inspired us, we have their attention and respect at this point, it’s great to have put so much work into it and get such a reception. Doing my Schizoid “Covered In Metal” album and having the singer from Lethal Aggression do backup vocals on the song of theirs that I was covering was unbelievable.
5 – So far what would you consider as special highlights (or successful) releases and artists in the history of D-Trash Records?
I’d say our big releases have been
DTECH01 – Schizoid “All Things Are Connected”
DTECH02 – Unitus “Cross Contamination”
DTECH03 – Various Artists “Rising Tide Compilation”
DTECH06 – Hansel “Lorenzian Lineshaper”
D-Trash35 – The Bureau Of Change “The Future Of Boys Bands”
D-Trash44 – Punish Yourself “Live Behind The City Lights”
D-Trash48 – The Shizit “Remixed For The Revolution”
D-Trash50 – HANSEL “Studies” (3XCD set)
D-Trash67 – Sangre – En Memoria
D-Trash83 – 64revolt – 64revolt
Those releases I’ve found are ones that got a great reception. There has been lots of interest in the other releases, just on first thought I’d list those above as at least, very, very strong releases in our catalogue. All the discs have been a success in that we have shared our music with the world and gained more of an audience with each new one.
6 – Are there any releases in particular that you would recommend as good ‘introductory material’ to the D-Trash Records label?
In particular, the “Rising Tide” compilation we released in 2003 (especially!), as well as the upcoming tribute CD to Atari Teenage Riot we are doing. Any of the compilation-style releases we do are a great introduction to our label. We do bi-annual discs that are collections of songs from recent albums, put into continuous 80-minute mix DJ sets, as a sampler for people to download and check out, and even burn for their friends if they want. The “Rising Tide” compilation for sure though, I’d say it is about the most comprehensive example about what we are about as a label and the range of sounds our music embraces. Again, a mixture of styles, including digital hardcore, punk, noise, industrial, breakcore, low-fi, experimental, etc, etc.
7 – Looking back, do you have any regrets with the label? If you could go back and change something, what would it be?
No, no regrets. Everything in our history has happened how it should and when it should. I wish I could go back in time and tell the past version of D-Trash where to redirect certain efforts, which types of activities were misdirected, but that goes for anyone out there who’s looking to run a record label and learns over time what it involves.
8 – An obvious question, but what is D-Trash Records’s ‘relationship’ with the Internet? From promotion tool and digital sales to file sharing and piracy, how has it affected you?
We’ve always been 100% a part of the online scene and have almost 100 CDs available for free download on our site. Go to http://www.dtrashrecords.com. I think, at least that when we were doing this in 1999, around the whole time of Napster, and all of that, that we were there, and putting our MP3s out there when a lot of projects hadn’t embraced the internet. I’m not saying we created music on the internet, but at that time it wasn’t as widespread, it wasn’t a complete and absolute given like it is now, that a band have some type of relationship with the internet. It’s a great promotional tool, especially when you are finding frustrations with the local scene and don’t want to be limited to just your home town for an audience to reach with your music.
As for piracy, obviously as the labelhead I have some reservations about it. We have a lot of free music on our site that we are more than happy to share with people, at our expense; we’d like to think that if people enjoy what they are hearing, that when we spend the money to do a ‘proper’ release, that they would want to buy it and support us. We are behind quite a D.I.Y.-in-spirit type of approach and operation, and personally foot the resources required to release this music, and deserve, at minimum, to be able to cover basic costs. Those discs are quality and have great accompanying artwork that I think would be a shame to experience just as MP3s. I know as a fan of bands myself, MP3s are great for finding new stuff and finding what you like and don’t like, but I am a CD collector myself and I’d rather have the real CD in my hands so I can read the lyrics and what not.
9 – Slightly related to the previous question, how do you see the concept of ‘netlabels’ and, as a labelhead, what is your perspective as to the future and evolution of physical media (CDs, vinyl, etc)?
Having said that above, I definitely can see that there is a change in the music industry and the direction of the format in which music is released. I go to CD stores and there is such a stink of desperation – major record labels are run by conglomerate companies who have no idea about what music is, and what it is about, and all those stores are thus filled with hokey junkish fad music. A lot of people, in response, turned to the internet to find better music, and got into that and the music industry is shitting bricks trying to figure out how to sell all these horrible pop bands music, when people can just download it online. You see how, there is almost a loss of focus from the music and the CD you can buy, and more about these fad artists and their culture of celebrity, buying the T-Shirts, or seeing their $100 concerts, and less about the music, because they’re looking at it from a “How can we make $$$ from music”. Under those types of circumstances I see less grounds, for mass amounts of CDs overall to be bought by people. People won’t pay exorbitant prices for CDs anymore (we price our CDs more reasonably). That’s the majors and their problem at least that I’m talking about.
As for netlabels, and the underground electronic music scene, it’s great. There is no lack of great music to hear and at least with many netlabels, including in specific labels like Sick Mode, Here’s My Card Records, Gnashed, Aklass, God Rekidz, , Dramacore, Severed Digit Recordings. Tons of other artists I know give out lots of MP3s to let people hear about stuff. These days it’s less about copying a cassette demo for someone or like giving them a CD sampler, when they’re just online anyway, and would actually rather have the MP3s instead of the format. There is a growth in artists selling their music digitally and I’m sure that in time will become the standard. Some friends of mine would rather buy the MP3s, but I have a big CD collection and would never consider paying for an MP3. In the meantime, right now there is still a reasonable demand for the physical media (i.e., picture this, some people don’t have computers or care what an MP3 is) to justify more physical releases. 100 years from now, of course it’ll be different.
10 – Perspectives for the future, what lies in the horizon for D-Trash Records? Can you share some long-term goals and where would you like to see the label heading to?
Right now I’m interested in releasing my own music, as well as all our current artists’ music to the world and gaining more listeners for this type of music as a whole. We are approaching our 100th MP3/CDR release and I never would have believed it continued this long, back in the day. Now that we’re at this point, it is a basic way of life and we just intend on continuing to plod along and keep putting out great music.
11 – What other labels/artists would you recommend at the moment and why?
Check our website at http://www.dtrashrecords.com, in the link section there is a list of artists and record labels that we share at least some minimal level of affiliation with.
12 – Thank you for your time, do you have any final comments?
Check out our website at http://www.dtrashrecords.com, and enjoy our music. Thanks for your interest in the label. Watch our for our May 1st 2007 release of “Various Artists – The Virus Has Been Spread: A Tribute to Atari Teenage Riot”.