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10 Years of Light Organ Records | L’enfant Von
Light Organ Records is celebrating 10 years of being in the business by throwing their own Summerlight Festival on August 20th featuring some of your favourite local bands. I had the chance to chat with their founder Jonathan Simkin about why he decided to start this record label, advice he would give to anyone else wanting to do the same, and his dream Canadian act to sign.
What made you want to start at Light Organ Records?
When I started Light Organ, 604 Records was already a decade old. And we’d had a fair bit of success which I was thrilled with, but there was a downside to that I suppose. The label was very strongly affiliated with a certain type of music. I think part of the reason for that is one of the owners is Chad Kroeger of Nickelback, and also because our first big band was Theory of a Deadman. I’m proud of those affiliations, but it definitely made alternative bands and tastemaker types look at us a bit sideways. I gave an interview around that time where I said something like “putting the 604 logo on a record and sending it to college radio was like putting a swastika on a record”. I took a bit of flak for that comment, but all I really meant was that the reactions were often violent and angry. But I love alternative music, and my history is very much steeped in it. So it was very frustrating to not have an outlet for that. That is the reason I started Light Organ. To have an entity separate from 604 that was more of a home to non-mainstream music.
What do you hope to achieve with this record label?
I hope that we can be home to artists who perhaps don’t fit in easily with other record labels. Again, the whole idea was for this label to be non-mainstream and I feel that we’ve achieved that goal nicely.
How did you think this record label has been going for over 10 years?
Good question! I don’t really know. I hope it’s because we have signed bands that not only we love, but that have audiences that love them too. And we work really hard for these bands.
What do you like best about the Vancouver music scene?
The incredible diversity and depth of musical talent. I’ve been involved with the Vancouver music scene for something like 30 years, and I never fail to be amazed at how many incredibly interesting and talented musical artists there are here.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to start their own record label?
Don’t do it! I’m kidding. Kind of. I think we’re lucky because we own most of our own copyrights and it’s a good time to be in the master recording business. So we have great catalogue that really sustains the company and makes it easier to sign new bands because it’s steady revenue that we can rely upon. I’m not sure how I would do it today if I had to start again from scratch. But I think start small. For the first few years of 604, for example, we were really only about 1 band. It really enabled us to learn the business before we started to sign other bands.
How did you decide which bands to showcase at this year’s Summerlight Festival?
The show was curated by Joseph Martin of Light Organ, with a little help and input from other people who work here.
With Canada Day coming up I thought I would ask what would be your dream Canadian artist to sign to Light Organ Records?
If you mean any band, whether from the present or the past, I think I would have to say The Band. Kind of the perfect artist for Light Organ. Weird, definitely not what I would call mainstream, but also putting out so many iconic albums and songs.
What’s next for you guys?
Another 10 years of putting out cool music!