Name: Bloody Mary
Occupation: DJ, Producer, Label Founder at Dame Music
Current Release: The Melting Point EP with KiNK and Thomas P. Heckmann on Dame Music
Recommendations: Firstly I’d suggest the artwork from Alan Oldham. Back in the 90’s, the music labels put so much effort into the way the final vinyl product looked. Alan was part of it – he drew the artwork for so many releases and worked with labels like Transmat and Djax-Up-Beats. His works are really beautiful.
My next suggestion is the book “Les Fleurs Du Mal” by Charles Beaudelaire. This book inspired the musical direction of my first album. All the tracks on the album were named after one of the poems from the book.
Website / Contact: If you enjoyed this interview with Bloody Mary, do visit her facebook profile for more current release news and tour dates.
When did you start with your own label - and what or who were your early passions and influences? What is it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?
The first release on my label Dame-Music was in June 2010. However, music was always around me as a child. My mum was working at a national radio station in France back in the 80’s and I grew up influenced by her love for music and vinyl. As a teenager, I was listening to new wave until I went to my first rave party back in the 90’s. That’s when I was introduced to electronic music, and after that I bought my first pair of turntables and started collecting records.
For most artists, originality is first preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you? How would you describe your own development as a label curator and the transition towards your own approach? What is the relationship between copying, learning and your own creativity?
I’m still learning every day! Before starting Dame-Music, I worked hard on my music skills in 2007 and 2008 and at the same time I was having piano lessons. I love hardware gear – so at the beginning of my career I chose to co-produce music with the help of a friend who already had a proper studio full of toys. I don’t like using samples, and working on a computer to make beats has never really interested me. In 2009, when my first album came out, I knew that I would be able to work by myself in the studio and I was confident enough to start my own imprint.
The musical direction of Dame-Music is a mix between house and techno. For me, it’s important that there’s a balance between both styles. For the last 7 years, I’ve never signed any of my EPs or Albums on other labels because I haven’t felt comfortable with their musical direction. This September, I signed on Ovum Recordings for the first time because I felt good with their musical ethos. In the future, I only want to sign my music on labels which are in my vinyl shelves or which have had an influence on me in the past. I release records as a passion, not to have a collection of label names after my artist name.
What were your main label-related challenges in the beginning and how have they changed over time?
The first release came out in June 2010. At this time, vinyl sales were so slow because digital sales had taken over. Turntables started to be replaced by CDJs. But who cares? I always have a bag of vinyl with me and I always play both formats. Many artists / labels have been supported vinyl recently, so it’s nice to see that vinyl sales are better now in 2017.
How do you see the role of labels in the creative process? What is the scope and what are the limitations of what you are capable of doing?
The labels have no role in my creative process when I’m writing music. I go to the studio and recreate what I’m feeling. It’s magical to transfer emotions into music, and I’ve always found this to be an escape from the world. I’ve never asked an artist to change something on their tracks when I’ve signed them to Dame-Music in the past. Either I take it the way it is, or I decline. I don’t want to be one of those labels who suggest many changes to the music they’re sent, especially when their only thoughts are about sales, and not about creativity.
Whom do you feel your obligation to – the artists, the buyers, your own demands in terms of quality?
In terms of quality, the thing that’s most important for me is to release the music of my artists on vinyl. That’s why I only work exclusively with real music lovers. I’ve made some errors in the past, working with the wrong artists … I’ve learned my lesson and won’t do it again! It’s important for the buyers to also have something which connects each release to the other. I’ve been working with the same people for the mastering, distribution and artwork for many years. Maybe this is what’s lead to the quality over the years, as we all know each other well and that helps us avoid making any errors.
What are the most important conclusions you've drawn from the changes in the music-, music-PR- and music-journalism landscape? How do they affect labels in general and your own take on running a label in particular? What role do social media play for your approach?
I’ve been working with the same music PR company, Tailored Communications, since day one. As I answered above, the best quality comes with trust and long term relationships. My PR agency knows the identity of Dame-Music very well, and this ensures we always reach the right press/radio who fit to the label’s sound. Social media is a part of our life now – it’s ok to use it, but not to abuse it. The new generation is born with an iPhone in their hands, so trying to change the mentality is a bit late now.
How do you make use of technology? In terms of the feedback mechanism between technology and creativity, what do humans excel at, what do machines excel at?
To be honest, I’m not a big fan of all this new technology. I mean, for science, yes, but for everything else I’m what you’d call pretty “old school”. I’m a bit afraid of a future with robots and I hope I’m not still here when they take over.