DYD: Kannibalen has the most unique sense of identity in any record label I have seen. What was the motivation to craft this identity for the label?
Black Tiger Sex Machine: Thank you! You made our day. We invest a lot of time defining and maintaining the identity of the label so it’s amazing to hear such great words.
The initial motivation was fueled by the fact that we had finished our first 2-3 pure electro tracks in the summer of 2011. We all met one night and we were thinking of what would be the best step for us next? At that point in our career, we realized no one would give us the flexibility, the release schedule, the attention to details and the hard work we would expect from a label. We were not famous enough, but we had a good event in Montreal and we had a LOT of drive. Kannibalen Records was a no brainer.
DYD: What do you think it means to operate a record label in the electronic music world? As in what do you think the responsibilities are of the label towards the public and the artists?
Black Tiger Sex Machine: In our opinion, a record label is an entity that brings the music of an artist to the public. That being said, whether it’s a big company, a self-produced artist or an indie label, that entity puts the final stamp on a track. It will give it the music a visual representation, a general feeling and will try to bring the music to the right networks and media.
Yes, the music remains the most important aspect but the label definitely has an important job. As a label, your responsibility is to understand the music you are publishing and the artist creating it. You have to set common goals for where you want the music to go. For a young electronic music label, the responsibility towards the public is to deliver the right balance between consistency and innovation. Your fanbase has certain tastes and preferences based on your previous releases and you have to be conscious of the standard of quality that has already been established. On the other hand, the world never stops moving; you also to push boundaries with new sounds and tell an ever-evolving story.
DYD: How did you come up with the idea to create a alternate world behind the labels identity, with each track, artists, EP and collaboration having a story behind it?
Black Tiger Sex Machine: We wanted to create a visual and conceptual universe surrounding the music to give the music an identity that goes beyond the sounds you hear. Music for us is not just an auditory experience. Your mind is affected when you first look at an image of the artist or when you first read a track’s name, when you watch a music video or a live recording of the artist performing. We wanted all of these experiences to evoke a specific set of emotions within our audience.
DYD: The music that Kannibalen backs all have a similar characteristic to it, by being dark, aggressive and tribal. Is this characteristic specifically looked for when signing a new artists? What does the label look for when signing a new artist?
Black Tiger Sex Machine: Yes, there is a general sense of darkness in what we do, which is present to varying degrees in the artists we sign. However it’s not a defining characteristic for our artists. For example, two artists on the roster, Dabin and Dead Battery, would not fit under the dark and tribal labels. They do boast however heavy drops and a sense of aggressiveness.
At our current stage, when signing a new artist, we are looking for a producer with great technical abilities and a style that is not yet a stable sound of the artists of Kannibalen but would fit with current fanbase while bringing a new touch.
DYD: Could a artist get signed if they made music in a style counter to that of which Kannibalen is known for?
Black Tiger Sex Machine: If it’s something we like and we think our fans will enjoy, absolutely. For an EP, it would need to have the ability to move crowds in a Kannibalen fashion and still have some electronic aspect to it, but style-wise, it could be anything. However, we’ve released electro, techno, drum n bass, dubstep, chill tracks – we have no hard limits on what we publish, specially when it comes to remixes. We love to be able to bring in a ‘mellower’ artist to go into a remix and really take out all the elements that are a perfect match for his style. That’s something we’ve started doing and we’ll probably keep doing in the future.
DYD: You started hosting Kannibalen brand events. Do you feel that hosting these parties is essential in backing the identity of the brand as the entire line up consists of Kannibalen artists who all have that similar Kannibalen characteristic to their music?
Black Tiger Sex Machine: The monthly Kannibalen party actually predates the label. We started it three years ago with no idea it would grow into what it is today. The venue where the party is held, Le Belmont, had an open date that they asked us to fill, so we invited a few other acts to DJ and gave the party a cannibal theme. If it wasn’t for the event, the label would probably not exist and surely would exist under a different name. However, the people that attend the events have responded amazingly to the music we have brought forward. It’s truly amazing to see. Le Belmont has become our little lab for upcoming and new releases and we could not wish for a better, more intense and faithful audience. Every month, we have a different line-up of Kannibalen producers, and we also invite artists that we admire from outside the roster.
DYD: What plans do you have to evolve Kannibalen in the future? What are your future aspirations for the label?
Black Tiger Sex Machine: We are quite happy with our current line-up, or the Kannibalen family as we call it, so the first goal is to keep making the artists gain international recognition and to keep the Kannibalen fanbase growing. We want every artist to be earning a decent living from their music career in the near future. After that, the ultimate goal would be to establish Kannibalen as one of the best and most creative electronic music crews in the world.
DYD: How do you go about distributing Kannibalen and its music to the local fan base and listeners?
Black Tiger Sex Machine: There is no distinction between international and local promotion in our mind. The only difference is that we decide our local monthly event’s lineup based on our release schedule.
That being said, we have a unique way of approaching a release. Every release we do is done in collaboration with the artists. From the tracks selection, to choosing remixes and to the promotion of the music, we try to be in sync as much as possible. The vision is that the artist and the label each have their own network and fan base. We map that out and then we pick and choose various networks and blogs on which we want to be featured. We’ll also set up informal release and career development goals to make sure we all work on the same path. Therefore, an electro release for BTSM will be distributed completely differently than a trap release by Kai Wachi or Snails.
It’s a lot of work and we don’t have the same exposure as the top electronic artists, but plays and charts have shown us that our approach can make a substantial difference. We think it gives our releases a certain sense of importance and identity that they wouldn’t have if we were just pumping them out like a factory. Our method also means we always have our head in the game and we are always rethinking how we distribute our music.
Black Tiger Sex Machine: Hard to say. The label has only been around for two years and so much has already changed. Ideally, in ten years, all the artists currently on the roster will have achieved an international level of success and become recognized names in the industry. As a label, we hope to reach a level of maturity that allows our artists to fulfill their creative dreams. We would also like to open a major studio in Montreal. Our vision is to design a space that can act as a hub for the electronic music community here and allow musical artists to connect with other art forms.