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“I’m not a weekend avant-garde,” says Fred Finelli, creator of SubRecs

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BY RODRIGO CARNEIRO

Fred Finelli is responsible for the record label Submarine Records, home of artists such as Hurtmold, Elma, The Eternals, São Paulo Underground, MDM, Bodes & Elefantes, Auto, Objeto Amarelo, Diagonal and Rob Mazurek, and through the booking agency Norópolis, which has already brought to Brazil Roscoe Mitchell, Anthony Braxton, Tortoise, Pharoah Sanders, Matana Roberts, Kevin Drumm, Tim Kinsella, Laetitia Sadier, Phil Cohran, Lichens, Joan of Arc, Skull Sessions and Alan Bishop & Richard Bishop. In this interview, Fred talks about his years of experience in the music industry, he speaks of his close connection with Hurtmold, his preference for unconventional sounds, and much more. “The label is here inside of me, it’s not my hobby, I’m not a weekend avant-garde,” he said.

SIM São Paulo – How and when did Submarine Records start? It’s already been active for 15 years now, right?

Fred Finelli
 – That’s right! More precisely we’ve been active for 16 years now in 2014. Submarine started based on the idea of putting musical productions that I liked on the streets. It was 1996/1997, I was a “collaborator” and edited a zine called Needle and I was very much involved in the independent/alternative, punk rock and hardcore music scenes. It was crazy, the constant exchange of information, coming and goings of cassette tapes, vinyl and independent CDs. This was all done through letters, the notion of time was quite different. Sometimes, it was take two months to finally get to know a band. I remember marketing shows through correspondence by way of direct mail (at that time it only cost one cent to mail a letter). This direct mailing was manually made and constructed. It would be on material stands or at the door of local shows for whoever wanted to register and then I would take that little paper home and tried to understand everyone’s writing.

By going to more and more shows during the time, increasing contacts and friendships, with my mind influenced by Fugazi/Dischord Records and soon after the Chicago scene (Tortoise, Isotope 217, Chicago Underground, The Eternals), my mind was coming together. In 1998, I split my day between going to university to study communications, working as a government employee and still trying to understand how to be a father at the age of 22. Behind all of this, there was an enormous energy to “do things” (related to this world of independent music) also mixed with a certain innocence/romance in some ways (something normal for someone finding themselves in life, falling in love at every instant) and this, in a way, was the springboard to take several steps forward.

At that time I was already going to shows for a few years, writing reviews of cassettes/CDs/vinyl (which, of course, reading them today I die laughing at a lot of things I said almost 20 years later now, but I think it was exactly this that made things more natural and simple as well.) The main feeling was, “shit, I hope more people hear this, that more people like this, and who knows eventually someone will see this live.” The culture of going to shows was everything, I have a few recordings that always make my eyes water. The sensation of going to a show and being able to buy a demo brought an indescribable feeling, it was amazing! Even today when I see some people, the say, “fuck, Fred, I heard so and so band because of a review in Needle.” I think in the end it was all worth it and zines were a marvelous choice, where I made many friendships through letters. In 2004, if I’m not mistaken, I was at the Galeria do Rock in São Paulo and I went into Oto’s store (Força Macabra, Finnish band), I didn’t recognize him until he introduced himself and I turned and said to him, “shit, do you remember an interview from, I don’t know, 1997? Well, that letter there was from the zine I worked on!” You had to see his face! It was priceless. Try to imagine an interview, by letter, with someone in Finland. The whole process didn’t take a long time (laughs). He was very caring about the whole thing, he wasn’t separated from his life, he was already there living it. So I think it’s something that goes around, the involvement that was going on, watching shows, making friends, things from zines, e still being able to promote independent shows, helping to market and that’s when I had the idea of a label to try to edit a few things

On the site, the introductory text about Submarine Records says that the label works with diversified artists that, each in their own style, have input in the direction of the label. What would be this direction?

Submarine, I believe, since the beginning has had the characteristic of not labeling or “specializing” in a certain aesthetic, musical direction. If you listen to the label’s first release, which is a compilation, you can already see that it’s not a record or document of a musical style. I was already “talking” about music (or at least trying to). Looking now at the label’s catalogue, which today has released 25 albums, this idea is very clear, I hope. From Hurtmold to Elma, Againe to The Eternals, São Paulo Underground to MDM, Bodes & Elefantes to Auto, Objeto Amarelo to Diagonal, Rob Mazurek to his Skull Sessions. We are talking about very diverse and powerful music (for me, at least).

The trajectories of the label and Hurtmold are intimately connected. Can you comment on this?

Of course I can. The history of the label goes back to Belo Horizonte starting from the moment that I started to have more contact with national and South American labels. Sure, I had information, catalogues and label discs from outside of South America (Dischord, SST, K Records, Cruz, Allied, Dr. Strange, Lookout, Touch and Go, Slowdime, Thrill Jockey, Sub Pop, Fat, Revelation, Jade Tree, Polyvinyl, Drag City, Matador, among others), but that wasn’t the same thing of talking directly to who ran the label, being close and all. Keep in mind the internet wasn’t that common yet.

It was there that I had a really close relationship with everyone at Spicy (Rafael Crespo and Marcelo Fusco’s label) responsible for releasing CDs, cassettes and vinyl from bands such as Garage Fuzz, Againe, Pin Ups, Polara etc. In Argentina I was in contact with a group of people very active during that time: Sniffing, 72 Records, Nekro from Fun People, and Guido. 72 Records’ work left a mark on me. They had some “strange” bands that I loved and the aesthetic part of the titles were awesome. That’s why I really liked Spicy, because I like the bands and also there was good artwork on the discs, catalogues, not to mention the energy of it all. I loved it, even today I have a couple album packagings from Spicy records sent through the mail in sfiha boxes (laughs).

With that, in 19989, I came up with the idea for Submarine Records, which would start its activities with a compilation of national bands that I liked and hadn’t released anything on CD and would pinch/invite some foreign bands to compose the release. I made contacts, saved some money to master/press and I did it.

Then in the turn of 1998/1999 I received 1000 copies of “Some Songs, Some Places, Some Feelings”, SUB001. With the compilation released, I gave a portion to each band and the rest were sold at shows and through the mail for R$8. It was that punk system that we learned about, money hidden in a registered letter and a dark envelope. The money could be put in carbon paper to help camouflage it even more. Promotion: swapping with zines mostly and spreading flyers with correspondents. Time went by and I started to receive quite a bit of requests by mail. Every package was made and sent with an immense happiness! Like, “shit, people want to hear this!” During that time, 1998/99 that compilation could have been considered a little out of place. It was already pointing to a path less straightforward and my idea was to try to get away from acrylic boxes, something I never liked with CDs and we also had a certain aesthetic identity with paper envelopes. While the compilation was being released, being spread into the world, I was already feeling that something was happening. The money was coming back in and I could already think in the next step. Suddenly, in a first artist, I mean.

In 1999, I was in São Paulo for the weekend and I went with Fusco to a show in Pamplona. Inside, Mauricio [Takara] comes up to me and says “Fred, here is my new band’s demo, it’s called Hurtmold, take a listen.” I knew Mau mostly as the brother to Daniel [Ganjaman], and by the fact they had started Estúdio El Rocha (which was and has been very important to national independent music). Ganja at the time played with Page 4 (a band that took part in the compilation with Submarine), Starda, Single Tree, among others. Mauricio is the youngest of the Sanches Takara brothers, he was the drummer for Small Talk. If I’m not mistaken it was 1997, I was doing the production for a Single Tree show and Mau went with the band to Belo Horizonte as their “mascot” and stayed at their merch table selling demo tapes of his and his brothers’ bands.

With Hurtmold’s demo in hand, I went back to Belo Horizonte listening to the cassette on the bus. Suddenly, I was mindfucked (laughs). Hurtmold is also from 1998 and was formed by members connected to hardcore/punk rock, and the ironic part is that they were on the same musical trip that I was. I remember I got to BH and I immediately talked with Fusco (Spicy) by telephone: “Man, Mauricio gave me a demo of his new band, Hurtmold. Holy shit, it’s really good.” I then already asked Fusco if he would agree to releasing this demo tape as a partnership in cassette form with Submarine. Fusco took the the idea and fast forward a little bit, we released together (Submarine/Spicy) Hurtmold’s cassette, “3am: A Fonte Secou” (SUB002). It was the original demo tape, “Everyday Recording”, with four new tracks. We printed the tapes at a factory, 300 copies and we sold them for three reais. The same deal as before: correspondence shows. That same year Hurtmold would play for the first time in BH and I had the opportunity to finally see them live. It was an amazing day. A couple of young guys with a lot of stage presence, switching between instruments. Mauricio didn’t even play a lot of drums in the band, he played more the guitar and Chankas was the drummer. I know who was there at Butecário on that day left happy. It was a great show, people rounding round the merch table to buy the tapes. It was a great sensation of making something happen. The energy about it made it clear that we were on a path, which we didn’t know where to, but something was happening. At the change of 1999 to 2000, talking with Hurtmold, they told me that they were recording their first album, which for me would be the moment in which we would finally have a debut CD on the label’s catalogue. Hurtmold was flying, playing frequently on the São Paulo underground scene and already playing a second show in BH, in a crazy situation, which was substituting, at the 44th minute of the second half, Diagonal, who had problems and had to drop out of the show in BH. I remember I called Mau, I don’t know, two days before the show and he said, “ok, let’s do this!” They got themselves together, got to the bus station and I, happy to see their faces, was like, holy shit these guys are amazing. An amazing show in BH, a melodic duet and some fucking guy named Brian who helped on stage and took photos. At that time I also took photos and we started to talk about photography, obviously about Glen Friedman and Pat Graham (laughs).

A couple months later, I went to São Paulo to meet up with Fusco again. We were working on Submarine’s third release, which would be a compact 7” from the punk rock band Againe, “Sem Açúcar.” I always ways a fan of the band Againe, a group in which Fusco played, and Submarine released these four songs with hand-made cover art and stamps, some compact booklets, others no, everything a little off, just as in Againe’s style. That was SUB004. In São Paulo, I called Mauricio and we scheduled at Spicy a conversation about Hurtmold’s first album. I had talked to Fusco about releasing the CD together as well, but at the time Spicy was already working on releasing some other titles so the album would only be released through Submarine. SUB005 “Et Cetera,” by Hurtmold. The conversation at Spicy was very funny looking back at it. I think that Guilherme [Granado] also was there for the conversation. I was there talking, the guys listening, but it was something like, “ok here’s the idea, we can get to work already, go.” I know we had a good deal, a good quote for Hurtmold, who already had the disc ready and the idea was to always think about equaling everything to make things comfortable for all involved and that’s how we went about it. 2000 was the when the first album from Hurtmold came out. At the show in BH, I remember even to this day how I wanted it to be recorded, but it’s something in which I sinned, I basically don’t have any recordings from this time. There were 2 shows in BH for the weekend. The first at Matriz, packed, a powerful show, and of course Hurtmold was already playing half the set with new songs (laughs).

I remember Brian getting on stage and dancing in front of the guys. The next day at a show in a café, super small, with a huge window that opened to the street and many people were watching the show from the street through the window. The guys were playing for these people, an amazing memory. This café put on more acoustic jazz shows and I think when Bruno (owner of the place) saw Hurtmold arriving, he was a little tense. Five 20 year old guys, plus Brian (imagine how he was at that time), the disorganized gear (stuff in supermarket bags, Cassio’s keyboard wrapped in a disgusting towel) and we were pushing tables from the café to put the keyboard on top (because, obviously, he didn’t have a stand for it) etc. I think Bruno trusted like, “ah, I talked to Fred during the week, it’s going to be alright.” And how was it ever alright. People got drunk, the show was great and in the end I remember seeing the café owner hugging the guys. Album released and Hurtmold started to appear in some positive reviews about the album, invites to play festivals and that’s how it started. In 2002, we released “Cozido” (SUB006), an album which definitely for me put Hurtmold on the path to having a “ribbon”, I mean, that’s when they started to look for their own voice, which culminated in the transition to “Mestro” (2004), but before, in 2003, we have an important chapter in our history and I believe it’s been definitive in what we have today. In 2003, Hurtmold had some songs (which weren’t for an album, but for na EP). With them, we suddenly thought of doing a split CD with another band. If I’m not mistaken, in 2000, Mau spent some time in the United States and met The Eternals, a band with ex-members of Trenchmouth. Mau gave me a call and told me he say The Eternals and that it was amazing. I had known of Trenchmouth, but not The Eternals. Obviously there wasn’t anything on the internet that I could hear and I remember immediately running to Motor Music (store/label/producer) in BH, ran at the time by Marcos Boffa and Jeff Kaspar. I learned a lot and found out a lot because of these guys, not to mention the major support they gave to Submarine and our artists. I got to Motor and I requested their first full album, the one with the red cover that was released by Desoto/Aesthetics, in 2000.

Of course, it took a while to come in, but it was worth the wait! I heard that album and it was another band that blew my mind away. Ok, some time went by, and it was time for a new Hurtmold release. The Eternals was the name to be used. I wrote to Aesthetics, the label that was working with them proposing the idea and they quickly got back to me with positive news! Punk as always, songs here, songs there, an album quote there, a minimal amount of royalty money and we pressed 1000 split CDs. Then we though: let’s bring The Eternals to Brazil to play shows? Was it something to imagine how to do this? Another conversation with Mau and Guilherme and it got under way. Rodrigo Brandão (ex-Mamelo Sound System, producer of Festival Indie Hip Hop and many other productions) followed Hurtmold closely; he knew the band, the guys and Sub (even not knowing me personally at that point). He also liked The Eternals and was fundamental in bringing the trio to play a show at SEC Pompeia. It was there that would be the release show for the Hurtmold/The Eternals split in São Paulo. It was up to us to do the rest with shows in BH, Campinas and another one in São Paulo at the end. With everything outline, it happened. The Eternals came, played four shows with Hurtmold, we released the split, we toured and I continued on with The Eternals starting then to release their albums, having them do more tours throughout the country and creating a great friendship with them, one that’s been going on now for more than 10 years.

On that same tour, one of the most remarkable things in our entire history happened. During the week of The Eternals/Hurtmold show in BH, I got an email from a guy saying that he was American, but had a Brazilian wife and was spending some time in Brasilia. He heard The Eternals were going to play in BH, that they were friends and he was going to BH to see them, see the shows and to meet us as well. Ok, then I saw the signature on the email. “Rob Mazurek.” I remember looking at the computer screen not knowing what to do, if I was supposed to call Mau and Gui, if I responded to the email with my “crazy English,” if I deleted it and pretended that it wasn’t for me. I remember not knowing what to do. Rob was an important figure for us in the years leading up. We really closely followed the scene Chicago (Tortoise, Chicago Underground, Isotope 217, The Eternals). It was so bizarre for me to receive that email in a situation like that. My idea of Rob was something personally distant, but very intimate musically. I know that I responded almost drooling, something like “it’d be a pleasure to have you here, here is the address of the hotel where The Eternals will be staying and we’ll see you on Saturday!”

Saturday came, Hurtmold and The Eternals in BH. I took The Eternals to their hotel, Hurtmold hung out with me and were even going to record a vídeo for “Telê”, a song from the split.

Then Rob comes up to me, with the same expression as always, very sweet and attentive. I was there upside down looking at him, trying to sniff the guy out and thinking, “holy shit, there’s Rob Mazurek from Isotope/Chicago Underground.” I know that it was an absurdly fun night. The shows were really good, a happy crowd, the split being released, and I think Rob definitely was impressed with what he saw. Like, “wow, these Brazilian guys are doing their own thing, no bullshit, they know our stuff, talk about it, celebrate it, get up on stage and make it happen.” I know the next day I got a from him, I understand only about 20% of what he said, but I remember thanking him and saying that we would meet up again. I hung up with my heart racing and though, “The Eternals, Rob Mazurek and Hurtmold, all in a Saturday!”

From that point on, Rob definitely was a part of lives. He started to talk to Mau, with the guys, he kept in touch with me. Still in 2003, Hurtmold played in BH at the Eletronika Festival, one of the best festivals in the country, another good showing from the band and it was there I start to feel that maybe São Paulo was my destiny. In 2003 we released Mau’s first solo album called “M.takara.” I remember by telephone not exact convincing him, but to light a fire under him and to play live the solo set. The first live formation of M.Takara was a duo, him and Chankas. They played shows as such between 2003-2005.

After that, more and more Hurtmold shows, I go to São Paulo (I’ve been living here for 11 years now), the band plays Sonar (SP and Barcelona), more albums released, more shows abroad, Hurtmold albums licensed in Europe and Japan, solo work from the guys coming out, partnerships with Marcelo Camelo (Los Hermanos) and Paulo Santos (Uakti). Like that we continued forward together. An amazing relationship, I love them. Great stories, a lot of things together in the past 16 years.

And how do you choose bands that take part (or will take part) on the label?

Rodrigo, there’s only one criteria. If the music moves me in some way. That’s it. For me it makes a big difference if the band has a good show and good work in the studio as well. The coolest thing in the world is to see an amazing show then to hear an album that blows your mind, isn’t it? I think these 2 forms of expression are very important for a band. Obviously it’s a question that is connected to my sensation of listening and seeing a band live. It’s abstract, but it’s the form in which Submarine chooses new acts to take part on the label. Now, if the album will sell, if people will like it or not, if critics are going to like it or not, that I don’t know, but I genuinely am very happy to talk about any one of our releases up until today. I never really cared about the industry, products, I don’t even know what that is.

What is the physical structure of Submarine Records? Is there some sort of specific business model and budget? Basically, how much does it cost to keep the label up and running?

Submarine has always existed in a room. A room, one shelving stock, envelopes, cardboard boxes, a computer, a printer and a lot of desire to get things done. The “business model” is to be in touch with the “contracted” artists. With them we don’t need paper, signature, recognized by a notary public to follow our agreements. I don’t promise what I can’t deliver and whoever signs with us also knows that we’re an independent label, very small, and not very worried about networking, politics, pushing for a good review wherever and other “business” aspects (which don’t have anything to do with the music I love and believe in) and it doesn’t interest me much. Of course, there’s some things in terms of “business”, but it’s a step that I prefer to be as minimalistic as possible, only for it to function objectively, without many inventions.

The cost of having a label is what I have in my life, in my everyday life. Submarine isn’t my job, I live this. I don’t close the computer or the door and “see you tomorrow.” The label is here inside me, it’s not my hobby, I’m not a weekend avant-garde. To live like I live I don’t know, I dedicated myself to this, I passed up on some things (which are supposedly “indispensable” in the modern world, but really aren’t) financial instability, calm months, difficult months, surviving and aware of the option, the style of life, the responsibility by which it happens. I don’t take vacation from my job, this doesn’t exist

However, no amount of money pays to be able to be, I don’t know, with a friend walking around the streets talking, listening, exchanging energy where you experience your city, without using a credit card for example on a Wednesday at 4 pm. I really love what I do, what I live and what I share with some people. My son is already 17, he skateboards, loves music, is learning video and already advancing towards adulthood. It’s a cycle isn’t it? I look at Igor and I remember when I was his age. I also think that my parents understood that I took a path that suddenly wasn’t what they had envisioned for me 20 years ago (I don’t know, it would be to follow a career path, to have a conventional job, “stability”, guaranteed employment, which is the reference they have, or at least had, about constructing something, paying the bills, making a better future for their kids). I believe that this has also changed their idea that this was the only viable model to live life. That’s how we get on. For how long it will last, if forever, if it’ll be over tomorrow, who knows. The future for me, Rodrigo, is today, tomorrow. That’s it.

You currently work for Norópolis, which puts on shows. What’s that job like?

In 2006, I left Fusco at the Trezeta store to dedicate myself 100% to the label and shows for Submarine artists. At that time, Hurtmold regularly played shows in the underground scene and opended doors for another independent circuit, with shows at SESC, SESI, cultural centers, Departments of Culture, larger festivals. M.Takara (until 2004/2005), São Paulo Underground was already happening (the first album on Sub is from 2006), The Eternals had come back in 2005 for shows in the country and I had already prepared another tour for them in 2007.

Norópolis officially emerged in 2008, at a time when I was working as a producer/band manager for label bands since 2004. In that year, a real demand for Hurtmold shows took off and it was necessary for someone to take care of it. We tried for two shows (laughs) a manager from the outside, but it didn’t work out. Actually it went horribly and I felt it was time for me to get more involved in this, to be responsible for booking shows, organizing schedules. With this we had even more control over our activities. Regarding Norópolis I have to “blame”, in a good way, Angela, who is a partner for years in my life, at Sub, and today runs Brava.

I was a little reluctant in working for bands that weren’t necessarily a part of the label. I had a pessimistic idea of what wasn’t the same thing the relationship I had with Hurtmold and sattelites (Rob Mazurek, The Eternals etc) and obviously I really didn’t, but Angela was the one who made me, little by little, understand that there were other bands around that we liked and why not? Nóropolis is a booking agency for scheduling, show sales and marketing activities of all the artists involved and I think it works in a decent form. It was like that that Elma was later released on Submarine and Objeto Amarelo as well, in a collaborative effort with Rob Mazurek.

Norópolis currently works with residente artists: Hurtmold, Hurtmold & Paulo Santos (Uakti), Elma, São Paulo Underground, Bodes & Elefantes, Guilherme Granado, MDM, Chankas, Auto, Rob Mazurek and Objeto Amarelo. I have two special projects which are M.Takara & Elma playing Corta as Gelo Torto and Elo da Corrente playing Missões de Pesquisas Folclóricas – Mário de Andrade.

Through Norópolis I try to to put on the most feasible shows for these artists in partnership with socio-cultural institutions such as SESC SP, Centro Cultural São Paulo, MIS-SP, festivals spread out over the country and partnerships with some producers in other states which we already develop activities together. I trust them and always open up possibilities of planning tour dates in their cities or single shows.

In parallel, each artist/band obviously goes about it all in their own dynamic as well, booking other things for themselves, smaller shows, which don’t really need a production and logistics team of a larger scale. Each artist does it on their own pace, with what they consider to be good for them or not and that’s it.

Aside from the resident artists, Norópolis is always bringing international artists to Brazil. Artists that we like, that we think are musically relevant and it has been very cool in this regard of the past couple of years.

Who are some of the international artists that you are most proud of being able to bring to Brazil?

In all sincerity, every international artist that comes to Brazil is emotional for me. All of them that have come until today represent special moments, each in their own way, with their music, with their personality. I’ve never brought an artist just to simply do a job, this doesn’t exist with me. I only invite and reach out to artists that I like. So The Eternals, Rob Mazurek, Roscoe Mitchell, Anthony Braxton, Tortoise, Pharoah Sanders, Matana Roberts, Kevin Drumm, Tim Kinsella, Laetitia Sadier, Phil Cohran, Lichens, Joan of Arc, Skull Sessions, Alan Bishop & Richard Bishop and many other shows that we put on bring me and immense pleasure to have taken part.

Is there some sort of curious backstage story from one of these tours that you can tell us about?

I’ll tell you two. When Pharoah Sanders came, it was an afternoon, it was during a ridiculous heatwave in São Paulo and I was a little worried about him so I went and got two natural juices made to order (watermelon with ginger and pineapple with mint) and took them to the hotel for him. I got on the elevator with the juices and when I went to knock on the door I heard a saxophone. He was practicing! Without flinching, I sat on the floor with my head against the door, I put the cups of juice in my lap and I quietly stayed there to listen to him play. It gave me goosebumps as I was there taking in that “private show” and thinking wow this generation is incredible isn’t it? I think he played for maybe 20 minutes. Suddenly he stopped, I heard him moving around then I felt it was the right time to knock on the door and deliver the juices. I knocked on the door, he opened up with that amazing smile of his, I offered him the juice, he called me over to sit down and drink it with him. We sat there for a good while, him enjoying the ginger, the watermelon and I left with that Pharoah Sanders “set” live in the hotel room in my mind and heart forever.

Another was when Sun Rooms came, vibraphonist Jason Adasiewicz’s trio. I rented a vibraphone for the shows. I already had contact with Jason, I had seen him live three times and his shows are amazing, very intense. The shows were over and I went to return the vibraphone and when I looked at it, I wasn’t sure whether I should laugh or be nervous. The vibraphone had some warped keys, some messed up strings (laughs). I thought, “shit, I’m going to have to pay for this vibraphone.”

The guy turned to me and said, “Fred, I’ve never seen anything like this in my life, but that’s ok, because the rental fee already pays for key and string replacements and you always rent out the vibraphone for Hurtmold, so you’re a loyal customer.” I left there relieved, but after that when I rent a vibraphone they ask me, “is it for Jason?” It’s all just a big laugh (thankfully).

Whether it be the role of running a fanzine, owner of a label or band manager, you’ve been a parto f the independent Brazilian music scene since the 1990s. What are the differences and similarities between that scene and the one we have now?

It’s a very good and broad question that I could take hours talking to you about because you also took part in the scene in the 90s and you’re from an older generation than mine, but I’ll try to talk about a few things here to at least illustrate some of my sensations. Maybe we won’t come to any conclusion (laughs).

In terms of similarities, I believe the structure, the mentality of those who own the venues in the underground scene continues to be basically the same that in more than 90% of the venues. Obviously there are some exceptions.

I still don’t understand that idea that venues have to take in half the ticket sales from when a band plays there, for example. Being as though these places sell drinks at a ridiculously high price, they make their money at the bar and most are them have terrible infrastructure for shows. Currently, at least for me, I book few shows in nightclubs because it’s ridiculous to have to hear, “oh, we’re doing you a favor,” things like that. Ok then, open your doors on a Friday night with no attraction and let’s see who shows up. Not to mention the ticket would cost 10 or 12 reais.The ticket was for the band and for the bar, it would get crowded (because of the good price to get in) and many people would consume the drinks. Ok, so a part of ticket sales could go to the venue, but it could be 25% (how I’ve already done) and it’s a sum that already covers all or a large part of the costs to put on the show (security, doorman, bartenders, etc…), especially because we don’t put on shows in large venues.

Well, this is a point, I think practically nothing has changed in that regard since the 1990s, but I repeat, ok? There’s exceptions.

Normally when it’s cool and more fair, they take place in places where the owners like music and like the bands. This has been happening more in the past couple of years, small spaces that aren’t necessarily venues with people closer to the music in charge, and it’s a very good thing.

In our case, depending on the artist, we agree on a fixed fee or negotiate a larger percentage of ticket sales and, of course, sometimes the shows obviously don’t happen (laughs).

On the other hand, over the years, many cultural institutions started to open their doors to independent music. Today there is an enormous flux of musical programming for many alternative bands aside from the underground circuit. This was something that took shape over the course of a lot of years. The work of going to these places with CDs, releases, knocking on the door, having it shut on me many times (I’ve had the door shut on me a lot and almost instantly at the beginning of the 2000s selling my CDs) until one day a programmer decides to listen, likes it, talks to someone else, and suddenly you start to get noticed. It’s also the fact that some of these places started to hire younger people or people interested in music. These people were used to going to indie shows, so they knew a little more of only mainstream artists.

Today we’re part of a calendar, a schedule at a lot of these places, because it’s a very active scene, always playing.

It’s a very good partnership because these places give you the structure to put on a good show, comfort for the crowd, cheap tickets and in return these bands bring in crowds that might not normally go to these places. There’s a new energy going around, so we always look to find the best balance and put on the best show we possibly can. Just yesterday I went to a solo show of Guilherme Granado (Hurtmold, SPU, Bodes & Elefantes), in a residency he plays every Wednesday at Hotel Tee’s in São Paulo. There he is, every week with his gear, coming and going, developing ideas and this is going to create a movement.

In the 1990s until the mid 2000s, there was also another type of scene. The public had an appetite, a larger curiosity, you know? They would go to shows to really see the band, the would consume the music at the same time. Man, we sold so many albums and I can say it because I work the merch table for 16 years! (laughs). I took so many boxes of CDs, compacts, cassettes to shows that sold out at 3 am. The people were all drunk at the end of the stuff, but they had a CD falling from their pocket.

It wasn’t like you could just go and click on something and then in two hours you were na “expert” on a certain band or scene. I think the internet changed that dynamic. I believe this is one of the reasons we see a younger crowd nowadays. It creates a bizarre confusion in the minds of the misguided (I’m talking more about people of our age, our generation) that think social networks like Facebook are reliable in this matter. I think they aren’t. The “likers” aren’t the real crowds, they’re the ones in the Facebook world, where they live a life behind doors. Everyone lives behind their keyboard. Everyone is always happy, they’re perfect, no one votes for [Geraldo] Alckmin, everyone loves the band, the event has 300 “confirmed” going, but then only 30 show up. This is the difference I feel between now and then. They was a bigger relationship with the sound, the show, albums. We still sell records today, less than we did 10 years ago, but the majority of these sales continue to be of band that created memories back then in the 90s and 2000s, without the dependence and obsession created by the internet. Hurtmold still has their crowds and better yet it keeps growing and becoming new. I thought it was really good at their last show in São Paulo to see a very young crowd. I believe it has to do with that memory I told you about and combined with the internet, but without going overboard. Hurtmold is a band that doesn’t really use the internet, right? What’s up there is me posting some things (in my way no less) and one or another of the guys from the band posting some things. Just like, for example, The Eternals. They’re not really active today, but they’re still on the HD of people around 10 years ago and they tell other people about them. With The Eternals coming to play, we know they will come here ready as always to put on a great live show. There’s no allegory, there’s just the music and that’s it.

It’s crazy to hear someone loves music, but then they don’t pay for music because they think it’s better to download it for free. I think ok go ahead, download it, but if you have the opportunity (since you claim you love music and talk about it so much on the internet), why not buy the album for 10 or 15 reais to support the band and label you supposedly “like”? You can’t forget that the band writes, records (it doesn’t matter if it’s a studio or his house), the label presses it or the artists does it themselves. This musician is working, developing ideas, creating and it might touch you, put you in a good state for hour, days, and your entire life. In exchange, you don’t go to their show, you don’t buy their album, you just help them stay a little bit in your little virtual world with your blahblahblah on the internet, listening to albums you downloaded on your laptop. The famous “best bands of the last week.” In the end it’s just a bunch of posts that no one hears shit.

Keep in mind that it’s not real support “liking” or “confirming your attendance” on a Facebook event and not really attending.

Rodrigo, we could talk about this for hours, but I’m just giving you some ideas that can be thought about, reflected upon (or not), supported or not. I could be out of my mind, but they’re just some of the impressions that I get. .

Not to mention how many “artists” appear out of nowhere on the internet, right? I’m not talking about produced music, but the categorization in it of itself, that anything today is an artist. “Calm down people,” let’s take a breath. Artists and these people are two different things. I think we lack a filter sometimes. If we stop, read a post, count to 10, surely a lot of garbage is thrown away. Now if you go there, you read it, you already react “because you have to have an opinion about everything.” Internet itself is responsible for sending you a bunch of garbage every time you use it.

That being said, the internet is one of the coolest and most fascinating things that exists, isn’t it? Shit, YouTube is amazing (laughs). So, I try to balance things out.

Another cool issue that should be noted is that indie music, the underground scene from the 1990s, was covered by fanzines, which were publications with the goal of informing and letting people know what was going on. Interviews with bands, reviews of demos, cassettes, vinyl, CDs, some classified ads with flyers for you to go after other bands, labels, zines. It was a really specialized form of press. There were so many zines in Brazil (and in the world, of course). Currently there are some warriors that keep zines alive, zines geared for music, art, counterculture, but the majority of them migrated to the internet and are in forms of blogs, message boards, etc. I consider them to be very cool when they’re done the right way. They review, have interviews, share links. There’s no monetary kickback, you know? A lot of them don’t even receive physical material, they hear the album via a link, they download the album cover and get stuck in. This helps a lot in the informative part of things. I see a lot of these bloggers, e-zine guys on the street, at shows, they buy albums, they’re cool.

Well, I think that’s about it. Obviously a lot of the ideas I said here aren’t necessarily the same ideas shared by bands on my label, friends, so I repeat, there are my visions and sensations, ok?

What’s next for Submarine and Norópolis? 

Let’s do this. Submarine: The next release is a vinyl 12” from Auto called Crossfire, which is leaving the factory and we will have the release show and occasional shows in the last quarter of this year. Following that, there’s a split LP with Tim Kinsella & Guilherme Granado, a 7” vinyl from Elma (that will be shared with 3 other labels: Brava, 255 Records and Cospe Fogo), the vinyl edition of Hurtmold’s “Mestro” (2014 marks 10 years since it was released) and some other stuff from Spectrazil (a group formed by the duo Dan Bitney and visual artist Selina Trepp, plus Mauricio Takara, Guilherme Granado and Carlos Issa. Dan is mixing it right now). I am waiting for confirmation from an American label if we’re going to release together “Espiritu Zombi” from The Eternals, where the band plays with seven other musicians. It’s another great record from them, with more arrangements involving strings, woodwinds, Jason Adasiewicz on the vibraphone, Matt Lux playing bass. It’s really good.

Norópolis: Continuing with more of the same, you know? Looking for more shows for our resident artists and already in the works with some international attractions for next year.

Related sites:

Get to know the albums released by Submarine Records here.

To book shows access Norópolis.

You can buy albums here. Sent all over Brazil and worldwide.