And… here’s the third installment in the BLURT series in which we profile cool independent record labels. What are the criteria for inclusion in the “cool” category? Hey, ’cos we say they are cool, that’s what! We’re making the rules around here, kids. Keep your eyes peeled for the next installment, coming soon. Meanwhile, go HERE for entry #1, Slumberland Records, and HERE for #2, 12XU..
BY TIM HINELY
Wyatt Parkins takes his shoegaze seriously. Very seriously. As you’ll read below this Texan began his label, Saint Marie Records, just a few years ago, but has amassed a hefty amount of releases in that short time span. This isn’t just American stuff, either — he scans the globe looking for bands that can hop on fuzz pedals with delight. Just recently he’s released records by groups like Seasurfer, Jetman Jet Team, Children Of The Stones and plenty more. Read the interview then go to his website and check out some releases as the label is definitely making its mark.
BLURT: When did the label form/what was your original inspiration?
In early 2011, we announced the label, but it had been in the works for almost a year. I guess the music I am into and a few labels were my biggest influences in starting Saint Marie. I knew I wanted to start a label for some time, but I figured it was still going to be in the distant future. But the stars just aligned, and we went for it.
Who designed your logo? Do you only have one?
I did the logo after many attempts and failures to come up with something I felt represented the name and its namesake. The name comes from a Piano Magic song/EP. Piano Magic had been a huge influence on me. I had been friends with Glen Johnson of Piano Magic for at least a decade at the time, so it just made sense. We would later release a record by Piano Magic, which was hugely exciting for me and is still one of the biggest highlights of the label’s existence.
Just one logo but there are several variations of it. What was most important to me was to make sure it scaled well so it would look good on a CD or vinyl record spine. The teardrop logo does this very well. The original image I had in mind was a silhouette of a saint’s face (basically a nun) with a teardrop, but I just stopped at the teardrop.
What was your first release?
Patrik Torrson – At The Line Of The Border. He is actually a huge part of the reason why we decided to go ahead and start the label when we did. He had released the record digitally only, and I felt strongly that it needed a physical release. He agreed, and the rest is history.
Yes, absolutely! 4AD, Creation Records, Ghostly, Captured Tracks, Graveface, Club AC30, Clairecords just to name a few. I personally know the owners of last two mentioned, and they have been a huge help over the years in label-related matters.
What difficulties did you realize come with running a label?
The biggest headache is just managing the accounting portion of the label, especially as we release more and more records. We’ve recently converted to a new transaction-based system that has greatly improved this process. PR can also be a huge headache, but also gets better with each release. There are still a few of the biggest music sites that refuse to pay us any attention even though I strongly believe we are releasing some of the best records in our respective genres. Physical inventory management is somewhat difficult as well as the number of releases grows, but an offsite storage site has helped a ton.
If there is one band, current or present, you could release a record by, who would it be?
Slowdive, no question, although there are several very close runners up: Lush, Pale Saints,
Cocteau Twins, Locust, School Of Seven Bells… just to name a few.
What has been your best seller to date?
Without double-checking, I would have to say Trespassers Williams’ Cast. In fact, the CD itself is out of print and can only be purchased digitally or used via various outlets.
No, not at all. I work in Information Technology, 9-5 and manage the label in my time outside of that. I play guitar but never find time to do it since starting the label. I have two kids, a wife, Saint Marie, a PR firm ‘Gas Pedal PR,’ and a music blog ‘Feed Me With Your Kiss’.. .so not sure I could fit in a “creating my own music”. I do, however, handle much of the artwork for the label and have even created several videos for the artists on the roster.
What are your thoughts on having a presence at the major conventions like SXSW, CMJ, etc. Have you done them before and if not, would you like to?
Some of our bands have been showcasing artist at SXSW, but there has not been a Saint Marie showcase as of yet. Maybe one of these days we will do something about that. Hopefully, we will have the opportunity to do the same for CMJ as well.
Does your label use and/or have a presence on any of the social media sites?
Yes, we are very active on Facebook and Twitter.
Have digital sales been significant or nominal?
I believe roughly 50% of our sales have been digital, which is very significant, but we always prefer physical sales. Without digital sales, we would probably not exist, so we have a love/hate relationship with digital.
What are your feelings on vinyl? Have you always offered your releases on vinyl?
Many of our releases are available on vinyl. We hope to get to a point where all releases are available on vinyl. So far, it just has not been cost effective to do so.
What is your personal favorite format to release music?
The vinyl format has the most appeal to me now that digital exists for portability. For me, the vinyl and digital partnership is perfect, but vinyl is definitely my preferred format.
What new(er) labels these days have captured your attention?
Club AC30, Deep Space Recordings, NoYes, Moon Sounds, Marshall Teller, Neon Sigh, Second Language and Secret Furry Hole.
Do you accept unsolicited demos?
Reluctantly, yes… I say this because 99% of the ones we receive are not right for the label, and that is putting it nicely. 😉