steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

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An interview with the amazing tbtmo label, who produce some of the world's greatest experimental electronica.

1) How (and when) did you start tbtmo? How much did it cost to get it up and running?

We started as a zine called blind. in 1991. Blind was a skate gear co., we found out, and we were getting to know the ropes of doing a zine and getting interviews w/ people by lying about what we do, so we unofficially became the organization, self-mocking our own expansion and corporatization (ha). I didn't really feel like saying all that (the organization) to everyone who asked, and we had changed a bit over the years, so we just became tbtmo a little bit after we started putting out music (1997) on cassette. That's where we stand now, as far as the name goes (tbtmo), although we're a little better off as far as being able to release stuff on good formats to larger audiences. It cost us whatever we could drop in, always hoping it'd come back twofold in the future. Or at least onefold. Or at least we have fun and put stuff out. Everything costs money, might as well do something you like with it. We had no "angel investors", as the biz calls them.

2) How did you recruit all the different musicians and bands that are on your label?

Most of the people we put out are friends. Mall, Pacifica, Planet Nett, Collette Carter, Stereo Symphonic, the Wawas, and Blue are all different mix-n-match variations of the Rob/Rod/Mike tbtmo trio. Rod's girlfriend Wilynda helps him on Collette Carter (formerly known as Stereo Symphonic), and then there's Sean & Erin Flowchart, who helped with our first Mall record and did a Blowball 12" w/ us. The rest of the releases are basically people we met one way or another. I was reading somewhere, a label's website or something (555?) where they said that only about 5% of their releases came from demos. Maybe that was a lower %. But yeah, basically we hang w/ and meet like-mided people so we don't really have to look far and wide for hot new acts, because it's all right under our noses.

3) What would you say is the best part of owning a record label?

Well, "owning" a record label is a funny term for me. I own the computer I use and the chair I sit in, but the record label istelf is a bit of an abstract thing. The best part of running some sort of process that looks to be a record label is getting out all this great music that I would be listening to in my apartment anyway, and it's nice to help people get that out and it's nice that people want to help us get that out (ie Darla, Fuzzy box, Blackbean, Endorphin).

4) What are your criteria and expectations for each of your releases (ie. how do you decide whether something's worth releasing on tbtmo?

I like to put out stuff that interests me, first and foremost. If it makes me go "wow", I'd probably think about putting it out, if the situations are right. Sometimes stuff gets a little off the wall or over the top and I need a second opinion because I'm a little confused, but we have a few heads here who all like pretty much the same stuff so we keep each other in check. Basically what our crew digs is mellow experimental with a pop feel appeal to it. There are tons of variations on that, of course.

5) What was the weirdest/most interesting demo you've ever released?

Rose For Bohdan, a California band that just fucking goes nuts experimenting. No melody, no pop, no real mission, other than to say, "fuck you and your perceptions". Doesn't really fit into the tbtmo vibe but we were helping them get their message out. Kind of abrasive, actually, but I liked the fact that they didn't give a fuck about traditional recording and releasing.

6) What is your connection with Darla?

I was a fan of Darla Records before we had any help from them, and I would dream. "Maybe someday". This was before we were really seriously into making music. Sean (Flow) was already working w/ Darla so we had an easy in. But without quality stuff it wouldn't have worked anyway. So he helps us out, previously by carrying stuff we paid for & made ourselves (tbtmo), then it just got to the point where we were overflowing w/ good music and not too much cash, so a little begging went a long way, and now it's going well. Obviously they're pretty cool people.

7) What is your favourite (non-tbtmo) artist? What type of stuff do you listen to?

Faves include Windy & Carl, Fuxa, Flowchart, Oval, Sonny Sixkiller (Philly powerpop, ex-member of Moped), Timonium... I like stuff that's experimental, chill, sentimental, melancholy, poppy, and interesting, but at the same time nothing quite like power pop w/ girl vocals to bring me back to the day when I was an indie rock kid going down to DC & Arlington to peep their scene all the time.

8) Situation: Some big record label like Sony UK asks you to become a Sony subdivision... what do you do?

Back in the day I was so against bands that sold out (Velocity Girl, Tuscadero, etc etc etc) and swore I'd never do it, but now that I'm older and my perspective about everything has changed a bit, I'd say that as long as the records get made and the artists gets paid, then that's better than where we were at the beginning and it's the next level from where we are now, or at least a level forward, maybe not the next one. I'm not too business savvy, contrary to popular belief, so maybe I couldn't handle that sort of thing though. But regardless, that's not gonna happen so I've never really lost any sleep over a situation like that.

9) Situation: You're walking down the street. A big limo comes to a stop by the curb. The window opens and a man asks you to get in. You open the door, step inside, and take a seat. You are confronted by Britney Spears, Christina Ageuilera, and a number of other fabricated pop stars. They are all staring blankly at you. Then, a man in a tuxedo begins to speak. "These are my previous creations," he says, "how would you like to become a new popstar? We can change your name to Armando Martin, and we have great makeup artists and plastic surgeons in case you wish to get breast implants like most of our "artists". We'll even write your music and modify your voice in to a Spanish accent." How do you reply?

I have no marketable skills so I'd think it was a crock. If you don't believe you have anything then you don't believe people will want anything. Now if they popped that question to one of our artists, then that's their choice, and a few of them have marketability and could work that shit. I dunno about the breast implants though.

10) Where would one look to find your various releases, other than your website? has all our new releases that came out via Darla and should have all of them coming out on Darla in the future, unless something drastic happens like the world ending. Also anything made & sold by Darla should have a decent worldwide distribution and should be in stores and w/ certain distributors near and far. As far as older stuff, only we have that, pretty much. I think we'll keep that on lock.

11) What are your upcoming releases?

We just put out the Mall cd and the first Vibon cd comp. Cds by Collette Carter (boy/girl electro-romance pop) and Transient (uptempo drum 'n bliss) are next. Vibon 2 cd comp coming soon, as well as Mall 2012 remixes, Planet Nett, Pacifica, Team Techno, and more. We shall see what pans out. Stay tuned to for up-to-the-minute schlock.

12) What is your favourite colour?


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