Fruits De Mer Records: The Future Rarites On Colour Vinyl

"Fruits de Mer Records - possibly the world's smallest vinyl-only psych/prog/acid folk/krautrock/spacerock record label - but then again, maybe not - what do we know?"That was once upon a time because now Fruits de Mer are in danger of becoming a UK national treasure" as written on Ptolemaic Terrascope.So,what's the story so far behind a record label that all its releases sell out very fast and become instant collectibles? Hear the tracks,buy the vinyl,smell the fish!Keith is here to explain everything.

 What motivated you to start a label?

 I've been a lover of music and an obsessive record collector for a long, long time. Who wouldn't want to set up and run their own vinyl label if they had the chance!?

When and how did it start?

2008. Andy Bracken is an old friend and he had been running an indie label called (coincidentally) Bracken Records for a couple of years. We'd talked for a long time about creating a new label together, and one day we decided to stop talking about it...

Was it a financial struggle?

It doesn't cost a lot to put a 7" record out. But in the first year  it was a real struggle to sell copies, to get anyone to stock the records and to get anyone to review them - thank god for Heyday, Norman Records, Rough Trade, Piccadilly Records and Record Collector magazine - they all supported us from day one.

What other labels influenced you?

 The owners back in 2008 of the Immediate and Charisma back-catalogues!  
The original plan for our first release was simply to license the VDGG version of 'Theme One' and the original opening theme to The Small Faces' 'Ogden's Nut Gone Flake'  - but no-one at the companies that owned the tracks wanted to know us. I had already, naively, paid the MCPS songwriting license, so we got a band Andy had already worked with - Schizo Fun Addict - to record new versions, and Fruits de Mer was born.

 Who are your competitors?
Downloads, CDs, apathy, computer games, X-Factor,  anything that makes recorded music less important to people than it was, or should be. Other record labels aren't competition, the more labels there are out there promoting vinyl, the better.

  Why the name?
                                             My wife and i love eating shellfish.

 What’s your guiding principle?

It was that it had to be music that Andy or I loved. Andy's now taking a break from record labels, so it has to be music i love  - if i love it, I'll find a way, or an excuse, to release it.

Can you sum up your label’s output ?

 Classic and obscure psychedelia, progressive rock, spacerock, R&B, krautrock, acid-folk - and if i hear something that doesn't quite fit with any of the above but i want to release it, I'll change the description so it does.


How important is the look and packaging of your records?

Not as important as the music, but important all the same - the sleeve and what goes with it is all part of what makes a vinyl release so much better than a CD. We always tried to make every release interesting for vinyl junkies, and I'm always looking for something new and different.


     Of which release are you the most 

It changes by the day, the 'Head Music' double album is my favourite right now in musical terms - i've loved krautrock since the beginning of the 70s. But it tends to be whatever the latest releases are - nick nicely's 'Hilly Fields' is an absolute classic single that I'm proud to be associated with, but releasing The Pretty Things' new single has to be the most amazing thing for the label - if someone had told me four years ago I'd have the chance to release new recordings by the UK's No.1 R&B and psych band ever, I'd have asked what they were smoking; and there's more to come from The Pretty Things on Fruits de Mer this summer - something VERY special!

What are your future plans for expanding the label?

More singles, a Hollies psych compilation and - sometime in the next 12 months - Cranium Pie's follow-up to 'Mechanisms Part 1'. Andy is busy writing a book of his record label exploits so Fruits de Mer is now a one-man band, which makes it kind of self-limiting in terms of what is possible - although Nick Leese at Heyday  and Clear Spot Distribution are doing a great job between them at handling sales outside the UK for me - and Record Industry in the Netherlands are a really professional vinyl pressing plant, who cover up my mistakes very well!  

How do you survive through the years?

It's not a case of surviving, I do it because i love it - if it ever becomes 'a job', I'll stop. The feedback from people who discover the label and get hooked is a great buzz.

How do you find new acts?

Word of mouth, bands tend to contact me now - they've seen a review, heard one of the tracks, or spoken to one of the bands that have appeared on an FdM release. Two of the singles I'm releasing in August are a result of new artists sending tracks into me, and me thinking, "I've GOT to release that!" 

 (As told to High Fidelity Stories)
contact :www.fruitsdemerrecords.com

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