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Northern Star Records
Ten Questions for... Scott Causer of Northern Star Records
“One man, one label, 17 bands and a big FUCK YOU to the music industry. We don't need your permission. We're doing this on our OWN terms...”Since its foundation in 2005 by Scott Causer and Andy Oliver UK based Northern Star Records has become your friendly, but most determined “neighbourhood”-label, providing you with wonderful music of such genres as psychedelia, indie and shoegaze. Scott Causer, nowadays the one man being in charge of this mission to bring out great music outside the mercenery paths of megalomaniac record companies, took some of his time to answer ten questions for SuperSonicSounds and gives you some interesting insights into his work.1How did Northern Star Records come into being? Was there a certain situation in which you had the idea of founding your own label? Is there a certain story behind it?It had always been a dream of mine to start a label but the seeds were well and truly sown back in 2001. I was at Manchester In The City and was blown away by a group of 18-year-olds called Pioneer 4. They took to the stage in the Atlas Bar, sounding like a very psychedelic Stone Roses and I thought they were absolutely wonderful. I got hold of a demo and I held onto it for future reference. They ended up appearing on our very first album Psychedelica Volume 1 which went on to become their first and only release to date.I later moved down to London and started to make music under the name The Electric Mainline. I formed a band and set up a Myspace site and came into contact with a number of other bands who were starting out on their own path including The Black Angels, The Stevenson Ranch Davidians, Black Nite Crash, The Vandelles and The Dolly Rocker Movement. There was no voice for our band or any of these bands. Nobody was releasing this beautiful music so I thought I would. This resulted in the formation of Northern Star Records in 2005 and the release of our very first compilation album in 2006. Psychedelica One was the very first release for all those bands.2Apart from the more or less distinctive type of music that is featured on your label, what would you say distinguishes you most from other labels?Many things, our identity, our ability, our unshakeable sense of self-belief, our commitment to new music. We hark back to a lineage of labels Factory, Creation, 4AD where a label was as much a part of the identity of a band as the sound. Because our main focus is on new music I’ve found that the bands we work with, have grown and developed side-by-side with us as we’ve grown and as such are identifiable as Northern Star bands. Like when you hear a Motown record you know it’s a Motown record because it has that ‘sound.’ It’s the same with Northern Star. None of our bands sound anything alike but they have that undefinable ‘Northern Star’ sound. I’ve even seen reviews where bands who have nothing to do with us being described as having the Northern Star sound.I also have a strong self belief in the label and in the music. People sometimes interpret this as being arrogant or cocky but it couldn’t be further from what I’m about or what the label is about. When you’re passionate and believe in something as much as I do with Northern Star then I guess its easy for people to paint a picture, but I’ve waited too long to do this to give it anything other than 1000%. Personally I don’t understand labels who aren’t passionate about their bands and the music they release. What the fuck kind of label is that?3Northern Star Records “was increasingly viewed as being the leading pioneers of the third wave of psychedelia”. Could you comment on this?We used to come out with phrases like ‘the third wave of psychedelia’ and ‘stargaze’ initially because we thought it was funny but mainly because we knew the press would pick up on it and it would give us more headway in spreading the word about what we were doing. The reality of it was we had a bunch of psychedelic sounding bands across the world who were operating on their own. They were making great music but most had little or no real direction. We put them together on a compilation, hooked them all up and before you know it they’re networking and touring together with a real sense of purpose. People got to hear the compilations, and new bands and labels seemed to spring up out of nowhere. This inadvertantly created a worldwide movement. I’m proud of what we achieved there and we will take credit for that, because I think we’ve inspired people to realise that anything is possible.4What are you most proud of referring to your label?Its difficult to pinpoint any one thing. I’m proud of all aspects of Northern Star but more than anything I’m proud of the music and the bands and what we’ve achieved together through sheer force of will and word of mouth. To see bands like The Nova Saints and Youngteam who started out on our compilations and now they’ve both made two of the best debut albums of this year if not the decade and the fact they’re releasing this music through Northern Star…. I’m very proud of that.5During your work for Northern Star, what was the most difficult situation you had to deal with?There have been numerous obstacles in setting up a label, none more so than at the beginning. I’ve faced a number of difficult situations since I started Northern Star and have overcome every single one of them, only to emerge stronger and more determined than ever before.I’d rather not focus on any one situation as it’d give too much importance to any one occurrence. Let's just say, when you believe in something as much as I do with Northern Star, NOTHING is unsurmountable.6Which artist / band would you most like to feature on Northern Star/to work with? Why?I’d love to feature Ian Brown or Bobby Gillespie on one of our compilations. I never ever look to the past, but the Stone Roses and Primal Scream have undoubtedly been a massive influence on Northern Star and many of the bands in more ways than what they’ll ever know. Plus they still continue to put out great music. It’d be very self-indulgent for Northern Star to do, but I’d be bang up for it if they were. Aside from them I’m already working with my favourite bands.7Has there been a Northern Star publication that has left its mark on you personally? Something like an album you couldn’t live without anymore?I wanted to move away from being thought of as a psychedelic label as I always felt there was a lot more to us than that. Plus I started a label as I wanted to put out what the hell I wanted to and not be restricted to genres or what other people’s expectations of us were. I also wanted to work with some bands who didn’t necessarily fit under the ‘psychedelic’ umbrella as it were so I put together a beautiful compilation featuring previously unheard of bands from across the world from a variety of genres called ‘Revolution In Sound.’ It was a very bloody minded and uncompromising thing to do at the time, but I started a label to put out the music I wanted to hear, not adhere to other people’s expectations of Northern Star. Because it was an ambitious project and the majority of the bands were unheard of at the time it was an uphill struggle to get people to listen in but its now one of our most popular titles and has become legendary in its own right. Its my favourite Northern Star release as it sums up what we’re all about all on one single CD. I’m just putting the finishing touches to Revolution In Sound II as we speak and its sounding IMMENSE!!!8MP3, CD, vinyl... What would be your prediction for the future of these or other formats? Is there a certain trend you can make out?MP3s were great when they first came out in terms of convenience. Plus they brought back song culture. People were able to download the songs they wanted and leave the filler. However we sell way more CDs than anything else. There are people out there who still like to own their music on CD or vinyl. I’m one of them and fortunately many more who follow Northern Star do. Ultimately it doesn’t really matter what format music comes out on. Music will always be there.9Myspace, Facebook, you name it... – Blessing or curse?When Myspace first took hold it was truly revolutionary. We were recording songs, mixing, mastering and putting them online within the hour. It put us in touch with many other bands and was essentially the catalyst for Northern Star. Northern Star would have happened anyway, but not to the extent it did without Myspace. It essentially opened up the world for us.Facebook on the other hand has become a necessary evil. It’s a good tool although I really don’t like it as much as I liked Myspace. Saying that its great for interacting with individual people and we’ve met some good people on there. For instance we wouldn’t have met YOU if it wasn’t for facebook. It's ok if you know how to use it I guess… 10What is the greatest wish for your label’s future?To reach more people and to keep releasing great new bands and great new records. I really couldn’t ask for any more than that.
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