This April 7th and 8th, Brussels will be hosting their first edition of the Independent Label Market, with stands from over 40 Belgian and European record labels. Revisit the classics and expand your musical horizons with these five 100% Belgian labels not to be missed.
If a label’s power lies in the strength of their visuals (like the legendary Factory Records sleeves designed by Peter Saville, for example), Okraïna Records is probably Belgium’s most striking label right now. Founded by Brussels’ native Philippe Delvosalle, Okraïna puts out nothing but 10-inch vinyls – frequently splits featuring two artists. The sleeves – all designed by Gwenola Carrère – share an innocent, poetic aesthetic and are done by hand with markers. But beyond the beautiful visuals, Okraïna Records builds a bridge between traditional genres and modern artists, the folk music of yore and the pop music of today. The label’s first release features covers of medieval songs by Eloïse Decazes (the singer from Arlt) and Canadian guitarist Eric Chenaux. Since then, the label has put out unreleased recordings by Ed Askew and Ed Sanders, two key figures of the American folk scene in the 60s and 70s. They’ve also increased exposure to new music by putting out a multitude of splits, and they’ve explored the concept of memory with their folk releases (Eloïse Decazes et Delphine Dora) while also putting life stories to music (David Greenberger, Glenn Jones et Chris Corsano).
Les Disques du Crépuscule
There was a time when Brussels was filled with big post-punk names and avant-garde, from Cabaret Voltaire to Josef K, Tuxedomoon, A Certain Ratio, Malaria!, Antena, Anna Domino, all signed to the now-cult label, Les Disques du Crépuscule. It was in 1980 that Tony Wilson, one of the founders of Manchester’s Factory Records, crossed the Channel along with several of his bands. In Belgium, he met Michel Duval and Annik Honoré, who organized memorable shows at Plan K with Joy Division, Cabaret Voltaire, The Human League, Delta 5, The Slits, The Pop Group, etc. Together, they decided to create a Belgian branch of Factory Records, and thus Les Disques du Crépuscule was born. Since then, the label has released hundreds of iconic records.
Also founded in 1980, Crammed Discs has certainly made its mark on Belgian and international music history. Created by musician and producer Marc Hollander (of band Aksak Maboul), Crammed Discs is just like its founder – a melting pot of influences. Whether it’s rock, world music or electronic, the label has been pushing boundaries since their very first release. From the electronic explorations of Congolese group Konono n°1 (whose songs have since been revisited by the entire indie rock scene) to the creation of Ziriguiboom, a sub-label dedicated to the Brazilian scene, and albums by Ethiopian jazz musician Mahmoud Ahmed, Crammed Discs has been reinventing the entire notion of “world music” for over forty years.
Another iconic label from the Belgian scene, 62TV Records celebrated their twentieth anniversary in 2015. From headliners like Venus, Girls in Hawaii and Sharko, to rising stars like Alpha Whale, Paon and Italian Boyfriend (a side project by the drummer of BRNS), 62TV Records is putting Belgium on the indie rock map for sure.
You need a good sense of humor and a touch of eccentricity to call your label Meeuw (meaning “seagull” in Dutch). From what we can tell, founder Jos Moers isn’t lacking in either, as is clearly evident from the records on his label, which he created in the Netherlands and recently moved to Brussels. From electronic musicians like Felix Kubin and Chris Himler to the extravagant Dutch artist Harry Merry, Meeuw Muzak is basically a hall of fame to the obscurest of the obscure. And it must be paying off, because most of their 45s are already sold out!
About the Independent Label Market
On April 7th and 8th 2018, Brussels will host the Independent Label Market at Wiels in Brussels. Over two days, more than 40 independent music label from Belgium and all over Europe will come together: https://www.facebook.com/events/170082447114844/
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Article translated by Andrea Perdue