Friday, 18 July 2014

Sky Lantern Records Interview with Nik Rayne!

Earlier this year Nikolas Rayne, of the Myrrors fame (see our earlier interview with Nik about the Myrrors here), opened a new, independent called Sky Lantern Records. This new label aims to seek out the most rootsy, and raw, psychedelia currently around. Some of the current acts out on the Sky Lantern roster are folk-collective, Montibus Communitas, Japanese psych-rock outfit, Kikagaku Moyo, and Swedish garage band Centralstödet. More fantastic bands are promised to be sourced, so make sure to like the Facebook page as soon as possible to keep up to date, and to check the label's Soundcloud, and Bandcamp, pages too, so you don't miss any new pieces when they go up.


Dan: Most people know you from your band the Myrrors, but now you've started 
your own label, Sky Lantern Records. When did it begin, and why did you choose to start a label?

Nik: I started Sky Lantern earlier this year pretty spontaneously, though the idea had been in the back of my mind for several years. I'm a pretty intensive music listener, and it has always seemed as though I was discovering these little gems of music buried beneath the weight of a capitalist music industry. There are so many wonderful artists at work around the world who rarely get heard because their music does not operate on anyone else's terms.

As far as the label becoming what it did, it was in some ways a specific response to what I've seen happening in the field of contemporary psychedelia, which is an extraordinary general collapse into banality.

Dan: The label seems to be slanted towards a desert-like, almost wild sound, putting out bands with very instrumental and fluid styles. Does the label have any specific aim with the music it chooses to release?

Nik: The other day I was joking with Brayan from Montibus [Communitas] that we're starting a new movement: the New Organic Music Society, or “environmental psychedelia.” Perhaps more than anything, the music I gravitate towards is that which exudes an honest, natural spirit. That isn't to say I prefer acoustic music - Centralstödet is a good example of how a heavy, electric ensemble can tap into something raw and earthy. Honesty and improvisation, I think, play a good part in that, as does a musician's ability to function as a concentrated reflection of their natural environment.

Dan: How do you find bands for the music you release?

Nik: The internet is, of course, an invaluable resource, especially when it comes to discovering low-profile international artists. A lot of the musicians I have been in contact with, however, have actually been directed to me by other artists!

Dan: How does the collaboration between the label and band usually work?

Nik: It's a back and forth process, though Sky Lantern is a pretty hands-off label when It comes the music we release. As per the old ESP-Disk philosophy, “the artists alone decide what you will hear.”

Dan: All your current releases have a very distinct, 'collect-them-all' art style, who does the designs for the records?

Nik: I'm a big fan of labels with a distinct identity to them, from early free jazz labels like BYG Actuel and ESP-Disk to contemporaries like Sloow Tapes. As such, I knew when I started Sky Lantern that I wanted to create an immediate artistic statement that would carry that tradition while also emphasizing the organic roots that I mentioned earlier. All four of our first tapes were drawn and designed by myself in collaboration with the artists, though for our forthcoming batch the artists have come up with some of their own illustrations in the same spirit.

Dan: When it comes to the perfect medium...Cassette, vinyl, or CD, and why?

Nik: Vinyl, but it's expensive. Presuming that the label manages to get its economic feet off the ground in the near future, I absolutely plan to move in that direction, but as it stands I'm operating on a pretty non-existent budget, and for those purposes I've stuck to releasing tapes. Not only does the format allow me to release a variety of albums in small runs, but it is also very affordable for fans. Six dollars is even cheaper than most digital albums are priced, and there is a free download of each Sky Lantern tape included in the purchase! Even if you don't have a cassette deck then you at least get something physical to go along with the music tucked away on your hard drive.

Dan: As a man who puts out records, you must have some of your own, what are some of your most prized record possessions?

Nik: Man, that's a tough one really. I've never been a collector in the sense that I buy expensive or rare records, I don't have nearly enough money to throw down that way. A few albums that I do prize highly, for a variety of reasons (most tied to assorted memories and times in my life), would be a copy of Quilapayún and Víctor Jara's Canciones Folklóricas de América, a beautifully illustrated compilation of Moroccan Sufi music, a played-to-death Jazz Composer's Orchestra box set, and an original thrift-store copy of Captain Beefheart's first 45, Moonchild.

Dan: Do you have advice for prospective label entrepreneurs?

Nik: I'm not sure I've been in the game long enough to go around offering advice, but I suppose we could go with: be true to the music you love, trust the artists to do what they do, and by no means get into the game with money on the mind. You are there for the musicians, not the other way around!

Dan: Lastly, are there any shout outs you'd like to make?

Nik: Much love to all of the artists that have contributed their time and music, and endless thanks to all of the folks who have bought tapes! Obviously this label wouldn't exist without them, and their support and encouragement has made this little project of mine a real joy so far.


Like the Sky Lantern Records on Facebook here.
Check out the label's full catalogue here.
The label's Soundcloud page can also be found here.

Do You Even Psychedelic? would like to thank Nik for taking the time out to complete this interview.

Interview conducted by Daniel Sharman

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