Ghent-based Caoutchou records celebrated its fifth anniversary last year and confirmed its status as a reference for what’s happening on the Belgian beat scene with releases by 6SISS, Spongemagnet, Herrmutt Lobby, Ninjato and their Rubber Beats compilations. Gaining a reputation as a crew made up of people with solid experience making music – Ninjato, Max Draztic and O for Odetta, and 2 DJs, Leftchest and Stubborn to name a few – the label has, in its own way, ensured the Belgian beat scene exists and excels beyond the Soundcloud level.
This Caoutchou interview is part of a larger series on Beat Music in Belgium. Check it in our Fourth Quarter Edition.
Find an Exclusive Mix of Caoutchou over here.
On how it started.
First contacts were established through Electrobel, an online community that was a precursor to Soundcloud. Not only between ourselves but with other people in the scene. This was around 2006. After a while we wanted to organize a tour with a lot of Ghent-based IDM-acts like Max Draztic, Boys Withoys, Störungstelle / Gesmoyer, Sk’p and O For Odetta but it seemed a better idea to do this as a label. This led to Rubber Beats Vol. 1, our first release. We were more a collective than a label back then. Our first compilations consisted mainly of tracks of our own completed with some from friends.
The first few releases were mostly IDM. Ghent had a strong IDM / breaks / breakcore scene and we stood on the lighter side of it. The big parties in Belgium were all heavy hardcore techno and breakcore but we loved melodies. We did release parties for the first 2 Rubber Beats compilations and started organizing events. Which turned out not to be our forte. Parties with complex, melodic music, forget about it. Our organizational skills weren’t all that either. We are music-lovers first and foremost, not promoters.
After that we went through a transitional period. IDM as a genre sort of collapsed. Our first true beats release was the Frantic Bliss EP by Drafter, a producer from Venezuela. After that came Rubber Beats Vol. 3. Everything before that was basically about us but by then most of us had stopped producing and 2 DJs had joined us. So we focused more on other artists. That compilation was half Belgian, half foreign which is a concept we kept ever since. It’s a means to give some exposure to Belgian beatmakers abroad. Most of the downloads on our Bandcamp are, by the way, from outside our country.
FBS does most of our artwork. They also work for national television and big festivals. We met them right after they graduated at KASK and we have grown together. They design the covers while listening to the music, using it as an inspiration. Drawing everything by hand, scanning it and coloring it digitally, a labor-intensive work. As compensation we give them the donations we receive through our Bandcamp page. It’s important to have an image as a label. We used to underestimate that in the beginning, even though we’re still fond of our first, cheap-looking artwork. It reminds us of the charm those early days had. Physical releases are still the ultimate as a label. Folding and gluing the covers at the kitchen table.).
On running a label.
We all have a family, jobs or studies. You don’t do it for the money but rather for the appreciation. It’s a work of love, a hobby, and that has a cost. If you get a mail from a fan it makes up for a lot. Our motivation is to support young producers. In Ghent, Belgium but also abroad. Slowly we are covering the entire world. Bit by bit.
On the future.
We’ve got a few releases lined up. Batfinks is just out, which is a return to our IDM roots. A genre that’s making a comeback worldwide. After that we’ve got a new Rubber Beats compilations planned for which we’ve been collecting tracks the last couple of months. We probably will stop doing events and concentrate on promoting music. We’ve also been putting guest mixes online. As a way to reach a new crowd.