With artists like Cupp Cave, Herrmutt Lobby and Lawrence Le Doux on its roster and a first release dating back to 2005, Thin Consolation can be considered the granddaddy of Belgian labels releasing beats. We asked Fred, one of the men behind the imprint, to shed some light on its origins, the Belgian scene and running a label.
This interview was published in our latest issue, The Fourth Quarter edition, as part of an extended feature on Belgium’s emerging beat scene. The issue is available to order here.
Listen to the Exclusive Mix Thin Consolation made for us.
On how they started.
There wasn’t some master plan to begin with. Initially, around ’99, we began organizing parties in Namur merely because we wanted to go on the lash within crawling distance of home, instead of having to trek all the way to Antwerp, Brussels or Ghent (and back). We did a first night in an old porn cinema that had been converted into a community center, without any plans to take it further than that. Shortly thereafter most of us moved to Brussels and we relocated our activities there.
Then, in 2003, some of us moved into an old house in Etterbeek, previously occupied by a certain Dr. Merlin. It was very gothic and all, very Addams Family like, and the place sort of adopted us. Stef (aka St. Joss) and Chantal (Madame Chän) set up a screen printing studio there, Rawakari had his sound studio, and the ground floor and garden were dedicated to parties and barbecues. We had no neighbours to speak of as the rest of the block was abandoned and set to be demolished. The living conditions were somewhat arduous, but the place had a certain charm and became our HQ.
In 2005, Stef came up with an idea for his final project at La Cambre that sort of involved the notion of music, so we thought it’d be a nice idea to edit a compilation to accompany it and asked some friends for some tracks. We assumed it would be just a one-off, but one thing led to another and we kind of got carried away. Then one of the contributors to the compilation, Music Machine, asked us if we were interested in releasing an album he’d finished and that became our second release. After that the label – Thin Consolation – became the main activity of the crew (UNREzT).
About being part of the Belgian scene.
Given the size of the country and cities we operate in, the scene is quite small, especially as we’re catering to a niche audience. Everyone knows everyone and we all influence each other. It’s like a relay race. We just pass the parcel.
The “non-chauvinistic” side of the public tends to make some players less pretentious, but unfortunately people only tend to pay attention to what you’re doing if you’re getting some sort of coverage abroad.
On running a label.
Let’s face it, music has become – or probably always was – a business like any other. It sometimes feels like peddling yoghurt. It’s all about posturing, branding, networking and whatnot. Lots of the more “original” characters don’t want to play it that way, as they don’t feel comfortable with it. I guess the most important is to know where you stand, and hold your ground.
We all spend our time making concessions. The label is our thing on the side, where we can “pleasure ourselves” without having to do so. Some people prefer cross-dressing, gardening or collecting stamps. Everyone needs a “thin consolation” and this is ours.
The chance factor is important. We didn’t expect Cupp Cave’s “Garbage Pail Beats” to have the success it did. Sometimes what someone is doing happens to be in line with the sound that’s in fashion at the moment. Lawrence Le Doux for instance has been making records for ages and has always had a particular take on things, but now what he’s doing seems to be what people want to hear. Just good timing I guess.
On the future.
We didn’t have a clear vision to start with and never really planned ahead. Things tend to just pop up. The Herrmutt Lobby cassette we recently released was sorted out quickly, whereas the LBNHRX 12” took a while to complete. Our mates are still making music, so when one of them comes up with something, we’ll see who’s got some money to spare (laughs). We’ve made it this far without a strategy, so we might as we’ll keep it that way.