Trendcrusher

Oliver (Black Lion Records) interview

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It’s been a few months since I featured a label on the blog. The label being featured this month is Black Lion Records from Sweden. In the past 5 years, they have released albums from all across the board – death metal, black metal, thrash metal and even funeral doom. I was keen to know more about the label after following them for over a year.

I spoke to Oliver Dahlback about the origins of Black Lion Records, running a label and what to expect from them in the coming months.

 

 

Hi Oliver, you started Black Lion Records in 2012. How does it feel looking back at the past 5 years?

Really 5 years time flies, I am still picking up bits of 2016 it feels strange looking back, as it feels as if it was just last night it all started in my old apartment. I think I am still trying to grasp everything that has happened the last year in general really. I don’t think I ever expected things to go this way or go this far or rather explode as they did…so I don’t really know how I feel , what am I meant to feel. I feel that something has happened.

How did you decide to start a label? Why did you decide to start a label that releases only extreme metal music?

That’s an interesting question, the fun thing is I don’t know how it started, I never had any plans on turning this into a label or even making it further than my apartment door. What I do know is I had a strong vision of what i wanted to do with Black Lion as a zine, I wanted to make a difference I wanted to be able to help bands, I wanted to help other realize their value and their game in the whole cycle. that you can do what you want as long as you don’t stand in the way or deny anyone else the same.
I wanted to make a difference in the local scene I didn’t want it to die, I believed that if I could just change a small thing or do a certain small deed, it would help, and that is how the zine called Black Lion productions was started, we were no wow zine 10 people at most visiting if at all. I never in my million years thought that something i started for fun could attract a larger following. but my idea attracted others who believed what I believe. and that’s how I meet Marcos for example , he saw my passion and vision, but most importantly he saw WHY I did it.. Because in the end it doesn’t matter what you do because you’re just like anyone else no different no better, we didn’t do anything particularly different from anyone else… but it was the reason the WHY we did it that sparked interest in people and that spark spread amongst others who shared our vision. and that’s kinda where it took off, when I found Why I did it… the why is because I wanted to make a difference with helping young and upcoming bands making their way into the scene… and getting more known. It just so happens that a record label was the way for me to reach out and help bands… I don’t regret any anything.

why only extreme metal music? the reason for just releasing Extreme Music is because it was the music scene I loved and followed myself simple as that actually… no deep meaning behind it… it just fell natural. I mean why release something you can’t stand behind.

What have been the most memorable releases on your label so far?

I think all are memorable in some way, but the biggest “game changer” was indeed Hyperion a fresh local band from Stockholm, We never in a million years thought that we actually would make it far we thought maybe someone might pay attention but neither one of us could have ever dreamed of this huge massive feedback and journey that exploded in front of us. Their debut album did indeed break us.
I think still today we’re still trying to understand how it all happened and trying to make sense of it , we kinda just had to roll and grow with the bands we have now.. It’s been an amazing journey together. and it’s far from over. But we are eternally grateful to everything.

What is the biggest problem that you faced so far in running the label?

oh dear its a lot everything from trying to balance the life of working almost 24/7 with the label , being to stubborn to actually just get a day job. Actually getting an economy seem to be the most thing.
thats why its always huge delays in our releases because everything comes from my own pocket, nothing is savings or big trust fund.. its all comes down to hard work and sometimes luck with some smaller sales.
Another problem was the whole how do we go from here! what’s the next steps to take… What am I expected to deliver after this, there was a lot of questions and I think there still is. Tons of questions i still wish to have answers to but that’s something different. But in general to be honest it’s all struggle really, finding money to pay for pressing then shipping, it’s not cheap to ship cds across europe.
I think my biggest problem running a label has been understanding the whole game we are playing. that its all for nothing in the end actually if you look at it blunt.

You invest in something and you expect nothing in return. But you spend maybe 20-50.000 each time of course it leaves a mark. Passion will drive you far but sooner or later you either hit a wall or you start to think or reflect over the cause of things. WHY do I do this, it’s clear What I do but Why ,so we start of thinking about everything we do and why we do what we do. and my Why finally was clear to me years later that it’s because I want to make a difference with everything I do my goal is not to become the best or richest it’s to be better than I was last night, I lost my path when everything exploded, because I didn’t know my Why i did what I did after I had accomplished something I didn’t even expect. My Point is always start with why! ‘WHY do you do what you do.

What kind of marketing do you do?

My approach to marketing has changed so much in such short time, if i may go back to my previous talk about always start with why…and the importance of understanding marketing and the act of What Vs Why
we all fight for the same audience and we brand ourselves with various slogans to stand out but most companies fails where it should start. Because we forget why we know what we do and how but WHY, the same thing is with music marketing.

The saying goes you need to understand why you are selling it we all know what you are selling.. But why should anyone care about this band, let’s take Hyperion for example. Originally I wanted to co release it with Satanath records because I had no money to actually press CDs it was crazy huge prices sweden reserved to bands that had big fan base or at least day jobs. I asked Alekseys if he was interested but he turned me down right away… more or less didn’t think it would be any profitable nor make a huge impact.. So I thought to myself lets try and do my own way, I didn’t have much skills in marketing but I knew how to talk.

Hyperion had a great sounding album that was hidden away more or less. Because they were not known or on nuclear blast or any other major label that someone was gonna bother to pay attention to unless you showed it to them, and the whole point of this is to explain the importance of understanding why it all suddenly started to escalate. Not because of its name because if you asked someone in early 2016 nobody had heard of a Black metal band from Sweden called Hyperion, it wasn’t on the map, not because they were not good , but because nobody had bothered to check them out… Until they had a reason. Their new album came out it was getting good reviews, all over the place.

But our biggest challenge was how do we promote this amazing album for real we had no huge funds or anything like that to spend on ton of ads, etc but we had the word of mouth and a key thing We knew why we wanted to push this band because we believe they could be the next thing. so I started to tell people like hey dude check out this killer band we believe they might be the next big thing in the underground scene, and that person then listened to it and agreed and believed what I believed , he told his friend who then told two other people. and that’s how it started to escalate the album moved by word of mouth have you heard thing amazing record from a new upcoming band from sweden.

What changes have you noticed in bands/customers in the past decade?

The Importance of always freeing time to talk to your supporters, and one thing I always will know is that i never see myself as someone with high status, i am just like anyone else, who just followed my vision and took risks accepted failure.
one rule is the importance of customer service that one I take very serious , today when you have customer service it means waiting in a long cue until it’s your time or in best case you get number to call… when I grew up If I wanted to have answers it was just walk right into the store and ask the employee about the product today we have minimized that contact. we have answering machines for everything, we have ton of automatic emailing just for the sake of it… Instead of letting people feel that they are actually talking to someone real, since when is a person a luxury. that’s why I always try to be online and as quick as possible to replay to all emails.

What do you look for in a band before you sign them to your label?

There are many things to look at for example if may joke about I usually say to friend when ever he sends a new band with a landscape beautiful artwork I say – oh nice Avantgarde music ,,must be really busy, I assume that everything that looks all gracefully and landscape-ish will already be signed to avantgarde music for 100 years, lol

The most important thing is to understand is that it’s not what you offer or how, it’s why! why do you want to sign that band because you think they have great potential or because maybe you think they have a profit but that’s a result of what we do. it’s a cause of that something you worked for has expanded. What I look for is new fresh artists unknown names that nobody really know about that I can help to grow from the first steps.

Have you been in a band? What instrument do you play?

Not for a long time, I play a bit of guitar.

Do you have any advice for those planning to start a metal music record label?

My best advice is start with asking yourself Why do you want to start a label ?

What are the upcoming releases from your label?

We have a lot of upcoming albums

Legacy Of emtpiness Over the Past June 12th
Mordenial The Plauge July
Caoimhn The Age of Wolves EP
Mist of misery – Fields Of isolation
Mist of misery – Shackles of Life

And in The fall we have Defiatory’s new album
Deathmarch
Eufori. new album
Wormlight’s new album

 

Here are a few releases from Black Lion Records to check out

Written by trendcrusher

June 11, 2017 at 12:29 am

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