Label Profile: Bruce Adams’ Flingco Sound System

 

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When Bruce Adams and his partner Joel Leoschke formed Kranky Records in 1993, the label released a slew of influential albums from artists such as Labradford, Godspeed You Black Emperor!, and Charlambides that helped define the sound of the decade. Eventually, Bruce left Kranky in 2006 and had seemingly given up the music business for good. Until four years later, when he suddenly decided to get right back into the fray with his new label Flingco Sound System. What prompted his return? Let’s ask Mr. Adams and perhaps he can explain.

Kranky was one of the most amazing success stories of the 1990s. In my mind, you ended up playing 4AD to Matador’s SST. When did you first realize that the label was going to make such a splash in the Amerindie scene?

I can’t speak for my former partner at kranky, obviously. But I will say that we set up the label in diametric opposition to what we thought was a tight-assed indie rock scene. Many many people were chasing the brass ring of “alternative rock” in 1993 when the label started. It seemed obvious that bands like Labradford and Jessamine were bringing something different. I never concerned myself with whether the label would make a splash, I did hope that the bands and recordings would.

What was the first thought in your mind after you left Kranky?

That it was time to take a break from talking to people about music for a living. Prior to working at kranky for 12 years I had worked at Touch & Go. I was really tired of promoting records.

From what I gather, you started Flingco not too long after you left Kranky. Why did you get back into the biz?

Wrnlrd.

Why Wrnlrd? What about his work was so intriguing that it brought you back in?

What interested and interests me in Wrnlrd was the completely encapsulated aesthetic and total independence. Wrnlrd was self-releasing these CDs that referenced obscure science fictional, numerology and played on them with real skill. I felt like it was more than the standard Norwegian BM by-the-numbers. In short, Wrnlrd had (and has) the capacity to expand the boundaries. And if I was going to start a label I wanted to begin with something completely unlike what kranky had done.

As a fan of black metal, particularly the “one-man band” varieties like Wrnlrd and Striborg, I totally understand its chaotic sledgehammer appeal. But how has hipsterus Americanus received Flingco’s black metal offerings?

I’ve got records in my basement. When there are no more records in my basement I’ll be in a better position to comment on how any FSS release has been accepted. Having said that, there are some people who have very been very supportive of what Wrnlrd is doing. And people seem to be discovering Wrnlrd all the time.

I noticed that Cristal, who has releases on Flingco, includes a member of Labradford. How did they become part of your roster?

I’ve known Bobby Donne from his time in Breadwinner, before he joined Labradford (before there even was a Labradford). When I was at kranky, Cristal came up from Richmond to play a show and was impressed with what I heard. After I started FSS, Mark Nelson told me that Cristal had a recording. I called Bobby and away we went.

Where do you think the Flingco aesthetic will go next? Are you planning to add more United States black metal to your roster? If so, why? Or are you looking at other areas?

There are labels that look to document certain scenes or genres. That is not what I am interested in doing. FSS exists to help people I think are making interesting music to get their music heard. So I don’t look at the roster and think “I need more USBM,” I talk with people who I think are making good music that I believe settles into the spectrum of music FSS is working on.

I definitely want to maintain a balance of sounds and a roster size and release schedule that I can manage with the time and resources that are available to me. When I started the label I was conscious of the need to differentiate FSS from kranky. But, to be honest, I stopped “looking” for certain types of music for the label after the first couple of years. I am fortunate enough to know some nice people who in turn know a lot of other people, and get stuff passed along to me all the time.

The musicians on the label, in the ultimate sense, are deciding the contours of the label’s aesthetic with the music they are making. I’m content with the aesthetic and musical parameters of the label and financial reality has a way of limiting my ambitions for me.

Finally, do you have any upcoming releases from Flingco in the next month or three?

Case in point. This month FSS is releasing an album by Ringing Bell, a metal duo featuring Mat Sweet of Boduf Songs. Mat and I have been talking about his forays into black/doom metal and in September we agreed to put out the Ringing Bell album “And dimmed undelivered, and receive eternities” as an embroidered patch with a download code and digital album.

The first release for 2013 will be from Stave, a project by Jonathan Krohn. Jonathan has been a member of the Chicago band Male. Stave is his grayscale techno-not-techno project. Jon is working a mix of dark ambient, electronics and beats in an intriguing way. The Stave album has yet to be titled and will be out in an edition of 200 LPs and as a digital album.

And that’s all that is in the production pipeline right now. Various people are working on various things. The Hand-Held Recordings label of Hiroshima Japan will be issuing “Homegoing” by Cristal on CD in early spring, too.

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