With both the release of Wax Wings Will Burn and their newly opened label Blind Mice Productions, Pete Crane and Ben Bulig have had both a very important and busy year. I've been keeping up to date on their project and label, reviewing the material that comes out from their creative minds and the acts that they've signed. And, with all that said, I was able to get an interview with the two guys regarding both their record label and SHIV-R's latest killer album.

Well, first I'd like to welcome you both to Brutal Resonance. You guys don't need much in the ways of introductions, but just in case some readers out there don't know who you are, tell us a bit about yourselves and what you do.

Pete Crane - "Ben and I started Shiv-r in 2008 and Blind Mice Productions in 2014. With Shiv-r we collaborate on the music and I do the vocals. Blind Mice Productions is the new digital label we started where we release awesome music from other artists, and sometimes we do production as well where I do the mixing and Ben does the mastering. We're a team. Our Hollywood tabloid name is Pebenter."

It has been a busy year for you two between both Shiv-r and your recently formed record label, Blind Mice Productions. Do you ever find it hectic balancing it all out?

Pete Crane - "Blind Mice Productions is still a very new entity so we're still getting the hang of balancing it all, and I admit it has gotten the majority of our focus since we launched it as we've been producing other artists and making an EP with Amelia Arsenic. There's still plenty of new Shiv-r tracks on the boil though. We've seriously cut down on remixes and that's freed up a huge amount of time."

Ben - "The music industry moves in mysterious ways. The most mysterious way is the random amount of time between projects being finished and their actual release. It is all so disjointed, nobody really knows what anyone else is doing at any given time. When a bunch of projects have coincidentally close release dates, we look busy. When we don't put anything out for a year, people bitch about us being to slow. The reality is we keep up a pretty steady work rate that keeps the juices flowing without exhaustion. The word hectic implies structure and deadlines and the like, but I tend to think of it more as just a bunch of stuff that happens."

Let's focus a bit on Shiv-r, first. This year saw the release of "Wax Wings Will Burn", and while we on the site absolutely loved it - it even earned a split album of the month award for October - how has reception been for the album overall?

Pete Crane - "I think so. It's felt like so long in the making that it's hard to believe it's actually out! In fact it's felt like a bit of a delayed start since there was a problem with the digital distribution and it wasn't available digitally outside of Europe. But we've come to a resolution and it'll be available on iTunes, Spotify, Beatport etc globally by 20 November 2014. The most meaningful feedback has been from other producers saying it's a massive step forward and that it makes them feel jealous or frustrated haha. We're also putting together a remix release called 'On Blackened Wings' to accompany the album where each track is released by a different artist, so that will be announced very soon but I can already tell you we've received remixes from Aaimon, Thomas Rainer, Nitro/Noise and a bunch of other killer artists. And once that's out we're going to put the multitracks for the entire album up for download so anyone can have a look and deconstruct our mixes and make a remix if they want."

Has there been any negative talk about the album from anywhere at all? Be it another magazine or even some random fan talking down on the album?

Pete - "Not really - the response has been really positive. It made some good progress on the usual German charts and has turned up in a tonne of playlists that I've happened to come across. However I did just see the review Side-Line magazine made for the album. They started with a beyond flattering introduction but then spent 2 paragraphs trying to find a way to compare it to Combichrist. They even said the song 'Monster', which is a slow, 90BPM, acoustic guitar-driven rock-ballad, was the most Combichrist-esque track, so I really fear for the reviewer's ears' I know it shouldn't be a big deal but I really can't stand the comparison to Combichrist since we haven't listened to anything Combichrist has done since 2006, beyond skimming each album on Beatport for songs around 130-140BPM to include in DJ sets - they're simply not an influence. On a daily basis I'll listen to everything from Kanye West to Tom Waits to instrumental soundtracks and I think all that comes through. To compare us to Combichrist is just lazy and short-sighted and not going to win any favours with me."

Ben - "Comparing us to Combichrist is like saying apples and oranges taste the same because they are both fruit. Imagine you put the time into growing an apple tree in your backyard, nursing it until it produces delicious apples, then giving a delicious apple to someone and them saying that your delicious apple tastes like a godamn orange. If anyone deserves cancer, it's that guy."

The album seemed to really push forward, not just musically, but also thematically all across the board in comparison to previous efforts. Would you say that this release has been the best so far? Or do you think it's on par, or even below, other releases you've put out?

Pete - "It's absolutely the best Shiv-r release by far, on all fronts but especially lyrically and vocally. Playing songs from the new album live has been a lot more fun than the older songs too - it's possible to be so much more expressive when using melody instead of just shouting, and self-expression is what making music is all about. I got an acoustic guitar after This World Erase came out and have been spending a lot of time playing and singing acoustically and that's had an influence on how I structure a vocal take more dynamically than just shouting in front of my computer. The artwork goes above and beyond too, and in fact I feel as though we've reached our peak, image-wise. I can't imagine going to that much effort for a photoshoot again and I swear to god our next album cover will simply be a black square. But music and vocal-wise, we're just getting warmed up and we want to push the limits of our self-expression even more from now on."

Ben - "Clearly it is better, but not as good as the next one and so on. We have not become famous enough to slide into the usual artistic crapulence. Sadly for enough, and happily for the listeners, penthouse apartments and post-rehab spiritual revelations are not on the horizon for us, meaning we will continue writing good music for a while yet."

I noticed that you guys responded to fans asking for the lyrics of the songs on the new album by putting it up on the website. Do you try to maintain a firm connection with your fans on a constant basis? Do you find it important?

Pete - "I find I go through phases - when everything is stable in my life I feel in the mood to make blog posts and respond to fan comments and messages, but if we're busy with our own deadlines or things are changing in life then fan contact is the first thing to suffer and I'll drop off the radar online. I'm also disappointed by Facebook in general and the fact that it's the web presence that gets the most traction but it feels like a very temporary resource that's going downhill fast. I mean the way Facebook promotion works, it would cost me $60 for a post to reach just the amount of people who have Liked the Shiv-r page. I would rather direct all traffic to shiv-r.com and write articles and engage with fans there since at least we are in control of changes on our own website, but it gets a fraction of the traffic our Facebook profile gets. I'd just rather build our own empire than contribute to Mark Zuckerberg's."

There has been announcements for a gig announced in Switzerland on December 12th, as well as two UK dates in December on the 6th and the 20th. You're promoting the new album throughout these gigs, but are you trying to line up more of a tour to support the album later on down the line? Or will you be sticking with gigs, mainly?

Pete - "The gigs announced in December are mainly fun one-offs since I will be in the UK at that time (I'm usually based in Sydney). I'm definitely hoping to line up a more extensive tour but I don't feel as though it necessarily has to be in order to promote a particular release. You see bands doing that all the time and it starts to feel like they only make new albums in order to promote their upcoming tours where they can hit the road and sell some merch to keep them going until the cycle repeats again. I feel like we're in a position where we can write what we want, when we want and do shows when we've got time, and it's still exciting for the fans. I remember when I was living in London everyone was so jaded when, for example, Suicide Commando came to town because everyone was just like 'Eh I've seen them 6 times already I'll catch them next time.' I don't want to get into the album/tour 2-year cycle that invariably results in generic, uninspired albums with lyrics about hotel rooms and life on the road. Like you said - we grew with this album, and I think the moment you slip into the album/tour-cycle you stop growing, simple as that..."

Diving a little bit into the label side of things, I do have a question to ask: You guys started your own label, however, you still released "Wax Wings Will Burn" through Infacted Recordings. Why did you choose to do that rather than self-releasing the album?

Pete - "We wanted Blind Mice Productions to stand on its own two feet - launching it with the new Shiv-r album would have sent the wrong message I think, as people may have interpreted it as just a vehicle for our own project. We also don't forget that it was a major goal of ours to sign to Infacted in the first place and we're still happy to have a home for Shiv-r there. They have an existing promo machine that's second to none in terms of getting an album noticed in the German industrial scene. I mean, we had the master and artwork ready to go, and enough funds in our paypal to press a run of CDs, so we could easily have self-released. But the album makes a good fit for Infacted's roster and promo infrastructure. There was also the factor that it is our third full-length album, and Infacted really put us on the map with our first two, so I feel we 'owe' it to them to let them recoup on some of that success. So there was a bit of a sense of loyalty in the decision."

And, for future releases, will you still work with Infacted, or will you try and get the album attached to your own label?

Ben - "You've not even bought us a drink yet..."

Now, let me back track a bit and ask a few questions about the roots of your label: When did you first get the idea to form the record label? And when did the idea come to full fruition?

Pete - "I've had the vague idea of starting a label since the early 00's, just from being inspired by other independent labels at the time and thinking 'I could do that', but the timing never seemed right. People haven't been taking digital releases seriously until now and the idea of fronting up a thousand or so dollars for manufacturing CDs has seemed like less and less of a good idea until what I perceive as a very recent tipping point of CDs being devalued and digital being legitimised. When we did a tour of the States earlier this year we had support from great bands like Riotlegion, as well as getting messages from bands wanting to support us and even some well-known artists asking us to produce their next releases, that it seemed like good timing to help act as a resource for those bands in return. I wanted to come up with our own 'promo machine' where we used all of our existing contacts to push releases to and build on that - I find that business side of things really satisfying. But acting as a platform for other artists was just a starting point - we've got some releases in the pipeline that are really starting to hammer out a unique sound that I don't think anyone else is putting out right now, digitally or otherwise, which is really exciting."

Where did the name for the label come from? It's rather odd. And I like it.

Pete - "When making Shiv-r songs we always come up with temporary song names while working on it. Somehow we got onto the theme of some of our raw song names as a source of inspiration and stuck with 'Blind Mice', which oddly enough we also kept for the name of the song from 'This World Erase'. So there must just be something we like about that name cause we've used it twice now! When we also ran it by Amelia (Arsenic) she said she could design a cool logo and branding to go with it so it seemed like the right choice."

Ben - "Would you believe that there is pretty much an '<insert word here> productions' for any word you care to insert? After choosing it we thought we could post-script the decision with something about the nursery rhyme, but be damned if I can think of how to do that at the moment. It does make for a nifty logo though. To be honest, I got three blind mice and those three monkeys that speak no evil etc., confused in my mind at the time. I would also like to thank you for not asking about 'Shiv-r' name. You would have gotten a copy paste from an older interview, because Jesus Christ did that question get old fast."

You've decided to go with the digital record label format rather than releasing physical formats. You say you're embracing the digital arena to swiftly rack out releases, be it full length albums, singles, or EPs. Could you explain your stance a bit more?

Pete - "One thing that keeps coming up with running this label is the saying of 'Just because that's the way things have always been done, doesn't mean it's the best way.' Full-length albums were honed in on because people wanted the most value for money for a 74-minute CD. But now if you can say what you want to say with 2 or 4 tracks then that's all you need, especially as the investment from the label to release it as well as for the fan to buy a digital release is low enough to not need to cram a release full of filler to make it worthwhile. And because we can release material easily and quickly it just makes the most sense rather than waiting 2 years between releases for a full album to come together. Doing EPs and singles is the de facto way of doing things in the EDM scene so there's no reason it can't be applied to other genres which are also very DJ-oriented for promotion."

Ben - "I didn't know we were making a stance. I only listen to music from digital, I don't even have a cd-player at home. Most of the new music I listen to is straight from the digital release, quite often from labels that only do digital. I think there is an inherent urge to say that a physical product legitimizes a label, but I think for the most part we are moving past that. I think the future holds will see more of a diversification in activities among the smaller to mid size labels rather than the current norm where the label handles the release only and everything else up to the band. Already you are seeing label + promoter as a logical combination. In our case, we went for more along the lines of label + production house. Partly because it is what we like doing and it gives the bands we sign access to our studios, but it also means we can offer a little more than some of the other new labels."

Are you completely against releasing physical merchandise, be it in the form of CDs, vinyl, or even cassettes at some point in the future? Or is that just not part of the plan at all right now?

Pete - "I can't see us cranking out CDs in jewel cases for the majority of our releases but if something calls for a physical companion we're having discussions about how this will be possible. I think for established record labels who have always released CDs, it would seem like a defeat to 'downsize' to digital-only releases, so they're chained to the responsibility of making CDs for their artists even though they know they won't sell. But when you look at labels like Boys Noize Records, Mau5trap, Kannibalen, etc, no one thinks they're any less legit for not pushing out plastic discs - in fact it would be detrimental because it would only slow them down in a market that values the absolute latest sounds. So we're aiming for super legit digital releases with the occasional boutique merch item."

Ben - "I like the idea of getting into collecting vinyl, but whenever I imagine being that guy walking down the street with vinyl under his arm and a holier-than-thou smirk, I just want to shoot myself. Also, cassettes? Why not wax cylinders? Then why not go beat some uppity women-folk for trying to vote? Seriously, our obsession with the past is borderline sick and urge to make carefully filtered and santitised elements of the days of yore into hip and commercial products is bizarre. So yeah, releasing things in the medium that people who aren't hipster fucks actually listen to doesn't seem like the biggest issue to fret over. That said, if the opportunity came up, obviously we would do all those things and enjoy growing our beards out while doing it."

And, at this point in time, how has the label been doing? Is it working out as planned?

Pete - "The launch was fantastic and our first release, the [SNUFF] EP, had a great response. People really dug deep on the Bandcamp 'pay what you feel the release is worth' scale and I couldn't be more proud of their music. So it's been really encouraging thus far but the unexpected part has started to occur where we're touching on a unique sound. The Amelia Arsenic EP is going to be a very important release and ties in stylistically with where we want to go. What happens next will be really exciting."

And tell us about some of the artists you're currently working with. I know I've reviewed the first four releases on the label, but could you tell us a little bit about each one you're working with?

Pete - "On 17 December 2014 we will release the 'Carbon Black' EP by Amelia Arsenic, which we (i.e. Shiv-r) composed and produced the music for. It's incredibly exciting because it's musically unlike anything any of us have written before, but locks in a very cool new direction. It draws from rap, electro and industrial in a pretty unique way, with plenty of influence from everything from Death Grips to Black Tiger Sex Machine. We had the title track as a demo that Ben and I started at the beginning of this year and when Amelia came over to visit she was like 'I could rap over that,' and she laid down a vocal track and clapped out the rhythm that formed the percussive track. We shot a filmclip for it and make a few more tracks but didn't know how we wanted to release it, but we knew we didn't want to release it through an existing label because that would pidgeonhole it and slow it down. We were originally going to call it 'Arsenic vs Shiv-r' and Amelia was going to self-release it, but things evolved and we decided to simplify the name to Amelia Arsenic to tie in with the solo material she's also working on and release it on Blind Mice Productions.

Beyond that we're working with Mekotam, aka Juan Espinosa better known from his project Cellmod on an EP. It ties in perfectly style-wise with the Amelia Arsenic EP and in fact Amelia and myself contributed guest vocals for a track each. It's got sonic elements that I can only describe as 'Miami' but contextualised in a dark, aggressive way, kind of like how Manson's 'Golden Age of Grotesque' had a total gangster vibe, but with Mekotam it's presented in a cheeky EDM/electro way rather than a nu metal way. We're even working with a female rapper from Ben's current adopted home of Bangkok. So you can get an idea of the kind of sound we're working on, which people might not necessarily have expected of us but we're super excited by."

How do you choose which acts to sign? Do you find them, or do they find you?

Pete - "Thus far it's happened very organically. The acts we're working with now seemed to come on-board mutually from telling them about the label. As for choosing future acts and shaping the direction of the label as well as our own music, I remember seeing a thing about Matt Parker and Trey Stone from South Park and how they work together being that they only have one rule which is that if they both think an idea is cool, they'll run with it. Because there are two of them and they trust each other, they have the confidence of an entire team but retain the agility of a single person, and that's how they get to execute such radical ideas in such a fast way. I think Ben and I work like this - we both have fucked up tastes in music and a suspicion we're on the verge of defining a cool new sound and we're running with it and seeing where that takes us. Another thing is that saying I heard from Far Cry 3 which is 'the definition of insanity is repeating the same action and expecting shit to change' - we know exactly what happens when you make an industrial album and put it out on a German label. We've done that, 3 times or so, and what happens is you get compared to Combichrist and spend a few weeks on the German charts. But we have no idea what happens when you put out a crazy goth-trap release with experimental sounds and hip hop vocals on your own label. We're also working on a lot of acoustic-based Shiv-r music and we have no idea how that's going to go down, but we're excited by it so we're gonna do it and see what the fuck happens. We're not going to be one of those bands who puts out their sixth studio album and complains about the scene dying when really they're the ones who stopped moving with the times and trying new things."

And, have you signed anyone new recently to the label?

Pete - "As mentioned we'll shortly be putting out Amelia Arsenic and Mekotam. We're working on an EP from a great Melbourne-based act called The Diversion Committee. Riotlegion are working on their next release and sending us progress demos which we'd love to take onboard."

And what is the overall goal for Blind Mice? Do you have any huge, grand plans for the label? Or is it simply just to release music at this point?

Pete - "Our goals are getting much grander as the label takes shape. What started as a platform for acts we discovered in the industrial sphere and material we produced for others has started to forge a coherent sound that we didn't expect. We've started making in-roads into 'the real world' by having launch gigs and parties in clubs from Sydney to Seattle. I look up to the business model of EDM labels who dominate the digital arena and scoring distribution to Beatport (the #1 digital store for DJs and a notoriously picky service about which labels they take on-board) has kick-started that. So we're now daring to dream of having 'the best' digital label that releases industrial with an EDM business model, but also forging a cheeky sound drawing from rap, electro and industrial that no one else is doing right now. So our grand plans are to take these key points that differentiate us and become the biggest and best in the world at those aspects."

And, at last, we come to the final bulletin. I thank you for your time, and you are free to leave any final messages below.

Pete - "Thanks for the interview and I hope I haven't jinxed anything by talking about our upcoming releases so candidly!
SHIV-R interview
November 26, 2014
Brutal Resonance

SHIV-R

Nov 2014
With both the release of Wax Wings Will Burn and their newly opened label Blind Mice Productions, Pete Crane and Ben Bulig have had both a very important and busy year. I've been keeping up to date on their project and label, reviewing the material that comes out from their creative minds and the acts that they've signed. And, with all that said, I was able to get an interview with the two guys regarding both their record label and SHIV-R's latest killer album.

Well, first I'd like to welcome you both to Brutal Resonance. You guys don't need much in the ways of introductions, but just in case some readers out there don't know who you are, tell us a bit about yourselves and what you do.

Pete Crane - "Ben and I started Shiv-r in 2008 and Blind Mice Productions in 2014. With Shiv-r we collaborate on the music and I do the vocals. Blind Mice Productions is the new digital label we started where we release awesome music from other artists, and sometimes we do production as well where I do the mixing and Ben does the mastering. We're a team. Our Hollywood tabloid name is Pebenter."

It has been a busy year for you two between both Shiv-r and your recently formed record label, Blind Mice Productions. Do you ever find it hectic balancing it all out?

Pete Crane - "Blind Mice Productions is still a very new entity so we're still getting the hang of balancing it all, and I admit it has gotten the majority of our focus since we launched it as we've been producing other artists and making an EP with Amelia Arsenic. There's still plenty of new Shiv-r tracks on the boil though. We've seriously cut down on remixes and that's freed up a huge amount of time."

Ben - "The music industry moves in mysterious ways. The most mysterious way is the random amount of time between projects being finished and their actual release. It is all so disjointed, nobody really knows what anyone else is doing at any given time. When a bunch of projects have coincidentally close release dates, we look busy. When we don't put anything out for a year, people bitch about us being to slow. The reality is we keep up a pretty steady work rate that keeps the juices flowing without exhaustion. The word hectic implies structure and deadlines and the like, but I tend to think of it more as just a bunch of stuff that happens."

Let's focus a bit on Shiv-r, first. This year saw the release of "Wax Wings Will Burn", and while we on the site absolutely loved it - it even earned a split album of the month award for October - how has reception been for the album overall?

Pete Crane - "I think so. It's felt like so long in the making that it's hard to believe it's actually out! In fact it's felt like a bit of a delayed start since there was a problem with the digital distribution and it wasn't available digitally outside of Europe. But we've come to a resolution and it'll be available on iTunes, Spotify, Beatport etc globally by 20 November 2014. The most meaningful feedback has been from other producers saying it's a massive step forward and that it makes them feel jealous or frustrated haha. We're also putting together a remix release called 'On Blackened Wings' to accompany the album where each track is released by a different artist, so that will be announced very soon but I can already tell you we've received remixes from Aaimon, Thomas Rainer, Nitro/Noise and a bunch of other killer artists. And once that's out we're going to put the multitracks for the entire album up for download so anyone can have a look and deconstruct our mixes and make a remix if they want."

Has there been any negative talk about the album from anywhere at all? Be it another magazine or even some random fan talking down on the album?

Pete - "Not really - the response has been really positive. It made some good progress on the usual German charts and has turned up in a tonne of playlists that I've happened to come across. However I did just see the review Side-Line magazine made for the album. They started with a beyond flattering introduction but then spent 2 paragraphs trying to find a way to compare it to Combichrist. They even said the song 'Monster', which is a slow, 90BPM, acoustic guitar-driven rock-ballad, was the most Combichrist-esque track, so I really fear for the reviewer's ears' I know it shouldn't be a big deal but I really can't stand the comparison to Combichrist since we haven't listened to anything Combichrist has done since 2006, beyond skimming each album on Beatport for songs around 130-140BPM to include in DJ sets - they're simply not an influence. On a daily basis I'll listen to everything from Kanye West to Tom Waits to instrumental soundtracks and I think all that comes through. To compare us to Combichrist is just lazy and short-sighted and not going to win any favours with me."

Ben - "Comparing us to Combichrist is like saying apples and oranges taste the same because they are both fruit. Imagine you put the time into growing an apple tree in your backyard, nursing it until it produces delicious apples, then giving a delicious apple to someone and them saying that your delicious apple tastes like a godamn orange. If anyone deserves cancer, it's that guy."

The album seemed to really push forward, not just musically, but also thematically all across the board in comparison to previous efforts. Would you say that this release has been the best so far? Or do you think it's on par, or even below, other releases you've put out?

Pete - "It's absolutely the best Shiv-r release by far, on all fronts but especially lyrically and vocally. Playing songs from the new album live has been a lot more fun than the older songs too - it's possible to be so much more expressive when using melody instead of just shouting, and self-expression is what making music is all about. I got an acoustic guitar after This World Erase came out and have been spending a lot of time playing and singing acoustically and that's had an influence on how I structure a vocal take more dynamically than just shouting in front of my computer. The artwork goes above and beyond too, and in fact I feel as though we've reached our peak, image-wise. I can't imagine going to that much effort for a photoshoot again and I swear to god our next album cover will simply be a black square. But music and vocal-wise, we're just getting warmed up and we want to push the limits of our self-expression even more from now on."

Ben - "Clearly it is better, but not as good as the next one and so on. We have not become famous enough to slide into the usual artistic crapulence. Sadly for enough, and happily for the listeners, penthouse apartments and post-rehab spiritual revelations are not on the horizon for us, meaning we will continue writing good music for a while yet."

I noticed that you guys responded to fans asking for the lyrics of the songs on the new album by putting it up on the website. Do you try to maintain a firm connection with your fans on a constant basis? Do you find it important?

Pete - "I find I go through phases - when everything is stable in my life I feel in the mood to make blog posts and respond to fan comments and messages, but if we're busy with our own deadlines or things are changing in life then fan contact is the first thing to suffer and I'll drop off the radar online. I'm also disappointed by Facebook in general and the fact that it's the web presence that gets the most traction but it feels like a very temporary resource that's going downhill fast. I mean the way Facebook promotion works, it would cost me $60 for a post to reach just the amount of people who have Liked the Shiv-r page. I would rather direct all traffic to shiv-r.com and write articles and engage with fans there since at least we are in control of changes on our own website, but it gets a fraction of the traffic our Facebook profile gets. I'd just rather build our own empire than contribute to Mark Zuckerberg's."

There has been announcements for a gig announced in Switzerland on December 12th, as well as two UK dates in December on the 6th and the 20th. You're promoting the new album throughout these gigs, but are you trying to line up more of a tour to support the album later on down the line? Or will you be sticking with gigs, mainly?

Pete - "The gigs announced in December are mainly fun one-offs since I will be in the UK at that time (I'm usually based in Sydney). I'm definitely hoping to line up a more extensive tour but I don't feel as though it necessarily has to be in order to promote a particular release. You see bands doing that all the time and it starts to feel like they only make new albums in order to promote their upcoming tours where they can hit the road and sell some merch to keep them going until the cycle repeats again. I feel like we're in a position where we can write what we want, when we want and do shows when we've got time, and it's still exciting for the fans. I remember when I was living in London everyone was so jaded when, for example, Suicide Commando came to town because everyone was just like 'Eh I've seen them 6 times already I'll catch them next time.' I don't want to get into the album/tour 2-year cycle that invariably results in generic, uninspired albums with lyrics about hotel rooms and life on the road. Like you said - we grew with this album, and I think the moment you slip into the album/tour-cycle you stop growing, simple as that..."

Diving a little bit into the label side of things, I do have a question to ask: You guys started your own label, however, you still released "Wax Wings Will Burn" through Infacted Recordings. Why did you choose to do that rather than self-releasing the album?

Pete - "We wanted Blind Mice Productions to stand on its own two feet - launching it with the new Shiv-r album would have sent the wrong message I think, as people may have interpreted it as just a vehicle for our own project. We also don't forget that it was a major goal of ours to sign to Infacted in the first place and we're still happy to have a home for Shiv-r there. They have an existing promo machine that's second to none in terms of getting an album noticed in the German industrial scene. I mean, we had the master and artwork ready to go, and enough funds in our paypal to press a run of CDs, so we could easily have self-released. But the album makes a good fit for Infacted's roster and promo infrastructure. There was also the factor that it is our third full-length album, and Infacted really put us on the map with our first two, so I feel we 'owe' it to them to let them recoup on some of that success. So there was a bit of a sense of loyalty in the decision."

And, for future releases, will you still work with Infacted, or will you try and get the album attached to your own label?

Ben - "You've not even bought us a drink yet..."

Now, let me back track a bit and ask a few questions about the roots of your label: When did you first get the idea to form the record label? And when did the idea come to full fruition?

Pete - "I've had the vague idea of starting a label since the early 00's, just from being inspired by other independent labels at the time and thinking 'I could do that', but the timing never seemed right. People haven't been taking digital releases seriously until now and the idea of fronting up a thousand or so dollars for manufacturing CDs has seemed like less and less of a good idea until what I perceive as a very recent tipping point of CDs being devalued and digital being legitimised. When we did a tour of the States earlier this year we had support from great bands like Riotlegion, as well as getting messages from bands wanting to support us and even some well-known artists asking us to produce their next releases, that it seemed like good timing to help act as a resource for those bands in return. I wanted to come up with our own 'promo machine' where we used all of our existing contacts to push releases to and build on that - I find that business side of things really satisfying. But acting as a platform for other artists was just a starting point - we've got some releases in the pipeline that are really starting to hammer out a unique sound that I don't think anyone else is putting out right now, digitally or otherwise, which is really exciting."

Where did the name for the label come from? It's rather odd. And I like it.

Pete - "When making Shiv-r songs we always come up with temporary song names while working on it. Somehow we got onto the theme of some of our raw song names as a source of inspiration and stuck with 'Blind Mice', which oddly enough we also kept for the name of the song from 'This World Erase'. So there must just be something we like about that name cause we've used it twice now! When we also ran it by Amelia (Arsenic) she said she could design a cool logo and branding to go with it so it seemed like the right choice."

Ben - "Would you believe that there is pretty much an '<insert word here> productions' for any word you care to insert? After choosing it we thought we could post-script the decision with something about the nursery rhyme, but be damned if I can think of how to do that at the moment. It does make for a nifty logo though. To be honest, I got three blind mice and those three monkeys that speak no evil etc., confused in my mind at the time. I would also like to thank you for not asking about 'Shiv-r' name. You would have gotten a copy paste from an older interview, because Jesus Christ did that question get old fast."

You've decided to go with the digital record label format rather than releasing physical formats. You say you're embracing the digital arena to swiftly rack out releases, be it full length albums, singles, or EPs. Could you explain your stance a bit more?

Pete - "One thing that keeps coming up with running this label is the saying of 'Just because that's the way things have always been done, doesn't mean it's the best way.' Full-length albums were honed in on because people wanted the most value for money for a 74-minute CD. But now if you can say what you want to say with 2 or 4 tracks then that's all you need, especially as the investment from the label to release it as well as for the fan to buy a digital release is low enough to not need to cram a release full of filler to make it worthwhile. And because we can release material easily and quickly it just makes the most sense rather than waiting 2 years between releases for a full album to come together. Doing EPs and singles is the de facto way of doing things in the EDM scene so there's no reason it can't be applied to other genres which are also very DJ-oriented for promotion."

Ben - "I didn't know we were making a stance. I only listen to music from digital, I don't even have a cd-player at home. Most of the new music I listen to is straight from the digital release, quite often from labels that only do digital. I think there is an inherent urge to say that a physical product legitimizes a label, but I think for the most part we are moving past that. I think the future holds will see more of a diversification in activities among the smaller to mid size labels rather than the current norm where the label handles the release only and everything else up to the band. Already you are seeing label + promoter as a logical combination. In our case, we went for more along the lines of label + production house. Partly because it is what we like doing and it gives the bands we sign access to our studios, but it also means we can offer a little more than some of the other new labels."

Are you completely against releasing physical merchandise, be it in the form of CDs, vinyl, or even cassettes at some point in the future? Or is that just not part of the plan at all right now?

Pete - "I can't see us cranking out CDs in jewel cases for the majority of our releases but if something calls for a physical companion we're having discussions about how this will be possible. I think for established record labels who have always released CDs, it would seem like a defeat to 'downsize' to digital-only releases, so they're chained to the responsibility of making CDs for their artists even though they know they won't sell. But when you look at labels like Boys Noize Records, Mau5trap, Kannibalen, etc, no one thinks they're any less legit for not pushing out plastic discs - in fact it would be detrimental because it would only slow them down in a market that values the absolute latest sounds. So we're aiming for super legit digital releases with the occasional boutique merch item."

Ben - "I like the idea of getting into collecting vinyl, but whenever I imagine being that guy walking down the street with vinyl under his arm and a holier-than-thou smirk, I just want to shoot myself. Also, cassettes? Why not wax cylinders? Then why not go beat some uppity women-folk for trying to vote? Seriously, our obsession with the past is borderline sick and urge to make carefully filtered and santitised elements of the days of yore into hip and commercial products is bizarre. So yeah, releasing things in the medium that people who aren't hipster fucks actually listen to doesn't seem like the biggest issue to fret over. That said, if the opportunity came up, obviously we would do all those things and enjoy growing our beards out while doing it."

And, at this point in time, how has the label been doing? Is it working out as planned?

Pete - "The launch was fantastic and our first release, the [SNUFF] EP, had a great response. People really dug deep on the Bandcamp 'pay what you feel the release is worth' scale and I couldn't be more proud of their music. So it's been really encouraging thus far but the unexpected part has started to occur where we're touching on a unique sound. The Amelia Arsenic EP is going to be a very important release and ties in stylistically with where we want to go. What happens next will be really exciting."

And tell us about some of the artists you're currently working with. I know I've reviewed the first four releases on the label, but could you tell us a little bit about each one you're working with?

Pete - "On 17 December 2014 we will release the 'Carbon Black' EP by Amelia Arsenic, which we (i.e. Shiv-r) composed and produced the music for. It's incredibly exciting because it's musically unlike anything any of us have written before, but locks in a very cool new direction. It draws from rap, electro and industrial in a pretty unique way, with plenty of influence from everything from Death Grips to Black Tiger Sex Machine. We had the title track as a demo that Ben and I started at the beginning of this year and when Amelia came over to visit she was like 'I could rap over that,' and she laid down a vocal track and clapped out the rhythm that formed the percussive track. We shot a filmclip for it and make a few more tracks but didn't know how we wanted to release it, but we knew we didn't want to release it through an existing label because that would pidgeonhole it and slow it down. We were originally going to call it 'Arsenic vs Shiv-r' and Amelia was going to self-release it, but things evolved and we decided to simplify the name to Amelia Arsenic to tie in with the solo material she's also working on and release it on Blind Mice Productions.

Beyond that we're working with Mekotam, aka Juan Espinosa better known from his project Cellmod on an EP. It ties in perfectly style-wise with the Amelia Arsenic EP and in fact Amelia and myself contributed guest vocals for a track each. It's got sonic elements that I can only describe as 'Miami' but contextualised in a dark, aggressive way, kind of like how Manson's 'Golden Age of Grotesque' had a total gangster vibe, but with Mekotam it's presented in a cheeky EDM/electro way rather than a nu metal way. We're even working with a female rapper from Ben's current adopted home of Bangkok. So you can get an idea of the kind of sound we're working on, which people might not necessarily have expected of us but we're super excited by."

How do you choose which acts to sign? Do you find them, or do they find you?

Pete - "Thus far it's happened very organically. The acts we're working with now seemed to come on-board mutually from telling them about the label. As for choosing future acts and shaping the direction of the label as well as our own music, I remember seeing a thing about Matt Parker and Trey Stone from South Park and how they work together being that they only have one rule which is that if they both think an idea is cool, they'll run with it. Because there are two of them and they trust each other, they have the confidence of an entire team but retain the agility of a single person, and that's how they get to execute such radical ideas in such a fast way. I think Ben and I work like this - we both have fucked up tastes in music and a suspicion we're on the verge of defining a cool new sound and we're running with it and seeing where that takes us. Another thing is that saying I heard from Far Cry 3 which is 'the definition of insanity is repeating the same action and expecting shit to change' - we know exactly what happens when you make an industrial album and put it out on a German label. We've done that, 3 times or so, and what happens is you get compared to Combichrist and spend a few weeks on the German charts. But we have no idea what happens when you put out a crazy goth-trap release with experimental sounds and hip hop vocals on your own label. We're also working on a lot of acoustic-based Shiv-r music and we have no idea how that's going to go down, but we're excited by it so we're gonna do it and see what the fuck happens. We're not going to be one of those bands who puts out their sixth studio album and complains about the scene dying when really they're the ones who stopped moving with the times and trying new things."

And, have you signed anyone new recently to the label?

Pete - "As mentioned we'll shortly be putting out Amelia Arsenic and Mekotam. We're working on an EP from a great Melbourne-based act called The Diversion Committee. Riotlegion are working on their next release and sending us progress demos which we'd love to take onboard."

And what is the overall goal for Blind Mice? Do you have any huge, grand plans for the label? Or is it simply just to release music at this point?

Pete - "Our goals are getting much grander as the label takes shape. What started as a platform for acts we discovered in the industrial sphere and material we produced for others has started to forge a coherent sound that we didn't expect. We've started making in-roads into 'the real world' by having launch gigs and parties in clubs from Sydney to Seattle. I look up to the business model of EDM labels who dominate the digital arena and scoring distribution to Beatport (the #1 digital store for DJs and a notoriously picky service about which labels they take on-board) has kick-started that. So we're now daring to dream of having 'the best' digital label that releases industrial with an EDM business model, but also forging a cheeky sound drawing from rap, electro and industrial that no one else is doing right now. So our grand plans are to take these key points that differentiate us and become the biggest and best in the world at those aspects."

And, at last, we come to the final bulletin. I thank you for your time, and you are free to leave any final messages below.

Pete - "Thanks for the interview and I hope I haven't jinxed anything by talking about our upcoming releases so candidly!
Nov 26 2014

Steven Gullotta

info@brutalresonance.com
I've been writing for Brutal Resonance since November of 2012 and now serve as the editor-in-chief. I love the dark electronic underground and usually have too much to listen to at once but I love it. I am also an editor at Aggressive Deprivation, a digital/physical magazine since March of 2016. I support the scene as much as I can from my humble laptop.

Share this interview

Facebook
Twitter
Google+
0
Shares

Popular interviews

Psyclon Nine

Interview, Mar 24 2017

Kite

Interview, Feb 10 2017

God Destruction

Interview, May 17 2016

SHIV-R

Interview, Sep 21 2017

Bornless Fire

Interview, Jul 09 2017

Related articles

Surgyn - 'Envy'

Review, Jun 09 2014

Surgyn - 'Vanity'

Review, Sep 07 2011

Surgyn - 'Feed Me Fame'

Review, Jul 05 2013

Shortly about us

Started in spring 2009, Brutal Resonance quickly grew from a Swedish based netzine into an established International zine of the highest standard.

We cover genres like Synthpop, EBM, Industrial, Dark Ambient, Neofolk, Darkwave, Noise and all their sub- and similar genres.

© Brutal Resonance 2009-2016
Designed by and developed by Head of Mímir 2016