Record labels are an important part of the music industry. Without them, we would never find out about some artists or hear their songs. On par with the three international giants, numerous indie labels are on the hunt for Danish talents. We decided to have a closer look at their work and philosophy. Having selected a few most exciting Danish indie labels, we sent them a questionnaire and asked for a playlist of the music they listen to in the office.
The Record Labels series on Good because Danish continues! Meet Pink Cotton Candy and its three CEOs Nikolaj, Brian, and Rasmus.
Name: Pink Cotton Candy
Year of launching: 2021
Danish artists on the roster: Chopper, Quiet Sonia, My Tjau is Kapow.
What’s the story behind your label’s name?
It’s kind of a reference to one of our early favorite bands, The Magnetic Fields. There’s a wonderful grainy hand-held video for the track “Strange Powers”, where Stephin Merritt’s mysterious double enjoys cotton candy at a beautiful Coney Island-like amusement park. It has such a nice strange synthetic yet melancholic vibe to it. Second, there’s an element of sweetness in a lot of the music we enjoy, some sort of take on beauty, though this particular sweetness could often be buried behind brutal sonic walls of glitch, synths, guitars, abstract rhythmic designs, academic concepts or ideas, you name it. It’s all about the contrasts, really.
We’re deeply devoted to that momentary flicker of pop qualities within music, but we love it when it’s nearly disintegrated, dysfunctional, kind of impossible, when it carries some sort of shadow. Pretty basic old romantic ideas: a love for those little sonic flowers of evil. And you can become quite addicted looking for pink cotton candy in music, whether we’re talking Stravinsky, Coltrane, ABBA, or My Bloody Valentine.
Which Danish acts are on your roster at the moment?
At this point, we proudly present Chopper, Quiet Sonia and My Tjau is Kapow. Chopper is a synth-pop/post-punk solo-project by Jonatan K. Magnussen from Danish rock band The Love Coffin (secondary genres “eurodance”, “disco” and “glamrock” are really more interesting and telling). Chopper just released his debut-album “The Wonderful and Wicked World of Chopper” with us. This ìs our first full-length release as a label. Quiet Sonia is featuring Nikolaj and Rasmus from the label, and is a seven-piece kind of folk-postrock-indie group (definitely more Swans than Mumford & Sons!). Quiet Sonia has two finished EP’s and a full-length record in the making. My Tjau is Kapow is a sort of electronic IDM / post-rock project also featuring Nikolaj, and they have just finished their archival EP-release “The Pink Sea”. We really can’t tell you much more at this point, but we are currently in active dialogue with a range of very interesting bands and artists, and are working on collaborations with other labels too.
What is your philosophy and process of choosing artists to work with?
There needs to be a good vibe between artist and label. This work has to be based on love, trust and mutual respect, and we appreciate a close dialogue with the artist. Of course, it’s an exchange of values, we need to be able to offer the artist something, and the other way around too. We’re interested in labels that have some sort of cohesive aesthetics of their own (like 4AD, Constellation, ECM), but are not pushing a certain aesthetic on their artists. It’s a fine line. We come from the alternative rock scene but we’re not interested in being exclusively an alt rock label. Some of the most interesting potential for 2022 and the future lies in genre-meetings, genre-blends, different artistic expressive attitudes and sensibilities rising beyond the surface level of genre to approach new heights.
We are driven by emotions in our approach to music, both as label-runners and performers. What’s most important is the raw intuitive sensations we had when we first began listening to music. A feeling that this really matters in a personal way rather than this is interesting because it fulfills criteria X and Y. There’s so much good, exciting and unrepresented music in the Copenhagen underground scene. That’s where we’ll begin, and then, who knows what happens.
Why did you decide to open a record label?
A new independent record label is always a good thing. It means a potential micro-community of artists and workers from all spheres, musicians, graphic designers, painters, content creators, bookers, and so forth. It’s a strengthening of local culture, it employs and activates culturally interested people in meaningful and community-binding work.
We realised we had gathered a decent amount of know-how and knowledge through our own musical practice and education, and thought it could be useful to organise in a record label for our own benefit and other artists as well. There’s a bunch of internationally recognised cutting edge record labels in Denmark dealing primarily with electronic music (Posh Isolation, Anyines), some old giants still going strong (Escho, Crunchy Frog), other beautiful labels such as El Paraiso, Kornmod and Vicious, and newer important players like Big Oil. A huge thanks for their support. Still, we felt there was room for a new label, especially in the field of experimental alt rock music. As musicians ourselves, we didn’t really feel that our music fitted any of the established indie labels in Denmark.
Finally, the harsh and somewhat funny truth. We all worked shit jobs. Doing stuff everyday you don’t care about. Of course, we dream about the label someday being our day job, a combination of playing our own music and working with other people’s art. Even if we’re not going to be able to turn this into a living, it makes living nicer and easier when you involve yourself in meaningful projects. It’s nice to dream big!
What happened in the first year of your label?
We launched the label in spring 2021. Suddenly, because of the amount of time, space and stress-relief brought on by the otherwise saddening corona crisis, we were given the opportunity to actually follow up on our hopes and aspirations. From the financial point of view, it’s probably never a good time to launch an indie label, but right now is really the best time in years. The vinyl sales are skyrocketing, we are blessed with Bandcamp, social media and so many free resources and knowledge on the web concerning all aspects of the music industry.
Still, we don’t pretend that things today are perfect for the indie music industry. Artists are expected to brand themselves constantly, be outgoing, extroverted, business agents, entrepreneurs. While it’s not necessarily a bad thing for artists to sometimes climb out of their ivory tower and learn about their business, there has to be space for different sensibilities, artists working in more isolated, autonomous realms. Lots of artists need a healthy dose of calm and solitude to do great work. Otherwise, the industry will just unfairly prioritise a very specific type of personality that’s already been favoured for ages. Where do Kate Bush or Mark Hollis fit in this picture?
What is your favourite spot at the office?
We don’t have an office. We’re just starting out and we don’t have any money. Therefore, the answer will be various cafés in Copenhagen with cheap coffee, an informal atmosphere and good Wi-Fi, most often Tjili Pop in Nørrebro. And then of course, our bedrooms. In the picture, we’re at Tjili Pop. Did we happen to mention that we don’t have any money? We didn’t order anything. We are poor. Unfortunately.
What new music are you excited about these days?
We’re completely absorbed with the new jazz scene (Ill Considered, Sam Wilkes, Irreversible Entanglements), crazy jazz things happening in London, Berlin and New York. Though there has been a decent amount of exciting rock releases the last five years, the fuss and hype have really been about jazz, hip-hop, pop and electronic music. That’s why one of our hopes, among other things, is to soon release some genuinely exciting rock music. Not to revive the old days, which in many ways were absolutely terrible, but to try and push some of the genre’s better and more charming characteristics into the present.
Right now, we’re excited by new releases from The Weather Station, Sofia Kourtesis, Imarhan, Broken Social Scene. If we’re talking Danish artists, we have our attention on acts like Collider, Clarissa Connelly, First Flush, Homesickness, The Love Coffin, Debbie Sings, Ydegirl, Aper.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Please go and see a lot of artists live as the corona restrictions are lifting! Buy their albums, even if it’s a digital release (you can consider it some kind of donation). It’s really needed right now. Stay safe, enjoy life, listen to lots of music. And thank you so much, Good Because Danish, for supporting Danish underground music.