This interview dates March 27th, 2007. I just found it after looking through my email archive from those days and thought it might be of interest to publish it again as the first time it was published it was all translated in Spanish for my old blog Mira El Péndulo. Now that I read it, I feel my questions are quite generic and not that ingenious, but thankfully Fabien’s answers are great, so you can enjoy that. Anorak Records is still going and not so long ago they released a compilation by the great Nixon. So check it out here. Also you can read a more recent interview with Fabien about his band Caramel here.
++ How does Anorak Records comes to life? What were the main motivations to start the label?
Anorak Records was born in 1992. I can’t remember the month, even not the day, but I created the label this year of 1992 for sure. In fact, I had the project in my mind since a long time ago. But, I didn’t know how to do it at this time. As you know, at this time, there were a lot of indie pop labels : Sarah Records, Bus Stop, Summershine, Heaven, Marsh Marigold, Harriet, Blam a Bit, Sunday, Siesta, Elefant (the list is infinite…)… And since 1986, it was a kind of rebirth for the indie pop scene even if it didn’t really stop. In the beginning of the 90’s, there were a lot of people very active in France. There were those amazing fanzines (Happy, Bonjour Chez Vous n°6, Fairy Tales, Chimères – the best one, and the best fanzine I’ve ever read, it was done by a friend of mine named Frédéric Schneider -, Soda for Girls, Guiding Stars, Salade de Fruits, Heaven is Blue, and many many more). There were also a lot of indie pop labels and mail orders created by indie pop fans. So, I wanted to contribute too the best as I could to this. Since 1986, I’d been doing some fanzines or contributed to other zines and I thought that I should create my own label. Sarah Records (and just before Sha-la-la also ran by Matt and Clare) were the “activators” for me. Reading their messages in all those magnificent records made me think it was possible to start a label even if we don’t have money. This was determining. The processes was also political. A lot of bands didn’t have the chance to make records because they didn’t suit to the commercial criterion. Sarah Records proved that we can make records in an honest way, sell them at a low price and promote bands without being involved and compromised with the record industry. Because the record industry only make profits and business at the bands expense. We wanted to destroy this system, stay independent, make records only for the bands and promote them honestly. A kind of socialist system, in fact. I had no faith in the music industry, and I still don’t have. I still believe there’s something to do for all those bands. And that were my first motivations. 15 years later, I still believe in it. I’m right, am I not ???
++ Tell us a bit about all of your releases? What can we expect in the near future?
The first release of Anorak Records was a compilation tape. It was out in the middle of 1992. A lot of bands (27) contributed to it. There were french bands (Meek, Katerine, The Daffodils, Les Chaplinn’s, Monsieur de Foursaings, The Through Comers…), British bands (The Almanacs, Bouquet, The Music Seen, White Town, The Gravy Train, The Sedgwicks, Confetti, The Fat Tulips, Antiseptic Beauty, Saint Christopher, The Lovelies, The Kensingtons…), japanese bands (The Penelopes, Budgie Jacket) and an American band (Our American Cousins). It was a “big success”. All the copies (500) were sold in less than six months. Then, I released another tape. It was from the great Japanese band Budgie Jacket. After that, was out the first 7″ from the english band The Almanacs. The second 7″ was from the french band Meek. Then, in 1994, I had no more money as I loose my job. I was unemployed for a few years so I didn’t have any money to release anything. So Anorak Records was put in a “sleep” for a few years. It was very hard for me as I wanted to release many bands (especially two great french band named Autumn Sky and Doggy…). A Vicarage Garden (the great Heaven Records’ band) 7″ was also planned but I couldn’t release it. Fortunately, some friends of mine from the french label Cavalcade finally putted out. Anyway, Anorak Records was dying but, in the beginning of the 2000 years, my friend Guillaume (from Doggy) who was also playing guitar with me in Caramel, asked me if he could release a CD through Anorak Records and rebirth the label. I sad “Yes !”. And he’s now the “boss”. And I try to help him the best as I can. So, he released the Doggy CD, a CD compilation named “Handmade” with six indie pop bands from our town Limoges. Just before last Christmas, we released a CD from the wonderful Norwegian solo project from Ragnhild : Soda Fountain Rag. In the beginning of this year, there was the CD from the American band named En Français. This month, there will be the CD from Snow Coloured Kid. This is the band from a popkid from Finland named Anssi. We’re very excited about it cos’ it’s really fantastic. And there will be also out very soon a CD from an English band named The French Defence. It’s wonderful. It could be a sort of meeting between Belle and Sebastian and Trembling Blue Stars. After that, we don’t know what the future will be for Anorak Records.
++ What do you think about the indiepop scene in France? Any bands you will like to recommend us?
At the moment, there’s not a so called indie pop scene in France. Almost nothing is happening here. It seems that here no one cares for indie pop. There are only a few people still playing this kind of music and “fighting for the cause”. Anyway, I can recommend the bands from my town Limoges : Doggy, Skittle Alley, Dead TV Star, Pornboy, Start !, Colossal Youth, and a few other bands : Tender Forever, Fandor, Watoo Watoo (all from Bordeaux), Aujourd’hui Madame (from Paris), Anne Bacheley (from Poitiers), most of the bands from the fabulous french label Herzfeld (Buggy – they’re fantastic -, Original Folks, Loyola…) and Electrophönvintage. Oh, there’s also the great label Plastic Pancake. And I can also recommend older french bands frome the 90’s like Des Garçons Ordinaires, les Poissons Solubles, les Mistons, Stephen’s Library, The Non Stop Kazoo Organisation or Les Mollies.
++ We all know that you write also the Anorak City fanzine which I have had the great chance to read (I really recommend it if you understand French!) and I also know that you are writing the third number now, what can we expect on it?
The third number from Anorak City will be out next week !!! There will be interviews from Tullycraft, Trembling Blue Stars, Peace in Our Time, Colossal Youth, Jyrki from the label Music is my Girlfriend, En Français, Soda Fountain Rag and articles about They Go Boom!! and Strawberry Story. It’ll be sold with a CD from Peace in Our Time and Colossal Youth.
++ Years ago you were on one of France’s prime indiepop bands, Caramel, who released amazing stuff on Marsh-Marigold. What are your best memories of that time? Why did Caramel broke up? And what bands did you admire at that time that influenced your sound? 🙂
Caramel was great fun. We had the chance to release records through Marsh-Marigold but also through Harriet Records and Aquavynile. The best memories ? There are so many. I can remember all those great moments we spend all together. Because, we were before of all only friends playing together. The first best memories are the concerts : the Marsh Marigold Christmas parties with all those great bands (Red Letter Day, Seashells, Die Fünf Freunde, Red Sleeping Beauty, Acid House Kings…), the Marsh-Marigold tour in France and Belgium (with Red Letter Day, Acid House Kings, Bruno Ferrari Duo and us), some “chaotic and punk”, but very funny, gigs here in France. Then, I can remember all the great people I had met at this time. Finally, I can remember the recordings from our records. Especially the last ones. Mike Innes, from They Go Boom!!, produced our last CD. He played with us on this record and then played with us on stage when we did our last concert in Hamburg, Germany. Why did the band broke up ? I think if you ask to any member from Caramel, no one will answer the same thing but here’s my answer. Denis, Isabelle and Stéphane had to move from Limoges for their jobs. Denis is now living in Sheffield in England, Stéphane is now in Toulouse in France, and Isabelle is now in Paris. Only Guillaume and me are still in Limoges. So it was difficult to exist as a band. But most of us still continued to play music. Denis played in many bands (Suzy Pepper, Megarider…). Guillaume has his solo project Doggy. And just after the end of Caramel, Guillaume and me played in a band named Corner Kick.
The bands that influenced us ? Oh, I’ll speak for myself first. My favorite band ever is The Sugargliders. They’re so perfect. ALL of their songs are amazing. And also the way they managed their “career” as a band. Doing ten 7″s and then broke up the band. That’s the Sarah spirit. Then, I should say that the bands who did influenced Caramel were bands like Talulah Gosh, Fat Tulips, Strawberry Story, The Housemartins, The Undertones, The Pastels, BMX Bandits, They Go Boom!!, The Cudgels, The Brilliant Corners, Mac Carthy… and many many more…
++ Do you have any plans to start a new band nowadays?
Since two years, I play in a band named Start !. We are five people in it. There’s Bertrand (singer) who also plays with Colossal Youth, Stéphane (guitar and singer) who also plays as Skittle Alley, Emilie (singer), Olivier (drums) and me (guitar and keyboards).
++ What do you think about this generation of indiepopsters, how different are them from the one you had the chance to live, which was, in my honest opinion, much more active and fun, do you agree?
Oh, difficult question. The indieposters are really cool now. And they’re not so different. They’re only less than before. Only the times they’re a changing. We (Anorak Records and Anorak City) receive many enthusiastic messages from people all over the world. But the past is the past and today is today. Everything is going so fast nowadays. Telling this makes me feel (and your question too ;-)) I’m like a dinosaur, but I try to adapt. In the end of the 80’s or the beginning of the 90’s, there was no internet (and it has changed our lifes). So, all the communication between indie pop fans was based on postal letters. We wrote altogether letters and the time was spending a bit slower. When we wrote to someone else we had to wait that he received the letter and then wrote back. Now, it’s going faster and I think sometimes, we loose ourselves because our brains can’t receive properly all the information. Anyway, I think you’re true, people were more active and fun. We just wanted to spare times altogether and have big fun. And we didn’t forget why we do it.
++ What will be for you the perfect indiepop community? What should change and what should stay the same? I’m quite disgusted I must say, I dont see that old craving for buying records, physical stuff. I don’t understand that idea of buying MP3, it just makes me cry!
Please don’t cry !!! (as the Sea Urchins said and sing). Oh, that’s a very difficult question too. I don’t think indiepop community could be perfect as nobody’s perfect. And this community (if it still exists) couldn’t be perfect. Anyway, I could dream of more mutual aid. But the past (as it was in 1986 or during the “Sarah years”, even if it wasn’t as perfect as we can dream – I know you dream of it – of) can’t be the same again. Anyway, I will like that people write again more fanzines (they’re very important according to me), create their own label (that’s so easy), and probably the most important that there will be more people to promote and sell the records from the labels. I mean there are great labels (especially the people from Music is My Girlfriend in Sweden or you with Plastilina and Cloudberry ;-)) but there are not so many people that believe in them and want to distribute them. In the end of the 80’s there was the Cartel that managed to distribute indie pop labels and spread all the indie pop music all over the world. They managed too to stay independent from the musical industry. If we’re enough clever, we should work altogether and stop doing things all by ourselves. That’s the only way. But it’s very hard. We have to think what can we do to still make people want to buy records and don’t buy MP3. It must be a real and complete artistic processes that includes anti-capitalism and anti-fascism. But, as you know, in the 90’s we fought for the “vinyl” and “7”” cause. Now, nobody cares about the vinyl. We may also try to adapt to the new technologies. What do you think about it too ?
++ Again, I’m so grateful to know you, somebody that really keeps indiepop alive by putting time and effort on it, I hope you never grow tired of this! And also you have a perfect pop taste. But I’m quite curious, what are your other hobbies? What does Fabien Garcia does when he is not doing anything related to indiepop?!
Thanks for your kind comments. And don’t be afraid, I will ALWAYS fight for the cause. So, it takes a good part of my life. To satisfy your curiosity, I’ll say that my first hobby is to spend time with my girlfriend (which is the best person I know). I also love to spend time with my friends, drink beers and wine, play with cats, travel when I’ve got the money to, watch films, read books, doing historic researches (I love History), militate for politics or my trade union, and work as a journalist (that’s my job). And that’s my simple life.
++ Would you like to add anything to the Spanish-speaking indiepopsters that read Mira el Pendulo? 🙂
Hola, que tal ?!