Ok, even if I hope that it's just a beginning, there's a real and palpable evolution concerning the situation of French DOOM bands lately but what about labels ? Nothing really exciting honestly, looks like things have been completely invertsd compared to the 90's where we had several excellent underground labels and almost no competitive bands (not only speaking about doom, but also death and black metal)... Now there's more and more bands that deserve interest but almost all those labels are completely out of breath (for various reasons...) and new ones are very confidential or simply not too interesting, this until a few months ago when TOTEM CAT RECORDS saw the light of day !
First release was (last month) the 1st album of STONEHELM, the re-released 1st ep of EARTHRIDE with live bonus songs will follow next month... ain't that a killer and highly promising debut from Ewenn Padovan ? I asked this extremly kind and motivated guy a few questions about his first months in the business and future plans that don't lack at all... Support the cat !!!
- On your FB page, the existence of TOTEM CAT is dated from Sept. 2010 while your first release just came out in February 2012, was this date in fact the moment you definitely decided to set up the project ?
In fact I bought my first batch of vinyls in September 2010, I wanted to do this for a long time, but it's really the first stock of Lp's that made it real.
- How has it been going for the formalities and all that administrative shit ? Did you get any special help for the contractual business and copyrights ?
Right now I'm out of all that shit you mentionned, I'd like to stay far from it as long as possible, even though I'll have to deal with it at some point. If the "releasing process" gets a little bit more active, I'll have to take this in consideration.
- I know your are not working under a society form but like an 'auto-entrepreneur" or at least a status which implies that you aren't submited to VAT... it seems to be a problem towards some big companies you wanna work with but that don't consider you enoguh seriously just for this point ... What can you do to face this frustrating situation ? Logically, if the activity increases reasonnably in the future, this status will change, how do you see your business evoluting with time ?
At the beginning it's been pretty hard not to have a VAT number, because you're really limited when you have to get records from bigger labels, most of them won't sell you anything, a lot of them won't even answer your mails. Fuck them. There are tons of good small labels which are selling killer records at a way more decent price. In fact there are so many records I'd like to distribute that it's probably better this way! I'm trying to get stuff directly from the bands, as much as I can. I'm thinking about Bongripper for instance, those guys handle most of their releases themselves, same thing for the first two Wo Fat records on CD.
- I know you've a strong passion for cats but how did you come up with that name of TOTEM CAT rds ? Bulldog or Pitbull are sometimes used for HC or Rap bands as a kind of symbol, did you think that a cat could be the best animal to represent DOOM ?
When I started in 2010 it was originally named "The Outer Limits Records". Not quite original I know, but I really wanted to pay tribute to Voivod, which is my favorite band.
Finally I changed it for Totem Cat, I wanted something not metal-related, but the real reason is, I'm a cat freak, the Totem Cat logo is actually inspired by my own hairy comrades.
Back in the days Man's Ruin Records also used a cat for their logo.
I think that every genre could be easily represented by an animal. If I had sold mostly Sludge stuff, it would probably have been Totem Hyena ha ha.
- You start the label rather slowly in terms of quantity of releases but in terms of quality this is pretty impressive with STONEHELM and EARTHRIDE... Will you always try to follow this policy, with maybe a bit more frequent process of release though ?
Thank you! I'll try to keep the same policy like you said. The main issue that keeps the releasing process kinda slow is money, I have tons of bands I'd like to work with.. I guess it is the same for every small label. But I just cannot afford multiple releases at the same time right now. If everything goes well there should be only two months between the releasing of the Stonehelm album & the Earthride reissue, so things should be moving a little bit faster. Two other records should come out around this Summer, and another one is planned for the end of the year, the most ambitious one, which should come out on 2xLP.
All bands you're actually working with or going to work with, are americans... do you have a preference for this scene or it just happened this way and where the bands are coming from is absolutely not important for you ? Just like me for T.O.P., do you feel that yankees have a particular affection for Totem Cat rds, something palpable even if hard to explain ?
It's not really important, it just turned out this way, in fact the other bands I should work with later this year are also american, but I never really thought about it before! Can't really say if Totem Cat is most appreciated anywhere in particular, I guess it's just too soon to tell.
- What kind of Doom stuff do you prefer ? weed scented Doom as you described Stonehelm ? which releases did you particularly enjoy so far in 2012 ?
I'm into any kind of Doom, except Funeral stuff, and I've never been that much into Drone either, this is just not for me. I'm particulary enjoying Doom bands with a Punk vibe, that's the way I like it I guess.
So far this year I really enjoyed the new Orange Goblin, never got disapointed with them. The Hooded Menace/Horse Latitudes is pretty cool as well, can't wait to hear that new Hooded Menace album. The Wino & Conny Ochs album is also great, as well as the Christian Mistress record. The new Corrosion Of Conformity is killer, 'The Doom' is definitely one of my new favorite songs.
Another album I was waiting for a long time is the new one from The Senseless, it's called "The Floating World". Always loved the happy feeling that goes with this Grindcore band.
New St Vitus, 16 & Unsane, and High On Fire records coming soon as well, 2012 is turning out fantastic.
- So are things turning out great about the upcoming re-edition of EARTHRIDE ep with bonus live trax ? What about the planed spilt ep with EARTHRIDE again and WO FAT ?
I just got some fresh news, the artwork is almost done, Tony Roberts has done something trully amazing and I'm really looking forward to read people's reactions to it. In one word "Motoreaper".
There will be two live bonus tracks on it, one song is taken from Vampire Circus, the other one from Something Wicked.
I talked to Kent from Wo Fat recently, he told me that they already started work on their song. Each band should record a song exclusively for that split. My good friend Flog should handle the artwork, you can check out his work here
- Another band that you plan to release is NAPALM CHRIST, some kind of doomed grindcore very different from the other bands already mentioned... could you present them please and what kind of release(format) is it going to be ?
Like you said it's some kind of doomed to death grindcore with some sludge influences. I heard them firstly because it was related to Rwake, Kiffin Rodgers, one of the guitarist from Rwake also plays in NC, that's how I got into them. They are currently recording songs, 3 of them will probably be featured on a split CD alongside another or maybe two bands. A comic book freak should do the cover, it's gonna be pure evil.
Once again I'm waiting for some confirmations, but I can't wait to tell a little bit more about it!
- You live in Brest, the most western town from France... it's a nice area but pretty rainy & isolated from the rest of the country even from other parts of Brittany, don't you feel like moving out from there sometimes ?
There's nothing much to do here, and there's absolutely no doom scene, that's maybe why I decided to create Totem Cat... I spend most of my free time in Paris, that's where I originally come from, and where I intend to go back soon.
- What about the distribution list, any great news lately ? did it help you to start the activities and save money for the label releases ? you told me that you deal with quite many other labels, is the trade system between labels more than ever practised and ain't that sometimes too restrictive ?
I haven't saved much money with the distribution, but I really want to have other things than the Totem Cat titles for sale, cos when shipping charges are so damn high, it's really important that people can get other stuff to balance the shipping costs I guess.
However I'm not into trading stuff, if I really want to sell a record I'd rather buy it from the label.
I have a few things coming for the distro list, I should get some copies of the Satan Worshipping Doom album by Bongripper on 2xLP, new album from Black Breath & some copies of Flower Of Disease from Goatsnake, & the new Saint Vitus album coming in April, that's all for now, more stuff in stock probably around summer.
- You're going to Roadburn in april, have you already planed to meet great friends and which bands are you the most impatient to see on stage ?
Like I said Stéphane, I'm not sure I will be able to come to the Roadburn, but if I do, both Voivod sets are my top priority. Also looking forward to see The Obsessed, Sigiriya, Doom, Internal Void, Conan, Bob Wayne, Killing Joke, Witch... too many good bands.
If you had the opportunity to sign now a french band, which one would you choose ? is that a possibility that you have ever considered or will it be for later or never ... ?
I will probably work with a french band this summer, nothing's sure yet though. There ain't that many french bands I really know, my favorites are Huata, Glowsun, Eibon, Mars Red Sky and Wheelfall.
Thanx Ewenn, add something I might have forgotten if you want... kenavo the cat !
Thank you for the interesting questions Stéphane! Much love from the cat.