Laurel Parker (Mobley Street Productions) recently directed a new video for Roy Ellis released on Liquidator Music. I’m a big fan pf Liquidator. They have a management arm that deals with a bunch of Jamaican legends. They of course release some of the best music coming out right now too. Toni is the man in charge of this magical musical bus. Laurel thought it would be fun to get him to answer a few questions about Roy, the label, himself and the state of digital music today. So get on the bus gus and let’s ride!
Interview by Laurel Parker via email | Pictures from Toni Liquidator
Tell me a little about yourself first. Introduce yourself for those that have no idea who you are.
Well I run a record label called Liquidator Music. We are into old Jamaican music from the 60’s and 70′s. Not just old artists but new bands playing old style stuff too. I’m also a DJ, I write a fanzine, and I do some radio. So I do anything related to this type of music. It started as a hobby and became my job.
When did you start your record label – Liquidator Music?
In 1997. Prior to this, I had another label called Colour Songs with some people from Malarians ska band.
The name is obviously a reference to the classic tune by the Harry J All-Stars. Have you always been a huge Reggae fan and when did you first get into the music?
Yes, of course. I am a big reggae fan and I have never gotten tired of listening to it over the years. Of course, there are many other types of music which I like to listen to but Jamaican music is very close to my heart. I started to listen to reggae via 2 Tone in the 80′s.
Roy wasn’t singing Reggae anymore throughout the late 70′s and into the 90′s. He had moved to Switzerland and was focused on Gospel music. How did you hook up with him and get him to start recording again as Mr. Symarip?
It is a funny story. I knew he had played in Switzerland with a band called Kalles Kaviar and I wanted to book him to play a festival in Spain. In the meantime, some guy called Siggi Seidel from a radio show in Germany, suggested he contact me as he was planning to get back to the reggae scene. So we both were looking for each other at the same time. Suddenly my phone rang. I picked it up and listened to a voice saying, “Hello, this is Roy Ellis.” And I said, “Hey, I was already looking for you!” We had a long talk on the phone and it was as if we had known each other for years. We’ve been working together ever since and have become good friends.
I understand that you are very old. Where you around in the time of Franco?
Ha, ha, ha. I was 6 years old when he died, so I’m not that old…
Who else is on your label?
The label is like a big family. The bands I release are also my friends, and since this business stopped being profitable many years ago, our relationships are about the love of this music.
Some of our bands are The Kinky Coo Coo’s, Ruben Lopez & The Diatones (Ruben worked at Liquidator for some years. It was his first job ever), The Aggronauts, Granadians, Flight 404, Smooth Beans, Daniel Flores, Roy Ellis, etc.
Tell us about running an independent record label in this day and age.
Most of the people involved in the independent music business nowadays are in it because they love the music. There is no money so you have to work hard and do it because you have a good time doing it.
How are you dealing with digital, the decline of music shops, international distribution etc.
That’s part of the market now. I have to be there so I run a website, sell on iTunes and other digital music platforms, but the most important reason for a label like this is the love of vinyl. You have to deal with both, physical and digital.
Do you use Social media much such as podcasts, facebook etc?
Yes, but I don’t have much time to spend on everything. If you want to survive in this business you have to do the work of several people. That means at times I have to do sound engineering, design album covers, posters, various promotional material and even build a web site. These are some of the jobs I have had to learn to survive. I run a Liquidator facebook page but I don’t have time to run a personal one. I don’t even have time to think about it.
What are you doing different, in your opinion, from other labels that sets you apart?
Most important to me is quality and style. I love vinyl and like to create pretty things. I don’t like the cheap print work or pressing cheap stuff to save money. I prefer to spend a little bit more to create artistic stuff. People who buy records don’t care about spending one more euro on a record if it is worth to because is a well designed quality product.
How do you deal with your artists? How closely do you work with them on a release? Do you just release stuff that comes to you or do you work closely with them in the studio?
We all are friends and we are into the same kind of very specific music. There are also new young bands who are doing a great job. They send me their stuff and, most of the time, I like what they are doing. Sadly, it’s only possible for me to release very few bands as this market is not big enough to release everything.
What made you shoot a video for “You Can’t Leave Now?” Aren’t music videos dead?
The love of this music. Music videos are not profitable for me but I love them. TV does not broadcast videos anymore but the internet does a good job. I don’t know if it’s worth doing them but I have to because I love to.
It was about an adjusters gig in Madrid which couldn’t happen, right? The Adjusters was a band I never had the chance to see live. That’s a pity…
You’ve done some touring, gone to Mexico and the States with Roy for instance. Would you say Spanish skinheads have a different style from say English or Mexican Skinheads?
I think all them have their own style depending on the place they are based and their age. There is a significant difference between a 17 year old and a 40 year old skin. I think most skinheads from the UK are over 40 but Mexicans skins tend to be under 25. The common denominator is the music.
Anything else coming up that we should know about? More surprises?
I’m working on new stuff for Smooth Beans, we’ll release a new album in September 2012. I have some other projects in the pipeline but I don’t like to talk about until it’s real. Thank you for the kind questions.
Visit Liquidator Music.
And it’s never a bad time to post a video from Los Granadians….
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