Endearing Records are a Canadian based label that I came across as a result of buying a Spearmint/Novillero split single from them a month back. They also sent me a 20 track label sampler CD and were very friendly via e-mail, so it was time to find out more. Head honcho Blair Purda happily agreed to field my questions...... 

PB : Obvious first question ! How and when did the label start and is there any significance about the name?

BP : Endearing started in 1995 to release vinyl 7’s from friends’ bands and local Winnipeg groups. The name was picked as the least offensive of a variety of names.

PB : How do you attract bands to the label? Is the label purely self-financing or do you actually make some money at it?

BP : Because we’ve been around for quite some time, we are inundated with demos and get more good records sent our way then we could possibly release. The label traditionally has worked with new and developing artists, so some are financially successful, but some aren’t. The label usually runs at a small loss each year but our revenues have been increasing and we currently have two paid employees, Shawna Forrester and Heather Campbell ex of Paper Moon, and one contract publicist, Ken Beattie of the alt-country group Radiogram.

PB : What are you favourite releases and favourite bands on the label and which ones have been the most successful in terms of numbers sold?

BP : This is a tough call because I sometimes go back to records we released 3, 5, 7 years ago and discover again how much I like them. With regard to our more successful releases – the Heavy Blinkers have a really devoted fan-base and we’ve licensed the record to labels in the UK, Germany, Spain, South Korea and Japan; Julie Doiron does really well in Canada, Radiogram was quite successful and Paper Moon has done well with a Japanese label and a lot of placements in television shows (11 or 12).

PB : In an ideal world (and not for commercial gain) are there any bands you would have liked to have released records for, but haven’t?

BP : There are tons. I tend to get excited about bands and want to get involved but it’s a lot tougher to sell records now than it was in 1998 or 2000 so we have to be extremely selective.Artists have to tour much more.

PB : Who are your favourite bands and are there any up and coming bands to watch out for both in Canada and World-wide?

BP : I tend to be pretty focused on our artists and often spend most of my listening time on the artists we’re working with or artists from the same communities.

Orwell from France make fabulous orchestral pop music. Treeball from Finland are kind of an alt-country Cardigans type band with more male vocals, who we’ve been listening to for a long time. Kid Lightning, the solo moniker for Dave from The Gigolo Aunts solo moniker, released a fab record that only came out in Spain. Jonathon Inc from Radiogram has put out a solo record that’s got some great songs on it, some of the best from 2004 we heard. Nathan, a local Winnipeg band, do quirky alt-country folk with 2 extremely talented female vocalists and are released on Nettwerk.

PB : You must have seen a few gigs, but which have been your favourites?

BP : Sigur Ros are a favourite; a Julie Doiron/Destroyer double bill in Winnipeg a few years back was a favourite local gig; Black Heart Procession on Halloween in New York (complete with the lead vocalist wearing a horsehead mask and playing a saw), Radiogram/Great Lake Swimmers in Vancouver; and also Japancakes and Meligrove Band at Canadian Music Week in Toronto last year.

PB : The Intercontinental Pop Exchange series (issuing a series of split singles with tracks from two artists from different continents, with a similar sound, to hopefully appeal to fans of the other band) is a fantastic idea. How successful has it been and what future releases are in the pipeline?

BP : The series has been a lot of fun and allowed us to work with some great artists and great labels. Our fans have responded well and we sell a good number of these through the mail and in Japan. Unfortunately some distributors and stores don’t like them because they don’t fit the traditional jewel box one artist per CD mold. Oh well. We just released IPX 6 with Ox and Kid Lightning and have IPX 7 scheduled to come out soon with My Favourite from New York and Entre Rios from Argentina. There is also some talk of a Radiogram split with Britain's the Broken Family Band.

PB : Are there any bands you would really like to include in the series that have so far proved elusive?

BP: A couple but we haven’t been that aggressive about chasing people.

PB : What does the future hold for Endearing Records? Are there plenty more releases up your sleeves?

BP :  This year will actually be a little quiet for us, we’ve recently spun off the publishing portion of our company as a separate business so we’ve got a lot of work setting that up and then in May Heather and I will be having our first child. We’re releasing IPX 7 and re-releasing the Heavy Blinkers 'Better Weather'album and then we’ll release a Paper Moon record this fall and the new Radiogram record in January 2006.

PB : What is the Canadian (in particular “indie”) music/gig scene like? Are there plenty of decent venues? Are the venues government subsidised to enable them to attract better acts?

BP :  It’s okay but unfortunately there are no government subsidies and lots of driving on Canadian tours.

PB : Finally, if you had the power to assemble an indie super-group who would be in it and in whose style would they play?   

BP : We’ve recently had a bunch of collaboration opportunities pop up for our artists and those are all pretty exciting...

Radiogram backed up Julie Doiron for a national radio broadcast and that worked really well. I’d love to see what they could do if put together in the studio for a longer session.

Members of Paper Moon are going to New York this week to do some writing sessions with members of Nada Surf and Ivy that their publisher set up. Paper Moon are writing some of their best songs ever, so I am quite interested in seeing what comes from the sessions.

Heavy Blinkers will be drafting a number of people for guest spots on their next record, Sondre Lerche is going to do some vocals which is cool as we’re all fans. Sean O Hagen might be involved in some recording with them as well.

There are plenty of top records available on this label, so give them a whirl.

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