Fólkvangr Records are a US based black metal cassette record label. They specialise in providing limited cassette versions of many up & coming black metal band releases.. You can find out more & check out what is available over on Facebook, Instagram & on Bandcamp.
Cassettes are making something of a comeback. Not as a medium for playing music but as a collectable item. More & more bands are offering limited runs of their work on cassette as a collectable item (the latest Creeper record was available as a cassette during their live shows at their merchandise stall).
The label already has a number of quality bands on the roster that include the incredible Sojourner, Afar & Violet Cold. The limited edition cassettes are incredibly reasonably priced at only $7 (not including shipping).
We here at Games, Brrraaains & A Head-Banging Life are very pleased to bring you an interview with Fólkvangr Records owner Mark.
1. How did the label come about?
Fólkvangr Records is still very new for me. I co-own another cassette label called Baby Tooth Records in my home town of Tucson, AZ with one of my best friends and we have and continue to put out a lot of really great music through that. However, black metal has been a passion of mine for the past 15 years and so once I had the basic knowledge of how to run a small label, it was something in the back of my mind that I wanted to do.
Luckily I have a very supportive girlfriend who also loves black metal and she encouraged me to start the label and is very helpful when it comes to checking out bands and layouts and letting me know what works and what doesn’t. I also still rely heavily on the help of my partner from Baby Tooth for things with Fólkvangr Records and also am lucky to have a pair of really talented photographers as some of my best friends (the theme being that I take advantage of all the talented people around me and the help they offer)!
2. What is the labels aim?
My goal with Fólkvangr Records is definitely to put out music that I love to listen to and to help out bands and musicians as much as I can. I am still learning how the business works and so as time goes on, my hope is that I will be able to increase the quality of what I do and still maintain the very hands-on approach I have with each step of the process in getting the music put onto a physical medium and out to the fans. I have also been learning a lot from Christine (owner of Tridroid Records) and Curtis (Dewar PR) as far as things like promotion goes, so anything I can do to further the reach of the awesome people on my label, I will continue to do as best I can!
3. Why do think tapes are making a comeback?
I am not sure they are making a comeback just yet, I still get quite a few people confused at the concept when I tell them that I have a cassette label, but there are a lot of reasons why it is a great medium (especially for a genre like metal, which is very collector oriented).
The first thing that comes to mind for me is the cost, both for production and for purchasing. I would love to be able to buy a vinyl record from every band I see, but the fact is that I can’t afford that and neither can they, so a $5-8 cassette is a great way to support local and touring bands. Another great thing about cassettes is they offer something different visually, the format of the J-Card usually means that you are going to get slightly different artwork than what is on the CD or vinyl version of something and the actual cassette shells look good and have a lot of nostalgia tied to them.
4. Has the rise of streaming services & YouTube made it tougher to get a label going?
I think services like YouTube, Bandcamp, Spotify, etc… are great, this comes strictly from my point of view as a huge consumer of music. I have always and will always buy physical copies of music when my budget allows, but the fact is that there is just so much amazing stuff out there and without the internet and streaming media, I wouldn’t know about 99% of it. Now from the point of view of starting or having a label, I still think they are great. It is the best way to get what you have to offer out to the public, and if they like what you are doing, they will support that. It is also a great resource, because you can find all the amazing unsigned artists out there and easily get in contact with them.
5. What advice would you give to someone trying to start a label up?
There isn’t really any money to be made in having a small label, but I don’t think that is why any of us do this. I love music and I wanted to give back to the people that give so much of themselves through their art to others. My big piece of advice is don’t be afraid to approach people and don’t be upset if things don’t work out, the worst that can happen is someone says no thank you or ignores you, and then you move on.
I would also just like to take the time to say how much I appreciate all the people I have met and get to work with through Fólkvangr Records and all the people that support us, whether it is liking and sharing posts on social media or buying the actual music from myself and the bands. Also, a huge thank you to Carl and Games, Brrraaains & A Head-Banging Life for the great questions and the kind words. They really do mean a lot at the end of a long day!