August 14th, 2009
This profile is about shining a spotlight on the burgeoning labels out there that have built their own identities based on the talent they have discovered. Following our first profile on Brooklyn vinyl-friendly label Mexican Summer, we now take a look at Deranged Records out of Roberts Creek, BC. Run by a one-man crew named Gord Dufresne, Deranged deals primarily in underground acts situated deep into the hardcore and punk communities. Having released some of the earliest music by progressive hardcore heroes F**ked Up, drunk ‘80s hardcore throwbacks Brutal Knights and hardcore punkrockandrollers Career Suicide, the label has burgeoned into not just one of Canada’s more reputable indies but also one of the world’s most reliable and consistent punk labels.
Below is a Q&A with Gord Dufresne, owner and operator of Deranged Records.
When was Deranged founded?
GD: I believe my first release was in 2000 with the DS-13 LP or Born Dead Icons 7-inch.
How did you come up with the name Deranged?
GD: It was/is a fitting name for most of the music I’ve been releasing. In retrospect, I wish I had picked something different but ten years later and over 150 releases, what’s the point? People recognize the name and for the most part, know what to expect from my releases.
How would you describe your philosophy towards releasing music?
GD: Labels should take a back seat and let bands do what they do best. At the same time, bands should keep in mind that they pretty much only have one shot at releasing their music – take your time and make it count. No need to rush into anything - do it right the first time.
What do you make of the return of the cassette as a format?
GD: I think cassettes continue to be the format of choice for band demos in hardcore punk. It’s a format that anyone interested in making their music available as a tangible product, can produce without relying on a manufacturer for production – it can all be done from the comfort of your own home. Obviously not as many folks have access to cassette players nowadays but I think that part of this revival is a result of limited availability and collector culture.
Do you limit the numbers of records you press?
GD: Not usually, unless specifically requested by the band. My intention is to sell as many copies as possible. Some of my releases will involve limited editions such as coloured vinyl but I do my best to keep releases in press.
What are some of the biggest challenges you face operating Deranged?
GD: Lack of time. I run Deranged by myself with the help of my distributors. I juggle a regular job, label, and family as best as I can but there are only so many hours in a day and always tons to do. I’ve been doing this for a while and for the most part, things run pretty smoothly.
Would you say there is a way for labels to release good music and still see money come in?
GD: Really depends on how much money we are talking about. Within the realm of DIY labels, regardless of whether the music is good or not, profit margins and revenue sources are quite limited. Even though CDs have never played that significant a role in the growth of my label, for many, CD sales have historically been their main source of revenue with a preferable return on investment compared to vinyl. As CD sales decline and the relevance of the CD format dwindles, so does the potential for labels to be profitable. Vinyl sales are up but the manufacturing and shipping costs involved in vinyl production are significantly higher than those of the CD format.
Other factors such as too many bands, too many labels, shorter shelf life, and shorter bands longevity also limit potential sales. Looking outside punk/hardcore, there are definitely independent labels releasing great music and believe many are making a reasonable return in the process.
What do you look for when you’re scouting for new bands?
GD: Solely whether the music appeals to me. Don’t care how popular the band is, whether it’s not typical hardcore/punk, or you plan to tour for the next 6 months. I need to like what I hear, the rest is just gravy.
Which band were you most excited to get? And which release is your personal favourite?
GD: The F**ked Up Hidden World and Career Suicide Attempted Suicide albums, both for the same reason – not only were they significant within the realm of punk/hardcore, in both cases, there was a lot of build up to both releases from both the bands’ and Deranged’s perspective. These albums involved a lot of time and energy and being involved in the process and seeing these albums come to fruition was an important and rewarding stage in the development of the label. I feel that both raised the bar and profile of the label and for that I am very grateful.
Do you sign contracts with the bands you work with?
GD: For the most part no, but there are a few exceptions. I have no objections to contracts if the band wants one and in some cases it would have been wise for me to have one involved. A lot of people in the punk/hardcore community view contracts as negative and restrictive. Some definitely are, but they don’t need to be. Bands should not feel like they have to sign to terms they aren’t comfortable with. From a label perspective, one reason for contracts is get a multi-record arrangement with a band. As a general rule I don’t mind bands doing records with other labels. I usually prefer to continue working with bands on an ongoing basis but at the same time, I’m perfectly aware of the label’s limitations. Some bands will out-grow the label and it no longer makes sense for them to continue with Deranged.
One of the great things about a contract is that they force both parties to put some thought and engage both in discussions on the specifics of what both can expect from the arrangement. Keep in mind that most of my releases involve pretty small pressings in the grand scheme of the music industry - 1,000 to 3,000 copies is the standard, and there really isn’t a need for a 14-page legal document to cover the basics. A simple email listing all the specifics is usually sufficient for me and the bands I work with.
What is your best-selling release to date?
GD: Best release would be the F**ked Up Hidden World double LP.
What are some of your current releases?
GD: I’ve done over 150 releases to date and more than half are still in print, so I’ll spare your readers a long list of names but some of the more high profile bands in the roster include F**ked Up, Career Suicide, Tranzmitors, Brutal Knights, Siege, Total Abuse, DS-13, Tear It Up, Wolfbrigade, Vicious Cycle, Red Dons, Regulations, and White Lung.
What do releases do you have coming up?
GD: As usual, loads of new releases just coming out now like albums from Vicious Cycle, Sedatives, and Guilty Faces. In production are the Reactionaries album, Statues’ New People LP repress, Vapid album, new Regulations LP and new Red Dons LP. There is also a ton of 7-inches in the works.