Published Apr 01, 2006Location: Fergus, ON
Date of Birth: September 2002
Releases to Date: 6
Biggest Sellers: Merzbow's Fantail and Yoshinotsune
Upcoming Releases: Kawabata Makoto Musique Cosmique Electro-Acoustique; Istvan Kantor; Kazumoto Endo
It seems somehow appropriate that an independent label specialising in noise would operate out of a small town like Fergus, Ontario; it's as far off the beaten path as noise is from other musical forms. But while the 10,000 or so residents of Fergus (located 18 km north of Guelph) prepare for their annual highland games, or gear up to host North America's largest annual truck show, the men behind C3R will continue to be busy befriending folks from as far as Japan and Norway to bring their unconventional sounds to adventurous ears all over the world. "We're the biggest noise label in town," says C3R's Artistic Coordinator/A&R rep Chris Worden, his tongue planted firmly in cheek. "We fought hard for that."
Originally founded by fellow noise artist Zach Murr in September of 2002, C3R began its mysterious and low-key yet instantly prestigious existence with the issuing of Fantail, an album by Japanese noise god Merzbow. Pressed in a strict one-time edition of 500 CDs in December that year, Fantail set the standard C3R would continue to adhere to throughout the years: meticulously designed compact disc releases by internationally renowned harsh noise artists printed in limited editions (the latter being a common practice for challenging music with such a niche audience, as it makes releases more collectible, precious and exclusive). "The thing with Merzbow is you could re-release an album or you could just ask him to do a new one," jokes Murr.
Since Fantail, C3R has calmly and steadily grown in stature, both in its body of releases and its staff. By the time Murr had arranged the label's second release Yoshinotsune, a second collection from Merzbow in May 2004, Guelph resident Mark Lougheed had joined the label's ranks, taking on distribution, sales and financing duties. Shortly after this release, Toronto-based noise improviser Chris Worden got on board, and C3R's holy racket trinity was formed.
The label's website also jokingly lists Justin Salter as a staff member. "That's just a guy who wants to be our accountant," says Worden. "He would just look at the books and wonder how we do it!" chips in Murr. Unlike some record labels, the purpose of C3R isn't to turn any sort of profit, but rather to exist as a labour of love that only aspires to cover its own costs which often translate into slight financial losses. But for these young men (all three turn 22 this year), money is no object when it comes to honouring and working with their musical heroes, who are more than happy to be appreciated. "They like the fact that people like what they do, and they like to get their CDs released," says Lougheed.
The prestigious list of international artists on the roster is evidence of cross-continental love for C3R's good intentions: besides having released albums by Norway's tonal experimenter Gordon Molohan and Japan's super-spiritual Tsurubami (of the Acid Mothers Temple family) in the past year, C3R also has future albums in the works from Kawabata Makoto (the founding Acid Mother's first foray into homemade electronics), internationally renowned Toronto musician and performance artist Istvan Kantor, and Japanese modern noise heavy weight Kazumoto Endo (aka Killer Bug).
C3R recently began a CD-R series that will allow them to increase their output. "It's easy to do, right?" says Wolden. "We can do however many copies. Whenever somebody asks for one we can just make them one." Their first CD-R release is by Pholde, the ambient side-project of Toronto noise legend and Corpusse member Alan Bloor (aka Knurl).
C3R's ongoing support for the worldwide noise and experimental community hardly ends with its releases, however. The boys have been busy this year establishing and organising a three-day experimental music and arts installation festival called Electric Eclectics that will take place the first weekend of August in Meford, ON, a tiny farming community near Georgian Bay, in the direction of Owen Sound.
A teaser for this year's line-up includes names such as Alex Hacke of Einsturzende Neubauten, Yuko Nexus6 and Fe-mail. "This time around it's mostly people playing who are friends of Gordon [Molohan] or myself, so it's not that tough to get the artists on board," says Wolden. "It's the simple logistics of setting up a three-day festival with camping at this farm."
"And dealing with the government," adds Lougheed.
"Yeah, and getting grants. It's gonna be basically Experimental Music-stock."
"In Meford," says Lougheed.
"Yeah, in Meford. A town of 4,000."