Published Mar 23, 2007Date of Birth: 2005
Releases to date: 7
Biggest seller: The Field Register Tire & Caster
Upcoming releases: Orillia Opry, Plants and Animals, Belleisle
Conventional wisdom has it that an artist should keep a comfortable distance from their record label. For the community that rallies around Montreals Ships at Night label, thats impossible. The couple at the core of the flagship band Jeannot Boudreau and Rebecca Silverberg of the Field Register run the label; two other members of that band run the recording studio where every release has been hatched, and the liner notes for each record feature a suspiciously similar cast of characters.
"Ive read interviews with labels where they say, Dont work with your friends, says Boudreau. "Sometimes that applies, but weve been really lucky. Weve got a really solid network of people who do really good work, and I think thats important.
Folk If Necessary, But Not Necessarily
Though the Field Registers shoegazey indie pop launched the label, its the rootsy Timber that has set the labels tone. "Musically, we didnt plan on being an alternative or indie folk label, which I guess is what weve become, says Boudreau. "We release one record at a time. We dont have a specific mandate. Were just huge music fans. There are certain demos that we get where well say that it wont fit with the rest, but I dont think well limit ourselves to continuing on the indie folk philosophy. Its not the only thing were interested in.
The Label That Plays Together
Timber guitarist Warren Spicer is also a driving force in the post-rock acoustic band Plants and Animals, and produces the rest of the Ships At Night roster. "We owe a lot to his production style, says Boudreau. "Its all on analog tape, and as much as possible is straight-up live recording. Warren plays guitar on all the records as well, and adds a lot of magic. Spicers Timber band-mate David Macleod is responsible for the labels finest hour his 2006 solo album Strange Biology and also moonlights on bass in the Field Register. Finally, Timber bassist and vocalist Katie Moore is one of Montreals MVPs; her impending solo debut has been the talk of the town for months now.
Vanity is No Fair
The birth of Ships at Night was technically in 2003, when the transplanted Monctonians in the Field Register slapped the name on their debut CD, The Eastern Shore. "We were planning on it being a real label, but that only happened after the second release, which was Timber, says Boudreau. "A lot of people release their own band on their own label. When you put out other peoples music, youre responsible for more than your own stuff. Expanding the roster also helped with a key factor: distribution, which is now handled by Sonic Unyon. "Its hard to call yourself a label without distribution, says Boudreau, "and releasing other peoples records without distribution would have been difficult.
In the Neighbourhood
Most of the Ships at Night roster many of whom are transplanted Maritimers have congregated in the same Montreal neighbourhood that hosts their recording studio and their preferred graphic designers. Says Boudreau, "Were not a very big label, so when it comes to bigger issues, its nice to go across the street and talk to the artist in person, instead of dealing with email all the time. You learn to appreciate the people a lot more, when you can just hang out and play music and go to shows with your friends. For now [the label is] about our immediate community, but we have thought about releasing music by people in other cities. Were not closed to that idea.