Wednesday, November 30, 2011

LABEL PROFILE: Sireena Records

The electric and eclectic world of German reissue label

By Stephen SPAZ Schnee
     The greatest musical gift that we have today is that we already have over 100 years of recorded music to immerse ourselves in. From classical to Heavy Metal, there is so much for a music fan to discover and rediscover.  No matter what you are looking for, genre-wise, it is out there and ready to be found.
     If you are a fan of slightly obscure German and European Prog Rock, Krautrock, Jazz Fusion and Rock 'n' Roll, then there's a label I'd like to introduce you to: Sireena Records.  Already over a decade old, Sireena's catalog generally consists of reissues by artists that might be obscure to the general public but are adored by the music aficianado. From Octopus and Harlis to Shaa Khan and Bullfrog, there is a treasure trove of great artists to acquaint yourselves with. Mixed in with '70s and '80s reissues are some bona-fide current releases by some of the bands, including live recordings.
     Sireena was founded in 2000 by Tom Redecker and Lothar Gartner.  Redecker has steered the label forward for over a decade and shows no sign of slowing down.  Alongside Bend Paulat, who has been part of the Sireena family since 2008, Redecker has plenty of releases planned for 2012 and beyond.  One look at where they have come from and where they are headed will tell any music fan that this is a quality label that will continue to excite and surprise listeners for a long time to come....

STEPHEN SPAZ SCHNEE: Before starting the label, were you an avid music collector? If so, what types of music were you collecting (genres, bands, formats, etc)?
TOM REDECKER: My interest in music always was big. I didn’t care if it was Rock, Folk, or even Jazz: I absorbed everything like a sponge. Music from the USA, England, France, Germany, I didn’t care. I spent all my pocket-money on records and music mags. And for concert tickets. Thank God I  worked as a stagehand at concerts and I was able to see a lot of bands live!

SPAZ: What inspired you to start up a label?
TOM: There were several vinyl releases which had not yet been published on CD. Therefore, Lothar and I founded Sireena Records in 2000. We were two huge music fans. Krautrock, folk, hardrock, psychedelic – there was and still is NO border in regard to the taste of music. Meanwhile there are a lot of labels which specialized in reissues – great labels like Rhino or Bear Family – but we are even more specialized…

SPAZ: How did you go about picking the name of the label?
TOM: Sireena is a title from my musical project The Perc Meets The Hidden Gentleman. We thought that this also fits as our label-name.

SPAZ: When did the label first start operations?
TOM: We started in the year 2000 with the first label release of a CD called Pueblo Woman from Electric Family (Sireena 2001), which contained live recordings and studio outtakes.

SPAZ: When you first set up the label, what were your initial goals? And do you feel you’ve achieved those goals so far?
TOM: We had no special targets except to produce CDs and vinyl and to survive. And we are still alive! There are still so many diamonds to be dug out. Guess that is our main goal.

SPAZ: How do you go about picking the titles that you release?
TOM: We do have long lists which we created on our own and which are growing constantly. This is due to the fact that many fans of our vinyl are steadily feeding us with worthy sugestions. We have very close contact to music collectors all over the world with whom we are communicating with. Once we receive a suggestion, we research, apply for licence, and possibly have a future release on the label.

SPAZ: Is there an elusive album out there that you have been eager to reissue but haven’t been able to get the rights to?
TOM: This is something we face time and again. Especially the major labels, whoare not often willing to give their permission and license to us. Therefore, we prefer to work directly together with the artist. We do have a fine series called The Artist’s Choice. Here, we publish music directly out of the artist’s archives which is special fun to us. But in the meantime, we also get permissions from record companies and publishers to produce our records.

SPAZ: Is there a particular artist (or artists) out there that you would love to have on your roster?
TOM: Neil Young! To me, he’s still the greatest musician alive. Journey Through The Past is not yet available on CD but I would much more prefer to reissue it on 180gm heavy vinyl. Neil, if you’re reading this, please contact me!!

SPAZ: If you had a choice, would you prefer to reissue an album as it was originally released or do you like the opportunity of adding bonus tracks?
TOM: Depends on what kind of album it is. If the original was a concept album then you don’t need any bonus tracks. But if I heard fantastic additional tracks, then it would make sense to add them to the album.

SPAZ: Which format do you personally prefer? (CD/Vinyl/Cassette/MP3)
TOM: Definitely vinyl! I am very happy that the interest to buy vinyl is rising. It is the format of the music collectors.

SPAZ: As a collector and music lover, how do you view the current music scene?
TOM: The music disappears more and more into the internet and that worries me. But I don’t give up!

SPAZ: How do you view the idea of a future filled with download-only releases? Don’t you feel that collectors will always want to physically own the music that they purchase?
TOM: Definitely! As already mentioned, we’re producing for music collectors not for music consumers. Collectors want to have a physical CD/vinyl at hand, preferably vinyl, and mp3 files are of no interest to them.

SPAZ: Do you see the resurgence in the popularity of vinyl growing?
TOM: It makes us very happy. It is definitely much more fun. It is more expensive, the handling is more complex but that’s all OK: this way it is more fun. We release music on vinyl which hasn’t been released on vinyl before. From Stone The Crows, Mott The Hoople or Chic. Exclusively on vinyl – wouldn’t have thought about it five years ago – but it is working!

SPAZ: At the end of the day, do you have a particular personal favorite amongst your own label releases?
TOM: Very difficult. I have a relation to all our releases and I don’t want to highlight one of them. They all are our babies.

SPAZ: What would you like people to know about the label?
TOM: We are music maniacs but this is our gear! This helps us to go on searching and finding. Join us during this search.... there’s so much more to explore !

SPAZ: How can our readers contact the label with suggestions, comments and praise?

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