Today, I’m introducing you to the record label Thousand Islands Records, based in Montreal, that focuses on providing support to emerging bands! I had the chance to sit down with Bruno, who handles the press relations at TIR, to talk about the label and their forthcoming projects for 2018!
Hello Bruno, thanks for taking a few minutes to chat with me! Could you please introduce yourself and present your record label Thousand Islands Records to our readers? Hey Valentine, thanks for the opportunity! Much appreciated. My name is Bruno Beaulieu, I’m one of the guys behind Thousand Islands Records, based in Montreal, Canada. The record label was originally founded by Sebastien Doyon and François Boisvert back in March 2016, both are members of the band Down Memory Lane.
At that time I was a contributor to well known American webzine Dying Scene. I was very up-to-date (still is!) with the punk rock scene, bands to watch, current buzz and what’s good/what’s not. So only a few weeks following the label’s launch, I joined the team at Thousand Islands as partner, PR rep and I’d say headhunter! Since we needed a woman to keep an eye on the three of us, we hired Cynthia Charpentier in May of this year. She has around 15 years of experience in management positions for multiple companies. She is the pushy one making sure that things are getting done. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: Every company, big or small, should have women in their management team. Take notes friends.
What kind of services are you currently offering and most importantly, what kind of bands are you targeting through Thousand Islands Records? Right now Thousand Islands Records provides full digital release via ITunes, Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, GooglePlay and more than 150 additional platforms. Each agreement includes in-house PR, we pen and send press releases, setup exclusive features, reach out for interviews and reviews. We don’t cover the cost of physical release at the moment, it’s something we’re working on, but we sure offer physical distribution if a band decides to release his album in physical format. We also have business partners here in Quebec for CD pressing, merch and graphics design if needed.
We’re not a booking agency but if we can help our bands getting booked to play shows, we’ll definitely get involved. Which bands are we targetting? Genre-speaking I say the team at TIR love melodic/skatepunk a lot haha! But we’re open-minded to any sub-genres actually, we keep the door open to any hard-working bands willing to team with us. We’re a pressure-free label, there’s no touring requirement with us! We know what it’s like to be weekend warriors, dealing with real jobs, bills and having kids to feed. As long as there’s a minimum of live shows we’re happy. It’s much more about feelings than being or not a “good fit”. If we like what we hear and the band’s attitude, chances are we might have a deal.
You work in a label, manage PR and also own a punk webzine. Concretely, what does the music industry represent to you? Is this something you’ve always wanted to do? Music has always been part of my life. My father plays guitar and sing for as long as I can remember. When I was a kid, his band was jamming almost every week in our basement, playing classic rock songs, just for the fun of it. This will sound cliché but the first punk album I listened too was Green Day’s Dookie. It was right before being introduced to the Fat roster by some friends of mine.
In highschool I was hosting a punk radio show during lunch time. I was the only one playing punk music, the other shows were all about rap/dance music, good times! I also bought my first drum kit as soon as my wife and I got our first house. Long story short – I always loved music. But is it something I always wanted to do? The label, music blogging? I’d say no.
From 2005 to 2012 I was totally disconnected from the scene. I was still listening to punk rock, but only the bands I knew at that time, sticking with the likes of Lagwagon, Millencolin, No Use, Bad Religion and Blink-182 (Dude Ranch on repeat) to name a few. I wasn’t even trying to find anything new to listen to. During that period I lost my job many times, bought our first house, got married, first kid, too many diapers…etc. Then some day one of my Twitter friend Bob, introduced me to Dyingscene.com, I got hooked at discovering new bands and dived right back in at this moment. Started contributing to the blog, did it for 2-3 years before launching my own little zine PunKanormalActivity.com.
At first I wanted a little personal blog to share some thoughts and keep contributing to DS, but I quickly realized how shitty of a writer I was and that elaborating on a subject wasn’t for me. But now this little blog has a dozen talented contributors – reviewers, interviewers and photographers. Even a podcast. Its pretty damn cool. Getting press releases from PR and labels on a daily basis made me wonder why can’t I do that for the bands that I like, or at least give it a try?
The next thing you know, Thousand Islands launched and I was able to hop on the train with Seb and Frank to achieve that. So should I thank Bob and Dying Scene’s Head Honcho Dave Buck for being the reasons why I now invest myself in a bunch of music related projects? Yes I guess. As for the music industry, hum…We all have different thoughts or points of view on the subject.
Since i’m Canadian I’d say it’s like professional hockey. There’s the big mainstream league getting big radios and tv coverage. Run by people telling you what to do, what to say and what to wear. Sadly this league does not always provide a quality product in my humble opinion. Right below, we have a semi-pro league, equally talented, underground and far from the stardom lights. Mostly DIY with so much potential and filled with so many hidden gems. Most of the players are doing it for fun and because they love the game. There’s also a feeling of friendship and unity throughout this league. Personnally, I do prefer the semi-pro league. A lot actually.
Are you happy with the way things have evolved over the years at Thousand Islands Records? According to you, what has been your greatest achievement as a label so far? Totally happy and surprised to be honest. We had no idea a year ago which direction to take and wasn’t expecting the label to have more than 12 bands on its roster after not even 2 years of existence! We’re helping out local bands as well as bands from the West Coast, France, Sweden, Belgium and Germany. Did a few co-release partnerships with some rad labels like Less Talk, More Records, Bearded Punk Records and Melodic Punk Style. We even had our first Thousand Islands Fest last summer. Sorry but I can’t only pick one achievement!
Last but not least, what are Thousand Islands Records’ projects for 2018? We have so much going on. First our friends in Shift-D, Bussieres, These Fast Times and Arising From will be releasing new stuff (no pressure guys!). I know other bands are also working on new material but it’s too soon to say if it’s coming out next year or not. Also I’ve reached out to several vinyl pressing companies, i’m trying to find who has the best deal to suit our needs – Yes we’d like to put out our first vinyl release next year. Stoked for that.
A few bands on the roster will come visit eastern Canada this summer – but I can’t say more right now. Also, Thousand Islands Records would like to produce live shows next year, not only to showcase our bands, but any bands. And hopefully we’ll find free time to organize a Thousand Islands Fest 2. Thats about it! Those of you not familiar with our roster can find the label on Facebook, Bandcamp, Discogs. You can also listen to our bands on Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer and more. Thanks again Valentine and Distrolution!
Thousand Islands Records manage a lot of bands I’m a huge fan of. You should definitely keep an eye on them! Thank you for your time Bruno! x