Interview: Lay Bare Recordings

Seeing the most awesome music and watching the bands work very hard for getting their music out there, it was about time to make my contribution to those musicians.

A couple of years ago I first came across a small, independent record label called Lay Bare Recordings and I very gradually started to collect their releases, which includes a range of musical genres such as stoner and desert rock, jam rock, dark ambient, blackened doom and more. The label is run by Désirée Hanssen in her spare time and her passion for independent music is huge, which translates in some great and very interesting releases. I fired over some questions to find out more about Lay Bare Recordings, how the label is run and what Désirée’s big influences are.

E&D: Can you give us a brief overview of Lay Bare Recordings. When did it start and why did you start the label? 

Désirée: First of all, thanks for showing interest in my label Sander! It’s an honour to get the opportunity via Echoes and Dust to tell something about how I intent to be a part of spreading great music through my record label.  

I started Lay Bare Recordings (LBR) in August 2013. Lay Bare Recordings is based in Nijmegen, The Netherlands (Europe). With my label I want to unveil talented bands so that as many people as possible can discover and enjoy their great music.

Seeing the most awesome music and watching the bands work very hard for getting their music out there, it was about time to make my contribution to those musicians. So I wanted to work with them and make it possible to get their songs on vinyl on a wider scale. Like the name of my label: showing the world those precious things that have been ‘underground’ too long. Those exceptionally gems that are worth to expose their brilliance to the surface. ‘To LAY BARE something’. 

E&D: Is the label a full-time activity or is it something you do in your spare time besides having a different day-job?

Désirée: I run my label besides my regular job. In my day to day job I help and advice people who are going through a tough time. I motivate them to see that even if you have lost your job or if you have a lot of problems, there are still more options to get yourself back on track. With the same attitude in my regular job, I want to give unknown bands a push in the right direction.

E&D: There is a good connection between Lay Bare Recordings and Burning World Records, and similarly to Roadburn Festival. Are they in some way involved more directly into the running of Lay Bare Recordings, or is this more the result of historical reasons? 

Désirée: It’s more a result of historical reasons. When I left my parents home I worked during my student years at a venue called Doornroosje where I was lucky to see many bands. At that place I became friends with Jean Paul (JP, former Burning World Records), Jurgen (Burning World Records / Roadburn Records and former Roadburn Festival) and Walter (Roadburn Festival). 

We all have one thing in common, our passion for music, especially for vinyl and gigs. If people want to know more about my history related to music I would say: check out this awesome book: Passion For Vinyl from Robert Haagsma. He did some great interviews with different kind of record collectors, each one related somehow to those great pieces of wax! 

At the moment I still have a collaboration with Roadburn Records / Burning World Records. I help out selling their awesome pieces of vinyl at festivals like Roadburn and as label we did a duo release together: Death to a Dying World – Live at Roadburn 2016. My releases were for a long time distributed by Burning World Records. As from now Lay Bare Recordings has found a new collaboration on distribution with Southern Lord Records Europe. 

Désirée Hanssen

E&D: You label roster shows quite an eclectic range of artists and genres, ranging from stoner and psychedelic rock to extremer forms of metal and dark electronica. Does this reflect who you are as a person and what you listen to yourself? 

Désirée: Well like my label reveals: From Low ‘n Slow To Hard ‘n Heavy! I try to capture my own musical taste. And that has a wide range of flavours, I can tell.

I released Mos Generator, heavy 70s rock and Ancient Warlocks, stoner rock, both from the West Coast of USA. Ancient Warlock deserves definitely a stage in Europe. Orange Sunshine, dirty garage rock from The Netherlands. Naga, blackened doom from Italy and Pyramidal, space-rock from Spain. I like to assemble beautiful art pieces of music enfolded in eye-catching sleeves. And Seedy Jeezus has some stunning cover artwork made by Lex Waterreus (aka Mr. Frumpy)! It has been a successful issue of their self-titled vinyl. After the Seedy Jeezus release came Carlton Melton meets Dr. Space, Live from Roadburn 2014. This was a co-release with Space Rock Productions on a double album.

At that time I had four releases scheduled. A split record between Pyramidal and Domo, awesome psych from Spain. Another stellar release from Spain was the debut full length by the band Rosy Finch. A blend of riot grrrl stoner doom. Christian Hede Madsen, from the Danish stoner blues band Pet the Preacher, made a sublime solo record full of Nordic dark country under the moniker Bellhound Choir. This album was followed by the second full length of 3AM, the drone project from Peruvian artist Chino Burga, also known from La Ira de Dios.

Then, laid bare from the city of Angels, one of my personal highlights: Thief, an dark ambient electronic project from Dylan Neal (hammered dulcimerist from the experimental black metal band Botanist). Seven haunting hymns on two vinyl editions, limited to 250 pieces total. Only 100 of these gems come with a signed silkscreen print from the cover by Manuel Tinnemans / Comaworx. Check out his stunning dotartwork.

Inanimate is the 2nd release by Naga on my roster, my favourite blackened doom trio from Italy. This mini-album holds 4 pieces of pure rawness and was sold out in a sec. Another beauty came out, from Yawning Man, the founding fathers of desertrock in my opinion. Their instrumental album Historical Graffiti is inspired by punk rock as well as South American music, this created a unique and distinct sound with Latin beats, Mario Lalli’s melodious bass and Gary Arce’s reverb/delay driven guitars.

I was very pleased with the outcome of Tranquonauts: a collaboration between Seedy Jeezus and Earthless’ Isaiah Mitchell. They made a journey into prog psych space jams, altered mind states and intergalactic space rock. It is a sublime collaborative album. Speaking of collaboration. Dead to a Dying World – Live at Roadburn 2016, got out there as a duo release with Roadburn Records. The Texan band Dead to a Dying World’s second album is a hybrid of doom, black metal, and crust punk, buttressed by baroque classical flourishes and focused on the state of the world and its rather grim prospects. 

And the latest album has too much good stuff to ignore! Eclisse, the debut album The Origin of Error under the monniker of Febian Perez is a mix of rock and ‘metal’ with some nice prog segments, plenty of solid post-rock and some flashes of psych. Really a unique blend of noise, that covers a wide range of sounds and concepts. You really need to lay your hands on this one! Further on it’s really my wish to have some old school grindcore and some dark jazz on my label.

E&D: How do you decide upon the releases you’re doing? 

Désirée: I have to be under the impact of the music. I need to be moved by it. So my feelings and emotions are definitely involved. For example Thief, when Dylan Neal shared his project with me (it was during wintertime) the songs and soundscapes came very close to my state of mind. I really feel a deep satisfaction on the end result of this release. Next to my feelings and emotions, there is the DIY attitude of a band. Keeping up the hard work to get that music out! And the band has to be an ace on stage. Those musicians are very passionate when it comes to their music, working their asses off and their driving force is huge!

E&D: Would you take a release on board you’re not 100% enjoying yourself as a fan, but you think it would do well for the label?

Désirée: A simple NO to that question. 

E&D: Do you find the bands/artists yourself or do you get approached and then decide to release something?

Désirée: Most of the time they reach out to me. Also I visit smaller festivals, the organisers of those fests have a good notion for upcoming bands. I recall: Daniel Abecassis (Heavy Days in Doom Town), Jens Heide (Freak Valley Fest), Freek Kruisberghs (Yellowstock), Freek Koster (Soulcrusher Fest, Fortarock) and Paul van Berlo (Into the Void).

E&D: A couple of labels have started subscription deals, where subscribers will get releases before they’re out on general sale, and/or get extra goodies to reward their loyalty. For smaller, independent labels this brings in a guarantee to financially support upcoming releases. Would you ever consider doing something similar? 

Désirée: I am still overthinking this concept for my regular releases. It could become a necessary issue…sigh… But I am also overthinking to plan a special EP series for which people can sign on, as they will be very limited.

E&D: Can you tell us about upcoming releases you have planned? 

Désirée: There is a lot of talking and some releases are in the pipeline. But the last couple of months were really an emotional rollercoaster. My family needed some extra attention. So now when everything seems to calm down my two latest releases Eclisse – The Origin of Error and Thief – Thieves Hymn in D Minor need definitely some extra love to reach a wider fan base. Both definitely worth to check!

And I am really happy to tell that the 18th release on Lay Bare’s roster will be out there before the winter sets in. Hela, a female fronted doom metal band from Spain, which is dark and heavy, yet passionate and melodic doom metal with ethereal and powerful vocals. It perfectly suits the wintertime.

And really to get this one rollin’. An old recording from a gig in Berlin, from one of my favourite Dutch bands from the 80s! Alas I can’t reveal their name yet. Best way to describe: A guitar-driven, melancholic and melodic heavy rock band with psychedelic influences. 

Furthermore, a very interesting jam session is coming up again from a band probably, from one of the hottest spots in the world. Fingers crossed!

So as you see I will Lay Bare a couple of interesting pieces of wax again this year or in the near future. Just keep following me on my brand new website, while I am digging up some brilliant gems which are worth to share.

Hela – Death May Die cover art

E&D: If you were given a chance to curate a stage at Roadburn Festival for a day, what bands would you like to book? 

Désirée: Wow, haha, good question Sander! That would be more than cool. Uhm yeah, then I think “Dream on girl”! But lets pretend and here is a snippet of my wishlist…

Amebix, Agoraphobic Nosebleed, Alabama Kids (they need to be re-united!), Ancient Warlocks, Bauhaus, Bruce Lamont his solo stuff, Bädr Vogu, Bohren & Der Club of Gore, Bosse-de-Nage, Bunkur, Botanist, Blut aus Nord (they rarely play live), Blood Axes, Big Bussiness, Collin Stetson, COIL, Celeste, Cocaine Piss, Celtic Frost, Captain Beyond, Dr. Shrinker, Dilvitund, Der Blutharsch, Deutch Nepal, DJ Shadow, Del-Toros, Dÿse, Dead Neanderthals, Drunk in Hell, EYE, Eagle Twin, Eclisse, Emmylou Harris, Fistula, Foscor, Fluisterwoud, Frank Marino, Gravemiasma, Galg, Godspeed you Black Emperor!, Goatwhore, Giöbia, Inslaughter Natives, Hela, Hatari (from ISL), JESU, Killimanjaro Dark Jazz Ensemble, Kris Kristofferson, Kraftwerk, Kikagaku Moyo, King Buffalo, Laibach, Melt Banana, Mg?a, Massive Attack, Mr. Bungle, Masters of Reality, Naga, Orango, Okkultokrati, Puscifer, Prong, Pizzicato Five, Rush, Rwake, Repulsion, Skinny Puppy, Sam Hain, SPK, Secret Chiefs 3, Slidhr, Scorn, Singapore Sling, Thou, Thief, Tao Cross, The Mount Fuji Dark Jazz Ensemble, Tool,The Ruins of Beverast, The Cyborgs, Tranquanouts, Tonerlow, Trombone Shorty, Vattnet Viskar, 40 Watt Sun, Wreckmeister Harmonies, Walk Through Fire, Yawning Man, Zaum, 3AM, Q65 And the list could go on and on and on… So Walter, what do you think?!

And my favourite curators: Deborah Harry, Mike Patton or Maynard James Keenan!

E&D: Are there any releases or artists in general you would like to recommend to our readers and why?

Désirée: I am really looking forward to the upcoming album from Motorpsycho and the new one from Laibach. At the moment these are spinning extra hours: Power Trip – Nightmare Logic, The Mules of Nana from Orango, Eclisse – The Origin of Error, Hidden Trails – Instant Momentary Bliss, my new testpressing from Hela and a couple of releases from Kikagaku Moyo.

But some golden oldies…

Rush – Moving Pictures, 2112, Fly By Night, Hemisphere, Voivod – Dimension Hätross, Rainbow – Rising, Thin Lizzy, Black Sabbath, Danzig, ZZ Top – Tres Hombres, Budgie, Alabama Kids – Drowsy Driver, Motorpsycho – Demon Box, Sonic Youth – Daydream Nation, Joy Division – Unknown Pleasures / Closer, Hüsker Dü – Zen Arcade, The Replacements, Jeff Buckley, Laibach, Ulver, Roxy Music, Fugazi, Blondie, Soundgarden, Mother Love Bone, Pearl Jam, David Bowie, Johnny Cash, Iris Dement, Albert Ayler, Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, Dave Brubeck, Brian Eno, Throbbing Ghrisle, Neu!, Screaming Trees, Devo, Lynnyrd Skynyrd, Molly Hatchet, Blackfoot, Philip Glass, Led Zeppelin, Thin Lizzy, The Allman Brothers Band, Fanny Adams, Kraftwerk, Einstürzende Neubauten – Yu Gung, Depeche Mode, Kiss, The Jam, Gary Numan, New Order, Captain Beyond, Author and Punisher, Sir Lord Baltimore, Aphrodites Child, Josefus, Marvin Gaye, Q65, Ramones, Medusa, The Beach Boys – Pet Sounds, Suicide, Specials, Prong and Oranssi Pazuzu. And definitely Big Star!

Of course they had their influences on bands to a wider range of the music scene.

E&D: Lastly, do you have any tips or advice for people when they want to start their own record label?

Désirée: Just do it! If it is your dream, don’t hesitate. Be prepared to invest some of your savings. DIY isn’t about money-making in my opinion. 

I will be very happy when the day comes that I can break even. Lay Bare Recordings was never meant to be monotonous or mass produced, which is why I am with my label on a crusade to create a holy grail of bands that I think have an added value in the underground and unconventional music scene. I am very devoted to bring those sounds to a wider audience. Lay Bare Recordings is focused on vinyl. 

And last but not least, try not to get upset when people get rude or impatient. They aren’t aware of a day job besides the label. A day-job that you need to save money to invest in a release. Why get rude or impatient. Just contact me personally first, instead of assuming. But like I said, just do it! It brings you friendship, music, conversation, joy and some great results: shiny pieces of great wax!

Thanks again Sander and Echoes and Dust for giving me the opportunity to reveal some stuff of Lay Bare Recordings!

The pre-order for Hela – Death May Die is now available through here.

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