Interview: Dur et Doux
On the first releases we did a few collaborations with other labels, but it felt so much better to do the things ourselves and try to control and understand the whole process. You don’t get disappointed when you go DIY.
Dur et Doux is a collective of musicians, a label and a production structure that defends a singular vision of amplified music. Founded in 2008 and carried by thirty or so musicians forming around 15 bands, Dur et Doux praises the unusual, the creation and the innovation, all being nurtured by the singularity of each of its members in order to make them cohabit at the best of their abilities.
(((o))): Tell me a bit about the history of the label? How did you get started etc?
We started with the booking of bands that had no representative, couldn’t find agents or labels. The first one was Brice et sa pute, a weirdo minimalist punk duet. We built a tour with PoiL, financially it was a disaster but a lot of fun. Then we did a tour with PoiL and Ni, then Chromb! And so on. We were all based in Lyon, we were friends or knew of each other. It slowly appeared natural to get organized and do things together.
Doing records was and is still a key moment for the life of the bands. We liked records even if we had no idea how to make it, we made the first in 2011. PoiL had their second album ready and nobody to release it. I think Dins o cuol is the beginning of the whole story. On the first releases we did a few collaborations with other labels, but it felt so much better to do the things ourselves and try to control and understand the whole process. You don’t get disappointed when you go DIY. After some years (2014 I think) we discovered that we had the capacity to produce the records, find funding and maybe get paid a little for what we were doing (hooray!). Dur et Doux moved from my room to a proper office, I had no space left for the records anyway and was close to be the post office best friend.
(((o))): Who were the bands (or other for that matter) who inspired you to start a label?
I was looking at many local labels to understand how they work. First locally, labels like Carton records, Gaffer records, S.K records and more international, labels like Web of Mimicry, Tzadik, Cuneiform, Ipecac, Touch & Go. I took a time to realize that all those guys were working in a quite DIY process, why shouldn’t we do the same our own way?
(((o))): At what point did you realize that you actually had a viable thing going?
After a PoiL show in Lyon in 2011 an artist from Lyon came to me at the bar and said, “Cool band man, it will never work!”. Somehow this guy created our catchword. We have never considered the thing we do in a viable way. I could just say that in about 10 years we have learned how to find the money to pay decently the bands and make the records, how to promote our releases and sell the records that we do through traditional distribution, internet and band merchandising. The key of viability for us is also in not doing only records, with the label we try not to lose money, we’re happy when we break even but as you can imagine that you get rich when you sell 500 to 2000 copies of a record. The tour is the main thing for us and the bands.
In the beginning we worked only on the band’s names, now we try to develop the name of Dur et Doux. I think it helps to discover the other bands. If you like PoiL or Ni, you might like Chromb! or any other. Maybe we are viable because more and more people buy records from us.
(((o))): Where do you discover all these artists who appear on Dur et Doux?
We all leave in the same cities, work in and around the same music venue (Périscope). We never released records from bands we don’t know personally and barely from musicians who are not part of the collective.
(((o))): France seems to be overrun with zeuhl bands right now, is there something in the water over there?!
I heard that before! I really don’t know what’s going on here, but the scene is growing. There’s a lot of concerts going on in Lyon, venues like Pezener †; Clacson †, Périscope, Grrrnd Zero, Marché Gare offers a huge diversity of gigs. Périscope was founded by 3 collectives of musicians about ten years ago, it’s a place where bands rehearse, drink beers and watch concerts, a small but big broth where you get new ideas, mixing the genres from jazz and improv to noisy things.
(((o))): What is your favorite release on Dur et Doux?
Hum, I can’t tell, Piniol was a big one but I have to confess that I’m more focused on the future than the past, when a record comes out, I’ve usually been listening to the music a hundred times for one or two years. After it’s released, it joins my record collection and barely moves. I might have to wait another 10 years to discover the records with fresh ears.
(((o))): What are some of the perils of running a label as small as this?
The main threat to me is to get bored and lose patience… We are now 5 people working for Dur et Doux, plus a lot of musicians, but we are getting older, some of us hardly go on DIY tour and even if the conditions are getting better for the most of us (we’re lucky) it’s sometimes hard to keep the faith but well, we have no business plan and do the things that we like and live from it. Of course, if people stop supporting us and the work of the bands, we’d find ourselves in a deep dead end!
(((o))): What would you like to see for Dur et Doux in the future?
More free time and still a lot of fun. We do a small festival named L’Abeille Beugle by the mountains with another collective, it’s the kind of place where I’d like to spend much more time. We try to go more international because the situation in France for the music we do is not an easy thing. I hope we can somehow increase the concerts abroad build more exchanges between bands from here and anywhere on the planet. I would be a lot of fun to have one our band playing on big festival or being featured in mass media, but it’s nothing really important.
(((o))): What would your advice be for anyone considering setting up a record label?
Be patient, don’t put the cart before the horse or try to think of potential success instead of doing your things.
(((o))): Please also see our recent review of Ultra Zook here.