If you dig psych/prog/acid folk/krautrock/spacerock you really need to read this.
Fruits de Mer Records is a small but mighty vinyl only label out of the idyllic London suburb – Walton On Thames (birthplace of Nick Lowe in case you’re wondering).
Started by friends Keith Jones and Andy Bracken as a way to unearth and reissue long-lost, classic tracks from the sixties and early seventies, they now release a mix of both classics and obscure tracks re-imagined by other artists. We originally came across FdM with their release of The Chemistry Set’s wicked cover of Hendrix’s Love and Confusion (click HERE).
We also have a Meet the Band piece coming up soon on the amazing Texas instrumentalists – Proud Peasant, also in the FdM stable – video below.
All records are released as limited (700 or so) colour vinyl pieces and become fast collectors items if EBay and Discogs are to be believed.
We touched base with Keith for some history and info on the The 14th Dream Of Dr. Sardonicus Festival – August 5-7, 2016 in Wales.
Tell us about how Fruits de Mer got started.
An old friend, Andy Bracken was already running a small indie label in the USA. He wanted to share the fun/work/pain and after a year or two of discussing the idea for a new label steeped in the 60s and early 70s, and a false start or two, the first FdM release escaped in May 2008 – a single by New York’s Schizo Fun Addict, featuring new versions of George Martin’s ‘Theme One’ and The Small Faces ‘Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake’ (Fruits de Mer was supposed to be a 7″ reissues label but none of the majors would let us reissue anything!)
What’s the story behind the name?
I’d love to say it’s all to do with trawling for buried treasures, but the fact is my wife Liz suggested it as we both love a plateful of shellfish; one of my sons put the label logo together and our first website together and, eight years on, everything is still being held together with the same bits of string and sellotape
What is the raison d’être of FdM?
It was to release music that Andy and/or I loved – classic and wilfully obscure music from the 60s/70s – and to do it on vinyl that we’d buy ourselves if someone else released it, with a vague thought that it would be cool to create a collectible label one day; Andy ended his involvement a few years ago to concentrate on writing, so I now only have to persuade myself to release someone’s music. It was also to make the whole thing fun – for us, for the artists and for anyone who risked spending money on one of our records – that’s still very important.
The label has expanded in the last few years, more albums as well as singles, new music as well as covers (but still very much
rooted in the 60s/70s) and some very known names in the UK such as The Pretty Things, The Chemistry Set, Tir na nOg and The Bevis Frond as well as new artists from all over the place. But it’s as big as it’s going to get – not least because Liz and I have to post out most of the orders!
What do you make of the vinyl resurgence?
Mainly positive things – hopefully more money in the pockets of recording artists; more people getting excited and obsessive about music in the way that we did 40 or 50 years ago, sitting down and actually listening to music; I hope record labels start to make good use of the creative opportunities 7″ and 12″ fomats offer (at the moment, a few too many reissues seem like rather dull, lazy and expensive cash-ins); the worrying aspects are ebayers buying to sell at an instant profit, and a new wave of ‘collectors’ who don’t actually have record-desks – that’s all going to end in tears – but I guess it might mean that we can look forward to the return of deletion/cut-out/second-hand sales some time in the future as there’s a lot of great music now being issued on vinyl that’s never going to be played
If you could pick any time to travel back to for music, where would you go and what year would it be….
I’ve always thought London in 1966, I was born just a few years too late to really be ‘part of’ the sixties – being aged 10 in a mining village in the Midlands was a long way removed from being 16 in the middle of London! But I’m starting to think being in the USA in the late sixties with enough money to raid the local record shops must have been pretty wonderful; I’ve been spending quite a lot of time recently discovering weird and wonderful US 45s via YouTube – it feels like there must have been a band in every street, a record label in every town and a pressing plant in every state – the UK was never like that!
What tunes are currently on heavy rotation for you…
Other than those US tracks from the 60s, Public Service Broadcasting, Soft Hearted Scientists (a wonderful Welsh psychedelic band), Insektlife Cycle (instrumental rock from the Philippines), Hammock, some excellent krautrock/kosmische reissues, along with lots of demos that get sent to me and, of course, the next batch of releases on Fruits de Mer.
What’s coming up next for Fruits de Mer?
Somehow we’ve managed to get the 60s UK psych legends July to release a single on the label in May, along with a spacerock album by Sendelica and an EP by a label favourite Crystal Jacqueline, which includes a cover of a track originally by Joe Byrd and the Field Hippies; we have our annual three-day festival in the summer in Wales, followed by an EP from Sidewalk Society (who are from Long Beach), a cover of ‘In A Gadda Da Vida’ by Vibravoid from Germany, and at the end of the year a double LP celebrating the label’s 100th vinyl release that will have some rather special guests on it.