Fruits de Mer Records
- March 2010 -
Fruits de Mer is a small English/American record
label specialized in releasing forgotten and also a bit more known
psychedelia, acid folk, progressive rock, kraut and space rock
treasures from the 60’s and seventies on coloured 7" vinyl.
The trick is that the music is recorded by today’s bands that
can appreciate the old songs and get some fresh life into them. All
the singles (eight volumes so far) are limited editions of 300
copies but still reasonable priced. Most of the releases are
already sold out. The label seems to really appreciate their
customers by sending free gifts etc., and since I really love what
they are doing I decided to make an interview with one of the label
heads, Andy Bracken.
First of all, who are you guys and where are you
We’re Keith and Andy, we’re English,
have known one another for a dozen years or more, and became mates
on the back of a shared passion for music, record collecting,
football, beer, cheese, divorcing our wives and hailing from the
What’s the connection and difference between
Bracken Records and Fruits de Mer? When, how and why were these
I started Bracken 5 or 6 years ago as a vehicle for
releasing new music I liked the sound of. It’s something, I
think, every record collector considers at some stage –
it’s a natural progression, I suppose.
Keith had always shown a keen interest in what I
was doing, and we’d mooted the idea of setting up a label
together for a couple of years. Many hours were spent in the pub
plotting and scheming.
There was no mileage in setting up another label
akin to Bracken, as we wanted an angle. Keith’s initial idea
was to re-release obscure or under-appreciated originals from
yesteryear on vinyl 7", so we had a stab at that. We purchased a
license and contacted the major labels, but it became clear pretty
quickly they were never going to allow us access to source
I suggested to Keith that we get contemporary bands
to cover the tracks we had a license for, and that was how it came
about. A happy accident, in a way. That was late 2007.
What else do you do except run those labels? How
much time/effort does it take to run a record label like that?
I seem to spend more and more time finding places
where I can still smoke. Aside from that, we both have secret lives
that nobody knows about that don’t involve wearing Lycra.
Well, I can only speak for myself...
It’s a lot of time and effort. And money. But
it is, to coin a cliché, a labour of love. Something you learn
early on is to only release music you love, and only work with
people you like and respect. As long as you’re proud of the
record, it’s always worthwhile.
So far, Fruits de Mer has been releasing just
limited edition 7" singles. Why is that?
The 7" vinyl single is the perfect format for a new
venture. You know, many of us grew up with the humble 7" being the
only affordable format on which to buy music. Albums were too
pricey, and I never really took to CDs – and downloads
don’t actually exist. Logistically, it’s the perfect
start point, as well. Just the packaging and postage involved in an
album are problematic. Cut your teeth on singles –
that’s my motto.
What are your favorite artists? Where did your love
for 60’s/70’s psych music come from?
“Favourite artists” is always a tricky
one. I know there’s only a handful of artists I would always
buy a new release by, without even needing to hear it. Just hearing
about it is enough. They are Eddie Cochran, Syd Barrett, Nick Drake
and The Fall, But there are hundreds of other artists I adore, and
thousands of tracks, from blues, through Rockabilly and R&B,
the 60s generally, acid- loner- prog- and rural-folk, Psych,
Krautrock, Ska, Rocksteady and Dub, punk, post-punk, new-wave, and
even the odd bit of synth-pop and so on. No real limits. A good
tune is a good tune, irrespective of genre.
I grew up in the post-punk era, and wasn’t
even born when most of the tunes we release were written.
Keith’s a 70s child, but the 60s/70s psych and acid folk
thing is where Keith and I have a meeting of minds. I suppose
I’m more in to the folky side, whereas Keith’s a bit
more prog, but psych and Kraut we definitely gel on.
On what grounds do you decide what to release?
We have a big say in that, and usually brainstorm
it with the band. It has to be something malleable, something that
can be re-interpreted or re-invented, yet, at the same time, it has
to be something that suits the band and they can stamp their
identity on. Just listen to what Cranium Pie did with their tracks
for the perfect example of that.
How do you find your artists or do they find
They invariably find us, though there are a couple
we’ve “hunted down”, such as Mark Fry and Alison
O’Donnell of Mellow Candle. In general, though, it’s
better that they find us, as it’s a good indication that
they’re keen and eager.
Do you get a lot of offers from bands that
you’re not interested in?
Yeah, we do. That’s the shittiest part of the
label thing – having to reject submissions and so on. I
simply admire anyone making music, so it’s tough to blow
people out, you know? That said, I always try to be nice about it,
and have a rule that we always get back to people. I know a lot of
bands really appreciate the fact we do contact them, and do take a
listen to (just about) everything we get (I’m sure I must
have missed a couple or three). At the end of the day, we’re
a small independent label run as a hobby business, and whilst we
probably punch above our weight, we can only release so many
records a year.
Could you consider releasing some cover versions of
songs that originate from the 80’s or even later? Or is it
just 60’s and 70’s stuff for Fruits de Mer?
I’ve thrown it into the mix on occasion, but
Keith just laughs at me! “Golden Brown” would be great
to do, for example.
As I said, 60s and 70s is where we gel, so
that’s the obvious path to tread. There’s a possibility
we might do some rockabilly covers in the not too distant future
– if I get my way (which I usually do).
Putting out 300 copies of a 7" single and selling it
for 8$ including postage cannot be the most profitable thing in the
world. Any comments on that?
Ha! Indeed. As long as we just about recover cost,
we’re happy. We’re actually now victims of our own
success, as we’ve sold out of most of the releases, people
now buy one at a time which doesn’t dilute postage cost.
Bloody postage is what kills us, to be honest, but we want the
music to be affordable in a “download for free” era,
and we want people to hear it on vinyl.
The next Vibravoid EP What Colour Is Pink?
will be released in an edition of 500 copies. On your earlier
releases, the amount of copies has been 300. Does that mean that
you’re selling out or what?;)
“Selling Out”, or selling out...?
Heh-heh. Yeah, most of our back catalogue is now gone. We upped the
number on Vibravoid because of what happened on the Krautrock
Sensation EP. If we hadn’t, “What Colour Is
Pink?” would be SOLD OUT on pre-order. As it is, we’re
taking reserves now, and have less than 200 left to find homes for.
That’s before we’ve even offered it to shops.
Where are your lovely coloured vinyls and covers
printed? Who does the cover art work?
We get our vinyl made in the USA (where I live for
now). It’s cheaper than Europe! But then, that’s true
of everything except healthcare and education. And I make up the
vinyl mix in colour combinations that feel right at the time.
It’s only recently that I’ve become
aware that people like our artwork – it was the thing I
worried most about.
No budget forces us to be creative, and if the band
has a member with an artistic thing, we encourage that. If not, I
cobble something together.
You’re planning to release a full-length cover
album quite soon. Could you please tell us something about that?
What artists/songs will be featured?
I’m working on that now. Well, if I
wasn’t doing this I would be! We had a plethora of bands we
wanted to work with, so an album was a way of getting them all on
record. To introduce a concept, we picked up on the recording
technique known as “phasing”, asked all the bands to
“phase” their tracks, and thus “A Phase
We’re Going Through” was conceived. Final track order
is to be decided, but here they are in all their glory – some
stunning stuff on here:
The Campbell Stokes Sunshine Recorder “Baby, Your
Phrasing is Bad”, (Caleb)
The Chemistry Set “Silver Birch”, (Del
Rob Clarke and the Wooltones “Mind of a Child”,
Cranium Pie “Little Wing”, (Jimi Hendrix)
Geese “Point Me At The Sky”, (Pink Floyd)
The Luck of Eden Hall “Love is Only Sleeping”,
The Marshmallow Staircase “Plastic Fantastic
Lover”, (Jefferson Airplane)
Permanent Clear Light “In the City”, (The
Sidewalk Society “Red Chair, Fade Away”, (The
The Swims “My Clown”, (July)
Zombies of the Stratosphere “London Social
Degree”, (Billy Nicholls)
It should be available late-Spring 2010 on coloured
vinyl with a lovely psyched out sleeve. It’s a quality
record, this one.
There was a mention on your blog in January about a
space rock compilation, how is it coming up? Will that be a full
length or what?
Eeee, you’re a keen-eyed monster, you. Yes
indeed, later this year, it is our plan to release either a 10" or
12" of Space Rock covers. We’ve already got a few of the
tracks in the can, so that will happen. We want to do a couple of
other 7" before then, though.
Could you tell us something more about your future
I’m going to wind-down Bracken Records.
It’s too much running 2 of everything, so something has to
give. FdM will continue apace, and Keith and I have plans to expand
on the Fruits empire in 2011 and beyond. Put it this way;
we’re not going away. Bracken’s penultimate foray will
be to help Aritomo with a 10" EP which is just about ready.
It’s also just about sold out on reserve, though there are
always a couple of people who don’t take it.
Then, as a finale, Bracken will release a 7" by
Cranium Pie of self-penned stuff. The tracks will be
“Rememberrr” and “Mothership”. It’s
the perfect way to go out – great tracks by a great band, who
also happen to be lovely people.
FdM, aside from the Phased LP, the Space Rock LP
and the Vibravoid Pink Floyd EP, is looking at 3 or 4 bands
(Hausfrauen Experiment being a definite) to do 7" EPs with.
It’s going to be a busy year. And we’re already
planning a second psych/ acid-folk compilation LP for early
Anything else to add?
Just to re-iterate how fortunate we are. We have a
wonderful customer base that supports us with unswerving loyalty
(yourself included). As long as people want what we release,
we’ll carry on. In truth, we’d probably carry on even
if people didn’t want it (ha!), but it makes everything
worthwhile when we get the emails and feedback from people who
shell-out their hard-earned cash to buy our records, and love what
they get. A lot of them have expressed a desire for us to do more,
but we’re only human. Again, I can only speak for myself!
As we get more popular, we’re determined to
keep it at a manageable level – almost keep it like a club or
family, so our releases will always be limited and have a home-made
feel to them. I’d urge anyone interested to join the mailing
list to stay informed. An email to us will do that – over at
I would like to thank Andy from the bottom of my
heart for answering the questions and for putting out so much
wonderful music on Fruits de Mer! Be sure to check out the label as
I know many of our readers will fall in love with the stuff they
Read an review
(arvio suomeksi) of the promo compilation
“Most of Fruits de Mer”.