article on Ivo (long, but worth it)

Written by Spiked hydrogen talent on Thu, 2 Jul 1998 17:29:28 EDT.

here ya go...

enjoy (any typos are mine...)

"Ivo" by Tim Anstaett

from Option magazine July / August 1986 reprinted without permission (shhhhhhhh)!!!

Bauhaus. Modern English. The Birthday Party. Cocteau Twins. What these well-known bands from other lands have in common is that through kind fate their paths have crossed with that of producer / entrepreneur Ivo Watts-Russell, the man who created 4AD Records in 1980 with Peter Kent with the intention of "releasing what we considered to be the most exciting and original music of that time." Six and a half years and 99 releases later, the records that he has put out include the above groups and many others of equal but less recognized talent (today's Wolfgang Press, Dif Juz, Dead Can Dance, Xymox, Colourbox, and yesterday's Dance Chapter, the Happy Family, Mass, REma-Rema, and In Camera, to name a few.) Ivo, 31, was born in Northamptonshire, about 80 miles north of London. He did not attend a university, but rather spent his post-teenage days gainfully employed in various record shops, rising through the ranks to the point where he became a district manager, in effect, for a few London-area shops in the Beggars Banquet chain. Peter Kent managed the shop at their Hogarth Road headquarters, which also served as the base for Beggars' then-fledgling record label. "By Being based at Hogarth Road, I woud get to hear all the demo tapes that would be dropped off to them, because they at that point had been through the Lurkers, and Gary Numan had started to be fairly successful. Some of the demos would be reasonably good, and Peter and I would rush upstairs to convince the people at Beggars Banquet that they should get involved with something like that as opposed to some of the things that they were involved with. It coincided with my decision and desire to start something that they got fed up with me and Peter pestering them and said, 'Well, look, why don't you start your own lable?'" So the pair borrowed two thousand quid from Beggars and began releasing records. In typical independent lable fashion, what was made on the first few paid for the next few, with the sales of the first four releases (all 7" singles, including Bauhaus' "Dark Entries") helping to finance the purchase of lyrically distasteful Rema-Rema recordings from the Charisma label and the rental of studio time for Modern English. And as is also often the case with independents, various disagreements soon arose between the partners. "Eventually, I no longer had a good working relationship with Peter, and we parted company in terms of 4AD. He then started the Situation 2 label as a means for releasing things he wanted to release, which was primarily material by the Associates at the time." For the first three years, over 50 releases by 11 different artists came forth. However, in 1983 Ivo chose instead to focus his attention n just a select few og the groups he had been working with. "I realized that we had become a slightly established lable that had a responsibilty to ourselves and to the groups. There were a lot of things that needed doing, representation that needed to be done more thoroughly, and you couldn't really do that if you were thinking about a half-dozen one-off things through a year. We had to demonstrate that as a lable we could provide freedom combined with professional promotion and representation, and just continue to be a growing alternative to majors, more than anything." Today, there is evidence that this intensified concentration has been worth it. "Just recently Victorialand went to #10 in the national charts here in its first week, which was very good advertisement for the independent industry and a very good advertisement for 4AD and the Cocteau Twins. You _can_ do that without having to succumb and without having to compromise and without having to hype. Just genuine sales can get you there, and it's a good fingers-up to the rest of the industry that doesn't believe it's possible without their way of doing it." I asked Ivo how he judges a band the first time he hears them. "It's how much you're affected by what you hear, and whether you realize there is something quite special being thought about and put together by the group. It's something to do with sincerity and feeling, as opposed to being stylized for the hell of it." Any bands he wanted on 4AD but never got? "None. I mean, yes, if Echo and the Bunnymen were on the label, that would be nice! But apart from that, no, none." How has the label managed to survive for as long as it has? "We've released good music. I just think it's very special. The qualities that the people we work with put into their music get shown, and it comes out being creative and original, things that the bulk of music that is available to people these days just is not. Most music is contrived and aimed at a particular market. It's not heartfelt in any way: it's just calculated. A number of groups calculate what they're doing. I think that there are enough frustrated people out there, people frustrated by what they're given on a daily basis, who actively look for better music. And certainly the involvement of 23 Envelope (the designers who do all 4AD sleeves) over the last three years has helped focus the presentation of our releases, and has shown that all of us care about what we're doing. We care that music _is_ special, can be an important part of one's life, and that it deserves to be packaged and put together in a serious and artistic, professional way. I think we have survived because there is a demand that music should be represented that carefully and seriously."

does anyone think automatically of the Paladins when reading this? *grin*


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