|An interview with the amazing tbtmo label, who
produce some of the world's greatest experimental electronica.
1) How (and
when) did you start tbtmo? How much did it cost to get it up and running?
We started as a zine called blind. in 1991. Blind was a skate gear co., we found out,
and we were getting to know the ropes of doing a zine and getting interviews w/ people by
lying about what we do, so we unofficially became the blind.tm organization, self-mocking
our own expansion and corporatization (ha). I didn't really feel like saying all that (the
blind.tm organization) to everyone who asked, and we had changed a bit over the years, so
we just became tbtmo a little bit after we started putting out music (1997) on cassette.
That's where we stand now, as far as the name goes (tbtmo), although we're a little better
off as far as being able to release stuff on good formats to larger audiences. It cost us
whatever we could drop in, always hoping it'd come back twofold in the future. Or at least
onefold. Or at least we have fun and put stuff out. Everything costs money, might as well
do something you like with it. We had no "angel investors", as the biz calls
2) How did you recruit all the different musicians and bands that are on your
Most of the people we put out are friends. Mall, Pacifica, Planet Nett, Collette
Carter, Stereo Symphonic, the Wawas, and Blue are all different mix-n-match variations of
the Rob/Rod/Mike tbtmo trio. Rod's girlfriend Wilynda helps him on Collette Carter
(formerly known as Stereo Symphonic), and then there's Sean & Erin Flowchart, who
helped with our first Mall record and did a Blowball 12" w/ us. The rest of the
releases are basically people we met one way or another. I was reading somewhere, a
label's website or something (555?) where they said that only about 5% of their releases
came from demos. Maybe that was a lower %. But yeah, basically we hang w/ and meet
like-mided people so we don't really have to look far and wide for hot new acts, because
it's all right under our noses.
3) What would you say is the best part of owning a record label?
Well, "owning" a record label is a funny term for me. I own the computer I
use and the chair I sit in, but the record label istelf is a bit of an abstract thing. The
best part of running some sort of process that looks to be a record label is getting out
all this great music that I would be listening to in my apartment anyway, and it's nice to
help people get that out and it's nice that people want to help us get that out (ie Darla,
Fuzzy box, Blackbean, Endorphin).
4) What are your criteria and expectations for each of your releases (ie. how do
you decide whether something's worth releasing on tbtmo?
I like to put out stuff that interests me, first and foremost. If it makes me go
"wow", I'd probably think about putting it out, if the situations are right.
Sometimes stuff gets a little off the wall or over the top and I need a second opinion
because I'm a little confused, but we have a few heads here who all like pretty much the
same stuff so we keep each other in check. Basically what our crew digs is mellow
experimental with a pop feel appeal to it. There are tons of variations on that, of
5) What was the weirdest/most interesting demo you've ever released?
Rose For Bohdan, a California band that just fucking goes nuts experimenting. No
melody, no pop, no real mission, other than to say, "fuck you and your
perceptions". Doesn't really fit into the tbtmo vibe but we were helping them get
their message out. Kind of abrasive, actually, but I liked the fact that they didn't give
a fuck about traditional recording and releasing.
6) What is your connection with Darla?
I was a fan of Darla Records before we had any help from them, and I would dream.
"Maybe someday". This was before we were really seriously into making music.
Sean (Flow) was already working w/ Darla so we had an easy in. But without quality stuff
it wouldn't have worked anyway. So he helps us out, previously by carrying stuff we paid
for & made ourselves (tbtmo), then it just got to the point where we were overflowing
w/ good music and not too much cash, so a little begging went a long way, and now it's
going well. Obviously they're pretty cool people.
7) What is your favourite (non-tbtmo) artist? What type of stuff do you listen to?
Faves include Windy & Carl, Fuxa, Flowchart, Oval, Sonny Sixkiller (Philly
powerpop, ex-member of Moped), Timonium... I like stuff that's experimental, chill,
sentimental, melancholy, poppy, and interesting, but at the same time nothing quite like
power pop w/ girl vocals to bring me back to the day when I was an indie rock kid going
down to DC & Arlington to peep their scene all the time.
8) Situation: Some big record label like Sony UK asks you to become a Sony
subdivision... what do you do?
Back in the day I was so against bands that sold out (Velocity Girl, Tuscadero, etc etc
etc) and swore I'd never do it, but now that I'm older and my perspective about everything
has changed a bit, I'd say that as long as the records get made and the artists gets paid,
then that's better than where we were at the beginning and it's the next level from where
we are now, or at least a level forward, maybe not the next one. I'm not too business
savvy, contrary to popular belief, so maybe I couldn't handle that sort of thing though.
But regardless, that's not gonna happen so I've never really lost any sleep over a
situation like that.
9) Situation: You're walking down the street. A big limo comes to a stop by the
curb. The window opens and a man asks you to get in. You open the door, step inside, and
take a seat. You are confronted by Britney Spears, Christina Ageuilera, and a number of
other fabricated pop stars. They are all staring blankly at you. Then, a man in a tuxedo
begins to speak. "These are my previous creations," he says, "how would you
like to become a new popstar? We can change your name to Armando Martin, and we have great
makeup artists and plastic surgeons in case you wish to get breast implants like most of
our "artists". We'll even write your music and modify your voice in to a Spanish
accent." How do you reply?
I have no marketable skills so I'd think it was a crock. If you don't believe you have
anything then you don't believe people will want anything. Now if they popped that
question to one of our artists, then that's their choice, and a few of them have
marketability and could work that shit. I dunno about the breast implants though.
10) Where would one look to find your various releases, other than your website?
Darla.com has all our new releases that came out via Darla and should have all of them
coming out on Darla in the future, unless something drastic happens like the world ending.
Also anything made & sold by Darla should have a decent worldwide distribution and
should be in stores and w/ certain distributors near and far. As far as older stuff, only
we have that, pretty much. I think we'll keep that on lock.
11) What are your upcoming releases?
We just put out the Mall cd and the first Vibon cd comp. Cds by Collette Carter
(boy/girl electro-romance pop) and Transient (uptempo drum 'n bliss) are next. Vibon 2 cd
comp coming soon, as well as Mall 2012 remixes, Planet Nett, Pacifica, Team Techno, and
more. We shall see what pans out. Stay tuned to tbtmo.com for up-to-the-minute schlock.
12) What is your favourite colour?