Arbutus Label

Techno sound hound/dj & label owner Kris Palesch started his techno-driven career 8 years ago in Victoria as both a club DJ and store hand at Boomtown Records. After learning the business from all angles, he and business partner Joanna Zoffmann went on to open Active Pass Records on HastingsSt, which has since evolved into what is now the progressive techno label, Arbutus Records. Feeling privileged to live in such a hotbed of northern techno talent, Palesch has continually honed his ear and the label’s sound on deep, progressive and polished west coast beats, making his label a virtual showcase of some of Canada’s most noteworthy techno talent.

What was the motivating factor behind starting the Arbutus Records label?
I started Arbutus to showcase Vancouver’s maturing electronic producer scene. We have some of the world’s finest producers right here in Vancouver and they are starting to have really successful careers in a genre that not too long ago was very underground.

How would you describe the Arbutus sound?
A breath of fresh west coast air.

How do you find your artists? For instance, do you work with local producers?
Well, thus far all of the artists have been some of my good friends that I have met throughout the years in the industry. running the record shops really puts you in the right atmosphere to meet everybody in the Vancouver scene. Mathew and the Mole have been my good friends since the beginning and it was great to launch the label with all of our history. I do get tons of demos sent to me from all over the world but as for now the path is for those artists in my fair city. There is so much talent that surrounds us here in Vancouver and it is inspiring that most of the music is coming from my friends.

Where is your largest market?
Germany, the Uk and France snatch up most of our records. Sales are good in America as well but the Germans really love our music. That is why we have all of our distribution and manufacturing based in Germany now.

Do you see more success in the domestic or international scene?
The international scene as the scenes overseas has been established for a much longer time. They have radio stations that play electronic music, the clubs focus on the music. There are also so many more people involved in electronic music. The population itself is much larger.

Do you think there is a west coast sound in electronica?
I believe that your environment affects whatever your artistic output may be. So yes. The electronic music from Vancouver tends to be fresh, melodic, airy, laidback and very next level. It seems that we are known for setting the standard and introducing new directions.

Looking at the culture we have out west, what do those who have come from here have to offer global electronica?
We continue to offer the global scene very talented artists that tend to have fresh sounds and that also offer great live shows. It has been said that promoters worldwide love to deal with Vancouver artists as they are very grounded and easygoing.

What particular trends are you noticing in music at the moment?
I see that techno sounds are making a great comeback. Vancouver is definitely a popular trend

Rising artists to watch and why…?
Any of the artists on Arbutus Records and Wagon Repair cause they be the illest and they are the future of electronic music.

Future directions for the label?
To keep moving forward and giving the world the best that Vancouver has to offer.

by Romna Wendell June 2005

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