INTERVIEW WITH BLACK LION PRODUCTIONS HEAD HONCHO OLIVER

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Black Lion Productions Label was formed in 2012 with main focus on extreme side of metal.  Oliver mostly runs the label , but the label has 3 departments as follows:

  • Layout/Graphic Design – Marcos Cerutti
  • Photo / Editing – Rebecca Rose
  • Live Photos and More – Nova, Rebecca Rose

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( Rebecca Rose and Oliver)

Yes , this is the label which has brought bands like Defiatory , Hyperion , Mist of Misery, Soulemission, Eufori, Division Vansinne, Murdryck and Vindland.

I did some web surfing to find out some more information about the label, but I could not mind much of a matter after hours of effort.

So I thought it would best to interview Oliver and know some more about the label

Q1. Tell us a bit about yourself.

>”Well I am just a 23 year old music enthusiast who loves extreme Metal, born and raised in Sweden,I consider myself to be very down to earth, and easy to get along with really!hard worker always have been always will be,great lover of food/cooking trained as a chef ,works part time in restaurants or rather when ever I am not doing Black Lion I work in restaurants.  I work at a big hotel called Hotell Lappland its a great hotel located in northern part of Sweden, place called Lappland, the hotel is one of the biggest hotels for family’s companies and business people. I started working as a chefstrainee quite late in my life, I always had a passion for food and cooking, so I guess if I was doing this then the chef life would be my dream job.

the Hotel is located about 13 kilometers from where I lived so everytime I went away to work I would be gone for 2-3 weeks at most , not the very smartest when you’re running a label, but something has to put food on the table, and I do love the place ,

great co workers and amazing support and amazing food… Ive learned so much stuff during my time there, and I consider myself really lucky to have been able to get to learn/do all the things I have been thought.

Now days I work  at a restaurant in Umeå  called Plectrum part time, really nice place.  I do play myself in bands but more for the fun of playing nothing big yet, now days I work in restaurant locally aside of Black lion.”

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Q2. First tell me how did you get into this genre (Metal off course)? And which is your favorite album and band?

>”Öhm I got into heavy metal when I was 7 or 8

my friend I hung out with back then  had a big brother who was a huge metalhead, and we were always hanging out at his parents place, when he still lived at home, i think that was my first impression of the metal world, he played a lot of records of Iron Maiden, Sodom, Destruction, and sort of breeding us into the “world ” while discovering for ourselves through MTV the good kind of MTV before it turned to the vomit upon earth..   later as i got about -12 my biggest heroes in metal was System of a down, still are one of the best extreme bands I still enjoy!

Oh dear thats hard! I think lately my favorite bands has to be Swallow the Sun  Doom :VS, I don’t really have a favorite band, that I just must have, a cd by I usually buy what ever I like,

but as of late I have had a huge run of buying Doom/funeral doom albums,

I just love the genre!

the darkness the emptiness and the atmosphere and feelings it provokes.

but to Go buy genre I’d say Black metal Marduk,Watain,Belphegor,Myrkur,

Death metal wise Dying fetus, Deicide, Obituary, I am a huge fan of old schoool death metal, bands like Baphomet, Bone Gnawer, Cenetix,  Cut up, Vomitory, it goes on….

Melodic wise At the gates, Hypocrisy,”

Q3. How did it all start, the “LABEL” thing? Give us a brief history of it and the efforts you put in and the obstacles you faced while trying to bring the “LABEL” to life?

>”Oh how the label started, like any other i enjoyed playing death metal in my older days, and wanted to try myself to form a band. And actually got too far enough to the band

Festering Remains to be formed along with two friends,

although things took its turns, natrually , things aren’t always what they seem, our musical directions/my instrument skills where just not good enough at the time,

as well different priorities regarding the music ideas. So I think it was for the best that I left…  but to put things short regarding that I was always the one in most of my bands Ive been the one handling everything regarding the media /internet,

also I always been interested in the production side more than the music side, and I just felt more at home inside the music industry how it worked and such…

Of course there has been tons of issues that have happend both prior and even while doing this,

first part is of course money…

i took almost all my life savings and all the extra money i got , extra work or birthday money and invested it into my hobby called Abyss Promotions,  and paying for CD production is not cheap, if anyone thinks that think again…

its a crazy process meetings deadlines, and demands…

We started under the Abyss Promotion later changed to Black Lion Productions name underground fanzine, still fanzine just doing interviews/reviews for fun…

the label didn’t start until late 2015 where we actually became a proper label

but its all about how much work are you willing to put into it…

I never doubted myself even in the worse times, of going almost broke due to a album not selling… But I never gave up I continued to do my own thing, found new contacts I worked prior in  smaller underground labels

like Grom Records,Senselss Life Records, thats how I meet Ury of Sepelchural Silence who now works with me as my distriibutor for digital relaeses…

and does my digital distribution.

regarding other parts of running a label I needed someone who had skills in creating printable pro booklets/ and also putting them together in the pre productions, thats where Marcos comes in!, at the time I had a project with a friend GIovani from brazilian death metal band Depressed, we were working on a ep together, and marcos got asked to mix and master it, and things just got crazy with the recordings, but i got something better out of it, a friend for life, Marcos is amazing, its like a human Pc, lol he knows all that crazy stuff how to put things together

nicely and do layout and amazing designs, I think he gave me a huge push and confidence that started black lions life to grow!

working over skype and dropbox almost everyday for the past 3 years, its just I feel lucky to have such amazing person behind me helping…

me run this animal… I could go on forever about problems that have happened around the time, but lets focus on the other things,

the label started  late2012 when I Was graduating me and my grandma went to England on a trip, and thats where Black lion was born actually the name,

we stayed a old hotel over 500 years old, in ESSEX ,

I loved it,  in England we always ate out and we had a small pub called The Red Lion Pub , and thats where the name came from really. a local pub in England, to this day I still have people calling trying to make reservation…”

Q4. Why run a label as in why not forming a band and contributing to this genre?

>”HAha that’s my broken dreams haha

I’d love playing in a proper band, but I never had the guts to really go for it after many times of trying and actually failing, I decided it was better to stick to what I was good at.. plus there are so many good bands out there why be one of the many bands that get lost  in sea of other bands.”

Q5. You’ve done a very good job bringing metal from different parts to the world. What are some of the challenges involved in this?

>”Thank you !

First of you need to find the bands and make sure you are on the same page,  look at what they are, what do they need what don’t they need. And what can I do for them?

I am not Apostasy Records,Non Servium or Avantgarde,Pest Production, all good labels,so I needed to find something I was good at that I could offer, just like in a restaurant a good menu but good and simple, that always seem to fail.

PROMOTION: without proper PR no bands will ever get a chance to see the light of the day…  so I did what I knew , I worked my ass off to find new ways to promote the bands, making sure it was viral making sure each and every corner had heard this new record.  I teamed up with friends that run PR companies that helped me run my Pr proper , Qabar extreme PR and Fullblast, together we have created a brand together and made it far, and now we are working with Metalmedia brazil to bring more fans over there…

Lets be honest when I started I had no idea how to contact zines, I didn’t have the skills to write PR kits that were pro like nuclear blast, so I started doing research on what was needed to get a review, and funny enough I started with sending out physical copies because it was faster then spending hours typing a email that would later be rejected or sent to spam folder…

and it got me loads of reviews I spent late nights googling various metal zines and sent across the globe…”

Q6. Is it is tough to run a label? IF yes, then what kind of problems do you face?

>”Its a nightmare sometimes, you have to always be on for front know what steps to take next people are counting on you and nobody else, you need to handle everything its total DIY and if you fuck up be prepared to pay hard to win back the trust… its always a hard challenge to come up with good solutions or even signing bands these days… its so many bands… and the demand is higher.. First problems is of course lack of sleep, I work 16 hours a day with black Lion Records from when I wake up to when I go to bed around 4 in the morning then I actually keep working from the bed…

the hardest part as new label is getting your name out there, because nobody is gonna trust a brand new label unless you have a good roaster or a good name… Just like running a successful restaurant , you need a good manger, you need good PR skills, You need marketing, you need the economical part, you need the customers to feel welcome I know it sounds strange but that’s the way I look at things, you need to know what your customers are asking and saying cause they are your biggest and most important critics  you’ll ever have. And their advice could be life saving…

the other part is having a stable stock, and keeping count, and make sure each orders gets shipped out…

also making sure everyone is happy in the bands and the customers.. ”

Q7. What do you feel is the importance of record labels, since many band try to go the DIY way?

>”I think its again like a good restaurant you need to become

I think it’s again like a becoming a good chef  you need to follow these 10 rules

1. Go and get Knowledge don’t start a label thinking you’ll earn 500 quid a month , get out there and do it for the learning experience and fun, the money will come once you master your craft  and become very known and famous for your work,

get knowledge  that becomes a bigger passport in life,

put yourself in situations and try to solve them..

2.  You need to learn to deligate if you have friends who can do work pass it on it on to your team!  and let them be a part of the run, I always make sure to devide the work ,

amongst the friends that helps me,  and that I am eternally greatfull for their help and support…

3. Always Remember the customers are KING without them you are nothing…

I try to see things from their perspective when I do Black Lion I think how i’d like it to be… even its like taking the extra 20 min at night to write an extra email to make sure that the package arrived safely ,

4. Diy was is a great thing for bands , I think its about move with the times or the time moves you… Thats why we have free download on all digital stuff on bandcamp to support the artists,  they know they can get it for free anyway so if they like it they’ll buy it and support the artist , and they don’t go to priatepay and download the album… on the other hand its impossible to stop things from leaking no matter how hard you work, there’s always gonna be problems like that, but its all a matter of control… I think the DIY thing is good for bands it helps. The internet has kinda leveled out the Plainfield so that bands have more possibilities these days. To do it on their own so my point of view is the DIY culture is here  to stay so its a matter of ether you do it or  you don’t.”

Q8. There are other record labels as well, so how Is the competition like and how do you convince a band to come on board with you?

>”Funny enough most of the time I actually never needed to convince , its more like if they like working with you or rather want to work with you then its cool, I avoid trying to convince I rather see it as partnership, for example Defiatory, Mist of Misery, Hyperion, I know the members personally as  good friends, but I never thought I would be working with their bands but we work very well together Erik and Andreas (aka Mortuz) from mist of misery are great dudes easy to talk to and we get along great… Same with the guys of Vindland great people easy to talk to , down to earth,  its was more a matter of asking if they wanted help to release their record proper.. and actually making it worldwide release and help them grow, I like to think we grow with our bands. And it turns out most of the time very good…

I mean we are nobody really I don’t view myself as some big name just because I had some good luck with bands, on the contrary I think less then what I should… and just like Ola Englund say the less  you expect from yourself the more you get… I never take anything for granted.  I don’t think there is a contest or competition its just the media hyping it that way…

we do what we do !”

Q9. What do you look for in a band?

>”I like bands that fit the wide horizon of music I myself enjoy!

I want the band to have a good attitude towards themselves , and NOT be a total  rockstar dick attitude  … I can’t stand them…

as long as the music speaks to me in some level then any band can be of interest. Naturally I only work with Extreme Metal bands.. mainly of the darker kind.”

Q10. What’s the best thing and the worst that’s happened to you during your time running the label?

>”The best thing was actually gefle metal festival being there at the festival in the festival grounds. Just meeting people that actually knew about black lion , big names that I admire , like Tomas , Zornheym ,Devian, Aktiv Dödshjälp, Johan Nephente Netherbird, Riket… etc and just meeting good friends really…

The worst thing was the production for Defiatory release oh god it was horrible!  We had ordered 1000 cds and the factory had put the wrong song orders on 1000 discs it was a pure nightmare, we had to have them ship 1000 dics with the right order so a lot of things was delayed, but the factory was very pro and fixed it all. So yea that was my worst time.”

Q11. Do you do some other job as well  or is the label whole time business ? If yes how do you manage time between these? 

>”I have 3 side jobs outside black lion ,

Reaper media which is my CD printing factory we make cds and promo material for bands to order…

Reaper Distro my small underground distro quite inactive at the moment but eventually it will be more active. Mostly selling cds of other labels.

I used to work in a restaurant as a chef  extra and part time, at the hotel I still work now and then if they ask.. I love working there, just an amazing place and my head chefs and co workers there  are the best people I ever meet , they thought me a lot and always encourage me.. Most of the last 3 summers ive worked at the hotel in their second restaurant Lappkåtan google it really cool laid back small restaurant in the summer they always have BBQ so I normally work as a runner, really good job, fun…

these days am about to start a new restaurant to work at so I am really looking forward to that…

I try to find time between work and free time that’s where my label comes in, of course now when I don’t work I just dedicate all time to the label and its great to be able to focus all day long and work with the label watching it grow.”

Q12. Thank you for giving your valuable time, anything would like to convey or any advice or suggestion for the fans?

>”Thanks for checking in and thanks for a brilliant interview hope to talk to you all again!

Oh and those that still haven’t Check out Hotell Lappland at

www.hotelllappland.se and www.blacklion.nu for more information about my label”

 

 

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