Label Profile: Happy Birthday Kscope Records!!
Now celebrating its fifth anniversary with two nights at London’s Relentless Garage, Kscope has come a long way in a very short space of time indeed. Launched in 2008 by independent label group Snapper Music, the idea was to create a home for artists that were taking their music to new levels through means of experimentation, bolding venturing where others hadn’t dared and pushing the very boundaries of progressive sounds.
On May 12 2008, the label put its debut release in No-Man’s Schoolyard Ghosts and would go on to sign the creme de la creme of modern talent including Anathema, Ulver and a whole range of Steven Wilson projects.
“It’s been great,” says Sales and Marketing Director Johnny Wilks. “Our mission state was ‘to provide a home for this evolving, flexible and adventurous style of music without boundaries’. As progressive music, in all its guises, has re-emerged over the last five years, the influences have been apparent across many genres creating some of the most exciting new music around.
“Having worked with Porcupine Tree since 1999 we wanted to create a home for the post progressive/art rock acts we were working with. The Porcupine Tree albums Stupid Dream and Lightbulb Sun were released under a Kscope imprint at the time, as Snapper Music wanted to differentiate from the releases that crossed multiple genres. The success of some of the releases has benefited the newer upcoming artists and the profile is attracting new artists to the label.”
As headliners of the second anniversary show, Anathema are indeed one of those success stories, whose relationship with Snapper goes all the way back to their debut record Serenades, released in 1993 via Kscope sister label Peaceville Records. As the band began to move away the heavier sounds, they found a new home at Kscope, starting with 2008s Hindsight – a compilation album of older songs reworked in their new atmospheric rock style.
Which says a lot about Kscope, in that they support, actively encourage and even curate their artists to do things out of the ordinary. Take this year’s Wisdom Of Crowds record for example, where The Pineapple Thief’s Bruce Soord collaborated with Katatonia’s Jonas Renkse, building on ideas and lyrics that actually came from the Kscope themselves. Two musicians at different ends of the progressive spectrum meeting for the first time to create something truly unique – a project which yielded some rather excellent results indeed and has now become a band in its own right, with their debut performance to be made this Wednesday at the Garage.
“I’d been following the career of Bruce Soord and his band The Pineapple Thief for some time,” says Johnny. “We signed them and Manchester band Engineers back in 2008, which was perfect timing to launch Kscope as a fully fledged label.”
Headlining the first night are British art-rockers Amplifier, which goes to the show breadth of what this flourishing independent label have to offer – something which Johnny is very proud of.
“The parameters for Kscope have definitely widened,” admits Johnny. “From the electronic post-rock of North Atlantic Oscillation to the acclaimed work of Steven Wilson and Porcupine Tree, from the artrock of Ulver to the shoegaze of Engineers… It all fits into Kscope.”
With Steven Wilson and Anathema leading the charge of the modern progressive movement, and a whole host of signings that are embracing forward thinking and exploring new territories, these are most certainly exciting times for Kscope, who recently sold their millionth CD. But where do they go from here?
“To be honest we just want to keep championing the genre, support traditional retail (physical product) and entice more people to discover the sounds and more artists to the label,” reveals Johnny. “It has been a very exciting five years and seeing bands cross genres, e.g. working with the likes of Katatonia on both Kscope and Peaceville (our sister label), offers many more marketing opportunities and a fresh approach to the projects.”
Words: Amit Sharma