Five questions for spa.RK

Five questions with Barcelona-based spa.RK. Discover the sparks, challenges and triumphs of this decade young imprint that continues to etch a groove for the next generation of sonic explorers.

Igloo Magazine :: When did spa.RK start up and what was your inspiration?

spa.RK :: spa.RK began in 2001 and the main inspiration was the small labels that we knew and admired from around the world. Fibla had just released his debut album on Sub Rosa / Quatermass and he had toured a little around Europe and met people running small labels such as Benbecula, Expanding, Worm Interface and artists that were an inspiration. Also a couple of demo’s that we received were the starting point to spark the flame and release some stuff we thought was amazing and had little chances to be released on a huge label. The label, since the beginning, has been just Vicent Fibla and Sílvia Grumaches running it.

Igloo :: Who were some of your initial artist relations and did your location help or hinder progress?

spa.RK :: First artists we released were Londoner Ben Hatchelt and Tennessee artist Phluidbox, and some international artists that appeared in our first compilations and that are still friends such as Mitchell Akiyama, Benge, Andreas Tilliander, Ola Bergman. We are based in Barcelona (Spain) and anyone involved in electronica music knows Sonar Festival, a milestone in the expansion of electronic music, so somehow we also received some kind of attention as we have been present in a lot of editions of the festival through DJ sets, artists or label showcases. We celebrated our 10th anniversary with a nice showcase in the festival with Bradien and bRUNA doing great shows.

Igloo :: What were some of the challenges (if any) starting up a label? …and how did you envision the label to stand apart?

spa.RK :: At the beginning we had no plans. But still we have not a lot of plans to dominate the world. We just want to release music we love and not die in the effort of doing it. We are not really pro’s, the label is not a company and we have day jobs to sustain the label. But after the initial steps of the label we really decided the best way to do something special, to stand apart as you put it, to make a difference was to focus in the things we know better, and that’s the music we have around, in Barcelona and in Spain. So our aim is to put the name of some of the best Spanish electronica artists out there and see what happens. The challenges were the usual when you’re are unknown label: get your music out there, find a distributor, promo stuff. It’s difficult and with a lot of changes through the past ten years. A great thing was the discovery of Bandcamp and to have the chance to put all the albums there for the people to stream them and also to sell directly the mp3.

We just want to release music we love and not die in the effort of doing it.

Igloo :: What is your motivation in keeping the label moving forward into the next decade?

spa.RK :: The Internet world and the decadence of physical releases is a challenge, but we are not twenty-something year old and guess we will mainly stick to CD and vinyl as long as we can. And the main motivation is always the good music people are creating. Right now there is a young generation of artists that grew up with electronic music and have absolutely integrated this language with other influences and we are seeing a lot of new and interesting electronic detours in music.

Igloo :: Tell us more about how you (and your staff?) take the label’s “sound” to the listeners and fans. Distribution, campaigns, live shows, word of mouth etc.

spa.RK :: Distribution right now is a madness because we don’t have a very strong worldwide distributor, so we are working like at the beginnings; territory by territory. In Spain we receive a good amount of attention from the press – not bad for a small label releasing electronica, a style not very present in indie mags, but a lot of electronica labels disappeared since we began and guess we are like old school for a lot people. :)

Electronica scene is not really strong in clubs or gigs here. Clubs are very dance oriented. A while ago we began to organize regular monthly gigs under the name of Versus Electronics and did it for a while bringing to Barcelona nice people to play through all the year (it looks sometimes as Sonar is like an oasis and the rest of the year is an electronica desert). We had people like Pendle Coven, Ola Bergman, ISAN, Kettel, Andreas Tilliander, Funckarma, Funkstorung and many more. Unil we went bankrupt! :-)

On the other hand our artists have been playing around a lot, and some have gone to the Sonar expeditions around the globe (Japan, Sao Paulo, Chicago, New York etc) and that was a great chance for them and for the label too. Promo is like always: few selected media, now sending links instead of CDr’s. Trying to do it as best as we can. We tried doing it with some agency but we didn’t like the results and at the end we really prefer the direct contact with press. Also Facebook  and Twitter. It’s a nightmare of information passing through your eyes everyday but guess it helps as all the audience is now so fragmented.

For more info about spa.RK, visit their website at sparkreleases.com. [FacebookTwitter | Bandcamp]

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