Five questions for The Crime League

The Crime League is a Toronto-based music label originally established in 2006 as an outlet for b-sides of the electronic music project Displacer. It has since gone on to become a tee shirt label & design agency, but not forgetting its roots in music culture. Now, in 2013, it returns to give you a series of albums and EP’s, spanning many musical genres that they love.

Igloo Magazine :: When did Crime League start up and what was your inspiration?

Crime League / Michael Morton :: I originally made Crime League back in 2006 as an outlet for b-sides and remixes that never got released from the Cage Fighter’s Lullaby period. It just seemed like a great way to connect more directly to fans at the time. I’d probably say it was a good time for people to start-up this kind of business model and experiment with some new ideas. I didn’t have to worry about what the labels thought, and I could really do what I wanted with full control. I also really miss the concept of b-sides themselves and actual singles being released with them. Sometimes, growing up that was something I looked forward to the most. You got to hear more of what the musician’s process was, in what makes it to the album or not, I think. So yeah, I did that… Then I moved on to some other projects and just focused on my own music for years. This year I started to feel a bit bored with everything I was doing, my inspirations were changing for my own art, music seemed it was in a decline, so I thought it would be a great new opportunity to start up again. I needed a design outlet for a few years of unused thoughts and concepts, and I wanted to experiment with some shorter EP’s again. I don’t always want to write a full album of material to finish an idea. Sometimes it’s just a few tracks and I’ll be inspired to move on to something else. I also wanted to start introducing people to a bunch of artists I’ve met and or come across that I think deserve some more attention. If I can help this just a little I feel I’ve accomplished my goal.

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

CL :: I started it with the thought of promoting some immediate friends. Mark Thibideau, Jakob Thiesen, Mike Savelli amongst a few others. They all jumped on board instantly and really got me thinking this could be a fun venture. Tony D’Oporto also expressed interest for his project with Mark Spybey, Gnome & Spybey. It was all coming together with people I readily admired, all making electronic music, but all different in ways I love. Tony & Mark finished writing their album between Mexico & the UK, Mike Savelli in Ottawa, others here in Toronto. There never seems to be a hindrance these days beyond finding more time to work on things. The internet solves everything.

“I (also) wanted to start introducing people to a bunch of artists I’ve met and or come across that I think deserve some more attention. If I can help this just a little I feel I’ve accomplished my goal.”

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

CL :: I really saw it as a design challenge more than anything. It’s a personal project that seems to be snowballing easier than I thought. I’m trying really, to release music with soul to it somehow. I need to feel something with this stuff, and want to make sure it’s the best quality music I can put out there. Sometimes that’s a challenge in itself to find material I like enough. I can be super critical sometimes, but hopefully it’s all positive in the end. Most of what I’m releasing is underground electronic music… but with people that don’t walk the path of the ‘normal’ person. Trying to get people to give it a chance is very hard sometimes. But when they realize that this music is produced just as well as their favourite mainstream artists, and they take notice, it makes me happy. Maybe Crime League is a label for artists. It’s not about me in the end. I want my roster to have their own full creative freedom. I really believe the music from these people should be heard, and can be enjoyed by a broad range of others.

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

CL :: Definitely, the excitement of the artists goes a long way. If I feel someone is really into what they do and they work as hard as me, I want to help. I love playing new music for people, introducing younger musicians and generally giving people a chance. I love music and and if this keeps evolving like me as I grow, the Crime League may go. If people don’t seem to be into it, or there’s a sudden decline in the digital universe, I’ll possibly let it sleep again. It comes in waves, and I’m going with my gut and riding it where it takes me.

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.

CL :: It’s a start-up with a pretty limited budgets so it’s mainly through Bandcamp where all of my directed advertising goes. Banner ads, a couple of printed ads with Auxiliary Magazine. I’ve handed out promo CD’s at shows including my own for Displacer through NXNE this summer. A couple of the artists including Sedative have promoted their involvement at their own gigs. It’s a small start, hopefully more word of mouth can get this out there more. I’ve toyed with the idea of a small Crime League festival in Toronto at some point down the road when timing and help from others may coincide. DJ Swamp has done a killer remix of Black Lotus I’m currently trying to find a home for. Maybe vinyl, maybe a special USB promo in conjunction with Livevil. It’s just one day at a time…

For more information about The Crime League, visit www.crimeleague.net.

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