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Désirée Hanssen | Label Owner Lay Bare Recordings

For the first post in the new year I’m happy to introduce you to Désirée label owner of Lay Bare Recordings based in the Netherlands.  I personally am a fan of her label and was glad she agreed to be a part of the site.  Like myself one of her ‘great passions’ is music and vinyl.  She keeps busy running the label, balancing a day job and helping her friend Jurgen Van den Brand at Burning World Label and Mailorder | Road Burn Records stall-ward, selling vinyl at the Roadburn Festival where she gets to meet people from all over the world. “Great vibe, nice people!”

By day she is counselor and trainer.

I coach and motivate people who lost a lot in their life. I empower them to see their talents and show them how they can use their skills to get a better feeling and grip on their life again. One central theme in this all is finding a goal. Doing the thing in which you are the best.

She says she has learned a lot from working with juvenile delinquents who had so much perspective already at a young age but she mentors them to get back on track and one big part of that was finding their talents and creativity.  She explains that with her label she does similar by unveiling talented bands so that as many people as possible can discover them.

She loves to go to gigs, talk about music and spin records at home. She shares these passions for music and vinyl with her partner, Manuel Tinnemans the creative behind the dark art from comaworx and owner of a new label owner Deathworx. 

There is always a record spinning in one of the rooms.

How did you get into your industry / What motivated you?

In the nineties I worked in a venue called ‘Doornroosje’ where I met a lot of friends and music lovers. Almost everyone from that time is still related somehow to the independent and more unconventional music scene. In this venue that recently celebrated its 50th birthday I saw so many superb and legendary bands; and it was also at this place I became friends with a lot of die-hard live fans and people who got into the music business wise, like Jurgen and Walter of the Roadburn Festival. We all still have one thing in common, our passion for music, especially for vinyl and gigs. 

What is a day in the life like?

I get up at 6 am and prepare myself for my day job, hop on my bike (Dutchies love their bikes) to the train station. In the train that takes me 1 hour, I eat my breakfast, answer emails or read the newspapers from the day before, haha.

I log in at my day job at 7.45 and prepare myself for individual coaching-sessions, workshops or a training.

I get back to the train station around 16.30/ 17.00 pm. Going through my private or label-mail again or close my eyes for a bit.

Coming home to prepare dinner together with Manuel, dinnertime, working on my label, listening to music.

What has been your favorite / the coolest thing you’ve worked on?

Not an easy question to answer. Because in each release there is a certain vigorous element that gives me a lot of gratification and a kick to push my boundaries. I will never forget that moment when I got my first test pressing in and hand numbering my first edition. A live album from Mos Generator (Seattle).I love the collaboration, the exchange of ideas, music, dialogue of getting the music out there. With some of these very talented musicians I have still a special link, like Mehdi from Orange Sunshine, all the blokes from Seedy Jeezus, Yawning Man Gary and Mario, Mos Generator Tony, Bellhound Choir Christian, the Spanish bands from Alicante on my roster (Pyramidal, DOMO, Rosy Finch and HELA), NAGA, Carlton Melton Andy and Rich, Eclisse Fabian, Dylan from Thief, Steve Ancient Warlocks and Chino from 3AM.But to me, my biggest challenge and very cool project to work on is Frayle. A Doom Witch Rock band from Cleveland (Ohio). Frayle is: Sean Bilovecky (former member of Disengage) and singer Gwyn Strang. Both very talented, creative musicians and great people to work with.  I released their debut EP ‘The White Witch’ on vinyl (on CD by Seeing Red Records) and at the moment, the band and Lay Bare Recordings are collaborating again on new collectable stuff and on their first full length LP.  On this collaboration we are working together as equal partners with Aqualamb Records who have some great bands on their roster like Lo-Pan and HAAN. After two gigs in Europe (Desertfest Antwerp and Soulcrusher Festival) they built up quite a fan-base. Encouraged by the reactions of their fans on their performance, Frayle is expanding the sound that they had on the White Witch EP. Expanding by taking new approaches to layering all the instruments including vocals to push the boundaries on what they previously did to make it heavier and more atmospheric at the same time. The material that I heard so far is really awesome! Looking forward to the new LP that will see the light around October 2019. But before this piece of wax will be released, I am also very excited about another collaboration with both Frayle and Aqualamb Records. We are working on a special box, which will include elements to impact the vibe of the music, including a 100+ page printed book. And last but not least I like to mention another special project. One that came up spontaneously. It’s about the debut-album from the band Bismut. Due to personal circumstances the label which the band was first signed to, couldn’t deliver the release as promised. When we got talking about this inconvenience, we decided to work together to get their debut-album ‘Schwerpunkt’ up and running. It became a raw experimental psychedelic jam-session, right here from my hometown, Nijmegen. Those 3 lads stole my heart!

What has been / is the most difficult part of your job?

I get a lot of email from bands. It’s hard to find the time to listen to all of them or even to find the time to get back to each band. So sorry for that.

As I don’t have large runs to sell, it’s hard to get the interest from bigger distributors. Distributors are needed, especially abroad like USA, Australia, cause the shipping-costs are killing.

Also, the growth of digital distribution and downloads forces me to adjust my approach. Not necessarily in a negative way but I need to recalibrate my thoughts on this. A lot of people step over to the digital experience to listen to (new) music. I don’t mind downloading, it fits the society we live in nowadays. There is so much music to listen to. You notice a shift in popularity. The boom around vinyl is almost over. Lower runs in vinyl releases are getting more common and therefor is the niche on certain vinyl getting bigger. There is so much music being released at this moment, it forces people to choose. A choice that is difficult to make because all the options are pleasing; therefore it’s okay to download. It’s a way for band to get picked up too – better being downloaded than never been heard of.  At the end of course, I hope people get into the music that much, that they will collect it on vinyl as well.

And finally; getting a proper tour booked. Especially when a new release is coming up. The most bands have difficulties with getting a tour booked. The market is flooded with festivals, but a proper club-tour is hard to set up for relatively unknown or new bands. So yes, if you are or know a booker or distributor, please see this as a shout out and get in touch with me. Because some bands would love to get out there on the stage to share their tunes!

What advice do you have for someone wanting to get into pursuing what you’re doing?

It’s a very cool and fun subject that never really ends. Working as a label-owner you are acting in many different roles. Sometimes as motivator, mediator, negotiator, creative consultant, PR, booker, manager, influencer, but above all the companion that collaborates with great artists to realize that their music reaches out to the public. In the case of my label, on vinyl that is.

The advice I can give is accept that it becomes a big part of your life-style. Especially when you got bands overseas, working and contact hours are different then in your daily life planning. Irregular schedules… a new release is never the same.  Bands and artists divert from approach, from working with deadlines, touring or not, easy in communication.

And stick to an open mind, like ‘think outside, no box required’. Stay in contact with bands, because you never know, down the road from getting committed to each other and giving a go, to the test-pressings, till the final hard copy in your hands. On that road amazing ideas can still can be created!

Yes, I am a collector myself. It’s in my genes. In my childhood I lived with my parents right to my grandparents who ran a pub. They had a jukebox, so there was always music playing. Every weekend I went with my aunt to the local record store to keep the juke box updated with the newest hits. From there on I got my interest for those pieces of wax. Of course, there was a time that I moved to CD’s. But that didn’t work for me. They get thrown around, I misplaced he booklets. LP’s demand more care. It’s almost a ritual. Getting them out of the sleeve, balancing the vinyl between your fingers, studying the sleeve, the insert, the liner notes. Tiptoeing around the record player. Gently placing the record on the player, softly brushing the spinning record for the dust and finally putting the needle on the groove or specific spot where your favorite songs starts. And after all that effort it’s a great satisfaction to listen to the tunes coming out the speakers. Simply magic 😊

What types of things are happening in your industry / with vinyl that you’re excited or worried about? i.e. innovation, or trends you’re seeing.

Like I mentioned earlier, the growth of digital distribution, downloads force me to adjust my approach. Not necessarily in a negative way but I need to recalibrate my thoughts. A couple of labels have started subscription deals, where subscribers will get releases before they’re out on general sale, and/or get extra goodies to reward their loyalty. For smaller, independent labels this brings in a guarantee to financially support upcoming releases. I need to consider if I need to step on that train too. And, I am worried about the immense offer on festivals, with in general the same line-up or headliners in a short period of time. I for see that this market will implode. Again, too many choices with the same offer. So, people will explore new stuff or just pick out one or two festivals. It all affects the smaller club touring.

Anything else to add, also tell me what you’re currently listening to?

Thank you so much Jenn for showing interest in my story and my label. What you do for the industry is impressive!

If people want to know more about my history related to music I would say: check out this awesome book: ‘Passion for Vinyl’ from Robert Haagsma. He did some great interviews with different kind of record-collectors, each one related somehow with those great pieces of wax!  You recently interviewed Anouk Rijnders from Record Industry, she worked together with Robert on this book. www.passionforvinyl.com 

Now I like to listen to experimental jazz (exploring this genre, need to practice my ears on this), shoegaze/ dark wave, some drone driven post-rock.

Find Désirée:

Instagram: Lay Bare Recordings

Facebook: Lay Bare Recordings

Twitter: LayBareRecs

Website: https://laybarerecordings.com/

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