Here follows the second part of Ricky’s in-depth interview with former Kaotoxin, current XenoKorp head honcho Nicolas Williart. Part One was published yesterday. Jump onto the Interwebz Time Machine and check it out if you missed it.
How many people do you have helping you run the label? Has this grown considerably since the beginning of the year?
I used to work with my friend Juliette for Kaotoxin, but since XenoKorp has a different focus and doesn’t distribute much other stuff than its releases, I’m now the sole desperate soul running XenoKorp even though I’m giving a helping hand by Juliette who’s launching her own thing these days (Malpermesita Records, which focuses on black / folk / Viking and signed Azziard, one of the ex-Kaotoxin artists). But, for 99.9% of the time “running XenoKorp”, I’m alone, even though I’d like to get help on the artwork front these days, but, you know, asking people for help and asking them to be both devoted to what they do and work for free is something I feel guilty with, so I don’t beg for help.
What are your ambitions for your label, XenoKorp? Is there a band you would personally love to sign to your label for a release?
I don’t have any “ambitions” for the label besides making its customers and artists happy, sincerely. Not losing money would be great, of course, but I know this ain’t happening anytime soon in this lifetime, so it’s not part of those “ambitions” either.
As for artists I’d dream to work with? Well, there are like hundreds of them, really, and I already feel really honoured of the close relationship, both artistically and on the level of friendship, I have with such legends as Mercyless or Putrid Offal. I’ve been a fan of both since I was a teen and now I’m releasing their stuff when I wasn’t even dreaming about it!
You are very keen to release all of your bands’ records in CD, digital and vinyl formats. Is there still an old-school element within you that likes to release the vinyl version just for the die hard collectors?
Let’s say “we try to”, because it’s not always possible, money-wise, and we also know that this or that debut full-length won’t sell more than 200 CD copies, so doing a vinyl is out of question, but whenever we can, we do, for sure! As I’ve said, the main goal is to get our artists happy, and they all want vinyls, and our customers alike, and some want vinyls for sure, so we do print some as often as we can. However, the costs are extremely high, the sales lower and pricing ain’t higher than a CD these days, so it’s extremely risky. Whatever the format – cassette, CD or vinyl – we really focus on quality in terms of packaging, with DigiPaks in tough cardboard sleeves with matt lamination and above-average booklet quality, posters, stickers and whatnot as bonuses as well as exclusive bonus tracks for each format whenever we can, so even if sales aren’t many and prices aren’t high, people still get as much we can offer them for their money.
In a time everyone’s streaming a poor-quality mp3 on any platform with poor-quality “earbuds” and not even reading the lyrics or getting the whole of the artistic concept with the booklet, etc., we really think that the ones who actually care, even if they are a handful of devoted fans these days, should get the whole of our attention and get whatever we can afford to offer them.
XenoKorp have released music by bands from a variety of genres of extreme metal music. Is this to reflect your own personal taste in music or did it just happen this way? Are you open to all forms of music as long as it sounds good to you?
In fact, XenoKorp is extremely narrow-minded when it comes to the music style, compared to what Kaotoxin was. It’s about death metal exclusively, though that’s seen as a “large spectrum” so you’re nevertheless right, somehow. We’ve hard death / grind with Putrid Offal, brutal death with Defeated Sanity, thrash / death with Mercyless and Master, pure death metal with Savage Annihilation and Dehuman, black / death with Mithridatic and funeral black / death / doom with Ataraxie so far, but, well, there’s “death” in all these styles, it’s all related to me, and quite “close”, style-wise.
If I was to run a label solely based on my musical tastes, I can promise you it’d be a total mess ranging from Erik Satie to Abba, from Prodigy to Urine Festival, Depeche Mode to NTM and whatnot in between, so better avoiding that as the decision was clear with XenoKorp: “Death is everything”. That’s a “guideline” to me, so I can focus on “something”!
Do you have any limitations when it comes to bands that you would sign to your label?
Yes and no. I mean I’d fight all I can to make sure they all have their artistic freedom and I’ll always defend my artists if they face any kind of censorship. It happened a couple years ago with many factories refusing to print the booklet for the VxPxOxAxAxWxAxMxC split with TxPxF, but we found a way in the end and it was obvious for me I’d never ask the band to change anything about it.
It’s all about art and no one should decide what is art and what is not as long as the artist considers it’s art, it’s art to me but on the other hand, I wouldn’t release something I wouldn’t feel comfortable with, like Nazi stuff, for instance. I mean, freedom of speech is freedom of speech and art is art, should you love it or hate it, so I’ll never ask to censor anyone, but I wouldn’t just release such stuff myself. That’s just not my thing and my beliefs, that’s all about it. But if I decide to release something, I’ll defend it with no limitations others than the ones I’m sadly forced to obey: law, money, health…
So what is next for Nicolas Williart and XenoKorp? Now that 2017 is almost at an end, what are your plans for 2018?
I’ve honestly learnt in my flesh not to expect anything “next” and I tend to live on a daily basis with not too much in the way of expectations and hopes for a while now, but I’m already working on a exciting new series of releases called the “Militia Series” which are all about debut EPs by brand new artists to help them kick off their career.
The first one will be the debut EP by France’s Defenestration, Gutter Perdition. Then we have the live (digital) album by Mithridatic, He Who Lies Underneath. There are plenty of other projects I’m currently working on these days, both in the reissues or new releases camps, but we’ll see what really happens when it happens. But I can tell you that both for reissues or new stuff, I hope you’ll like what we’ll come with and enjoy the… “Death from Beyond” that’s the Xeno-Korporation!
How long do you see yourself doing what you are doing within the music industry?
As long as I can afford it, health-wise and money-wise. Decades, hopefully! Fingers crossed!
A question I have to ask at the end of this interview. Is there one band that slipped through the net that you would have loved to have signed to your label?
So many of them, sincerely! But it’s all a question of money, these days. If I could have two or three people working for the label and enough money left to release fifty albums a month, there’d still be a ton of artists I would have loved to sign but wouldn’t have been able to so you have to deal with it. You do what you can and if you’re not releasing it yourself, support the lucky ones that do!
Thank you for your time Nicolas. A fun question to end this interview. If you were a DJ and were allowed to bring 5 CDs to the party, what would they be?
Shit, I’ve always some list of “the CDs you’d bring to a desert island” at hand for this kind of question but never thought about “the party”! Depends on the party, I guess, for if it’s my sister’s birthday or a swingers’ night, a wedding or a funeral, I guess that would definitely change the playlist a lot, right?
So, well, say it’s a metal night with friends, a lot of alcohol and music a bit too loud? Ok, so, DJ Nico would bring… er… Slayer’s Reign in Blood, Suffocation’s Pierced from Within, some waltz for a bit more romance like Emperor’s In the Nightside Eclipse (“I Am the Black Wizards”!) or Dark Funeral’s My Funeral, some AC/DC for the romantic girl I’ve just had a waltz with become a bit more… friendly… (“Let Me Pull My Love Into You”, sort of, right?), and when it’s time for her and me so everyone leaves and we stay together at long last, the best party crasher ever, one of the worst releases ever, Metallica & Lou Reed’s Lulu always comes in handy!
Any last messages for our readers over here at Moshville Times?
Thanks a lot for the cool invite, Ricky, and thanks a lot to all Moshville Times readers! Thanks a lot for all the support throughout the years, really, it’s very much appreciated, sincerely! But never forget: We Don’t Come in Peace. So obey your Xeno-Lords!