Morr Music

By: Dustin Hargrave

Indie labels are a dime a dozen, and with many of them snatching up as many artists as possible to fill the void left by the majors, it can be hard at times to distinguish one indie from the next. One label that has completely sidestepped this problem is Morr Music. By signing artists with a wholly unique sound combined with album artwork that stands out on the shelves, they have set themselves apart from all of the others. While it is rather hard to categorize the music that is coming from the label, it is not hard to recognize its distinctiveness. Some have used the terms electronica, intelligent dance music, and dream-pop with influences of folk to describe the music, however, it is best for one to discover and draw conclusions:

Morr likes to use hand-drawn or hand-painted album covers by artists such as Jan Kruse and Julia Guther for many of their releases. Here are a few:

Electric President - s/tISAN - Greencracked / CatgotSurf City - s/t

Morr Music officially came into being 11 years ago in Berlin, Germany while founder Thomas Morr was working for a distribution company. During his time working there, Thomas decided to create his own imprint and use his ties at the distribution company to help get started. While Thomas was contemplating starting Morr Music, he was living with Markus Archer of The Notwist and Lali Puna. Markus pushed Thomas to create the label, as he wanted to put out a record by Lali Puna on Morr Music. Over the next ten years Morr Music would release albums by some of modern electronica’s greatest bands including B. Fleischmann, múm, Styrofoam, Seabear, MS. John Soda, and U.S. natives Electric President, Radical Face and The American Analog Set. Morr Music even put out an EP by Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie.

In addition to acting as the label’s head, Thomas also serves as the label’s A&R man. That being said, Morr Music closely resembles Thomas’s personal music tastes, and puts out albums he likes even if he realizes that the label will not make any money off of them. When selecting bands to sign to Morr Music, Thomas likes for the bands to have an interesting back-story.  He also wants to sign bands that sound like they come from their respective countries, meaning that a band from Sweden that sounds like the music coming out of Britain will be overlooked by the label. Thomas does this because he knows that it would be very hard for a band in this position to break through in the marketplace as there are already bands out there doing the same thing. Thomas is also very hands on when it comes to recording and selecting songs for albums released through Morr Music. If he does not like a song, he will be upfront with the band and ask them to re-record it.  When this happens, Thomas splits the re-recording costs with the band as he recognizes that it was his decision.

In recent years Morr Music has embraced the resurgence of vinyl with a specialty imprint called A Number of Small Things (or ANOST for short) that only puts out 7-inches. They also created another imprint called Sound of A Handshake that puts out experiments and side-projects of bands on Morr Music.

In a recent interview with Tracks and Fields, Thomas talked about the current state of the industry and what Morr Music is doing to stay alive. One of the major points he made was that labels are more dependent on the artists these days, meaning that the artists cannot look to the labels to help them create an image and hone their music skills. They must have a DIY ethic now more than ever just to make it and make money for the label. He also mentioned that most artists nowadays cannot survive as being just an artist, they must have some sort of day job to support themselves and they must be willing to make sacrifices to balance their music and regular lives. With forward thinking such as this and its ability to maintain its unique style and sound, Morr Music will remain a major contender in the indie world for years to come.

Sources:

Tracks and Fields – Interview with Thomas Morr

Euradio 101.3 fm Nantes – Interview with Thomas Morr

Morr Music Homepage

Morr Music Myspace Blog

Morr Music Wiki

A Number of Small Things Homepage

Dustin Hargrave
hargravedustin@charter.net

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