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Say Hello to Edmonton’s Most Prominent All-Vinyl Electronic Label, Normals Welcome

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Imprints brings you regular profiles of the most exciting record labels the world over, with input from the movers and shakers who contribute to their local electronic music communities.

Founded: 2004
Location: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Members: Nik Kozub, Jason Trook, Dylan Khotin-Foote
Artists: Khotin, The Paronomasiac, Shout Out Out Out Out, Nulle Part
Number of Releases: 16
Social: Website, FacebookTwitterSoundCloud                  

What’s the deal?
Nik: Normals Welcome began as a weekly club night in the summer of 2004 and quickly morphed into a record label by the summer of 2005. We had originally planned on doing frequent 12” single releases for DJs, but admittedly got sidetracked early on with this plan and wound up coming out of the gates with a series of full scale album campaigns, which took a lot of time, money, and resources.

This year we are really focusing on getting back to what we had originally intended. This is, in essence, is a period of rebranding for Normals Welcome. We are thrilled to have brought Dylan Khotin-Foote on board to work with us; he is helping to keep us focused in a big way. He has great taste in music, and his vision for the label is most definitely right in line with what I want it to be. Even though we have really been doing this for pretty much 10 years now, it feels like we are starting fresh. Normals Welcome will be releasing a whole bunch of records this year and all of them will be 12” vinyl (with digital available). We’ll definitely be throwing some excellent parties too.

Where does the name Normals Welcome come from?
N: It’s a thing we used to put on flyers for punk shows way back. “All Ages, No Nazis, Normals Welcome.” The idea being that weirdos were expected, but normals were welcome. We’re a very inclusive lot over here.

How would you describe your sound?
N: We think of ourselves somewhat broadly as an electronic music label. Right now we are excited about releasing house records, deep house, acid, a lot of music based around analog synths and classic drum machines. We do have some upcoming releases that will deviate from a four by four a bit, but the synths, drum machines, and production aesthetics are very important to us.

Which release would you recommend to introduce a new listener to Normals Welcome?
N: Khotin’s debut “Vitebsk”, and The Paronomasiac’s “Stress Appeal” represent a cross section of the current direction of the label quite well.

Which are some of your favourite tracks?
Dylan: “Stress Appeal” off the upcoming Paronomasiac record has been getting a lot of good feedback since we had the chance to play out the test pressing a couple of times. Would go as far as saying it was the track of the night at our last party.

How do you choose the artists that you work with?
N: Right now we are working primarily with people that we have some kind of personal relationship with, that we can relate to both artistically and personally. We do listen to demos though, and we are constantly thinking about upcoming releases and what we want to do next. This is a time of building for our label, and we are looking to expand.

What’s the next release on Normals Welcome? How far ahead do you plan your releases?
N: The Paronomasiac, “Stress Appeal” (NRML016) is the next release, due out on April 25. We have upcoming releases planned for about six months in advance. Maintaining a release schedule is a bit of a moving target at this point (oh right, Record Store Day, your record is delayed by a month), but it’s starting to smooth out as we go.

Do you feel isolated running the label that you do in Edmonton?
N: Does it really matter where anyone lives in this day and age? We rarely feel like geography is a major setback to what we do. Edmonton’s actually kind of nice (in the summer), come visit! There are also some other great new labels (much respect to Heart To Heart and Common Edit), and people throwing great parties in Edmonton. It’s inspiring, Edmonton is feeling more exciting now than it has in awhile. That being said, we are aware that we are still kind of in the middle of nowhere, which becomes even more evident when we try to describe to anyone where we live, and why we “choose” to stay. Yes, winter sucks here.

Where do your friends play?
N: Whenever possible, we aim to throw our parties in spots that aren’t just “a bar.” We are constantly looking for cool new venues, warehouses, whatever. We are actually throwing our next party in a barbershop. When we do play in a club setting in Edmonton, it is most often at The Common, which is a really good spot.

What are some challenges that you face week-to-week?
N: Most challenges we experience stem from the fact that we are all really busy. Jason manages a record store, Dylan is currently in school studying web development and I have to take my dog on nice long walks.

Beyond that, a lot of the challenges are strictly logistic. Records are expensive to make. Postage rates in Canada are absolutely ridiculous; mailing out a record to someone costs substantially more than the record itself. We are admittedly pretty geographically isolated which can make touring expensive for our Edmonton based artists. Wanna drive to Toronto? That’s 45 hours.

Do you have any advice for producers outside of Canadian cultural hubs who don’t make club music?
N: Make shit happen where you live, become a cultural hub. Do stuff, do it right, and use the Internet to let people know you are doing stuff right.

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