Interview by Julie Johnson

Can you give us a brief history of Van Richter Records and how it all began?

I founded the label in November of 1993 by signing Testify and The Fair Sex (from Germany). Our first offices opened January 1994 in San Diego California Since that time we have had offices in Palm Springs as well as Los Angeles. Prior to starting the label I worked for various other labels including Wax Trax Records as well as was a club and radio D.J., band manager and booking agent. Since 1994 we have added five other bands to the roster including Plastic Noise Experience, Sielwolf, Death and Horror Inc, Girls Under Glass and Underwater Pilots. We were one of the first indie labels in 1995 to launch a website which remains current today,

What is the presently going on with Van Richter Records?

We are working our current roster and catalog as well as always keeping an ear out for new artists. Our latest focus is to reissue masters from our vault as digital only releases on itunes as well as reissue many out of print titles from various other seminal bands in the genre past and present. Physical music unfortunately is a dying art form so we have shifted our business model to embrace the digital world. To that end we are also spending a large amount of time on online viral marketing instead of traditional print media. We did recently launch a terrestrial monthly radio show at college radio that show cases our bands. Also we have a pre programmed station on live 365 that runs 24/7 as well as on itunes.

What do you hope the future will bring for Van Richter Records?

More prosperity instead of just survival which is a common tale for most indie labels. We definitely are working much harder for less these days. Digital Aggregation through our itunes pipeline for other bands and labels has been a big help. We hope the future brings us a break out band like all indie labels hope for.

How do you plan to keep going forward with the label?

Phasing our of physical goods and becoming a pure digital label at some point As indie record stores shutter in droves there is no point to continue to try and put a round peg is a square hole like the music business of the past. We have been fortunate enough to get our inventory levels low enough to be cost effective to eventually phase out.

How many active bands are currently on the Van Richter label?

All our bands are active with the exception of Death and Horror Inc though many are not in a hurry to release new material due to the current state of the industry

Are there any future plans for new releases for the last quarter of the year?

We have no plans to release physical product this year. We continue to reissue back catalog and masters from the vault digitally because of the minimal cost and risk.

What was the last release that the label put out and how did that do in a time where everyone is downloading music on the internet etc?

We released a Various Artist "Hellfire" compilation that initially was exclusive to Hot Topic then after the exclusive period ended has been available at all retail. It did well because we had to budget price it due to downward price pressure of the net

Are you currently looking to sign new artists or accepting demos to the label?

Yes that will never change. Our prime directive it to develop artists. There is a dedicated submission page on our website for accepting demos and even if we pass on an artist we do offer them non exclusive digital distribution via our pipeline with itunes.

Has there been one artist on your label that seems to be the driving force behind the label?

We have a small but diverse roster. The driving force behind the label was to follow in the foot steps of legendary industrial monikers such as my former label Wax Trax. The goal was to have Van Richter become a premiere old school industrial moniker. Unfortunately for Wax Trax they expanded too much as well as outside of the genre,lost their way and eventually were shuttered. Van Richter is sixteen years old and going strong partly because we believe we learned from prior history. The driving force was to represent seminal bands in all the sub genres of industrial music which I believe we have accomplished. Testify (Aggro Metal), The Fair Sex (Darkwave),Plastic Noise Experience (EBM), Sielwolf (Noise Experimental), Death and Horror Inc (Electro) Girls Under Glass (Gothic), Underwater Pilots (Synth - Future Pop)

When looking at an artist to sign on your label, what kind of criteria are you looking for?

A well produced sound that fits into our roster. An artist that has a story or willing to work hard to create one. With the declining state of our industry labels have to minimize risk these days

Do the active bands on your label play live?

Yes. All of our bands except DHI are from Germany and most do regular tours there as well as play the well established sub culture festival circuit

I know the last CD I got from your label was a physical copy of Underwater Pilots, but now so many labels are turning to digital downloads, will you be using digital downloads for future releases as well?

Yes all our current catalog and future releases will be digital only unless demand for physical formats ever returns which is unlikely.

Can you tell us more about Van Richter Radio? How can artists have their music played on this station?

We do a live show once a month on KCR college radio as well as a pre programmed show that runs 24/ 7 on live 365 and itunes. If artists want their music considered for airplay they need to snail mail us a package.

How have you seen the industrial music scene change since first starting in 1993?

Unfortunately the genre peaked around 1990 and has been on the decline ever since. Certainly the early days of the label were more exciting with more up and coming artists Now most of the talent has left the scene due to the serve decline in sales and illegal downloads. Unfortunately 90% of all music is stolen.

What type of promotion do you do for Van Richter Records to keep the label out there? Also, during the times when there are not any releases going on?

Viral marketing is the name of the game these days. One can spend all day promoting on social networking sites. Our award winning website also give us an ongoing presence. As mentioned we have two radio shows as well as street teams and sales representatives that spread the Van Richter word. We maintain a large user database which we send regular updates to as well. There are endless opportunities we utilize to promote our bands and label

What is your least favorite thing about running your label?

The satisfaction at the end of the day that I am following my dream,passion and vision to bring the best art possible of the genre to the world. Creating Van Richter from nothing and making a name that is well respected in the genre and music business.

What was the best thing that has ever happened for your label?

That is hard to say after sixteen years of experience. Recognition from our peers as well as fans always makes my day even now. There is no one event I could single out as there have been many ups and downs as running a label is an ongoing challenge.

Do you feel you have to compete with other labels?

We compete for the few artists left out there and to a lessor extend shelf space which of course is becoming less relevant due to the shuttering of pure record stores. Also for air, internet and club play. There is probably only one other label in the genre left that we look at as competition in the USA.

I know you have felt that it is more about "quality not quantity," when it comes to releases, why so?

We tried to learn from labels that have flooded the market with poor quality releases over the years which both retail and customers have complained about. We are more concerned with artistic integrity than the bottom line unlike most larger labels.

What type of music are you currently listening to?

I still primarily listen to industrial music. I eat my own cooking as they say

What advice would you have for someone who is interested in starting their own label that catered to industrial, EBM, Noise type of music?

I would advise against it due to the lack of available talent and poor market conditions unless it is their passion first and making money is not a primary issue.

What do you want people to remember about Van Richter Records and how you do business

We tried to make a difference in the genre by bringing the world seminal bands that will stand the test of time. We hope people will remember us for our vision and passion for industrial music.