Interview by Wota Lay

This is a interview with label manager Paul Abramson of Van Richter Records. After a few days worth of e-mails back and forth, I gathered my information, and came to an uneasy conclusion. I found a lot of inside information on a some what misunderstood person and label. Paul Abramson C.E.O of Van Richter records tells us how life is as a label manager, explaining the ups & downs of the nasty industry trends and the wide spread cultural damage that bad music and mainstream media causes. Even giving us a basic look in everyday life as a key player in the music industry. Inside and out, I found out about the good things and bad things of mainstream media and music from a fast moving, hard hitting, and corrupt corporate music industry.

Wota Lay: Please, tell me who is all involved with Van Richter Records? Does your company consist of many people? If many, how long did it take till your company began to grow in numbers? How was the label maintained in the early years? Did you have a number of employees at that time?

Paul: Myself, Paul Abramson, Label Manager; Gabriella Turek, Webmaster and Information Systems; Will Huggins, Promotions Director in Canada. We also have various interns that help us from time to time. We have remained small and personal, so we can give all of the Van Richter Bands attention! We started with a small staff and remain with the same hands on crew like a family.

Wota Lay: As (Paul Abramson) C.E.O of Van Richter Records, what normally does your day consist of, during a complete day at the office/label? Do you find yourself learning to have to deal with a large amount of stress and frustration? How does a man in your line of work manage to control, supervise, organize, and maintain such a record company as Van Richter?

Paul: There is no normal day at the Label. There are a lot of hours spent listening to demos, of ours and other bands, selling to our retail base, coordinating with our Distributors, promoting and marketing our bands to radio, magazine, and the internet. I usually am involved in all aspects of the operations of this label in one way or another. Yes, there is a lot of stress and frustration, especially trying to get the public to support the Industrial Music genre and having to compete against an overflow of bad releases and huge marketing budgets from the Majors. Unfortunately, you never hear about the best music that is being produced because of these problems. By overseeing all aspects of the Label, I can pretty much control our direction and scope.

Wota Lay: What was your life like before the birth of Van Richter Records? Have you always been involved with Sub-Culture type music? What were the inspirations, ideas, and motives in the beginning of your company? Do these goals and dreams come into focus looking back and thinking about them now?

Paul: From 1981-83 I worked for Arista, as a college rep. From 1984-88 I worked for Wax Trax Records, as their west coast branch office. Then I took approximately 5 years off from the business to relax and formed Van Richter in 1993. One way or another I have been involved in the Sub-Culture, either directly or as a fan. Our objective at Van Richter was to find and develop the leading bands in the genre and break them to the larger mass market. Though we feel we have, the objective of mass appeal has yet to be realized. Perhaps, we never expected the genre of industrial music to loose so much support and that every new generation has supported the genre less and less. After my five year hiatus from the business in the late 80's to early 90's, I did not expect every new generation would become more and more apathetic when it came to music and especially in our sub culture of industrial music. So basically, to date, our goals and dreams remain to be realized, because of this bleak climate in the music business.

Wota Lay: How many bands to date does Van Richter have on the label, is their also a large release count for the label?

Paul: Five bands on the roster. We release about 3-4 records a year, so all the artists get attention. Every release is worked as a priority! That is what artist development is all about.

Wota Lay: What is the latest news from Van Richter as of 6-22-98?

Paul: WHAT'S NEW AT VAN RICHTER... You can now listen to all CD's here on our website...and check out Testify on MTV Online! Testify's track "Dumb" will be appearing on the Off Beat Compilation, "Moonraker" Volume 4, which is part of the series as a Double CD with the hits of the past year.
1998 Release Schedule:
The Fair Sex- Dark Ages Vol. I
The Fair Sex - Dark Ages Vol. II
Street date: Summer
Testify - Crack the Mind
Street date: Summer
Four remixes by Die Krupps, Die Warzau, Plastic Noise Experience and Testify Plus five new tracks Various Artists - Horror Movies
Street date: TBA
The best bands of the Industrial Genre, covering classic cult horror movie titles. Preview sample: PNE's cover of Motorhead's "Hellraiser" (WAV 1.9Mb)

Wota Lay: What was it like in the beginning, trying to get distribution, etc..?

Paul: It really sucks now, as there are too many labels putting out **** product and causing a huge undermining at retail. In the beginning it was easy, before other Labels started putting out every demo that came into their office!

Wota Lay: How many Distributors do you have now, 5 years later and who?

Paul: 2 - Navarre Corp(USA), St. Clair(Canada)

Wota Lay: How long has Van Richter had internet access? How has the internet affected the labels sales and exposure?

Paul: Since 1995. It's a great networking and image tool, but don't expect to do a lot of direct sales at this point.

Wota Lay: How does all the rapid changes and many trends of the music industry effect the label?

Paul: All the changes we have seen in the last 3 years have caused a significant demise in the music business. Too much bad product, too many returns, and no one buying music!

Wota Lay: How do you think bands like Gravity, NIN, and Manson effect the genre?

Paul: They have had very little overall impact for our genre, as none of their fans will venture and try better indie bands that don't have million dollar marketing budgets, even though the music is of the same or better quality.

Wota Lay: How much do you think the mainstream media has supported the genre in the years like MTV, Rolling Stones, etc. Honestly, do you think MTV is a friend or foe to the culture?

Paul: What little is left of their music programming (most of MTV is nonmusic shows) has been a great help to the majors...especially the RAP genre that has exploded! MTV is definitely a foe of the Subculture, as all Viacom cares about is advertising and ratings, which only the majors can provide. There is no indie forum, let alone much Music TV left on the channel.

Wota Lay: How do you feel about the rise of "Electronica"? Bands like The Chemical Brothers, Prodigy etc.?

Paul: It's just another fad which will be short lived. Infact, the sales have not supported the huge contracts many of these artists have gotten from the majors. There is a lot of form, but not much substance. Again, it's just another trend with nominal musical foundation and certainly has not had a cross over sales impact into our genre even though a lot of marginal industrial bands have jumped on this, and the drum and bass band wagon.

Wota Lay: What kind of negativity does someone in your position get, being in the public's eye? Do you seem to get a lot of rumors spread and what not?

Paul: It comes with the territory of being in the public eye as it does with all our artists. 99.9% is usually false and not worth addressing in this interview.

Wota Lay: I spoke with a few DJs. Some mention that there are a few bad rumors and mayhem going around about Van Richter Records. Would you like to comment or maybe clear anything up in this area?

Paul: I don't know what you are referring to. We treat everyone fairly who is honest with us....

Wota Lay: Ok,.. how about tours? Do you have any bands on tour at this time? What are the dates and where?

Paul: TESTIFY just got off the road with Armageddon Dildos and will be touring on their new release "Crack the Mind" this fall. Date and where TBA.

Wota Lay: Do you have any comments or final words?

Paul: Don't believe rumors...believe in the bands!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!