Hivern Discs vinyl record release

An Interview with Uri from Hivern Discs in Barcelona

So many things have happened since Hivern Discs was founded 10 years ago in Barcelona, and the label’s founder, Uri (also known as John Talabot, among many other pseudonyms), has changed equally. In that decade, he has kept honest to his music taste, which has developed as he met new people, new doors opened, and new music got to his hands.

Hivern Discs describes Uri’s personality very well: challenging, creative, and innovative, with a special interest in local talent. Those who are familiar with Uri and his label will know how well-curated all the releases and editions are. It’s a space where artists from many different disciplines, including photographers, graphic designers, plastic artists, etc., collaborate.

Uri is also a well-respected DJ, a crazy vinyl collector, and a trusted selector with an eclectic taste and fine criteria. If you are in Barcelona, you will probably find him digging the crates in Discos Paradiso, one of his favorite record stores in the world (he delivered an excellent mixtape for them recently released in a limited-edition tape under the name DJ Bonclient). If you wanna know more about Uri, check one of his shows in NTS or read further below. Long live Hivern Discs!

Discogs: Who you are and what’s your background with music and record collecting?

Uri: My name is Uri. I play and make music under different names and aliases, but people know me most as John Talabot. I’ve been operating the label since the beginning, together with friends and collaborators that have been involved in the label in some way. In all these years Meri, Gigi, Alicia, and Sandra have been involved in label management. Dani has been involved for a long time doing A&R and, together with Ignasi, is actually involved in the label management working with me. We have worked with many designers, artists, and illustrators that have collaborated with us in many ways and layers.

Hivern Discs vinyl records storage

Regarding my collection, [it] is quite varied and chaotic. I’ve always been interested in many genres and labels, weird and rare stuff, but also a lot of friends’ labels and releases. I try to have a collection that defines my relationships and links with other musicians. [I have] never collected too much from one artist but I like to keep every record I bought as a way to remember where I come from and my different phases and moments in collecting and enjoying music. But this also has [created]a big space conflict in my apartment and studio. My collection is split into four different spaces now, and I would like to reunite them as soon if possible.

D: What’s your first memory related to music? Which was the first record you remember buyting with your own money?

U: I remember some pop vinyl at my mother’s house — Spanish pop bands like Mecano — and some acid house compilations with late ’80s hits. Also some kids’ records. I also remember a lot of blues from my dad … blues was always the soundtrack for many car drives and holiday trips with my brother and sister.

D: Tell us the story of the label. When did it take off and how has it been developing and changing? It might sound ordinary, but some people might not know what Hivern means and why did you choose this name for your label. You normally use a lot of Catalan words and phrases in your productions and releases.

U: Hivern started 13 years ago and means “winter” in Catalan. This was a reference to my favorite season but also the season where you usually spend more time in studios taking care of projects as summer in Barcelona is quite long, humid, and busy with events, parties, festivals, etc. (or at least it used to be). I like to use Catalan; it’s my main language and the language I use in my thoughts, and it’s beautiful. Also, we feel that culture and music have been underrated by our institutions for many years and we think it is important that active music and cultural entities try to reflect all the goods things we have here despite all the adversities.

D: A few things have changed since you started with the label. For example, you used to have a very interesting blog and you used to do parties. Are you thinking of bringing the blog back to life? What about your role as promoters? Will you keep on doing parties when the pandemic allows it?

U: Thank you!! The blog pre-dates almost all the releases on the label and it was a way to share our taste and let people know how varied our music and other interests were. Right now, I don’t see too much point in a blog anymore. Also, we are very busy with some unreleased projects that we will announce soon, [as well as] the daily job that we need to do as a label.

Now, we’re also involved in a radio show in Radio Raheem where we invite some other labels to do a kind of different podcast. It’s called “Label Notes” and it’s a program dedicated to some of our favorite imprints and label friends. Through a sound collage of music, voice notes, and field recordings, we discover what moves and inspires them to release music.

And yes, of course, we will continue doing our showcases. It’s something we like to do as it expands our work as a label and it allows us to invite some projects that are not part of the roster but we do really like.

Hivern Discs turntables

D: You are mainly known as a dance music producer, but in these pandemic times, the clubbing environment has been suffering a lot and it’s a concept likely to change completely. What do you think clubbing will look like in the short-term? How do you think the pandemic will affect the way the producers conceive music for the club? How will the audience face the changes?

U: Dance music is a genre that doesn’t exist in my mind and I don’t feel too much attachment to it as a concept of music, as I can dance to many things and sounds. If you define dance music as something that has some specific rules and intentions, maybe the pandemic is the perfect moment to get rid of some of these predetermined ideas of what is dance music or is not and let it flow. Let’s restart the party with a new mood and energy. I think club music has a special mindset, but again, I don’t like to make small compartments about what is what. In my daily playlists, I can listen to many things from different periods, styles, moods, musicians, etc., and I can’t still see a path and relation between all of them in a dance environment. Dance to something or not — it’s just a decision of your feeling towards that music.

Regarding the impact of the pandemic in the club scene, I still can’t figure out how it will affect future generations, new genres, new ideas … It feels like the perfect scenario for local artists to have more opportunities in some places they haven’t had any before. On the other hand, this lockdown must have been a good chance for producers to go deep in stuff they could not focus on before, and personally, we already felt that the releases have been different this year, with more albums and more music released in general. But still, the mood is strange and I think we will be more able to see the impact of this pandemic in future years.

D: You are also known for releasing edgy music and more experimental stuff. A good example of this is FRAGMENTS (2020), one of your most ambitious releases up to this point. There, you mix both sides of the label: mental and dance stuff. Can dance music be experimental?

U: The majority of genres that were born as dance music or club music were a reaction to something else — a specific political or cultural moment, social rules, minorities that felt they were left apart and created something out of the situation to build something new — and I think all of them [experiment] because they tried to create something new. Of course, some genres became [more visible over time] and some of them lost the edge, but I think that one of the purposes of music should always be experimentation, moving on, having new ideas, and trying new perspectives and new sounds.

D: You have two sub-labels. Explain to us the concept behind each one and tell us about any side projects you have in mind.

U: Well, we’ve just put out the last release of HVNX: Bird Studies, a beautiful album by local producer Arthur Evans. [It is the tenth and final release] on HVNX, which was always intended as a platform for more conceptual or experimental projects. We have a number of EPs in the pipeline and we are also opening up to more album proposals. And there are a couple side projects in the works as well, which we can’t talk about just yet but they’re about to be announced really soon.

Hivern Discs fragile tape

D: You have always supported physical formats. In fact, all your releases have something special. Everyone can feel how you spend time and effort to make your physical editions unique — hand-made prints, short runs, personal designs, and high-quality release in general. Why do you think that’s so important and why it makes Hivern different from other labels?

U: For us, both the music and visual aspect are equally important. We have worked with many different designers, always with the idea of making the actual record something unique and [to ensure] that the music is reflected in the artwork and vice-versa. It is curious how by discussing things about the artwork we sometimes realize new stuff about the music. Apart from this, we also like to work with local printers or manufacturers, such as l’Anacrònica, where we can pay much more attention to detail and try out new stuff that wouldn’t be possible to do through the pressing plant.

D: Everything that surrounds Hivern seems to be very artsy, from album artwork to the general graphic design guidelines. Tell me about the link between these disciplines and Hivern. Do you consider yourself as a curator?

U: I see myself as a curator and as a project manager, as I view the label and everything around it as a big ongoing project with mutating paths and interests… [Don’t get] stuck, remain open and creative, listen to what others have to say, and try to value things out of your comfort zone.

Also, everyone on the label is very into all these artistic disciplines. Dani and Ignasi both also have a big relationship with these disciplines as they both have … a background in art. But we would like to have even more contact with these kinds of artists and disciplines in projects that can interconnect with music. Something we did in the past that we really enjoyed was an exhibition for our 10th anniversary at H2O gallery here in Barcelona … we invited different artists to present their work related to music or the label. For that occasion, we also made a book with texts by different guests and interviews with many artists; the book also included a vinyl record that was the soundtrack of the exhibition. We’re trying to work towards that and also generate opportunities for our artists.

Hivern Discs turntables

D: How important is it for you to support local talent? Some of them are your friends. Tell us how amazing (and, at the same time, difficult) it is releasing music from people you have been hanging around for so long.

U: Yes, we have always been involved with the local scene, but maybe not enough; maybe we only focused on our closest circles, maybe because we couldn’t handle more work, but that is something we want to change — being more alert to local proposals. For us, one of the main intentions was to encourage others to work with us: music, design, concepts, parties, labels, whatever … The more people doing things, the better. That’s how I imagine an interesting scene: full of people with projects and sharing them and making a strong community. For years, we tried to release music from close local friends and international artists … we want to build more links between different scenes and artists via Barcelona. Many of the artists already are — or they become — friends, which is something we value, but that personal involvement also makes it more challenging when you have to consider their music for the label. As music producers ourselves, we know that there is a lot of effort in the music we receive, and we try to put in the same amount of work when releasing it. So we take our time to digest the demos and to think about their potential release

D: Can you select, among your vast catalog, five of the most relevant or special releases you have been putting out in the last 10 years of Hivern Discs?

HVNLP02 (2020)

C.P.I.’s debut album is, of course, something special for us as we have been working with them since the very beginning. After their previous releases, it was obvious that this was going to have a strong esoteric component. The album is full of references even though being quite abstract and it feels very personal to us and we can see and hear how Hugo and Marc were being themselves throughout the record. Buy a copy of HVNLP02 directly from Hivern.Shop at Discogs.

HVNK703 (2020)

The second album from INIT is very unique … elements of house, electro, acid, jungle, and post-punk all combined with prominent vocals. This the result of the duo experimenting in the studio while searching for new material for their live set, which now more than ever we truly miss. Buy a copy of HVNK703 directly from Hivern.Shop at Discogs.

HVN050 (2020)

The number 50 on our catalog had to be special for sure, and even though it took a while, we think that the cosmic-pop track from Round deserved it. Plus, this was a nice excuse to ask for remixes of some of our favorite artists. Buy a copy of HVN050 directly from Hivern.Shop at Discogs.

HVNX-500rmx (2020)

Interchain’s LP on HVNX was one of our favorites from the series … The remix EP [has] an experimental-pop remix by Kate NV sitting next to the dense trip by Dj Richard on the A-side while the B-side has a more clubby approach with JT and Interestellar Funk’s reinterpretation. Buy a copy of HVNX-500 directly from Hivern.Shop at Discogs

#anewsunisrising (2018)

This one is special because it was linked to the exhibition we did at H2o Gallery for our 10th anniversary. It is a book and a record. The book is made by people close to the label [talking] about the idea of running a label … The record is made out of four tracks that also happened to be the soundtrack of the exhibition. Buy a copy of #anewsunrising directly from Hivern.Shop at Discogs.

Photos courtesy of Hivern Discs.

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