We've been doing this webzine for almost 18 years now and there is some special connection between Helly Cherry and French music scene. A lot of bands from that country often send their releases (labels: Nihilist Holocaust, Visceral Circuitry, Kawaii Records; bands Nippercreep, Superscream, Sofy Major - to name a few).

We can add to this list Bitume Prods. They contacted us 'cause they've just released project Alvarez from our country - Serbia. That was interesting thing to us so we started talking about Alvarez and things around the Bitume label. We decided to turn this talk into an official interview. So here we are now, talking with Derrek, the founder of the label about the history of Bitume, what it means and takes to run a label, is it a full time job, his experience, Alverez album and future plans. Let's dig in...

  • At the beginning I must ask you, what were the motives in this digital times and internet era for starting an independent DIY label? And, can you give us a brief history of your label and how it evolved with time?
I’m musician and I have been playing in bands for 20 years. I am one of the founding members of the Chabane’s Records free label who promoted free music and released its productions as free download. This label existed between 2006 and 2015. After this, with Adu - also member of Chabane’s Records -, we created Renverse Prods label who was more conventional. We used to release albums in CD and tape in small quantities. But this adventure only lasted a year. BITUME was born in 2016 after this; it is a kind of mix of the two previous labels. Releases are freely available on the bandcamp and on CD in our website and bandcamp.

  • Running a label includes contacts with media, bands, distributions, investing money, time and patience. How much time does it take to you? Do you sometimes think it’s full time job?
This is indeed a full time job, there is so much to do… Between my family life and my real work, I take care of the label. I’ve always find independents labels and DIY pretty exciting. And I made many mistakes, so I’m more efficient now!

  • What as a label can you offer to a band?
I try to offer them more visibility as I can, and considering the amount of bands and labels, this is not an easy work. But I try to invest myself at 100% in the releases of BITUME.

  • How do you choose what band will you release? Do you have any boundaries regarding music genre (or any other) cause I see that in your catalogue grungy and punk bands dominate and there is a little bit of rock?
60’s and 70’s rock music shaped my childhood; I started to pay interest to music with Grunge in the 90’s. I don’t necessarily have limits about music genre for the label, but I release almost kind of music that I like to listen. I mainly work with bands and people I met on the way of life, but I stay very inked in Rock music in the broad sense.

  • Are you connected with some other labels and distributions? Do you trade with some other labels and where can your releases be found?
I make some trades with other labels and distributions. I am always looking for new ways to broadcast music. Our productions are available in our website, discogs, bandcamp and in some independents record stores in France.

  • At the beginning of this interview I’ve mentioned an internet era. We are aware of information and release hyperproduction. Due to release availability (just a click away) we are not dedicated to albums as we used to be. Aren’t because of that physical releases now more valuable than ever cause playing a record is a ritual and you pay more attention while listening to it?

That’s true, the arrival of the internet pretty makes music as consumer product only. You take, you throw away… Most of people doesn’t listen an entire album, that’s it ! But I really believe that there always be people to buy and listen albums in full, whether it be CD, vinyl or tape, even on the internet. Besides, vinyl is doing well currently…

  • Now I want to talk about the thing that lead us to this interview, your following release - Alvarez and album “Summer Monstrous”. This album was originally released in 2008. How you discovered it and what drawn you to it?
This is an album I ever find excellent ! I think I discovered it in early 2009, a little bit more before Jewy Sabatay releases his last album – that we release with Chabane’s Records -. Velibor spoke to us about Summer Monstrous album that he had just release. Saturday Rats song grabbed me a lot at this time and stay my favorite track from the album.

  • Velibor is more famous by his work with Jewy Sabatay and now Brigand. How do you think his previous work as Alvarez is different, do you think it’s more intimate and deeply personal (especially this album) since it was one-man thing?
Velibor musical work’s with Alvarez - and mostly on Summer Monstrous - has a dark side, that could approach the last Jewy Sabatay album. But that still stays very different from his global work with Jewy Sabatay and Brigand. I read an interview from him – when they release Summer Monstrous – where he said that the album was “a little story about a man who live his love life through a series of trash horrors” and that it was autobiographical. I think this sentence sums up the album well.

  • Why would you recommend this release to the audience?
When I discovered it, it was a real revelation for me, a lot of melancholic melodies, darkness, and a little bit Lo-Fi, and 12 years later I still find it so good. Velibor’s voice is pretty bewitching...

  • We are nearly at the end of this interview. Can you tell me future plans for Bitume label, after Alvares release?
Next label’s releases will be Post-Grunge/Space metal CONFORT project second album who will come out in digipack CD and also in tape, in the middle of the year. And also some surprises...

  • And at the end, what keeps you motivated in these hard times to keep running a label?
The love of music!