Bella Union boss Simon Raymonde tells Norwich Sound and Vision how Fleet Foxes saved his life
19:24 12 October 2012
A record label boss told today of how a song by American indie-folk group Fleet Foxes saved his life.
Bella Union’s Simon Raymonde treated music fans and industry officials to an insight into his life on day two of Norwich Sound and Vision (NSV).
And keynote speaker Mr Raymonde, former member of the Cocteau Twins, said he was considering giving up the record label with money worries mounting after the demise of their international distributor.
Mr Raymonde, in interview with journalist and punk singer John Robb at Norwich Arts Centre, said: “I went away and I thought have I got the stomach for this anymore? I’ve put a lot of my time and effort into it, I’m not really happy with how it’s going. I went over to Oslo to do a talk about something at one of these festivals and I sat by this lake thinking ‘I’m going to give this up, I can’t do it anymore, it’s just killing me’, we’ve huge debt problems with the V2 thing.”
Then, Mr Raymonde said, an email arrived from a friend in America urging him to listen to Fleet Foxes.
He said: “He sent me this demo of a track called White Winter Hymnal, I played it when I went back to my room that night. This was when I was just about to give up doing Bella Union, if you could believe I would do such a thing, and I heard this track and thought ‘I have to sign that band’.
“That saved my life, that song. And I wrote to them that night, a very, very, very long letter and I heard back from Robin, the singer, within a couple of days.
“It just turned out he was in Norway too, visiting some family, we met up and we got on like a house on fire and here we are I suppose. The Fleet Foxes thing really did change my life in every single way, because it gave me the belief.”
The American group has since gone onto enjoy phenomenal success, although Mr Raymonde said people would be mistaken to think it had made life easier.
Mr Raymonde, who has also released records from Midlake, Dirty Three and Howling Bells, said he is still in business as he makes slightly more right decisions than wrong ones.
He also insisted there is more good music out there than before, although joked people also had to wade through a lot more rubbish songs to find the gems.
On the re-emergence of regional music scenes, Mr Raymonde said: “People have worked out they can do it themselves and they are living in a really boring country right now. England has been so dull for so many years but at least there’s opportunities to get on with it yourself.”
NSV finishes tomorrow, with more than 100 bands and 60 speakers appearing in 12 venues across Norwich.
Films are also being showcased with a video festival being run across the three days in St Margarets church, in St Benedicts Street.
NSV festival director Adrian Cooke said: “It’s been really good and I’m generally pleased. The turnout has been really good and there are lots of different sorts of people here who have got something valuable from the conference. I know the film conference has been really busy.”
Entry issues were reported by some wristband holders hoping to see festival headliners Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs at Open, in Bank Plain, last night.
Tickets have also been on sale for individual gigs for those people not wanting to purchase a three-day music wristband.
Mr Cooke said they were looking into the issue to establish what happened.
He said: “If anyone has an issue we are happy to talk to them and see what we can do about it.”