Established way back in 1715 (that's a quarter past five in the evening) by Andy and Keith, we started out with the carefully laid-out plan to unearth and reissue long-lost, classic tracks from the sixties and early seventies - but the record companies with the rights to the back-catalogues simply didn't want to know us. After several weeks of crying into our beer, we thought, "sod it, we'll do it ourselves"...and we have.
Andy decided it was time to do something different a few years ago, so FdM now consists of me (Keith) and whoever else I can rope in, usually my lovely missus, Liz.
FdM releases are a right old mix of classic and obscure tracks, reinterpreted by artists who love them, respect them but want to breathe new life into them...and new songs by bands that have their roots in the 60s/70s.
Go on, put on your diving gear, join the Fruits de Mer deep-sea fishing trip as we dredge up whoppers by the likes of The Small Faces, Nick Drake, Can, HP Lovecraft, Aphrodite's Child and Strawberry Alarm Clock...even little-known names such as The Beatles, Pink Floyd and Miles Davis get a look-in with us. Then we let new or cult artists such as The Bevis Frond, Soft Hearted Scientists, nick nicely, The Chemistry Set, Cranium Pie, Tir na nOg, Vibravoid and Schnauser get to work in making the tracks their own. Running a vinyl record label is a sure-fire way of losing money but I'm in it for the love of it and, if you've read this far, you probably are too - you can find out more about FdM at www.fruitsdemerrecords.com - but of course you're here already - call in for a cuppa, drop me a line any time. In the words of Schizo Fun Addict, who put together our first single, "Be brave...and keep faith".
some nice things people have said about FdM...
"Idiosyncratic, retrovisionary, stinking of winkles: this is the psychedelic style of Fruits de Mer" Ian McCann, Record Collector
"Remember Island, Charisma...think FdM" Geoff Barton, Classic Rock
"Most records on this tie-dyed revival label shoot out of our stockroom quicker than a VW Camper running on kerosene" Norman Records
"Fruits de Mer are in danger of becoming a UK national treasure" Terrascope
"A national treasure" Shindig!
"This is what 7"'s should be all about" Record Collector
"A joy - one of the great labels that comes along now and then, that you can tell is a labour a love - a thing we should cherish" Mark Radcliffe BBC Radio
"a spirited garden shed operation...a bastion for all things psych, and all things vinyl; home of the brilliantly esoteric" Mojo
"the ever-awesome Fruits de Mer Records" Pete Jackson, Dandelion Radio
"truly remarkable...one of that select handful of modern labels who really do seem to remember what it was like to be a record collector back in the sixties and seventies" Goldmine
"is there a label around today that comes close to Fruits De Mer for consistently high quality releases? If so I've yet to come across it" Harmonic Distortion
"the UK's boutique label par excellence" Grahame Bent, Kaleidoscope
"Once you've become acquainted with FdM, it's like Record Store Day all year round" Broken Hearted Toy
"a label of love" Gideon Coe, BBC 6Music
This is a version of the sleeve-notes I wrote for the Record Collector 'Plankton' compilation...
"It’s like being part of an extended family". I'm not sure whether i first heard that comment from one of Fruits de Mer's regular customers, a band or an fdM-friendly shop, but it's something that's been said to me many times and I can't think of a better description of what Fruits de Mer is all about – a bunch of people who love classic psychedelia, progressive rock, krautrock, acid-folk and, of course, vinyl. It all started back in 2008 as a result of a beer-fuelled conversation with an old friend, Andy Bracken, who was already running a small indie label (Bracken Records). Fruits de Mer was intended to be a 45rpm vinyl reissue label, but no record companies were prepared to let us loose on their back-catalogues so Andy suggested we get a band he knew – Schizo Fun Addict – to re-record two of my all-time favourite tracks – George Martin's 'Theme One' and The Small Faces' instrumental introduction to 'Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake'; they did it (brilliantly!), my wife Liz came up with the name 'Fruits de Mer', my son Nick designed the logo – and a label was born...
..well, kind of. We pressed up about 300 copies of 'Theme One' and for months we could hardly give a copy away, but we were encouraged by a review in Record Collector by Spencer Grady who said, "this is what 7" should be all about", and we’ve been quoting him ever since!
One of the joys of vinyl is the look and feel of the complete package (CDs can't come close and don't talk to me about downloads) and Fruits de Mer has always tried to come up with something interesting for every new record, albeit on severely limited budgets, always colour vinyl, and maybe a little extra besides - from the postcard of my missus with 'Theme One' to the magic fish with Stay's single and Alison O'Donnell's signed photo, not to mention the gatefold sleeves, posters, balsa wood planes and joss-sticks with more recent releases.
Andy and I were always vinyl junkies first and foremost, so having Fruits de Mer become 'collectible' in some way was always a vague hope we shared. We realised word was starting to spread when we had to print up an extra 100 copies of a Vibravoid 7", a big deal for us; shops started to contact US, copies of the early releases began to be auctioned on ebay with increasing regularity and in the last 12 months prices have been slightly out-of-control - buying a set of the first 12 releases would cost you at least £500 on ebay today, more if you insisted on getting hold of the odd-coloured vinyl copies that crept out, by luck more than judgement as we moved from one pressing plant to another.
The Fruits de Mer members club was launched for regular buyers, with the incentive of a members-only freebie of some sort at the end of each year (in 2012 it was a wallet-busting double CD of music by FdM artists – wallet-busting for me, that is). more than half of every new pressing is now sold to members who are hooked on the label – for them, there is no escape.
Andy stepped back from running record labels at the start of 2012, but since then I've been able to call on people such as Nick Leese at Heyday Mail Order and Fran Ashcroft at Happy Beat Studios to share the workload and the last 12 months has seen Fruits de Mer continue to develop, including a double album of krautrock covers ('Head Music'); a re-working of The Pretty Things' 'S.F. Sorrow' which quite unbelievably led to me working with The Pretties themselves on two 7" releases of their own; a compilation of covers of the hugely-underrated Hollies; putting together a 7" featuring The Bevis Frond, Anton Barbeau, nick nicely and Paul Roland (aka The League of Psychedelic Gentlemen) and re-releasing nick nicely's 'Hilly Fields' together with a new song by nick returning to the Fields 30 years after the song was first released.
Now Fruits de Mer has made its first appearances in the Record Collector Rare Records Price Guide. Anyone thinking of launching a record label only needs to look at Fruits de Mer's stumbling efforts to realise it can't be that difficult – the pressing plants are out there, as are bands that want to be heard on vinyl, music fans that LOVE vinyl and magazines like Record Collector to help spread the word – why not join in
The FdM Members Club...
The Fruits de Mer Members Club was set up by Andy a few years ago - not so much a secret society for vinyl junkies, more a barely-promoted society for vinyl junkies. Andy turned his attention to becoming the next J.K. Rowling (or maybe J.R. Hartley) so I am now chairman, secretary and chief bottle-washer, with Liz helping out along the way...so what is it?
Joining the club means you'll hear about new releases as soon as i get my act together, and - if you live in the UK - get your copy hot of the presses as I can produce labels more quickly, and ship the packages out without having to constantly check I've got your mailing details right.
Other benefits include member-only competitions to win stuff like white labels, signed copies, that sort of thing, the chance to receive other stuff I may cobble together at odd times of the year....who knows? Certainly not me, I'm making this up as I go along
One added bonus is having first chance to buy any of our releases that turn up at FdM Towers on non-standard coloured vinyl, if I happen to get some from the pressing plant
All I need you to do is to tell me you plan to buy pretty much every FdM release - no money changes hands and you always have the option not to buy a specific release if it doesn't take your fancy (it's not like the old record clubs where they sent you records you DIDN'T want and invoices you DID have to pay - I'm not that clever)
It means I can more easily see where I need to set pressing quantities and prices; I hope that this will help me to keep prices as low as possible through 2015 drop me a line to find out more...firstname.lastname@example.org