let's get the serious bit out of the way first - getting hold of Fruits de Mer vinyl all depends on:
1. where you live
2. how fast you move
1. If you live in the UK, email me direct and I'll be happy to sort your order out for you email me
If you live anywhere else, then you need to contact one of FdM's international dealers - there are a number listed on our 'links' page - but two dealers that take advance orders and are guaranteed to get their early supplies from our distribution centre (ie me) are: HeyDay Mail Order(UK/International) - based in the UK and run by Nick Leese, who lives near me and is a good guy Shiny Beast(Netherlands/International) - the retail arm of Clear Spot Distribution - based in the Netherlands, big and very well-rated
2. If you order in advance, then all of the above applies - if you don't then you might have to turn to ebay
- and as we all know, it's a jungle out there
Fruits de Mer Records - possibly the world's smallest vinyl-only psych/prog/acid folk/krautrock/spacerock record label - but then again, maybe not - what do we know? 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 coco pops, we thought, "sod it, we'll do it ourselves"...and we have. Andy decided it was time to do something different at the beginnning of 2012, so FdM now consists of me (Keith) and whoever else I can rope in. FdM releases are a right old mix of classic and obscure tracks, usually reinterpreted by artists who love them, respect them but want to breathe new life into them...and they do, god bless 'em. FdM pays all the publishing fees, so the original writers get paid...and the record companies get bugger-all. These days, there's also a smattering of new songs by artists who impress me as having a touch of trhe 60s and 70s about them - but are mainly just damn-good. 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, Dantalion's Chariot, Caleb and Strawberry Alarm Clock...even little-known bands such as The Beatles. Pink Floyd and The Rolling Stones 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, Stay, Vibravoid and Alison O'Donnell 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".
This is a cut-down 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). 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
Have you got a question about one of the releases? Are you an artist or band interested in releasing something on Fruits de Mer? Are you a vinyl junkie looking to recommend some songs you would love to hear reinterpreted? Want to buy some slabs of vinyl but you can't stand PayPal and prefer cheques or cash? Just bored with the latest rubbish on (insert radio station of choice) and want someone to complain to? Why not drop an e-mail to:
The Fruits de Mer Members Club was set up by Andy a couple of years ago - not so much a secret society for vinyl junkies, more a badly-promoted society for vinyl junkies. Andy turned his attention to becoming the next J.K. Rowling (or maybe J.R. Hartley) a year or so ago, so i am now chairman, secretary and chief bottle-washer, so what is it?
Joining the club means you'll hear about new releease 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 the end 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 one or more copies of 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 2014
drop me a line to find out more...Keith
or you could even write to me c/o 33 Ashley Road, Walton on Thames, Surrey, KT12 1HG
All copyrights reserved 2013
...hear the tracks.. ..buy the vinyl.. ..smell the fish... firstname.lastname@example.org