TBP Interview - Justin Barwick (Weekender Records)

chikinki, Chikinki, Weekender Records, Justin Barwick
(Chikinkis neuestes Album wurde auf Weekender veröffentlicht)

"I saw Black Kids in New York a few
weeks ago and was very disappointed!"

Please introduce yourself to our Readers:

Hello, I’m Justin Barwick, 43 years old and living in the Tirol but originally from just North of London, England. I was a fanatic of music from a very young age and regularly attended concerts whilst still at school. I also started DJing when I was just 15 at private parties and local hotels in my home town. I’m happy to say I still have most of the records and my preference is still for vinyl, although I’m happy to adapt to new technologies.

What was your reason to move to Austria, and also set up a Label there?

In the 90’s I worked in telecoms for an English company. Before Austria I was living in The Netherlands and Belgium. My company won a project to work for Connect Austria (ONE) so as International Director I came to set up an office. On my first day I met a local girl and married her 6 months later. After I quit telecoms and sold another business that I had a shareholding in, I was able to pursue a career that was more pleasure. As a fanatical music fan I was getting sick of always having to drive to Vienna, Munich or back to London to see good bands. I had been DJing for a few years in bars in Innsbruck so I knew there was an interest in Indie & Alternative music so I got together with another local DJ friend and we started Weekender Club specialising in ‘our’ type of music. The record label was a natural progression from this.

Three Important things for New Bands to get more attention from Tastemaker, A&Rs, Djs and Music - Journalists?

1) Be original – nobody wants another Libertines, Arctic Monkeys or Muse.
2) Play live – anywhere and often. Develop a good confident live set.
3) Style is important. Dress well and get an image. Presentation can get you far!

Do you have a Manifesto or a Weekender Records Philosophy?

We don’t have a specific manifesto or philosophy. We like to work with artists who are nice people without big egos. We are always looking for new artists and they can be any style as long as ‘we’ get it.

In my thoughts, the Music Industries are still a very familiar thing.
It doesn´t helps to send in unsolicited Demos, if the Artists or their Management didn´t know Record Label A&Rs etc personally. So do you think that a Band should still try this usual way? I mean it´s also quite expensive to sent demos via regular Mail

In general I agree with you as we get lots of demo’s and don’t get to listen to all of them. These days Myspace, Youtube and Facebook are very important as you can get a much better idea about an artist. Seeing a band live is still the best way to find a new act though. We have signed a few bands that came to play Weekender Club and impressed us so much we offered them deals.

You living in Austria since a few Years and set up
a new Spirit for Indie and Rock Music in Innsbruck. Would you say that
things has changed in Austria Since then?

Thank you, I take it as a compliment that you say we have set up a new spirit for Indie and rock music in Innsbruck. I certainly get a great deal of pleasure from knowing that we have done our bit to put Austria on the map for this style of music. I do think there is a bit of a change throughout Austria now with more people taking notice of Indie and Rock and less emphasis on Techno, House and Afro which were so prominent before (although I must say I have an exceptionally broad taste in music so can appreciate all genres).

Weekender Records only has signed British Artists at the Moment. Are you
also interested in Acts from other Countries…and probably also from Austria?

This is not true at all. Currently we have released or will release records by The Puzzle (Hungarian), 1984 (French), Five!Fast!!Hits!!! (German), NiTasha Jackson (American) and of course Naked Lunch (Austrian). Nationality is not a problem for us, the only important thing is that we like the music. We have considered a number of Austrian artists but sadly it is very difficult to break an Austrian band outside of Austria unless they are able to move to the UK. Check the website:

Is the Austrian Music Industry that worse as like many people said, and what should happen to change a lot of things?

It’s not so much that the Austrian Music Industry is bad it’s just that with a population of only about 8 million people sales are not enough to justify the investment like in bigger countries. There are some positives such as the excellent FM4 radio but I can’t see any way to change things. Even in Germany it is very difficult for bands to become successful worldwide because if they sing in German it means they have a limited audience and if they sing in English they are up against massive competition from the UK and America.

In our last talk, you meant that you will expand Weekender Club over
the whole Country. So that there should be a few Weekender Club Locations
in Austria. Is this still your plan?

I would sincerely love to have a Weekender Club in all the big towns of Austria but it is not a high priority. I would hate it if I permitted someone to use the brand and they got it wrong. I am very protective about the style so when the time comes I want to ensure it’s done properly.

It´s easier to produce Music than it was in the 90ties. There is a lot of Software around, and that’s the reason why so many young Bands produce their own songs. But, if i look to the next Hype thing, Black Kids form Florida, they only have a 4 track demo around in the internet and now they must record an Album and also do a tour. Isn´t that dangerous concerning Artist Development, as they haven´t time for develop their Song writing Skills BEFORE they get a bigger publicity?

Many bands get lucky and become hyped but often before they are ready. In most cases they are an overnight sensation and then quickly disappear. I always tell bands make sure you have written enough for 2 albums before you record the first. That way if they do become successful it takes the pressure off writing a second album whilst promoting the first. Every band should take some time working hard and perfecting their skills before trying to become successful. The opposite is that when it doesn’t happen after a while a band who wants success should quit and try in a different way. If a band starts to get some hype they need to get signed at the first attempt. If they hold out for a better deal or don’t get the offer they want it might never happen. Everyone in the industry is wary of bands that’ve been cited as the next big thing but then are not signed. (incidentally I saw Black Kids in New York a few weeks ago and was very disappointed!).

10 years ago, the Internet wasn´t important concerning scouting New Bands. 2007, it´s really important to spread the word over Weblogs.
Do you think that Weblogs could be the next Major Labels. That they release Records cause if their huge Audience, as it´s more easy to
sell Music for them?

No I don’t think weblogs will become Major Labels, but I do think Major Labels will try to manipulate Weblogs. The internet has revolutionised music and the industry is trying to understand how to handle it. I am a great believer that people who like a band ultimately want a physical product to show to their friends and so there will always be a market for Vinyl, CD’s or some other product. Also, merchandising is very important. Weekender Records is about to become the very first label in Germany to release an entire album on USB Memory stick with Chikinki’s ‘Brace Brace’. The album will be available in a standard CD jewel case with normal artwork but inside will be the memory stick with the Chikinki logo printed on it. The stick can then be put in a computer where there will be the whole album. The bonus is that we can add videos, photos and other band info. I’m hoping that people will see it as the best of both worlds, digital and physical!

Radiohead released their Record as a Full Download Version on the Internet, for "Free". Is this also a possibility for Young Bands to making more money as if they have a "regular" record Deal or just a perfect way for well known Artists
to get full control about their Copyrights etc?

From my understanding Radiohead still charged for their album but they let the purchaser decide the price (which I believe averaged at about 4 UK pounds). This is just a gimmick. However, The Crimea and The Charlatans have both made their entire albums available for free download. I think this just devalues the band and their music. I believe the music is not as respected unless it’s been paid for. Other bands will realise this and I don’t expect it to become a trend. Record labels will discourage it as they will always need the revenue from sales. Also, new bands are not going to give away albums for free as they don’t have the big fanbase so what’s the point? Bigger bands could justify that they can still earn enough from live shows and merchandise, but for how long?

Do you have any favourite Austrian Acts?

Fortunately I have had the chance to see a number of Austrian bands many of which have been excellent. Apart from the obvious like Naked Lunch, Velojet and The Staggers I also like Deckchair Orange, When The Music’s Over, Lorry Box, The Shirley MacLain’s, Golden Reef, The Seesaw, Wo’xang, The Glamour Street and Jellybeat. I’m sure there are plenty more that I can’t remember now!

And if, could this Acts also have a chance to breake UK, Sweden or anything else?

As mentioned before it is very very difficult to break an Austrian band in the UK (or Sweden). The only chance would be if they were really talented then they would have to move to London (or Stockholm) and play loads of shows. Just releasing a record and playing a few shows is not enough when they are up against so much local competition.

I often compare the Austrian Music Industry with our Football. Austrian Football Player really should move to UK or France or Germany etc to develop their skills…so, in music biz, would you say that it´s important for our Artists to tour through foreign Markets from the begin of a band career? To play every fuckin toilette, as it Matthew Bellamy from Muse meant in an Interview a few years ago?

See above! (although I like Austrian football and British football has mostly foreign players!) – come on Wacker Tirol!!!

Now days, it´s even harder to get booked from Clubs. And, Pay for play is also a huge Problem. If an Austrian Band like to play in the UK, to get an
Audience there, it´s much more harder. So, what is the best
Strategy to get booked there?

Sadly there is no magical answer. I hate the way bands are treated in the UK but as there are so many bands it’s easy for promoters to treat them badly. We treat bands very well at Weekender Club and get a very good response from them. However, some Austrian and German bands have a very poor attitude and strut around with a level of arrogance way above their status. If they went to the UK they wouldn’t last longer than a few days!

Last Question. What are your future Plans?

I’m not really a planner. I would like to develop the Weekender brand so it is recognised worldwide for good music. I’ve just employed a licensing manager to help get deals for our bands in Japan, America, Australia, Scandinavia and throughout Europe. I am also building a new division in the UK called Weekender Tour Assistance where we will supply tour busses, backline and Tour Managers. I also wish to do more in the way of merchandising and I want to have a publishing company – phew……


daniel hat gesagt…

"...just that with a population of only about 8 million people sales are not enough to justify the investment like in bigger countries..."
was hat bitte das eine mit dem anderen zutun? schweden hat grad mal 1 million mehr und da funktioniert der markt auch.

klar haben die einen anderen background, aber mit der kaufkraft unseres landes zu rechtfertigen finde ich nicht unbedingt gut.

Sir Dorian hat gesagt…

schweden ist ein trendmarkt wie auch england einer ist. das hat sich seit 20, 30 jahren nicht wirklich geändert. viele neue junge bands sind im kommen. mehr darüber demnächst. aber im grunde gehen viele den weg über england, weil es ein großes netzwerk gibt, seit langem. auch wenn mando diao es bsp nie in UK geschafft haben.

anyway, der vergleich mit schweden hinkt.

Anonym hat gesagt…

ja, schweden und österreich sind zwei paar schuhe.

aber was österreich int. schafft eine katastrophe. und wenn barwick auch nicht glaubt das sich was ändert, dann ist das schon sehr traurig. micht nicht wirklich hoffnung das interview.

Anonym hat gesagt…

was will man schon bitte mit österreich? im fußball schlecht, in der musik nichts besonderes und klischeebehaftet wie wir deutschen. ich glaub das in ländern wie england etc ein deutscher oder österreicher viel weniger wert ist und immer noch mit dem weltkrieg 2 verbunden wird.