This label located in Madrid, Spain started the underground activities back in 2010. I remember seeing some info about some releases back that time (Ataraxy and Centinex) and after that too, like Officium Triste / Ophis split Cd, Morbid Flesh, Chalice of Doom or Necroven, and many others after that. It’s a label dedicated to Death Metal and Death Doom Metal. So I decided to send Raúl Sampedro the mind behind the label and know a bit more about it. Enjoy it.
Thanks for agreeing to this interview for Blessed Altar Zine. Tell us a little bit about the story of the label. How did it start and how far do you think you’ve come since that time?
Thanks to you for the questions. Well, Memento Mori started as a nameless, small distro back in early 2010, when I used to bring over stuff for friends and acquaintances. Later that year I decided to mutate it into a label/mailorder, and ended up putting out the first two releases in October. We’re putting out the 100th, the 101st and the 102nd releases in late January 2021, so it’s been a smooth and steady run so far, during which we’ve managed to build up a humble yet strong fanbase and clientele.
How do you choose which bands to release? How much are your own tastes, or what you expect your audiences tastes a part of the decision making process? Do you have some set boundaries of the kind of music you will or won’t release?
I’m open to receiving demos, and sometimes a demo actually grabs my attention as much as to want to sign the band, but it’s me getting in touch with bands I’m already familiar with how it usually works here. Also, I’ve a couple of friends who often recommend me to check out bands that they think might be up my alley. Labelwise, I’m only interested in Death/Thrash/Doom Metal of the anachronistic, so-called old school kind, therefore people perfectly know what can be expected from a Memento Mori release. I do not consider any other sub-genre for a very simple reason: I don’t like any other sub-genre. That’s the most important boundary that’s set in here: I will never sign a band that I don’t dig, regardless of how sellable/marketable it might be.
What does your label have to offer bands that will make them want to release their music with you, rather than with another label? What are your preferences when it comes to deciding on vinyl, CD, cassette or digital formats and what factors are part of your choice?
I really don’t know what other labels offer, so I don’t think I could draw any comparison here. What I do know is, besides the usual (distribution, promotion, royalty copies, financial help…), I also offer respect, hard work and a fluent communication. I always try to implement some sorta sense of family belonging between me and the bands. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I don’t.
We only do CD’s. I couldn’t care less about digital. Tapes are OK for demos, but we don’t put out demos. And regarding vinyl, we don’t have the logistics for that. But even if we did, I don’t think I’d like to work with something that almost feels like a luxury, trendy item due to the high costs involved. I’m happy with the fact that we only put out and distribute CD’s.
Do you think of yourselves as being an ‘underground’ label? Would you want the music you release to one day have more of a mainstream appeal, or do you think that would dilute what you do?
I’m not sure how much sense does it make to talk about ‘underground’ in the era of the internet, when you’re only a click away from learning about a band, listening to their stuff and purchasing it. I guess we could still talk about ‘underground’ when it comes to people that operate illegally, or to describe a certain modus operandi that’s not aggressively profit-based, as opposed to the procedures in the mainstream music industry. Personally, I very much prefer to use the term ‘independent’ instead. But that’s me.
The number of people that this music may appeal to is totally irrelevant to me, as long as my ethos and my modus operandi as a label/mailorder owner remain unaffected.
Can you compare your experiences dealing with other labels from Europe, North America, South America or Asia? Have you found some factors that make one or other more easy or difficult to work with?
As far as my experience goes, there’s two types of label owners, and that’s regardless of their location: there’s people that communicate smoothly and then there’s people whose communication skills are horseshit. We trade a lot, so I don’t think I could put into words the frustration and the anger I feel when I’m given the silence treatment for days or even weeks. I’ll never understand why people can’t seem to communicate with others as need be, given the fact we even have internet access on our bloody cell phones. Even if you’re really really busy, what exactly does prevent you from spending 5-10 seconds of your precious time typing a short answer at least, so that the other person wouldn’t feel ignored? It feels damn surreal that sometimes I have to wait longer for an email than what I had to wait for a letter sent via snail mail 30 years ago.
Do you have anything in the pipeline that you’re excited to mention and do you have any “dream bands” that you’d love to release something by?
This coming year we’ll be putting out brand new albums by Dipygus (U.S.A.), Altered Dead (Canada), Devotion (Spain), Rottenbroth (Brazil), Minenfeld (Germany), Inanna (Chile) and Rotheads (Romania), as well as a couple of compilations of old material by Cross Fade (U.S.A.) and Sceptical Schizo (Finland). There’s more releases that haven’t been publicly announced yet, but they’ll soon be.
I would of course love to work with/for some bands that are not on our roster, but I don’t get obsessed with that: if I can sign them, fine; if for whatever reason I can’t, fine too. There are plenty more bands out there whose music deserves to be pushed. I wouldn’t want to work with/for bands that are too ‘big’ in the scene, though. That usually means lots of ego to deal with, and that’s something I can definitely live without.
Finally, any info for fans or bands to get in touch or follow what’s happening with the label?
I can be reached on Facebook or via email (email@example.com). Other than that, the absolute best option for people to be updated on all our news and activities, is to be added to our mailing list. If interested, just get in touch and ask me to add your email to it. Cheers to everyone.
By The Key Keeper 666
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