2005 saw the release of Page France’s 2nd LP Hello, Dear Wind. As one of my favorite albums of the year, it piqued my interest in the band’s label, Fall Records. Based out of Baltimore, MD, Fall Records is owned and operated by Chris Fredericks. In the following Q & A, Chris discusses the beginnings of the label, it’s early artist’s roster, Page France’s success, The White Foliage, and as ’05 ends what we can expect from the label in 2006.
AD: As a working label you guys have been around since 2000. How did the idea of starting the label come about, and what was your first release?

Chris: I started the label in high school with my friend J. We were naive and thought we could have fun releasing records AND make money. Money was certainly not the main focus because if it was I would have quit years ago. The label eventually just became me handling all aspects and still pretty still is. The first release was a hand packaged CDR by Randy McClain called “Living for a dream.” Most of the first releases were a guy with a guitar signing about heartbreak and all that stuff. Moving to Baltimore was the first step in taking the record label seriously. I moved with the intention of starting fresh and making the label a home for the best music I could find.

AD: Fall Records had a big year with the success of Page France’s Hello, Dear Wind. Prior to release, did you expect the amount of fanfare and general buzz surrounding the album?

Chris: I did expect it to do well… I expected a positive response, but no matter what I expected I always find my expectations exceeded especially by Page France. It was the first release I actually worked with a promotion company on and it paid off/is paying off. Fanatic Promotion basically fell in love with the release and the band and have done a great job. Although the music being good didn’t hurt any.

AD: How did you and Page France come about working together? I gather it was after the label’s move to Baltimore?

Chris: Yes it was after the move to Baltimore. I received their first CD “Come, I’m a lion” in the mail. I remember it being summertime so I guess Summer of 2004 sometime. It was a release that was good the first time I listened to it and it grew on me probably more then any other band ever had. I ended up contacting them and we decided to work with each other… it was a pretty informal process and Page France and Fall Records seemed like a very natural match to me. It still seems like a very natural relationship — we both do what we need to do and we’re certainly all progressing. It’s the kind of experience that makes running a record label fun.

AD: Fall Records recording artist The White Foliage released the surreal, dreamlike, “Zurich” EP earlier in 2005. As a group, they have a relationship not unlike that of the Postal Service in that they’re based so far geographically from one another, no?

Chris: Somewhat like the Postal Service. They do live several hundreds of miles away from each other right now; Charlie is in Minnesota and MJ is in North Dakota. When they do record an album though they are in the same room together and usually record the whole thing rather quickly like “Zurich” which was recorded in just a few recording sessions.

AD: How did they come to your attention?

Chris: I first came across the band In Ink Please from North Dakota with the help of my friend Robby. I contacted In Ink Please about doing a split CD with another band of their choosing. Their friends which changed their name several times and eventually became The Foliage, and then on their first solo release became The White Foliage.

AD: The artists on your current roster each have their own distinct sound. Is it important to you as a label to retain a varied base of sounds? To not get pigeonholed into one genre, etc?

Chris: Yes that’s certainly important to me… although as I look for the next band to join Fall Records it is not my first goal to find something that sounds completely different then what we’ve already released. Although, It certainly seems to have happened that way so far. When looking for bands to work with I am mainly looking for something unique and something I like, something I would go out of my way to listen to. They don’t have to be revolutionary by any means but it has to be interesting, appealing, and I have to like it. Besides the sound of the band I also have to like the actual band. Although some of the bands on my roster I have not met in person, I try to get to know everyone pretty well before we decide to release a record.

AD: What does Fall Records have in the pipeline slated for a 2006 release date? Any folks out there (new/relatively unknown artists) we need to keep an eye out for?

Chris: I see 2006 as somewhat of a defining year for the label. “Hello, Dear Wind” will certainly, in my eyes, be responsible for getting the label some much needed attention. We have several bands already that are really talented but unknown, like The White Foliage for example. So far the “planned” projects are, in order… a Page France EP series starting in February (most likely and spanning the year) The first EP will be titled “Say Wolf in the Key of D” and 2 more EPs will follow. I honestly haven’t heard it yet but the band has said on their website “It will be your first chance to see Page France in a new light.” I’m not 100% sure what that means but I am sure it will be good.

Then in the Spring we will be releasing a full length titled “Discourse and Correspondence” from Baltimore native Shelly Blake. He has been called an “improvisational icon” and has been making improvisational/folk/etc. for the past 10 years or so from Baltimore to Boston. It will be something new for Fall Records and I’m excited to hear the final project. A few songs can be previewed at http://www.myspace.com/shellyblakemusicmaking. Then a full length from Southerly “Storyteller and the Gossip Columnist” and another full length from Southerly in the fall most likely.

Then either at the end of 2006 or early 2007 Page France will follow up the EP series with a full length. There could be a couple surprises like a full length/comeback from IN INK PLEASE and a full-length from the White foliage but nothing is set in stone with regards to that. It’ll be a busy year.

AD: As the year draws to a close, what were some of your favorite albums of 2005?

Chris: This year I was into the new John Vanderslice, Sufjan Stevens and near the end of the year I’ve really enjoyed the new Animal Collective album and Jens Lekman album. It was a good year for music and I feel like I’m catching up on what happened finally this month… I’ve been busy.

AD: If you had 3 artists you could sign right now and work with, who would they be?

Chris: Well, if stealing bands from other record labels is allowed then any of those bands I mentioned above. A band that has recently caught my eye is A band that has recently caught my eye is Canada out of Michigan. Really good stuff and I hope to work with them in some way or another within the next year.
AD: Thanks Chris, all the best in the new year to you and Fall Records.
MP3: Page France – Chariot (Hello, Dear Wind)
MP3: Page France – Rhythm (Come, I’m a lion!)
MP3: Page France – So Sweetly (Come, I’m a lion!)
MP3: Page France – Air Pollution (Come, I’m a lion!)
MP3: White Foliage – Leviathon (Split/EP)

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