tIn this period I am working on the new Pandemia compilation and I am checking quite a lot of projects and labels, trying to find the best of the underground music is out for the genre I decided to pick up (which is a surprise until I will close the list of artists that will participate). During this research I stumbled on a Russian-based dreampop/indie/shoegaze/ambient called Hjördis-Britt Åström. I had the change to ask few questions to his found, Dmitry Gruber.
Hi Dmitry, thank you for being here on Pandemia. Can you tell us a little bit more about the story of your label? Is there a specific meaning behind the name?
Some years ago I was joking that my label is like my audio diary. But now — it’s a Grimoire. And it’s not so fun anymore, for different reasons.
The story began in 2013 when I met my soulmate Marianna Diakova. I heard her solo project Diakova at Soundcloud and I fell in love with those songs and her voice (for me it’s still one of the best sounds in the world). I offered her to make music together and we recorded a lot of great songs. She was the vocalist and I was making the music. I hate to work with somebody and I’m not a team-player, but we understood each other perfectly. I’m still missing this time. It’s ridiculous, but I never see her in real life, only in Skype. For years we were sending music files each other for making songs, and fantazising about to meet and to get drunk together, but we never had the chance! But one day this will happen.
Sometime later we released our first works at different labels but after that I decided to make and run my own. It was supposed to be a home for our music. After a little more time I started to release the project of my friend Mike, called Fortune 600. And over time, I began to invent and produce my side-projects/aliases with other vocalists such as Galatée, Hectana, Mostly Unknown etc.
Hjördis-Britt Åström is the name of a Great Spirit, the Goddess of mystical hazy lands and strangest dreams. I found it in my imagination, so why not?
Hjördis-Britt Åström collects artists that goes from raw-ambient to indie-dreampop, flowing through 80s-synthetic vibes. Is there a common line between the artists you decided to take into consideration?
I’m the author of most projects (except where specified otherwise, for example: Camille Paulette-Odell) and I don’t know which is the connection point between them. I just can say that all the music at the label is from similar worlds, we have a similar attitude.
You define yourself as a Music artist. How your creativity is deployed, or in general connected, with the scope of the label?
Label is the home for my music. I can do everything I want and sharing it with people who love it. My music projects have different names because are different, but they are single parts of the main concept.
Which is your personal process to scout bands/projects?
I’m not looking for talents, I’m not searching for music or musicians, I’m not the part of any music scene, I’m not connected with any music cultures (but relate to some of them). My label is absolutely a self-centered system. Sometimes I receive demos from another artists and every time I don’t know what to say to them. I don’t want to criticize, but their works are their works, it’s not a part of my story, it’s not a part of my music world. Moreover I don’t know how I can help them. I’m not a famous person and my label isn’t famous (or I don’t know about it, haha).
I don’t know how some one can join the label. It will happen only if it will happen. There’s no common logic.
Do you also support your artists in other ways (for ex., organizing gigs, promotion work,…)?
I never do any promo. Maybe it’s my biggest mistake. Almost everyone says to me that I need to promote music everywhere. I don’t want to do that. People who are looking for such music – they will find it.
Regarding gigs, I have no activity at the moment. Diakova stopped her project and as I know she doesn’t want to do concerts, but she’s interested in making music for theater/cinema/fashion shows. Fortune 600 playing sets sometimes. Galatée is my the most troubled project, in many ways. Maybe I need a help with music touring/booking and management, but I can’t ask for this.
How is the relationship with your public/label network? They do interact with you and the artists often, participating actively to the development of the label, or is more a one-way ‘relationship’?
If you’re asking about the audience, I communicate with some my listeners, we chat about non-music themes. I’m not very happy to talk about music, for many reasons. Also, I don’t want to do posts about my life or share my super-important opinions about super-important events. And I never do photo-sessions with gear and other stupid things. I have a lot of stories that I would like to tell. I do it in music, not in posts. So, maybe it’s more a one-way relationship. Or I just need a SMM-specialist, haha.