Label Showcase: Omena Records
May 28th, 2017
Label: Omena Records
Label Boss: Tooli
Genre: Good Music
Release Type: Vinyl, Digital, Tape
Tooli - It’s been a few years (2015) since we last spoke. At the time, you were tape trading, releasing on 7” and 10” Vinyl and believed that 2015 would be THE year for Omena Records. It’s 2017, glad to have you back. Take us through some of your favorite moments & achievements since we last spoke.
Thanks for having me. Yeah, it’s been two years since last time. Since then it’s been both up and down as things always are when running record labels, but I’m still here, doing my best to enjoy it as much as possible.
Looking back, I’m not sure 2015 was THE year - but it started out as a little joke by a good friend of mine who said ”Tobias, this will be your year,” so I kind of set out to make it a good one.
In 2015 Omena LTD was launched with a 10” album that had a very nice backstory and also showed a different side of Omena. I also got to know Adam aka Admin who released a wonderful 12” on Omena LTD. He’s released some killer music on a few different labels out there and it just keeps getting better and better by the minute. I’m most certain you will hear a lot from him.
That is something I value a lot, getting to know people through music and developing a friendship. Esa, who released the first 12” in 2015, ”Gwalaka Fortune EP,” is someone that I respect and admire. Pawel aka Naptha, I met by coincidence in Stockholm and we’ve kept in touch since. He released a 12” on Omena. All the artists on Omena are great people and I’m very fortunate to have them releasing music on the label.
OK, back to the question – favourite moments. In 2015 the first artist album was released - ”Sunday” by HNNY, it felt great to move from releasing 12”s and 10”s to doing a full album. It actually even won a Swedish Grammy. It was kind of surreal but also a little victory for independent labels out there and of course HNNY. In 2016 things slowed down a bit but again, and some nice music was released. Jesse Futerman, Kemback and Golden Retriever all contributed with music that I’m very proud to have released. Both Jesse and Geoff / Kemback are ones to watch for sure. The Golden Retriever release was something that again showed a different side to the music being released. It’s an EP with six tracks and all of them are beatless, best described as folk music meets a film score - but enough talking about releases.
in 2016 I got myself a studio so I could focus more on production. I’ve always done music one way or the other, playing in bands and making tracks, sitting in the kitchen or in the bedroom. There’s nothing wrong with making music in your kitchen, as long as you have a bit of inspiration and determination, you’re off to a good start for sure, but for me, getting a studio was a necessary step to take.
In regards to achievements - keeping the label going and getting to know these wonderful producers behind the music has been the best thing. It’s been worth all the work.
"There’s nothing better than having a release in your hands that you’ve worked on for a while, that you know each individual person has contributed to making it happen..."
Give us some insight on the current artists releasing on the label.
OK. Fast forward to 2017. This year I've had releases with Casino Times and Seb Wildblood from the UK. Casino Times did an EP called Decoded. That was a great way to start the year. Then, Seb Wildblood came through with a mini-album that was out just recently. Both of ’em make dance music but bring their own spice. I’ve enjoyed their music even before we got to working together, so it’s been a real treat to have their music on Omena.
My Swedish friends Name In Lights whom I’ve known for many years sent me tracks last year that finally saw the light of day. I’ve managed to get a remix from another Local Talk artist, Samo D on the same EP. Right this minute I’m working on an album from Finnish producer Saine that will be out this summer. Really excited to see what the reactions are. So far I’ve listen to it at least 50 times, maybe more. Some of the artists I mentioned above might return this year too. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for another Golden Retriever release but there will be some new faces as well. There’s always room in this family ;)
Is the music released under Omena Records combined with any other creative projects or released in alternative ways? (movies, video games, etc.)
There’s been some ideas like making short videos and I’ve talked about doing an art exhibition since the first release was out, but in the end getting music out first has been the main priority. I’m all for being creative and finding new ways to get the music out there but being able to release it first is crucial and Omena is a record label first and foremost.
"...keeping the label going and getting to know these wonderful producers behind the music has been the best thing. It’s been worth all the work."
Releases & Artwork:
Artwork: Rickard Ljungdahl Eklun. Gatefold sleeve album art, in collaboration with Johan Cederberg. Record sleeve art by Ivo Kiusalaas
Title: "Cheer Up My Brother/There is No One Else"
Artwork: Rickard Ljungdahl Eklund. 7" single design collaboration with Johan Cederberg
Title: "For The Dreamers"
Artwork: Sleeve art in collaboration with Lauri Saine & Rickard Ljungdahl Eklund. Picture by Lauri Saine
Artist: Seb Wildblood
Artwork: Rickard Ljungdahl Eklund
The artwork for Omena has always been very unique. Who is behind the design and how are the ideas conceptualized?
It’s a very good friend, Ivo Kiusalaas. We got to know each other through HNNY. Before the first release was out we talked quite a lot about artwork and ideas. Ivo’s been working with aluminium and the label artwork is actually pictures of that. I won’t give too much of this away just yet, you’ll have to follow the label and see how it all evolves. I should also mention Rickard Ljungdahl Eklund, whom I’ve had the pleasure of working with for the artist albums, has done some really nice work.
Being part of a record label is like being part of a family. Tell us about yours. What really goes on beyond the screens?
I think it differs a lot between record labels and working with a few myself, I have learned quite a lot in a few years time.
To get a record out there is a process with many different steps you have to be involved in. There’s a lot of labels out there and the amount of music being released every week is even more. Luckily I’ve been working and getting to know some great people in this family. It’s very important having a good relationship with the artists. We’re in this together, and as a label owner, I do have my responsibilities. Sometimes there are delays, a record might get a bad pressing or you get returns of records that no one bought. But in the end, I’m not in this to make money. What I can do is make sure things get released and that if something does not work I try my best to solve it, just as you would do with your family. There’s nothing better than having a release in your hands that you’ve worked on for a while, that you know each individual person has contributed to making it happen and it will also be in the hands of others who buy it and will keep it (hopefully) forever. I decided a very long time ago I wanted to have a record label. It didn’t happen overnight, and it’s been hard work, especially when you’re trying to make it work full time, and working other jobs to stay afloat. There’s only 24 hours in a day.
In saying this, it is also very rewarding and we have lots of laughs. I’m very proud of what this family has achieved. It would not be what it is today without each and every individual that has contributed. How long will it last? Who knows, whatever happens with this family I’m always going to be very proud of it.
"...in the end, I’m not in this to make money."
Give us some insight into the future of Omena Records. The projects, collaborations and developments. What can we expect?
A few different things. Release wise - There is a remix EP with tracks from Seb’s mini-album coming. I’ve got Preslav Lefterov releasing an EP - some of you out there might have heard his music as part of Pittsburgh Track Authority, Sight Unseen or TM Eye. Thrilogy has had tracks ready since a while back with my Aquarius brother Man Power remixing, and there’s music from Australia, Ireland & Japan coming too. I’ve held back some of my own music since we last spoke, but that is about to change this year. So yeah, you could say there’s plenty in the works. I wish I could say everything but let’s not reveal it all just yet. Let me just say 2017 will be THE year for Omena.
What color apple is Omena?
It’s a good question and maybe not that easy to answer. Did you know that there are over 7,500 cultivars of the apple known? I eat a lot of apples. There’s even apple trees in our garden. As for the answer, if I may be a little philosophical here, I’d say Omena is not a color, it’s a taste.
Tooli, in a few sentences. Tell us about this mix you made for us. Where did you get your inspiration. Is there anything special you want the audience to know?
There’s no real mystery here – I’ve put together music from the label in a way that it can be listened to whenever you feel like it - different tempos and styles. That is what the label is about. It should be a good introduction to anyone that is eager to hear what Omena is all about. Expect classics and forthcoming favourites.