At the end of 2018 Norwegian indie label Smalltown Supersound celebrated 25 years of releasing quirky, experimental and wholly wonderful leftfield music. From the beginning of the label founder Joakim Haugland (pictured above) wasn’t interested in signing music with obvious commercial appeal. Weened on ’80s indie-rock and attracted to its DIY below-the-radar mindset, he knew to trust his ears and gut. He prioritized the creation of a platform intended to nurture artists as opposed to developing a hit-machine bent on chasing ephemeral (but potentially far more financially lucrative) chart success.
Haugland came of age in an era when labels of a certain ilk prided themselves on establishing a sense of trust with the audience at large. Having grown up in the era I can attest that I often bought records on labels like SST, Dischord, Twin Tone, Homestead, etc. on the advice of a fanzine without hearing more than a song or two. (For early ’90s house, I’d scoop up anything on Nu Groove, Strictly Rhythm and R&S without cracking open the plastic wrap.)
Smallltown Superound’s laser-focused musical ethos has never stopped evolving. The label’s essence is captured on The Movement Of The Free Spirit, a sprawling and utterly delightful 80-track mix by Prins Thomas, which marks 25 eventful years in the game.
Over the course of nearly four compelling hours of music, Thomas presents an array of glorious music by Sonic Youth, Todd Rundgren, The Orb, Lindstrøm, Ricardo Villalobos, Neneh Cherry, Jaga Jazzist, Four Tet, Biosphere and Peter Brötzmann.
In December we connected with Haugland via email and asked him to trace Smalltown Supersound’s humble beginnings to the present day for the fourth installment of our Why I Did It series, where we candidly talk to label founders.
When asked about the decision to mark Smalltown Supersound’s 25th anniversary, Haugland mused, “I skipped the 15th and 20th celebration, so I felt I couldn’t skip 25.”
Read on to learn more about how the label got off the ground, and where Haugland is planning to take it in the future. Continue Reading