Interview with Herve (Labelmaster)

Herve, first of all, tell me the brief history of Osmose Productions. Why did you found a label? What was your intention behind the foundation of Osmose Productions?

Herve : Well I always had got this idea in my mind, but economically it was impossible to start immediately. After working for 3 years with my ex-girlfriend, we decided to found Osmose. Even before Osmose, I had been running a small mail-order for about 3 years. Our main goal was to support very good bands who couldn't get an deal, because at that time, there were not so much companies as today.

Your memorable first release was IMPALED NAZARENE's EP, wasn't it? How did you get to know this band from Finland?

Herve : No, the very first release was SAMAEL "Worship Him" LP. the IMPALED NAZARENE 7''ep was the release about 10 or more ! But talking about IMPALED NAZARENE, they sent me a tape that I really enjoyed and we decided to work together.

Oh, just sorry!!! So why did you decide to sign with SAMAEL? Because you liked them, and they are from the French spoken region in Switzerland?

Herve : A friend of mine in our area passed me a tape of theirs, then I got contact them because at that time no one would give a chance to SAMAEL, and since it featured exactly as what I was looking for, I got signed with them. It was not a matter of spoken region.

What was the French metal scene like when you started the label? At that time, I believe, most labels and metal media were located in English spoken countries like U.K. and U.S.A.. What were good or bad things for you concerning to managing of your label at that time?

Herve : Well, at that time there was nothing really around here. Apart of the beginning of several bands such as MASSACRA, LOUDBLAST, AGRESSOR & NOMED, the rest was just so poor. And the RIGHT dificulty when you are French is probably the communication with others territories, even in Europe. France always comes late with all concerning the extreme Music, but since 4-5 years ago, it has become so different. Now bands always comment on french shows. Nowaday, it's just good to play in France, even if the sales are not sometimes what you expect.

What points of bands are important when you make contracts with your label?

Herve : None really. As far as I like the band, then I try to work with them. That's it.

As for the marketing of your label, do you think that Asia including Japan is a good market for your label?

Herve : Well it's a good market when you have licence deals overthere, otherwise I cannot say it's good. Anyway since several years ago, Japanese companies have been interested in what we do, and I guess RITUAL CARNAGE open some doors for us. It's quite hard to deal with Japanese company. And they are doing so much mistakes when they are signing licence deals.

What are the above mistakes you just mention?? Are they due to simply technical mistakes caused by language barrier? Or other deep problems, like lack of motivation or sense? I am just curious...

Herve : Not a technical problem, because Japanese companies can do very well for this, but just a matter of the ability of recognizing on who is good and who is not good. It seems they are signing licences with shit stuff even they don't know, just because they feel that it can be sold well. They are doing some huge mistakes by chosing the bands on that they expect a lot, but as a result they sell just 700 copies or less. Of course it does not happen always, but still for the majority, they do such mistakes. Like here, we still don't know why they didn't do licence deals for IMPALED NAZARENE, IMMORTAL, MARDUK. When I saw in Japan and saw LORD BELIAL under toy's factory licence deal, I was like ?/..?$%?&%$\!!!!!!!!

I think, here in Japan, bands from Osmose are sold certain numbers... like recent MARDUK's "Panzer Division Marduk", which was one of the best sellers among all imported Metal CD's in Japan. Many people are wondering why most of your band have not released Japanese licensed CD's...

Herve : Japanese bosses of record companies have no glue at all on what makes the underground all around the world.Theydonotrealize that the underground makes the scene. MARDUK sell very well everywhere except in Japan, in fact. Those bosses prefer to deal with bands who do not sell at all even in Europe. In Japan, there are so many examples of licence deal that don't sell.

In short, this point means that Japanese labels do not realize what sells and doesn't sell because of lack of the knowledge and involvement of underground??

Herve : Apparently YES. I met a guy in Japan who was working for a big record label and who was also dealing to sign bands with his boss. At the meeting, he asked me actually what was selling very well among metal bands from Sweden. So I told him like, "Why aren't you interested in MARDUK?" He muttered that MARDUK were too violent and we were French ?? Then I asked him what the difference is, but he was unable to explain to me!! I guess originally what made them interest was to sign the complete catalog of bands, like they did in the past, but later they discovered that not all the titles would sell, so they had changed to sign like band after band.These are the reasons why many of the best bands are still not under Japanese licences. Anyway, we have got better distributors now, so I beleive our situation could be better. Time shall tell, there is no hurry.

You visited Japan last year with IMPALED NAZARENE. What was your impression on Japan in general? And what did you think about Japanese bands and fans when you saw gigs.

Herve : My best trip!!! It was just so good!! I love the food & drinks a lot ! Also the small restaurants where we ate every day were nice! I WAS SO HAPPY TO BE THERE. I want to go again and hopefully to bring my girlfriend for a vacation trip. The shows overthere remind me a bite of France, but here people are more crazy. I was suprised at fans wearing costumes at a metal shows. Such a thing does not happen in Europe or America.

Costumes?? What were they like? See, you mean, people who are dressed with ordinal clothings, not band t-shirts?

Herve : YES ! And it was so easy, since I was there with IMPALED NAZARENE & RITUAL CARNAGE. They were both friendly toward myself, and Damien is professional, so it was a very good memory.

I believe that people here want to see your crazy diving and surfing at the show again!!! (haha!!) So please come here again!!!

Herve : I WOULD LOVE. It's of course a matter of time & money, but I guess I might come over again.

Now tell me about the following bands. Any comments, topics, memories... whatever. Let's start with IMPALED NAZARENE, your old fellow...

Herve : Good friends to be honest. A honest band, brilliant live NOW, because in the past they were drinking too much before they played.

ANOREXIA NERVOSA, amaging avantgarde symphonic bkack metal...

Herve : Probably the most professional French band so far coming from the new generation ! They are very well prepare for everything, and really nice people to work with. The new album is like a bomb.

NORTRE DOME, to be honest, sound a bit strange among your bands...

Herve : "Le Theatre du Vampire" is kind of our best release since we appeared ! A creative mind behind this band will be for sure & eternally !

IMMORTAL, your #1 artist, right?...

Herve : The biggest at OSMOSE & I can say that their last album "Damned In Black" is the biggest Black Metal release ever done ! We have very good relationship !

MARDUK, just left your label...

Herve : Yes, we were at the end of the contrat, and they have their own company. They just expect to do better by themself, which everybody doubts ! (Editors Notes : MARDUK, after all, seem back to Osmose after the release of an EP.)

RITUAL CARNAGE!!

Herve : A monumental live act ! And we hope here a good future for them !

What is important to manage a label? Now Osmose is one of the biggest underground Metal labels in the world. What elements have made the label succeed and so mighty?

Herve : Because we are working like HELL, and we just love what we are doing ! Money is important to live and to continue the company, but clearly if you don't like what you are doing, you'd better stop.

Here, please promote your label, your bands, whatever you like.

Herve : Try to listen to our bands, if you enjoy them, that's all a good point. Otherwise I want to comment on you people in Japan. You can find all our releases available at THA dist or DISK UNION, if for any reason they are not available, scream like HELL to their ears to ask them in stock. You can only help us this way. And support RITUAL CARNAGE !

Give us, Japanese fans, a message from you!

Herve : SUPPORT THE EXTREME METAL by going to the shows. It's you who make them strong. And remember ONLY DEATH IS REAL !

THANK YOU, HERVE!!!!

<Herve's Play List>
1. NOTRE DAME "Theatre du vampire": THE SURPRISE for everybody ! A masterpiece !
2. IMMORTAL "Damned in Black": The biggest black metal release ever !
3. AC/DC the new one which keeps metal as a real way of life !
4. LES HURLEURS Last album which is simply one of the very best albums I have ever heard of French songs.
5. AC/DC "Highway to Hell": because it's the first metal album i heard.

<Website>
OSMOSE PRODUCTIONS