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Bubonic Productions is a small Portuguese label dedicated to Black Metal and Extreme Doom. Daniel founded it some years ago, and against all odds, managed to gain a true recognition from the underground crowds for his good taste and know-how. Doom-metal got a behind-the-scenes look at his job.

Interview with Bubonic Productions.
1) Hello Daniel. Can you explain us what brought you to create your own label? And what's the reason for that name: "Bubonic"? Does it mean you would release and spread music like a disease?
Hi Emmanuel, first of all, thanks for your interest. Bubonic was born in 2006 to release the first Dolentia demo and distribute it the way the band wanted. To be honest the label was created without many expectations at the time, without knowing if a second release was going to happen. A few months later I got in touch with Astral Sleep to re-release their cdr demo in cassette (somehow I thought it deserved a bit more of exposure) and the label started for real, with a distro list and doing some promotion. The Astral Sleep demo also represented the first incursion into Doom metal, something that carried on until today. The name Bubonic was somehow connected to the concept of Dolentiaís first demo (being Dolentia, the latin word for ďdiseaseĒ), I decided to keep it, both for Black metal and Doom metal releases.

2) What kind of problems or even obstacles did you have to deal with during the creation of Bubonic?
The main issue was the normal problem faced when you start something from zero: ignorance. Everything had to be learned, from production to distribution, from band scouting to customer service. And since I started the label when I was a student, my available pocket money was short. And that, for a small label that no one heard of before, releasing such strange things as Doom tapes back in 2006, getting from the sales the main income to invest in new releases, this made things happen very slowly during the first two years.

3) How is Bubonic organized today? Could you please explain the role you assign to Bubonic Productions, Bubonic Doom and Discipline?
In 2006, I decided to create a sub-label for Doom only. Many labels just mix all bands in the same category, using the same catalog letters for everything. Itís an option, but in my case, I thought it wasnít the best one. Despite the many links between extreme Doom and a lot of Black metal acts, I thought this was the right thing to do. Later, in 2009, I decided to create a new Black metal sublabel to feature the rawest bands connected to Bubonic. So, nowadays (with one or another exception) under the sign of Bubonic Productions you can find some somber Black Metal, under the sign of Discipline Productions you can find raw Black metal (generally from close bands, people that I know personally) and under the sign of Bubonic Doom, some raw extreme Doom.

4) Bubonic has gained a certain recognition among the Doom metal fans, but it seems this would be less true regarding the Black metal audience. Would it be more difficult to enter the Black metal scene, maybe because of a certain 'market saturation'? And, being involved in both scenes (and even focusing on Doom and Black only), do you find some common elements between those two styles, in terms of music and spirit?
Observing the underground as a whole, I believe Bubonic is still a small label with not much recognition anywhere. Nowadays there are dozens of labels, releasing all types of bands and sounds, so itís difficult to get a space of your own, even if you started years ago. Also I donít do any kind of promotion on social networks, so Iím invisible for many people. I admit Bubonic Doom has had a faster rising, in result of particular circumstances. As said, back then few labels were releasing Doom tapes, so somehow, Bubonic was positioned in a market gap. The Doom releases were musically good, interest was slowly increasing and the release of Worshipís ďDooomĒ tape was the pinnacle of that particular period. Concerning Black Metal, I confess Iím extremely demanding and this was a factor that reduced the number of Black Metal releases in the early times. The extreme Doom sound, in its essence, is not an easy stuff to digest, totally uncommercial and it carries an undeniable mental extremism, so just having a band playing that sound is already a filter. With Black metal, there are thousands of bands and many doing it for the wrong reasons. As time passed, I was fortunate enough to meet bands who shared my visions about what Black Metal should be, and this meant almost a ďnew startĒ for Bubonic, this time releasing more Black Metal than Doom. In the last two years, many people realized that the Portuguese scene has of an irrefutable integrity, not that common nowadays, and slowly Bubonic was growing reaching more people. Concerning to the second part of your question, in my point of view, the Black Metal that I like to hear and the Extreme Doom that I like to hear, both deal with extreme emotions and their musicians push their mental boundaries to complete discomfort.

5) Looking at the Bubonic roster, I easily feel a strong commitment toward some values like passion and authenticity. And, at the same time, I also feel a strong sense of getting things right (in the artworks of the releases as well as in the communication aspect through the shop). I'd say: ĎBubonic, a true UG label with a professional managementí. Do you agree with that?
Musically it will always be difficult to please everyone. Many of my Doom costumers donít care about my Black metal releases and vice-versa. And I suppose many of my Doom costumers wonít like all my Doom releases, and the same goes to Black metal costumers. In the other hand, I hope they agree the service is fair. This means Iím not a professional which is not all the time in front of the computer, but I reply in a fair time, I provide all information they need and I pack everything in a professional way. This has been my goal since the beginning, and I think this has to be the basics for any kind of mailorder service. Iím also available to discuss unconventional editions and try to make all releases special. I value that as a collector and I truly believe thatís a mandatory route in the underground.

6) A great part of your production is released on tape format. What does this "old" format mean to you (especially compared to the "modern" CD format)?
Music cassettes have a charm of their own. Itís the traditional format for demos and somehow I think all bands should have their first release recorded on tape. Itís just the way you do it. Music cassette, compared with CD and Vinyl, is a lot cheaper and allows making short presses with any kind of covers. Itís also good to spread and itís quite resistant. Personally I believe cassettes will keep being released in the upcoming years.

7) A great part of your production is also meant to support bands from the local scene, which is not very renowned. Do you find this Portuguese scene underestimated?
I wouldnít say underestimated, but I would say most Portuguese bands have difficulties to get a deal abroad. And this gets worse for more expensive formats (cd and vinyl). Having this in mind and knowing the quality of bands, Portuguese bands have always been a priority to me. As time passed, Bubonic gathered around it a circle of core-bands that feed the label with new quality releases once in a while, reducing the need to sign new bands. New bands will obviously be signed in the future. Iím watchful, but Iím not actively seeking for them.

8) The Bubonic records are released in a short-run strategy perspective, quickly becoming unavailable and hard-to-find. What's the exact idea behind that? Is each release pogrammed to become a collector? Or do you want to reveal as many bands as possible? Is there any other reason? Ö And, along the same lines, is there any re-releases planned?
Bubonic releases have been mostly released in a short-run strategy, first of all, to fit the demand. Thereís no need to press 200 copies if Iím just going to sell 30 or 40. I donít want to flood the market with the extra copies, putting that particular release in every distro, for two reasons: because I lose money on trades and because, if the release doesnít sell in the other distro, it will appear as a discounted item some time after. And I donít think thatís good for the bands. Besides, my storage space is limited, a shorter stock period is recommended. Having all this in mind, I think things have been handled in the right way. Many of my sold-out releases are available in other distros, and I donít remember seeing any Bubonic item having insane bids on ebay (!!). Re-releases are something I support and I think all labels should do it. Concerning Bubonic, several re-releases are planned, especially for cds.

9) What are the qualities a band must have to be signed by Bubonic? Is the human relation between label and artists as important as the strict musical aspect?
The relation between the labels and the artists is essential. I canít promote anything without knowing. Iím in complete consonance with the band ideology and vision of the underground. So, if a band that I never heard of, contacts me to get a release deal, their chances are ZERO. This doesnít mean we have to be friends since childhood; many bands released by Bubonic got in touch with me, first as clients, or asking me for a trade or through common contacts and only later the relation developed for a musical collaboration.

10) How do you look upon what you have achieved with your label after several years of existence? Are you rather positive or negative? Is there an album or a band you were especially proud to release / reveal?
Bubonic completed 6 years of existence some weeks ago. Despite the problems and failures I naturally had in this period, Iím proud of what Iíve done and achieved. This has been a continuous learning process, and thereís a lot to be learned and optimized in the future. In general I believe Bubonic released important records in all genres and formats. Itís always unfair to choose 2 or 3 records from such a long list, but I would say ďThe UnveilingĒ from Why Angels Fall, the Inverno Eterno albums and all my vinyl releases gave me an extra pleasure to release. Also, I must mention the zines released under the banner of Bubonic. They all played an important role spreading the words about my work and widening my contacts. I totally worship the underground zine format, so this will continue in the future too.

11) On the contrary, are there any album / band you regret to have released / signed?
I donít regret anything. Yet, I would probably change some editions. The first issue of Laudatio Funebris had a professional edition, and today I would probably make a Xerox zine instead. Also, some tapes should have been released on pro-tape instead of normal tapes...

12) We can easily imagine the huge amount of demos you receive from unsigned bands. Do you regret to refuse some stuff, because you donít have enough time to listen to them all, or maybe because you donít have enough money to release them?
Actually nowadays I donít receive many demo submissions. Itís said in my website that Iím not searching for new bands and I donít have my snail mail address publically available. I received several demo submissions in the past and I always heard everything, yet itís not common to feel I should release it. Last time it happened with BLUT, the British drone/Doom behemoth, whom music just blew me away.

13) You intensively trade with other labels. Did you experience some rip-off situations?
I do trade, but nowadays I trade less. Unfortunately I donít have much time to search for new partners, and my traditional partners assure a good distribution worldwide. Concerning to rip-offís I must say I hadnít serious situations. Oskorei Bild und Tonkunst from Germany and Daemonokratia from Greece own me a few tapes since 2008 or 2009. I traded with them before and everything went fine, so these situations were even more surprising.

14) It seems that Bubonic is focused on releasing stuff and not on the organization of live concerts. Is this live aspect a possible development for the future of Bubonic?
I have organized some concerts in Portugal but I never put Bubonic in the credits. I donít like to mix things. But to be honest, it might happen again but itís not something I like to do.

15) What are the next Doom releases planned on Bubonic?
Right now, the next release will be a split 7Ē between Defuntos and L.O.S.T. Some cds are being prepared as well, including the cd version of Dolentiaís ďSob a …gide das SombrasĒ, Mother of the Hydraís ďContradictionĒ, cd version of Ostots "Heriotzaren Bidezidorrak" album, a new Sentimen Beltza cd and a new Blut cd.

16) Thanks for your time, Daniel. I wish Bubonic a long life! A last thing you'd like to add?
I appreciate your interest and time spent writing these questions. Those interested in knowing a bit more about Bubonic can go to the label site

Click HERE to discuss this interview on the doom-metal forum.

Interviewed on 2012-05-16 by Manu Buck.
No God Only Pain
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