By Jess Goulart After an ear-shattering rock showcase at Piano’s, BTR snagged Lio Kanine, of Kanine Records, for an impromptu interview. The Brooklyn-based indie label has worked with The Blow, Chairlift, and Grizzly Bear, plus emerging artists like Valleys, Beach Day, Bleeding Rainbow, and Eternal Summers, who are all performing at CMJ. Beach Day at Kanine Records showcase at Piano’s during CMJ 2013. Photo by Jess Goulart. Tucked tightly against a wall while hundreds of excited fans pushed in and out of the venue, Lio reflects on his roster and shares how he got his start.
BreakThru Radio: So how do you feel like CMJ is going?
Lio Kanine: Dude, it’s amazing! The showcase was insanely packed, from 1 p.m. to now [mignight]. I just couldn’t be happier. It’s been awesome. Especially for the new bands that nobody knows, which is of course the best part about CMJ.
BTR: Definitely impressive, so can you tell me who your favorite is?
LK: [Shaking his head] Absolutely not, I love them all. I’m really, really attached to my bands. I’m not in this to be a billionaire, I’m in this because I love music. Every record feels different to me, so I can’t say this or that is the best record ever. Even records that have sold ten copies, I’ve been in love with.
BTR: Like who?
LK: I had this one band Four Volts, from when we first started [a decade ago], which is probably one of my favorite records ever of the whole catalog, and they sold next to nothing. It was one of our very first records, and it’s so arty and weird. Everyone points out it didn’t sell, but that doesn’t matter. And honestly, if it came out now, it would be huge. It was just wrong timing.
BTR: How do you feel when you look through your catalog, old records like that?
LK: Well, I’m kind of a big history buff. The thing about records for me is that every single one is like a new history book. I just did this big interview for a skateboard website that’s kind of like the Pitchfork of skateboarding and we were going through my catalogue and I was flipping through records and I was getting really emotionally, almost teary. Because every record is a time piece for me. It captures a memory, and an amazing moment. So that feeling definitely endures.
BTR: How did you get into this business?
LK: Ya know, when I was in 8th grade I snuck out of my house to see an Echo & The Bunnymen show. It was the middle of the week and I would definitely not have been allowed to go, so I snuck out through this tiny window in my kitchen and met my friends. I had no money, so I had to borrow from my friends. And I remember being at that show, thinking, “I’m gonna be grounded for like six months for this,” and being really upset about it, my friends trying to calm me down saying “it’s gonna be cool, it’s gonna be cool!” But as soon as Ian McCulloch came on stage, he did this big kick with his guitar and all the girls, like, screamed. And all my worries disappeared, and all my cares, and the whole world, and I knew. Yup, this is what I want to do.
BTR: If I print this, and your mom reads it, will she be upset?
LK: Well, so, after the show I scrambled for a like a half an hour to get back through that stupid window, and I finally squeezed in and fell plump to the floor. I stood up, and mom was staring at me from the couch. She’d been waiting up, and she knew everything! Her first words were “was it worth it?” And with no hesitation I said, “100%.” And she said, “good, you’re grounded for six months.”
And that changed my life.