Greetings, please open our chat by telling us when did you start Sun & Moon Records and who are the persons behind it.
Robert: Hello there. We started Sun & Moon in the fall of 2006. My partner Boros already had experience with zine and tape releasing, yet I was only into writing reviews and making interviews back then. After a Sear Bliss gig, we had a chat from where it was obvious that both of us would like to start a somehow ’bigger’ label. This was in October 2006, and in January 2007 we already had our first 2 CD releases. There are only 2 persons behind the label: Boros Szabolcs & Forgács Róbert. Other people helped us from time to time, but basically we are doing 95% of the activites by ourselves.
Boros: If I’m not wrong, our main target was when we started the label to release the debut album of Siculicidium in the end of 2006, early 2007, after several problems with recording process etc. and other things the album came out in 2009. Our intention is/was to make an international and truly underground label with the 80’s metal/punk attitude: „do it yourself”. From time to time we are collaborating with some design artists, but the most of the label work is done by ourselves.
Why choosing Sun & Moon as name for the label, what's the meaning behind it?
Robert: We definitely wanted for the chosen name to have 2 important aspects. In the first place we wanted the name to be connected to our homeland and our roots, and we were looking also for a good sounding name. The Sun and the Moon were the two main symbols used in Transylvania’s flag from medieval times. It was Boros’ idea, I liked the sounding of the name from the first time, and in 1 week we already had the logo. It lacks the usual black metal words like ’black, blood, goat, tyrant, misanthrope, forest, battle’ but I still think its a cool sounding – easy to remember name.
Boros: The label’s name was in Hungarian first, Rob’s idea was to use the English words, sounds better and very easy to remind it.
The first band you worked with and produced was the French Black Metal act Nocturnal Depression. How did you meet the guys and what made you sign them, and them sign with you?
Robert: I remember discovering their Soundtrack for a Suicide demo (2004) and Four Seasons to a Depression demo (2006). Their demos were constant guests in my playlist, and after a friend of mine made an interview with them in 2006, where they said they were looking for a new label, I knew I had to contact them. We were freshly starting the label, they were also not so long started back then. They trusted us and accepted our offer. I don’t know exactly why they accepted to work with us, but I think the sincere approach and good communication played a major role. I think we and the band were also in a good moment at the good time. When I think back to those times, I see a certain passion there, things were flowing in the good direction.
Boros: ND was the first band, but at the same time we had a deal with Labyrinth of Abyss to releasing their album together with ND’s debut album. In 2006 ND was a totally unknown band in the international scene, just like us, so I’m very happy and proud that we are growing together through the years.
Your relationship with Nocturnal Depression is still going strong, although they are now signed with Avantgarde Music. What led to such a strong collaboration between you? Or is it just my impression?
Robert: They are not signed to Avantgarde Records at this moment. Its true that their 4th full-length album from 2010 was released by this Italian label, due to some ’unfortunate events’, but that was a one album deal, and now they are back with us. Its not just your impression on the strong connection between S&M and ND. I have to to say that its the only band from Sun & Moon (besides Siculicidium), which does not have a written contract with us. Its long-time friendship and many years of hard work behind us, and its still working good.
Boros: The Cult of Negation album was scheduled by Sun & Moon for the late summer of 2010, we got the cover, master etc. After this, they were contacted by Avantgarde to release the mentioned album through the well-known Italian label. They tried Avantgarde and now they came back to us.
What other bands are currently working with Sun & Moon?
Robert: These are our active bands at this moment, all of them working on new material, and some of them will be released soon: Anniversary Circle, A Winter Lost, Beyond Light, Chelmno, Mord’A’Stigmata, Nocturnal Depression, Permixtio, Siculicidium, Windbruch. There are also other bands who are in our radar, so new bands will probably join in the forthcoming months.
Boros: We are don’t want to sign with too much bands, quallity over quantity! Too much bands and too much labels.
Which one is your most popular Sun & Moon release, and which one is your personal favourite?
Robert: Most of our releases are sold-out, or close to it, or even already re-released. Four Nocturnal Depression albums were re-released during the past years, so they are the most popular ones, but the others all also going satisfying.
I do not have a personal favourite, I like them all, I already listened a lot to our releases before the bands were signed...Its the classic question that really cannot be answered I think.
Boros: The most popular release is NOCTURNAL DEPRESSION - "Soundtrack For A Suicide: Opus II" CD . The 2nd press is near to sold out.
Your distribution is quite impressive. How did you manage to build it? Are there any territories you're still looking distribution for?
Robert: The distribution work is harder than the ”getting the release out – make some promotion” part. Dealing with distributors all around the globe and making packages, sending orders its a really time-killer work, but if you want a good distribution for your releases you must do sacrifices. It took years to build it, and we used a lot of the contacts Boros had from his tape-release / zine period. We always looking for new territories, in the past 1 year we reached new countries like Turkey, China, South-Korea, Argentina, Bolivia, Mexico. Our distribution covers almost 90% of Europe, USA/Mexico/Canada, some of the South American countries, a lot of Asian states (South-Korea, Japan, China), Australia, though we are not present in Africa.
Boros: The distribution work is very hard and eating my time and patience, but I really like to deal with labels & distributors from the other part of the Globe. Our main territories are Western Europe, USA & Japan.
How do you choose the bands when signing with Sun & Moon? What type of bands are you looking for?
Robert: The rule is very simple, we are looking for music we like. Not music that we find pleasant, but music, which we think we will like also in 10 years. We are looking for bands with a vision, with a good defined own philosphy. Basically we are a black metal label, but we had also a post-punk/80s goth style album released (Anniversary Circle) and we have also 2 small sister-labels: Mask of the Slave for industrial/noise/power-electronics and Valse Sinistre for dark & eerie music / post-rock / obscure black metal.
Boros: We are always looking for new talents, we are „scanning” the scene. We got tons of promos every month, but sometimes we are contacting a band first, we have no special rule to sign a band, if we like their music we can start to talk about a release deal. Important and maybe the only one rule is: we are interested in professional bands, with pro-attitude, we are not interested in hobby bands, „weekend bands”. We are doing our job as serious as we can so we are into dedicated bands only. If the band is playing live, it’s a very good thing.
What's the most important element for a label in its relationships with customers, bands and collaborators?
Robert: Its different the collaboration with a customer than the one with a band or a label, but there are two things which are common: 1. you need a good communication (this needs total dedication and sacrifice of your time) and 2. you have to be honest.
Boros: With customers is very important: good communication, fast shipping, realible prices. With bands/distributors: good communication, trustworthy attitude, fast acting and no long delays.
Please tell us a few words on your latest releases and if possible, tell us if and what are you working on at the moment (new releases).
Robert: Our 2 latest relases were: The 2nd album of a Polish Avant-garde / Occult Black Metal band: MORD’A’STIGMATA – Antimatter. This is a fantastic piece of going-against-the-trend type of post-black metal with an interest in occult arts. It has a magnific booklet artwork also and they are already a very active live band in Europe. The other recent release was Nocturnal Depression’s Reflections album, which was re-released with proper booklet quality, as the previous one was unsatisfying.
We are preparing for NOCTURNAL DEPRESSION – Suicidal Thoughts MMXI, a re-recording of the first material of the band from 2004. We are also preparing for some vinyl releases for 2011, but those are not fully fixed yet.
I suppose you're not living from this activity, but are you at least manage to limit your losses? What's the most important reason for you to run the label?
Robert: I also have a ’normal’ job, as I cannot make a living from the label in our country. Getting back the invested money is already OK for us, as we are running the label from our passion to extreme metal, and not to gain profits.
Boros: The most important thing to run a label is to love your job and strong passion to extreme music. We are totally dedicated and possessed by extreme music.
Sun & Moon is around for 4 years now. Things are getting better or it becomes harder to keep it steady and professional? What's the secret in what you do? Was there any point in these 4 years when you were thinking of quitting?
Robert: We will have 5 years in 2011. Some things are going easier and more professional, like communication with labels and distros, customers, as we learned our way into the underground realms of label activites. Some things, like selling your release was harder in the past 2 years, because of the so-called economical decline. In my life there were certainly moments when I thought of quitting, but once you’re in it not for the money, even if you have hard moments, you will most probably not quit. There’s no secret, as with most things and activites in our life: just do what you like, make it right and do it with passion. There is now way you will not succeed.
Boros: In 2011 is very difficult to sell CDs, especially in Romania and other Eastern European countries. If you have no money for food, for bills you will not buy physical releases, just download some shitty mp3 files from the net. That’s the truth.
What should we expect from Sun & Moon in the future? Are you planning on sticking on releasing CDs or are you planning to expand your activities, something like organizing gigs/fests?
Robert: Boros is already active in organizing gigs in his hometown. With the label we will stick to CDs, but hopefully we will start also releasing vinyls from this year, as this is the format we like the most.
Boros: We are organizing some special gigs from time to time. We made the only one Inquisition concert in Romania last year, we were the co-organizers for the Tim Ripper Owens concert in Odorheiu-Secuiesc. We made a special concert for the legendary Hungarian neofolk band Scivias in 2007, I hope that special concert will come out on DVD format in the next few years... we are working now on the E-Force (ex-Voivod) gig, which will be in Odorheiu-Secuiesc at 1st of June in Thunder Rock Club.
Thanks for your answers and all best wishes from Pest Webzine!
Robert: Thanks a lot Adrian, your support is highly appreciated. Hails to your readers!
Boros: Thanx for your time & interest in Sun & Moon Records, keep on good work with Pest webzine.
Questions by Adrian
Answers by Robert & Boros