Light in the Attic has been honored to distribute the archival label Tidal Waves Music since the company's inception in 2017. We recently sat down with TWM founder Sebastiaan Putseys to look back on their stellar output, how they land on a project, and what lies ahead.
Light in the Attic: Your catalog is full of incredibly rare funk, jazz and soul. What got you into these sounds? Was there a certain record or artist that sparked the fire for you guys?
Sebastiaan Putseys (Tidal Waves Music): As a record collector and music enthusiast (with a history in the music industry), you come across “gaps” in your collection on a regular basis. You can either wait for someone else to do it or spearhead a possible reissue yourself. One thing leads to another, and then a couple of years later, you realize you’ve built up quite the catalog, haha. We try to avoid thinking in boxes, and I personally have a very broad taste in music... but eventually, you’re always drawn to releases that you like or fit the concept & uniformity of your previous reissues. If you’re looking at it from a genre perspective, you’ll see that we mainly do Funk-Soul-Jazz with a hint of Afrobeat here and there... then again, we did releases by guitar wizard Link Wray and some rare ‘80s new wave 7-inch reissues. Hard to put a sticker on us! It’s an organic process with me... you have some ideas that are carved in stone, but there’s also this see where the waves will take you thing taking place; it’s no coincidence that the label is called Tidal Waves Music.
LITA: What do you look for in a potential reissue project?
SP: First of all, it needs to blow me away. I could never reissue something I can’t get fully behind. The music and/or the background story needs to strike me down 100%. The commercial aspect rides in the backseat, which I know is an odd thing for a label to say, but nine times out of ten, the things that enthuse us will also excite our audience thus also making it a commercial success. Occasionally, you drop the ball and chalk it up to experience.
LITA: Giving a record a proper reissue can be a difficult task, especially when licensing it legitimately and packaging it impeccably in attempts to give it the reissue it truly deserves. Is there a project that you’ve released that was particularly challenging?
SP: Particularly challenging are projects where you start from scratch (as opposed to a straight-up reissue), and you need to get the audio and artwork to work out with the very limited sources that are available to you. Mix that in with rights clearance and right holder approval, and you got yourself one hell of a challenge. One out of three releases goes down this way…we’ve been working on several projects for years, and we’re still nowhere near completion. Oh well... comes with the territory, I guess.
LITA: What is your favorite project to date?
SP: Hard to pick one... they have all been unique in their own way. The stories you come across and the people you meet—that’s why you’re doing it. We’ve worked with artists, small labels, and majors alike to make holy grails on our want list happen. The story behind it is half the appeal for me. Some people have been lovely to deal with; other people we had to get in touch with were just plain nuts! If I have to pick one, then It would be our first release, A Very Rare Evening by Nina Simone... a really intimate album of late-sixties Euro sessions that wasn’t available on the market since 1979. It got a lot of good press and surely put us on the map. Doing a Nina Simone record as your first release is everything a start-up label can dream of. Really humbled that we were involved in that one.
LITA: Can you give us a sneak preview of anything currently in the cooker?
SP: Currently, we’re working on getting some private pressed soul & funk bangers released into the world…these are particularly challenging because you need to track down band-members (or their family) living in small towns in the middle of nowhere. Musically, it’s among the best things you’ll ever hear, and the sparse originals in existence go for silly money on the secondhand market... so yeah, really happy to give these (often unknown) gems the much-needed reissue treatment. Stay tuned!
LITA: What are your favorite record stores on planet earth?
SP: Amoeba Hollywood comes to mind (always a mind blowing experience to walk through those doors), Balades Sonores in Paris is amazing, Music Mania in Belgium is pretty rad too, basically all record stores in Soho London will get you the fix you’re looking for…and then you have Berlin, which is a total crate diggers paradise!
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