If one spends enough time in Vancouver, it becomes all too common to hear people bitch and whine about the frustrations of trying to be a musician in a city that appears more interested in erecting condos than investing in culture. However, local musician, producer and personality Tim Clapp, a.k.a. Tim the Mute is never one to complain. If anything, the exuberant entrepreneur has done the total opposite. By creating the indie label Kingfisher Bluez, Clapp has opened new fields of potential for underground artists in Vancouver. Discorder met with Clapp at Dandelion Records and Emporium on Main Street, where he can be found working his day job to support his fledgling label.
Growing up on B.C.’s Sunshine Coast, Clapp was drawn to music as a way to cope with small town monotony. “Coming out of Robert’s Creek, there was nothing to do. Pretty much the only thing I had was sitting at home listening to records,” he explains, “It was the only thing I could do with myself in high school. Going to record stores was a big thing. We’d just save up our money and then on a weekend come into Vancouver and hit all the record stores, and it was so cool to be coming back on the ferry with bags full of records. I loved it. I’d spend my entire paycheque just on vinyl.” This passion for music grew into the desire to start his own label when he became intrigued by how they were produced, mixed, and released. “It seemed to be just as interesting as who was playing on them. I like the idea of sort of curating that. Having a roster of artists…like a perfect collection of records.”
After moving to Vancouver seven years ago, Clapp started Kingfisher Bluez as a digital-only label, with the intention of one day putting out vinyl. That vision first came to fruition last year, with the release of the Sebastian Fleet/Count Oak split seven-inch. Several other releases followed, including Clapp’s own solo compositions on the seven-inch Anything You Want, and more recently with local psych-punk outfit EEEK!. Moreover, Clapp has new releases slated before 2012 is over, like Vancouver Island’s Zen Mystery Fog, and a Xiu Xiu single called Quagga.
“It’s sort of like experimental synth drone stuff. I feel like [Xiu Xiu’s label] Polyvinyl is just letting us do the record because it’s so experimental. They probably wouldn’t be able to sell many copies of it. They’re really cool about it.”
But perhaps his most interesting and ambitious undertaking is the Kingfisher Bluez Single-Sided Singles Club, which launches in September. “The Club is a look at Vancouver’s d.i.y. indie rock scene. There’s twelve records, you get one every month for a year, and we offer a free pickup for locals from Dandelion Records. You pick up your singles for free from here or I’ll mail them to your house for twenty bucks. There’s only 250 subscriptions available, and there’s a bonus single that you get if you subscribe early. All the records are one sided.” The bands involved with the project are an impressive roster of local artists, including Apollo Ghosts, Needles//Pins, Dirty Beaches, Capitol 6, Weed, B-Lines, Korean Gut, Student Teacher, and several others.
“I feel like there’s a lot of shitty popular bands making their living as musicians or whatever, but a lot of the people who aren’t making their living as musicians – they’re doing some really cool stuff,” Clapp explains. “This whole Vancouver d.i.y. scene, it’s a lot of house shows and shows in parks and on beaches and all sorts of weird places, and when you start to go out to shows like that I feel like you know people are really accepting, and you’re gonna hear stuff that’s going to be way better than you might hear than if you went to see a more popular band play at a venue or something. There’s a lot of cool music coming out of weird places.”
With its slew of releases scheduled for the next year, Kingfisher Bluez truly exemplifies a proactive approach to Vancouver’s sometimes frustrating dearth of support for independent, non-corporate music culture.
Subscribe to the Single-Sided Singles Club and keep current on all Kingfisher Bluez bands at kingfisherbluez.com.