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Record Label Profiles

Les Disques Victo

By Published: May 17, 2008
And while the festival can attract some of the bigger names in the varying stripes of avant-garde music, those shows aren't always available to the label. "You can't have the John Zorns and the Mike Pattons because they all have their own labels, so the label does not have all the big names," Levasseur said. "I would like the label to be as wide as the festival, but it makes it very difficult with distribution. I have to target different markets all the time. But the mixing of the rock and jazz and improv scenes has rejuvenated the scene. It doesn't bring more people to the festival or the label, but it brings new energy."

That overlapping of markets, however, is what keeps the festival and label exciting. A case in point came with Braxton's return to Victoriaville three years ago. To date, Victo has released eight CDs by Braxton, more than any other artist on the label. Levasseur remembers his 1992 quartet concert as "one of the best concerts ever." But Braxton wasn't back at the festival for another 12 years, until the controversial 2005 festival partially curated by Thurston Moore. That year, Braxton did a duo with Frith, played with his sextet and made an unscheduled appearance with the noise group Wolf Eyes. Braxton appeared again in 2007, with his trio and 12tet. All five sets have been released.

"Braxton at the moment is really, really strong creatively, so it was important to bring him back to the festival," Levasseur said. "I wanted to record the trio, but I didn't really want to do the 12tet because he just had the box set [9 Compositions (Iridium) on Firehouse 12], but he convinced me to do it and I convinced him to stop after 60-70 minutes and not have a double CD. I'm very glad we did it because not everyone can buy the box set and listen to it for two months."

With the recent Braxton releases, and a hot-off-the-presses duo between Keiji Haino and Masami Akita (better known as noise artist Merzbow), the label boasts 110 titles. This year will also see the release of a Michael Snow/Alan Licht/Aki Onda trio and a Matière Sonore concert incorporating field recordings made in Victoriaville, both from the 2007 festival. But that first release remains the best selling, at about 5,500 copies moved. All of the releases remain available, but as title go out of stock, Levasseur is considering offering paid downloads rather than reprinting—an option he's not embracing warmly.

"For me it's very important to have the human feeling of doing the music," he said. "If there is no format, you don't need a producer, the musician can just put it up on their website. When you do a concert you have memories of the concert. When you do a CD, you have something, a work of art."

"I like making bread," he added. "I don't want to eat y bread out of pills. I want to eat real bread. If I make a CD, I want it to be real, not just in the air."

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