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Real World Records: Passion and Authenticity are Fundamental

Nenad Georgievski By

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Last year Real World Records celebrated its 25th anniversary with an exclusive box set that dig deep into the label's vaults and shed light on the plethora of artists that have released for the renowned world music label. Founded in 1989, with collaboration with singer Peter Gabriel, it exposed some of the finest world music artists and became a playground for musicians who performed new music which is influenced by or is rooted in traditional musics. The label began its life with the Grammy awarded soundtrack by Peter Gabriel Passion (Real World, 1989) for the Martin Scorsese's film The Last Temptation of Christ which remains a genre defining release and a yard stick according to which other world music releases are compared with. Since its inception, this label has released over 200 albums by artists from the various corners of the Earth and introduced to the world people like the Pakistani qawali singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, singers Sheila Chandra, Papa Wemba, douduk player Djivan Gasparian, bands such as Afro Celt Sound System, Spiro, Portico Quartet or Blind Boys of Alabama, to name but a few. We caught up with the label's manager Amanda Jones about the label's glorious quarter of a century history.

All About Jazz: Please describe the journey that led to launching Real World records 25 years ago.

Amanda Jones:Real World was launched in 1989 and grew out of a relationship between Peter Gabriel and the original team who formed WOMAD in 1982. Peter had just finished building his recording studio and together we decide to form a record label with the aim of capturing on tape the live performances of musicians who were coming into the UK to attend the Festival

AAJ: What does the label "world music" mean to you?

AJ: This label was created simply as a marketing tool and to persuade record shops to take the music of a diverse range of music—from Indian Classical to Senegalese mblax—and at least stock in store. The terms was aimed to be as wide ranging as possible to cover all genres and territories.

AAJ: What is Real World's philosophy?

AJ: Handmade and high tech. We want to record exciting and engaging music in the best possible quality and present it in beautiful artwork. There are few limits to what music we will consider from any genre or territory—but passion and authenticity are key.

AAJ: What were some of your early goals as to what Real World should be and what it should not be?

AJ: To help to provide a platform to some wonderful music from around th world that in 1989 (before the days of You Tube etc.) might struggle to get heard.

AAJ: How would you describe Peter Gabriel's involvement with the label?

AJ: He has defined the philosophy, he confirms he is happy with all releases, he provides advice and guidance about production and often comes up with 'oblique strategies' to keep us thinking creatively and in an alternative way.

AAJ: Does RW has a musical philosophy as to what type of artists fit best within its framework?

AJ: If you look at our philosophy—passion and authenticity are fundamental in whatever genre or style we are looking at.

AAJ: How do you find your artists? Who and what determines which acts are signed?

AJ: We discover artists from many different sources —sometimes from unsolicited music that is sent to the label, sometimes through WOMAD or through our wide network of contacts and friends around the world who make recommendations.

AAJ: What do you believe this label offers its artists that others cannot?

AJ: I would not want to comment on other labels. We bring commitment and hard work to our projects; we also have a wonderful recording studio with outstanding engineers to help them realize their recordings in the best quality possible, we have a photographer and film maker and designer in-house at Real World to work directly with musicians.

AAJ: Are there any musicians that have turned your attention lately or that you would like to sign to RW?

AJ: There are a number of other projects we are looking at. But you'll have to wait and see!

AAJ: One of my all-time favorite records is Peter Gabriel's Passion which was the label's first release. It was a watershed record that best defined the world music genre. Even years after its initial release it still enchants listeners today. How do you look back at this record and its legacy?

AJ: For us it helped to introduce magnificent singers such as Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan to a wider audience. As a piece of music is showed that sounds from different cultures and genres can work together powerfully (without resorting the dreadful 'world music melting pot' cliché).

AAJ: Real World Gold was an initiative of reissuing the label's back catalogue. How many records has the label put out?

We have 34 titles re-released on Real World Gold.

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