Disintegration Records :: Building a Formidable Indie Community in Winnipeg

Greg MacPherson
By Sheldon Birnie
Winnipeg-based Disintegration Records officially launched this past September, with the release of Greg Macpherson’s Disintegration Blues. The tightly knit label is also home to local acts Nova, Haunter, Slow Dancers, and Cannon Bros, whose full-length Firecracker/Cloudglow is Disintegration’s second release.
“A lot of the bands on the label share some similarities, so it makes some sense that we’re all together,” explains label co-founder Greg Macpherson. MacPherson founded the label with sound engineer extraordinaire Cam Loeppky in January 2011. “We’re a lot stronger if we do that than if we try to approach it by ourselves.”
“We’re trying to build a community, for sure,” explains Macpherson. “There’s a lot of younger artists on the label, and Cam and I are older guys. We’re both in our late thirties. We’ve been doing this a long time and feel we have a lot of experience and capacity to share and help these younger folks not make the same mistakes we did, or be able to learn through us rather than on their own. It’s nice to be able to impart some of those lessons to people who would otherwise have to make those same mistakes, so maybe we can save them the effort.”
Focused as it is on local acts, Disintegration hasn’t ruled out releasing acts outside of Manitoba in the future. But for now, Disintegration is moving ahead with a number of hot projects for 2012. Releases for Nova and Haunter are planned for spring, and a Slow Dancers release for summer. Disintegration is also looking into a series of 7” singles, and possibly the re-release of some classic Winnipeg albums.
“There used to be this band in town called Grand Theft Canoe. They put out this record under the name Voit for their last record,” says Macpherson. “The record was really, really good. They printed 1,000 copies and it sold out in like a month or something, and then they just disbanded and no one has heard the music since. We’re thinking of re-releasing that digitally for them. It’s been about 10 years since it came out. It’s such an important and great, classic Winnipeg record that few people have heard.”

Slow Dancers
By Janet Adamana

One of the city’s newest amalgamations of local talent is the soft, slightly despondent and immensely poetic rock band, Slow Dancers, fronted by 22-year-old singer/songwriter Jesse Hill. Starting out as a solo project of Hill’s, the newly inaugurated quartet began after a few encouraging ideas from Hill’s childhood friend and current bandmate Cole Woods. Hill was inspired to take his love for songwriting to a greater level, from part-time solo act to serious frontman.
“When Slow Dancers started I wasn’t really in a band that I was very serious about,” says Hill, “but I had all these songs that I had been playing solo. [Woods] suggested I let him play drums on some songs. It sounded really good with him so it developed from there.”
The official line-up incorporates the musical mastery of Cannon Bros’ and Haunter’s Cole Woods beating the drums, Haunter’s Marie-France Hollier on bass and musical powerhouse Greg Macpherson adding back up vocals and guitar expertise. They played their first gig in February 2011, debuting at Crescent Fort Rouge United Church.
Since their formation, they’ve played other numerous shows throughout the city, making appearances at Mondragon’s A-Zone Fundraiser, The Harvest Moon Society‘s InFARMation event as well as gracing the stages at The Gas Station Theatre, The Park Theatre and Lo Pub.
Performing has since taken a pause for Slow Dancers as they prepare to work with  Disintegration Records co-owner and producing genius, Cam Loeppky (The Weakerthans, The Details), this winter at Prairie Recording Company.
“Right now we’re just practicing a lot in preparation for recording,” says Hill. “I just showed the band a few new songs we’re working on for the week.”
A Slow Dancers tour is on the back of Hill’s mind, but will entirely depend on this upcoming album. “If the recording goes well, then we’ll do a tour in the summer, but it’s very up in the air,” he says. “If we tour I’d imagine it’d just be a couple weeks, just one direction or the other, but I’d really like to tour Europe sometime in the next couple of years.”
“Last August’s Labour” and “Since We Last Talked” are two Slow Dancers demos that have already been released through Bandcamp, and showcased on CBC Radio 3 as well as on 101.5 UMFM. They are currently on the list of a dozen ready to record songs the band will work on in the studio.

By Victoria King

Since of the recent birth of Disintegration Records, Nova has been one of its signees to the label. Molly McCracken, Nova keyboardist, chatted with Stylus to talk Disintegration and what the band is up to.
Stylus: How did you all decide to start up Nova?
Molly McCracken:
We all knew each other, because it’s Winnipeg. Jackie [Hogue] and Greg [MacPherson] were thinking of starting a band and they knew I played piano. It’s nice to have three people, it’s easy to schedule things. We’re all pretty busy. You have to carve out the time for sure.
Stylus: For anyone who doesn’t know your band too well, could you just say a little bit about who’s in the band, what you’re about, what your sound is like?
MM: Hmm, well… It’s three friends who are playing music that’s from the heart, and Greg writes a lot of our songs but not all of them. We all collaborate on the arrangements.
Stylus: How’s it been working with Disintegration?
It’s great. It’s like a family; a collection of people who all just want to make music. I think Cam and Greg’s leadership in starting Disintegration is ideal timing, with there being all these bands around who need to have a label, and just creating some sort of supports for that. It’s very forward thinking. It’s really just fun to be in a world where music is changing all the time, it’s good to have connections with other people.
Stylus: At the moment, are you writing/recording?
We are doing some recording with Cam Loeppky at the end of this month. Some songs we’ve had in the works and some are new, so we’re looking forward to that.
Stylus: Any shows coming up, or dates for a record release?
We don’t have any actual dates right now but we’re planning on a show in the early new year, and we’d like to have our CD release for sure by the summer, if not spring. We just have to finish the recording and then all the other stuff that needs to happen. It’s good that it’s such a fun process with a great group of people, because you do spend a lot of time together.

photo: Kristian Jordan

Local pair make Disintegration’s second
Cannon Bros. release Firecracker/Cloudglow on emerging label
By Michael Elves

While local duo Cannon Bros. ended up releasing their self-titled debut EP last winter out of necessity, the release of their full-length Firecracker/Cloudglow came about because the pair chanced into an opportunity.
“The EP we just kind of recorded with our friend and we weren’t even really planning on releasing it,” notes Alannah Walker. She explains, “We just recorded songs when we first started playing and then we went on tour last summer and we had nothing to sell so we were like, ‘Let’s just put all the songs that we recorded onto a CD and sell it,’ so that’s how the EP came about.”
The pair now finds their new record being tagged as the second release from brand-new Winnipeg label Disintegration Records, a move that came about organically as Cole Woods notes. “I play in Greg’s band and so Greg has heard our music, and the person that he’s running the label with, Cam Loeppky, is the person who recorded our album, so it was kind of like a natural thing.”
Both Walker and Woods sing Loeppky’s praises with Woods stressing that “He mostly just acted as the engineer, which is pretty nice. Not a lot of people can do that, just sit back and be, ‘No, it’s your call, it’s your call always.’ He had some suggestions with guitar tones and sounds but he never changed the songs.”
Walker adds, “As far as the process goes it was really simple, relaxed and enjoyable and it didn’t take us very long to record all the songs.”
Notoriously prolific writers, Walker admits that “we have written so many songs and played so many songs together that probably no one will ever hear and we probably don’t even remember.” So when it came time to consciously consider what would go on Firecracker/Cloudglow, the pair “started playing the songs that we liked the most and stopped playing the other ones and I think that’s how the album came together with the twelve songs.” Woods is quick to note that they recorded the guitar and drums live off the floor and overdubbed the vocals and were conscientious about keeping the songs “still pretty simple” so the pair could recreate the album live.
As to the title of the record and what exactly it means, Woods is tight-lipped: “It’s kind of an ambiguous title I guess, I’ll just leave it at that.”

photo: Marie-France Hollier

By Elizabeth Whitbread

A couple years ago, Stylus got the skinny on Haunter – one of Winnipeg’s fiercest indie rock groups – and they’ve since released the 7” Lighthouse/Great Northern and won the praises The Constantines’ Bry Webb. I asked singer/guitarist Matt Williams a few questions via email, namely about calling their new label home.
Stylus: How did Haunter get signed to Disintegration?
Matt Williams:
Greg Macpherson moved into our jam space after a new business opened under his, which was down the hall. It was kind of a surprise – one day we walked into the space and he was just putting his stuff in there. A few weeks later I approached him about helping me work on a recording grant. He said that it was perfect timing, because he and Cam Loeppky were starting a label and they wanted us involved. After a couple long nights of beers at Carlos & Murphy’s, we all decided it was for the best. We’d worked with Cam before on a demo. It helped that they picked up some of the tab.
Stylus: How is being signed to a label different from being on your own?
Before, when we were releasing our own stuff, we made up a label – it was just a name – to put out our music just for the sake of organization more than anything else. It was really just nothing, more of a common thing that held our releases together. We had a big dream to actually make it a real label but we also had no money. Now it’s a totally different monster. Greg always says that Disintegration Records isn’t a service for the bands: it’s friends working together to support and build these things that we might not have been capable of by ourselves. They’re there to help us as much as they can, but they aren’t booking agents or managers. They have their own lives to deal with as well. It’s an idea that we really loved. It’s exciting to be part of something more like a collective than being told what to do and when to do it. It’s a cliché, but Disintegration Records is a family. Some of us have been friends a long time and some have just met, but creatively, there are not many other people I’d want to work with, now or ever.
Stylus: What’s next for Haunter?
Cole Woods (Cannon Bros.) joined the band a while back. It’s impossible to imagine not having him at this point. We had a specific vision for where and how we wanted to record the album that we’ve had ready for a couple years now. The plan is hopefully to record sometime over the next couple months and then put out an album and do a decent tour in the spring or summer. There’s more of a plan in place to record now, but no real details about it yet. We’ve been spending more time writing new songs so we don’t get bored waiting for recording to happen. We all have different things going on and busy lives and all that, but Haunter is really important to us. I can say that therapy for me is three or four hours of music, pizza and beer with the rest of them. We’re all excited to come back heavy. Haunter Forever.

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