A Warsaw-based music label founded in 2004 by a community of musicians. Publishes artists including Mitch & Mitch, Paula i Karol and jazz pianist-bandleader Marcin Masecki. Releases music from genres including rock, jazz and electronic music.
Lado ABC is a curious, positive phenomenon on the Polish music scene. The enterprise was started by friends focused on making music, not profits. A glimpse at playlists of major Polish radio stations shows what sells and differ greatly from what Lado offers. Not many people listen to formal experiments merging distant genres or niche compositions of modern classical music. That doesn’t concern the musicians behind Lado. They want to make music on their own terms and in their own style, without compromising to commercial requirements. Since they couldn’t find a place where that would be possible, they've created one of their own accord.
Paweł Szamburski, one of Lado ABC's co-founders, reminisced in an inteview about starting the label:
I remember that I was sitting with Macio (Moretti) in Tygmont, but it was a good concert, because Pakora was playing, and we were talking that after all I have this band of mine Meritum, and that I’ve invested money, energy and we’ve recorded our first album and that I’d like to put it out properly. Baaba also recorded an LP back then. Theoretically the label Zgniłe Mięso existed already, but it was associated mainly with abstraction and absurdity. We decided that we will start a new label. We chipped in…
The label began operating on a principle best put by Macio Moretti: 'Realize your ideas the way they were thought of". Lado started as and remains a do-it-yourself outfit. Musicians often design the covers of their albums, organize the production process and overlook many details that with labels are done by people not in the band.
Lado ABC published its first albums, Baaba’s remixes entitled Remixas Con Gas and Meritum’s Meritum, in 2004. Many musicians were acquainted with those bands and the label attracted talented creators including Mitch & Mitch and Starzy Singers. Today the record company publishes over twenty groups and artists, operating in three broad fields indicated by the ABC in the label's name.
The A stands for electronic music, dubs, noise and similar things. Mem & Wolfram is one example: two musicians making music on a laptop and a mixing board, their album Koniec from 2008 is a wild leap into the unknown, filled with ambient sounds and distortions. The B represents guitar music. All kinds of it, from classic rock ballads through funk to grind core. Baaba for instance is known for merging genres as distant as soul, metal, jazz and disco. The C stands for jazzy, improvised and acoustic compositions, as well as film and classical music. On one release, the album Die Kunst der Fuge from 2012, Marcin Masecki performs Bach’s last, unfinished work - a bit of a surprise as the pianist is chiefly associated with jazz.
Lado ABC is a music enterprise and a community of people sharing similar views on art. The do-it-yourself idea is something the bands have in common. Musicians involved with Lado want to record in their own respective styles and would rather not make albums than do them as somebody told them to. Paweł Szamburski calls the label a 'family company'. He once said, about signing Paula i Karol:
Paula i Karol are great, unusually energetic people. At first I didn’t really want to release their album, it was too positive for me. But I got to know them and their approach to the world and it turned out that we understand each other perfectly.
The band has since published two records with the label, and was mentioned by The Guardian as one of the most interesting musical groups outside the U.K. And Macio Moretti, active in many bands involved with Lado, was chosen as a Phenomenon by the magazine Przekrój, a distinction given for achievements in culture, and was awarded the prestigious Passport prize by the magazine Polityka. Which indicates that Lado’s principles aren’t caprices of underground musicians offended by mainstream realities. The label shows that staying true to one’s ideals in music can be a path leading to success.
The label also organizes an annual concert series in Warsaw called Lado in Town. Performances take place during the summer and are free of charge. The label is happy to promote musicians who aren’t signed with it, including artists from abroad, with the festival lineup in 2012 including Woody Alien, Chadd Popple and Kazuhisa Uchihashi. And the label’s artists play concerts outside Poland, with Mitch & Mitch and Paristetris touring Brazil, Sza/Za traveled to the U.S. and Paula i Karol played a series of concerts in the U.K.
The company has evolved over the years and has become more of a professional label, but the founding spirit hasn’t changed. They simply do what they please. The people behind Lado focus on recording, publishing and concerts. They’re not into aggressive marketing or luring artificial attention from the media. Macio Moretti has been known to send photos of monkeys to journalists instead of his own picture – that’s how much he was concerned with his own promotion. Lado may have a cash register in its headquarters today, but it’s far from an ordinary company. Moretti pointed to the most important factor in the label's activity of the label, in 2011: 'Our biggest success is that we’ve been doing this for almost seven years and every record makes us as happy as the first ones'. If Lado keeps up the good work, with all probability the next seven years should be similar.
Author: Marek Kępa, November 2012
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