Tuesday, January 29, 2019



Hey brutalbangers,
I remember that my collaboration with Art Gates Records started even 7 years ago, when this Spanish label was still in its first days of existence. Since then, AGR has become an important underground label, and the nicer thing is that it is still growing up in a so good way that they recently opened their first office outside their national borders, precisely in Mexico. Hence, considering this long collaboration between us, some time ago I thought well to ask to Ivan Magdalena, one of the founders of this label, to interview him about it. So, today I am very honoured to present you this interview about Art Gates Records. Expect to read very interesting answers in which you can feel a real passion and dedication about the label, the AGR's bands and the metal music in general.
And many thanks to Ivan also to sending me the fantastic pics that you'll find throughout the interview!


Hi Ivan! How are you? Let’s start this interview from the very beginning of your metal career. So, how was born your passion for the heavy metal music? And were your parents happy about this great passion of their kid? What was the thing of the metal music that mainly attracted your attention?

Hi there Flavio. I'm fine thanks. Busy as hell, but that is my “everyday” so I am used to it.
Well, no one in my family listened to metal so I really discovered it by myself, I always enjoyed music but was with my discovery of heavy metal when it really grew up on me. My parents were not very happy with it as I started to collect Metallica, Blind Guardian, Iron Maiden albums and started wearing all kind of music related clothes, they thought it was going to be a rebellious period of my life … until this day hehe! I think the melodies, the passion in it, the strength, everything, all the elements that can call your attention and make you start feeling something deeper for the music.

Do you remember what was the first metal album that you bought? And now, how many are metal albums in your own collection?

Metallica S&M Show, that was my first very metal album. I'm 32 years old, so I started with 14-15. I'm not a collector anymore, I do own some cd's but I am really into streaming music. I started my own collection of vinyls and I own Behemoth, BB King and Eric Clapton, Watain and Avatar pieces.

Have you ever played in a band?

Yes, absolutely. And to be a musician as well has helped me to have the whole vision, the big picture so I like to behave with bands in the way I would like to be treated in a record label with a band. I think this is a very important part of the music business, to have the big picture, to be able to put yourself into the other person's point of view. Even if I don't get results with my actions, I always inform the bands about it, contacting festivals, agents, media, etc. It can easily suppose the double of my time, but that's the way I like to work.

Before founding Art Gates Records, did you experience in other labels?

No. Me and Xavier Tolosa started Art Gates Records with the purpose to give Spanish underground bands the possibility to go out there with a platform supporting them. We knew almost nothing from the industry back then, you know, some things, some kind of experience, but not like nowadays. Apart from AGR I'm a passionated student, coursing my second career in Marketing and having coursed Music Business Management as well. But of course most of my knowledge I owe it to the fact that I am working on this for 7 years now.

How did you come the idea to found Art Gates Records? And did you found it along with other people?

Yes, as I said me and Xavier Tolosa started Art Gates Records back in 2012 with the idea to give underground metal acts a basis, a support in their actions to be able to go out there and not only having Nuclear Blast and Century Media, you know. After that more and more people joined the team.

Why did you name your label as Art Gates?

It sounded good. We never wanted to be considered a closed metal label, not something like Metal from Hell Records or you know, some other names very “metal”. Art Gates sounded good as we want to be this platform for the art of our bands.

What means managing a label? Is it more difficult or easier as one can imagine?

I think is waaaaay more difficult than one can imagine. Depending in your compromise, of course, but at the end of the day I do a lot of things for AGR, not only answering emails, and I concern a lot about a lot of bands in the same moment, I need to handle upcoming releases with current tour offers, also thinking in the further steps of the label, which can be the next step for us as company if we want to grow up. Being a business man is not easy hehe!

What do you like best about your job of label manager? And the most hateful thing?

To be able to help musicians and bands to reach their goals and dreams, to be able to support art in any way, from designers to musicians, that's something I love. I love metal, so I really appreciate the fact of being able to make a living on this.
What I would hate … maybe things related to accounting and that stuff hehe, the boring part.

What are the right requirements to become a band of Art Gates Records?

There are not such specific requirements, it has to be what we are looking for in that moment. For example, right now we are demanding power metal as it is a very good moment for the genre in Europe, Japan… We are reaching very good goals with one of our high level acts called Mad Hatter and we want to keep on with this support to other power metal acts undiscovered for the world. But you need to be professional, having a good aesthetic, good songs, enough quality and feet down to earth, be humble, always.

Your roster is incredibly various in terms of metal styles, so you can range from industrial metal to brutal death metal without any problems, and sometimes you are used to release also more hardcore punk albums. But, within all these genres, what is your favorite one?

I am an extreme metal lover, but I'm more fan of bands than of genres. I used to be the typical extreme metal guy, but nowadays I appreciate all kind of bands, melodic death metal, black metal, power metal, contemporary metal, it depends on the artist, what it makes you feel. I love Mad Hatter's debut album and I didn't listen to Power metal for a while, but this album has enchanted me, man.

How many demos you receive every day? Is there a kind of bands that you are used to discard?

It depends, maybe 5-6, 8-9, it depends on the day and the period, before Christmas is a very active period for that, or right after Summer in September.
I use to discard clone bands, there has been a wave of thrash metal, all the bands sounding the same, same intros, same riffs, we don't like that. I like thrash metal but not for the fact that it is thrash metal, that's an example, because we receive also very good submissions connected to that genre.

Usually, do you sign a band after discovering it by your own initiative or, at the contrary, after a band request?

There are both ways, well, I do not sign bands, Mike La Riva, our A&R's responsible does it, but it can happen in both ways. Sometimes we go hunting talent, sometimes we receive a very good EPK or physical from something surprising.

Nowadays, the vinyl format is “trendy” in the metal underground but your label seem to prefer the CD format. Why? Do you think that the cd is better than the vinyl?

We are more centered in streaming to be honest. I like vinyl, but vinyl is good for certain bands, not for everyone. The distro-partners we work with still count with cds in their catalogs so that is good for us, also vinyl is much more expensive for bands to sell on tour, I know cd is something symbolic nowadays, but it works for us. We are planning to expand to vinyl as well, but for the moment we developed another “arm” for the label with the production of digital printing merch, which is very important for bands as well.

So far, what has been the bestseller released by Art Gates?

I can talk about Noctem, Killus and Mad Hatter, probably. Now our expectations are focussed in Mind Driller.

Do you organize also live gigs and tours for your bands?

We do not organize tours or gigs as we are not a booking agency, but we are a bridge between our artists and booking agencies, agents or other bigger acts to tour with. We put bands in China, like Noctem, Steignyr, Grim Comet … or bands to tour with bigger acts such is the case of Killus back in 2013 touring with Avatar through Europe, or Noctem touring with Hate back in 2016, and last year we brought Mad Hatter to a very good Power Metal festival called “Gineta Rock” in Spain. Now we are planning to take another of our artists to China and Mind Driller has been confirmed for “Leyendas del Rock” in Spain.

In these last years, the Spanish metal scene is living a very good period, especially in fact of thrash and death metal. So, what do you think about the contemporary metal scene of your country?

I like it, it is growing up, we just need that BIG act, that Spanish Gojira or Septic Flesh or Moonspell or Behemoth to be more present in Europe, as Spain is full of talented artists, not just in metal but in all the genres, even knowing we are more popular for flamenco, this is way more than paella, bull riding and flamenco.

Instead, I know that Spain had excellent bands during the ‘80s, especially Baron Rojo, Obus, Zarpa, EVO and Mazo (that, with their debut and only album, can be considered as one of the first real speed metal bands of all times). What do you think about them? Are they well respected by the younger generations?

Yes, depends on which generation, if we are talking about the more modern and “core” generation related to HxC I don't think so; but if we're talking about the young heavy metal generation, yes, they are quite venerated by them. You know, heavy metal consists in a big respect for the classics.

I realized that the Spanish bands are often used to sing through their own mother tongue, especially in the ‘80s. For you, why is Spanish metal so…”Spanish” in the lyrics (and this tradition continues in some ways also today)?

Not with all the bands, I mean, a lot of bands sing in Spanish because they don't feel comfortable doing it in English or because their accent wouldn't be good in English language, but nowadays more and more new bands start with English language because they know that's the good way to make it to Europe, to make it worldwide. But of course we still have HxC and heavy metal in Spanish.

What are the Spanish cities in which the metal music is more developed? Are there many locations where the bands can play on a stage? And how many metal festivals are in your country? Are they know, Internationally speaking?

I would mention Madrid, Barcelona and the north, Bilbao, as the best cities to play metal because the scene is bigger there, you know, the capital, the second biggest city and the north which has been always very good for metal music.
Almost each city has good venues to perform metal, but of course, Madrid wins.
Nowadays we have very very good festivals in the country, from Resurrection Fest (Slipknot headlining this year) to Leyendas del Rock (more heavy metal oriented), the Spanish version of Download Fest (Slipknot and Tool headlining this year too) and Barcelona Rock Fest (more hard rock oriented). Specially Resurrection Fest and of course Download are well known internationally.

Can you live with your label? I asked this because even the members of famous underground bands can’t live with their music, so they have regular jobs in the real life.

I'm lucky to make a living on this. I know what you mean because it takes years and years to transform a band into a solid company, that's what is necessary to live from a band these days, but of course we do a lot of things for bands and we have a very big roster. Art Gates Records is a full time daily job.

What can you suggest to the people that are thinking to put on a metal label?

This is not easy money, you need a lot of patience, dedication and sacrifice your usual life in many ways to make it work, but if this is your passion and not a “normal job” you can make it, just be smart in your decisions, take your time, start with a small roster and develop it in a slow but safe way, that's the only way to make it, unless you are rich of course.

Future news for the label?

We're about to release one of our most promising releases to date, which is the third and new album of industrial metal act Mind Driller “Involution” on March 15th, we will show some surprises with the release as well. We also are doing production for bands now, digital printing merchandising of high quality, expanding the business. And a new and quite established band in Spain will be announced in the next weeks.

The interview is ending, so do you have a last message for the avid readers of Timpani allo Spiedo ‘zine? And thank you very much for replying to these questions!

Keep on supporting metal, keep on supporting the underground, that's the only way the underground will live. Support your local scene if you want more headlining bands in a near future. Thanks for taking your time to read this interview. My pleasure.

FaceBook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Art-Gates-Records/123288677767828
Website: http://www.artgatesrecords.com/

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