LAG Records kinda came out of nowhere last year. Especially as I`m vaguely connected – through friends – to the world of Japanese reissues. LAG`s two releases to date feature major artists – Ryuichi Sakamoto and Joe Hisaishi – that I`d assumed it would be impossible to broker. In addition, LAG`s attention to detail has been amazing. Heavyweight vinyl, and heavyweight sleeves. Superior sound quality, inserts and desirable art. Topped off with an obi. Intrigued, to say the least, as to who was responsible I dropped LAG a line, and founder, Todd Marriott, generously agreed to answer a few questions.
Where are you based?
I am currently based in Grantham. A small town in Lincolnshire. I moved here age sixteen and have been happily stuck here ever since.
Where are you from?
I have lived In the East Midlands my whole life and will stay here for the foreseeable future.
Can you tell me more about your background? Were you, are you a DJ, musician, involved in the music industry in some way, or simply a music lover / collector?
My interest in music started in my pre-teens. I would say up until about the age of twenty-one I was fanatical. I enjoyed finding out every tiny detail about an album and the artist. Due to various circumstances my interest dwindled over time but like many I am passionate about the music I like and the search for ‘new’ music. I wouldn’t say I am a collector but purchase records when I can afford to. I`ve started to mix records with one of my good friends. This is something quite new to me, and I would love to do it at parties and events in the near future.
I was previously a musician / song-writer signed to a subsidiary of a big indie label. This gave me a pretty good insight into the inner workings of the music industry. The project was unsuccessful for everyone involved. To be honest it was one of the best and worst experiences I have ever had.
What made you start LAG?
I had been looking for my path back into music, something sparked my love of it again. Originally I was planning on doing just soundtracks but after various failed licensing attempts I started looking into other things. I would say about two years ago my ideas became more realistic and I started working on LAG.
Why LAG? Is this an acronym?
It can be thought of in a few ways really. It is an acronym of “like a glove”. It`s also a tribute to my favourite game MAG, on which you experienced “lag” all the time.
LAG`s first two releases have been reissues of Japanese electronics. Will this continue to be the label`s focus?
I would say that electronic music is the main focus and that I have been lucky enough to get Japanese electronic records. In the future I would like to broaden and diversify the type of music that LAG releases.
What got you interested in Electronic music? What got you interested in Japanese music?
As a teenager in secondary school I was more into hardcore bands and heavy music. I think one of the biggest inspirations for me was a band called The Locust. Their keyboard player had a mini Moog and modular system which was very inspiring. One of their ex-members started a project called The Album Leaf which I also loved. My interest in electronic dance music probably came in my late teens when I started partying hard!
I would say my first taste of Japanese music came whilst watching anime. My best friend as a teenager was an Anime buff and he got me into it. I would say the music from Studio Ghibli, Akira and Ghost In The Shell, were the first that really piqued my interest. In the past few years the Palto Flats and WRWTFWW reissues have been a bit of inspiration. Also labels like MFM, Mondo, Milan and Tiger Lab Vinyl do some Japanese records that I have really enjoyed.
The Kisaragi Koharu I knew about, because of the Ryuichi Sakamoto connection, but the Joe Hisaishi was new to me. When and how did you discover this record?
I would say it was one of the first records I found after starting LAG. I was in contact with Tokuma already. Trying to get the rights for a certain soundtrack, and stumbled across it in the label`s discography. Joe Hisaishi has quite a few old records on Tokuma, All the older Studio Ghibli soundtracks, and a few that you won`t find as easily in the UK. Such as Arion and Kissho Tennyo. I have a good rapport with the international rep at the label, and they kindly held the release for LAG for over a year.
I have to admit that LAG kind of came out of nowhere, and I was surprised when I saw the records. With some links to the world of Japanese reissues, the artists you have worked with I thought were impossible to negotiate due to their major label connections. How difficult has it been to license Japanese material, and deal with the country`s music industry?
If I am honest, I believe that it was by chance, or luck. Neo-Plant fell into place after I had tried get the original Moomins soundtrack and Digital Soundology #1, both of which could not be licensed. King Records, from my brief interactions, were so easy to work with. Maybe in the future we can do something together again. Again with Kissho Tennyo I had originally enquired about a different record and got lucky.
I have however had various interactions with other Japanese labels and in turn been unsuccessful with quite a few releases. Some of these have later come out on other labels, which can be a little disheartening. But I understand my position, I know I cannot currently offer what the more reputable and long running labels have to offer.
Are you plugged into a supportive network of other reissue labels, such as Be With Records, and Emotional Rescue? Do you know Rob and Stu?
Sadly not. In the future it would be awesome to meet and discuss music with similar labels. I own records by both Be With and Emotional Rescue / Response. I think because of where I am based it makes it a little bit difficult to network. I do speak to a few other labels online though and have made a couple buddies.
Can you tell me what you have lined up for the rest of 2018?
We will hopefully be putting out three reissues this year. Two more from Japan, and one by a British composer. Next year I think LAG will try something new.
Our next release will be a partial reissue of Takashi Kokubo`s Get At The Wave. Unfortunately the master tape containing the B-side has been lost, but after discussions with Mr. Kokubo’s team they have, in addition to the three tracks from the A-side, given us a previously unreleased tune.