laugardagur, febrúar 17, 2007
Bad Taste Ltd - Smekkleysa hf Record Label
Bad Taste Ltd. Record Label
Founder(s): Einar Örn Benediktsson - Ásmundur Jónsson - Dóra Einarsdóttir
Bad Taste (known as Smekkleysa in Icelandic, which literally means very bad or tasteless) is one of Iceland’s most important record labels; located in Reykjavík and known worldwide for being home to The Sugarcubes, it also publishes poetry books, greeting cards and Icelandic gifts. Bad Taste should not be confused with Bad Taste Records, a record label based in Sweden.
After the bankruptcy of Gramm Records, and the demise of KUKL, one of Iceland’s most important groups during the eighties, Einar Örn Benediktsson, one of the vocalists of KUKL and Ásmundur Jónsson and Dóra Einarsdóttir from Gramm, with other former musicians from KUKL and a surrealistic group called Medúsa, convened to create a record company called Smekkleysa in 1986. Later it was renamed to its English translation, Bad Taste, after Pablo Ruiz Picasso’s manifesto: “Good taste and frugality are the enemies of creativity”.
Smekkleysa’s first work was a postcard drawn by Friðrik Erlingsson, who at that time was the guitar player of Sykurmolarnir (Icelandic for The Sugarcubes), a band led by Einar Örn and Björk. This piece of art contained the faces of Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan, a map of Iceland and the flags of the USSR and the American as background, due to the Reykjavík Peace Summit that was to take place by October, 1986. Around 5,000 copies of this image were sold and the funds were used by the group to release their first record, a 7” vinyl single by Sykurmolarnir titled Einn Mol'á Mann (“One Cube per Person”) which contained the Icelandic versions of "Birthday" and "Cat", two songs that would appear later on their first album, Life's Too Good in 1987 through Elektra Records; an album that served to boost the international acclaim of the Sugarcubes.
However, Einn Mol'á Mann did not sell as expected, because alternative music had always had difficulty reaching the public and most of the bands from the underground scene used to sell their works at cafés. Until the year 2000 this single was still available from the Ordering Department created in 1992.
When The Sugarcubes achieved an agreement with One Little Indian, a new record company created by Derek Birkett, their incomes increased with the release of Birthday, the first single published in England, which was chosen as single of the week by Melody Maker.
All the money earned by the Sugarcubes was primarily used for more projects and to support new bands to escort The Sugarcubes when touring. But by the end of the eighties, it was clear that the end of the Sugarcubes was coming, and Björk released a jazz record in 1990 titled Gling-Gló in a short-lived group called Björk Guðmundsdóttir & Tríó Guðmundar Ingólfssonar.
The growth of Bad Taste slowed after The Sugarcubes broke up in 1992 and even though it had a subsequent contract with Sigur Rós, the band moved to an English label (although Bad Taste still handles their Icelandic market). This was because Bad Taste’s contracts allowed artists’ freedom to choose to record their next work in another label. Today things are different and Bad Taste has first rights to the next album of any artist they produce, although they give full artistic freedom.
Other Bad Taste projects include a radio station called Skratti (“Devil”), a restaurant called Drullupytturinn (“The Mud Pit”), a mainly-record store named after the company and awards to recognize the creative work of its artists.