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Brendan Barlow talks Starting an Independent Record Label

Brendan Barlow Syrup Moose Records

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Interview with Brendan Barlow – Independent Record Label Owner

Last week I caught up with record label owner, Brendan Barlow, to talk about his record label: Syrup Moose Records. Which, despite the joke name, is on the cusp on releasing some seriously heavy albums from some unknown bands which he’s hoping to spread the word about.

Brendan and I talked about Syrup Moose Records, Mental Health, Legion and Impostor Syndrome.
Let us know what you think about this Interview on Social Media.


Brendan Barlow talks Starting an Independent Record Label 1

Hi Brendan, how are you going right now? How is this chaotic world treating you?

Brendan Barlow: As I write this I’d say I’m probably like… a 7/10. The chaotic world is treating me about as well as the chaotic world can, though it’s hard to keep particularly optimistic these days. We don’t have to get into all of that though, let’s keep it light.

Where in the world are you from?

Brendan Barlow: I am from a small town in Northern British Columbia, Canada.

What projects are you currently working on?

Brendan Barlow: Currently there are two main projects happening. The first is an EP release from Iōhannēs called The Ocean, which releases on September 22nd. The other is a compilation featuring 31 songs releasing on October 31st.

Who’s going to feature on the compilation? Throw some band names at me.

Brendan Barlow: The compilation is morphing a little bit just as we speak. There are now going to be two compilations. One for October and the other releasing on the Solstice. In terms of who’s on it, we’ve got bands from all over the place. TRISTYS and Ashenspire from the UK, Youth Pastor and Transgressive from the US, WAL from Germany, Excessive Force from Australia, it’s going to be a jam-packed compilation and I can’t wait for people to hear it.

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Brendan Barlow: Owner of Syrup Moose Records
Brendan Barlow: Owner of Syrup Moose Records

How did you first get started?

Brendan Barlow: Actually, Syrup Moose Records started as a joke. I made a logo for a label with a funny and also Canadian sounding name, shared it with some folks and by the end of the day I was figuring out a release for The Ocean with a few other folks on deck. It’s already gone so much farther than I ever expected it to.

What’s your favourite era of creative work by other artists?

Brendan Barlow: Interesting question that I’m not sure how to answer. I’m not an especially nostalgic person so I tend to like a lot of what’s going on right now. I also am a huge sucker for terrifying old paintings like The Nightmare and Saturn Devouring His Son. Honestly it’s hard to know what’s going to hit the ol’ serotonin receptors but when I see it I know.

Are you more of a horror or sci-fi nerd? What are your go to films to check out?

Brendan Barlow: I like them both to be sure, but my preference absolutely leans towards horror almost every time. Every October I do a 31-movie-marathon on a different horror-theme, so yeah I guess it’s gotta be horror. In terms of go-to films, that probably changes every year honestly, at present, my favourites are Hereditary, Midsommar, Ghostwatch and The Lighthouse, but it also depends who’s asking and what they’re looking for. I could genuinely talk horror for hours so I’ll cut myself of there.

Who are your main creative influences and what aspects of your creative work can we find them in?

Brendan Barlow: As it relates to the label, you’ll probably find the influences in the music that we release. Heavier music, darker aesthetics, and all of the fun things that come with that. I grew up on horror and Halloween, so you’re bound to see a lot of that come through.

Who are your go to musical jams to put on while you’re working?

Brendan Barlow: Sometimes I’ll just throw my whole library on shuffle, sometimes it’s new stuff that I need to check out, and sometimes it’s 2 hour long podcasts about what a shit heel Alex Jones is. Really depends on where I’m at.

Did Alex Jones get what was coming to him?

Brendan Barlow: I don’t have enough belief in any kind of cosmic justice to believe that Alex Jones is ever going to get what’s coming to him. I hope that the families do feel some closure and this does close the book on it for them, because honestly those are the only people anyone should be talking about.

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The Ocean by Iōhannēs (available from Syrup Moose Records)
The Ocean by Iōhannēs (available from Syrup Moose Records)

What strengths in previous jobs have helped strengthen your creativity?

Brendan Barlow: I’ve had the privilege to work in a lot of places that have allowed me to flex creativity in various ways. I’ve worked in radio, I’ve been a concert promoter, a photographer, I have a diploma in Motion Picture Production, and now I work with families of children with disabilities. Each of these required different creativity in different ways and I like to think I bring the same skills from position to position.

Working with kids who have disabilities must be a hard gig and an emotional roller coaster, no?

Brendan Barlow: Absolutely, it’s a tough thing. Particularly working in a rural community where services can be few and far between, so you feel a bit helpless. 

What weaknesses have you identified in your current project that you’re going to work on in the future?

Brendan Barlow: Really, the big thing that I am acutely aware of about Syrup Moose is that I’ve never run a label before. This whole thing is a brand new challenge and so I’m learning as I go right now, which has its good and bad features I think. At this point my focus is on being as transparent as possible and really learning in public.

Let’s talk about some memories that you had when you first started getting creative? How has this changed from childhood to adolescence to creating as an adult?

Brendan Barlow: I’ve been a creative(ish) person since I can remember. I was also a writer, wrote a lot of short stories of varying quality, wanted to be in bands despite an overt lack of ability on that front. Went to film school, photography etc. All of that started pretty early, and I just kept at it in some capacity or anything. I think the biggest change is just the gradual narrowing down of what I’m good at and finding a bit more focus. Also just my level of confidence has improved – though imposter syndrome does reign supreme.

How do you combat imposter syndrome? Any suggestions?

Brendan Barlow: Imposter syndrome is a nasty beast. Honestly I could say “fake it til you make it” or some other platitude but I know first hand that that can be destructive. I think it just takes time and a willingness to carry on despite feeling like there’s no reason for you to be there. Also, I take meds for my mental illness and that has made a difference too haha.

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Brendan Barlow talks Starting an Independent Record Label 2

What’s the worst nightmare you’ve ever had?

Brendan Barlow: Hard to say honestly. I don’t remember a ton of my dreams, but as someone who takes SSRI’s, I do have really awful nightmares if I ever forget to take those.

Do you have a favourite soft drink?

Brendan Barlow: I’m a ginger-ale or vanilla coke guy.

Who’s your favourite telepath or gifted character in pop culture?

Brendan Barlow: First one to jump to mind here is Legion – from the FX Series. Something really compelling about mental illness as super-powers and I felt like that show did an alright job with the idea.

Which creative work would you most like to be remembered for?

Brendan Barlow: It’s not really something I think about honestly. If I can put something out that makes the world less shitty for someone for a hot second, then it doesn’t really matter if it’s me who’s remembered for it.

Where can my readers find you online?

Syrup Moose on Bandcamp

Syrup Moose on Creator Spring

Syrup Moose on Ko-Fi

Syrup Moose on Instagram

Syrup Moose on Twitter

Brendan Barlow on Twitter

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What did you think of this creator interview with Brendan Barlow?
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