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Scott Davies has learned a lot on the job. Once toiling in the business of IT, music fans now know him as the singular creative force behind Rubellan Remasters - the sole curator, engineer, designer and distributor of a handful of CDs covering respected catalogues by New Wave/alternative acts including Visage, Missing Persons, Divinyls and most recently Oingo Boingo, the alt-rock band led in the '80s and '90s by future film composer Danny Elfman.
On the occasion of rescuing a seminal band (and TSD favorite) from the doldrums of physical music, we took the opportunity to chat with Davies about his process as a one-man music label. As readers of The Second Disc might have noticed, Rubellan gets more positive commentary on the label's work than most third-party licensors we cover...and as followers of the label on social media might know, Davies is bracingly, almost shockingly up front about what it's like to license these titles, in a way that many labels simply aren't. You'll be happy to know that candor is on display in our chat (lightly condensed and edited for clarity).
Eventually I hired a service that gave me a name of somebody within Sony. This was in 2017. That's how I got my initial foot in the door there. Then I got a contact with Warner through a posting at the Steve Hoffman forum. I can't even remember exactly how the Universal contact came around, but somebody knew somebody who knew somebody, and the message got forwarded until I finally got to the right person. That opened that door, and it turned out that Universal, despite being the hardest nut to crack, is really the only one I work with at this point.
There's very specific reasons. Sony cut off third-party licensing a few years back. They recently reopened it; however, there's this big, huge roadblock: they will not do a third party reissue until you get every member of the band to sign an authorization form saying that they back it. Good luck with that!
I've been into the music since it was new. I was right there when The Knack hit with "My Sharona" in '79 at nine years old, then Devo's "Whip It" when I was 10. We got MTV in '82, and I just discovered all these bands I fell in love with. And I'm a loyal person. I don't fall out of love with the music that attracts me. So when it came time to try to do reissues, of course I wanted to go after albums that were neglected or could use a bit of rediscovery.
You hear things that reissues are hard. Well, why are they hard? No one's really explaining it. I say from the beginning of this that it's like I've been dropped in a foreign country, and I'm in the dark, feeling my way around, trying to figure it out. I share with people because I want them to understand this is certainly not a business for the shy and the timid. You're going to have some pretty unpleasant experiences, whether it's with a licensing label or with a band who are angry that you're reissuing their material. There's been a lot of "don't meet your hero" moments.
I try to carefully reveal stuff. There are some things I haven't come out and said, and there's been times I've said, "This is just the tip of the iceberg." I never know when is gonna be too far. And I do get concerned at times, wondering if this is too much or if this is gonna come back and haunt me. But the licenses keep coming, so I guess not?
I will be the first one to tell you this vinyl revival is grossly overrated. I still sell more CDs than vinyl. Oingo Boingo is my toe in the water with vinyl, and it kind of exploded. When I tried it with other bands - the first Missing Persons album, I sold 700 copies of that CD the first week it was available. When I put the vinyl out, I barely sold 200 copies before I put it into distribution. There's been a huge discrepancy between vinyl and CD, and it really depends on the band. Oingo Boingo is not a good benchmark of how well vinyl is gonna do. It's great that it's selling, and it's great I got licenses to do the rest of the catalog, because I'm confident it'll do well. But I'm also second guessing a bit.
There are a lot of people who've made comments like "I'm not so sure about that latter half of the catalog." I hope that they open their mind. I know a lot of people who buy my CDs, they don't necessarily know who [the artist is]. They collect you like trading cards, I suppose. They'll just buy everything and say "I've never heard of this band, Slow Children, but I love it!"
I'd like to see more labels take the time and utilize the necessary resources to make sure their CDs sound good. Don't just drop a needle on the record and send it to production because you don't want to pay for a master tape transfer. That's what I can't stand: when I buy a CD and I hear "crackle pop." I want to be confident that I'm getting a new remaster - I don't want to necessarily deal with someone taking a 30-year-old CD and putting it into a new package.
Really the main thing is the gratitude I have towards my fan base. Every time I put out a release, I see so many of the same names. They're devoted and they're dedicated and they're enthusiastic. When I've had periods in the past where I thought maybe this is the end of the run for me, you'd get these people like "No! You can't!" It's nice to see that kind of enthusiasm. Hopefully it'll be enough to continue to sustain this as an actual somewhat profitable business venture.
Yep...i'm totally a fan boy of this label. Have bought heaps of CDs by artists I would never have thought of getting if they were not remastered by Scott. You are guaranteed a quality product from him for sure.It's a shame the whole Divinyls catalogue wasn't done - but grateful for the ones that Scott did do. Underated band that deserves to have been bigger - and all their reissues sound amazing.I have the first batch of Oingo....and will definately buy the further ones should they hit distribution.Looking forward to seeing what Rubellan Remasters does next!
Thank you so much for this interview. What Scott does is just remarkable. I was hooked from the first minute I heard his remastering for Visage's eponymous debut. The quality of Rubellan's releases is astounding. I am one of the devoted, as I buy every CD regardless of whether I've heard the band before or not.
Ever since re-discovering Oingo Boingo and Danny Elfman in the later part of 2021 (I've been a fan since the early 1980s), and realizing that all I have is the original vinyl albums (and no record player), and long-lost cassettes; I was introduced to Rubellan Remasters by various people in Oingo Boingo FB groups - and was thrilled to find I could get my beloved albums not only in CD format, but beautifully remixed and with additional tracks to boot! I have been in heaven ever since! Just ordered the trio of CDs they released of the remaining albums I was lacking and look forward to their arrival. Well done Scott, and keep up the great work!
Yep, Scott does a helluva job with Rebellan...I have the first Oingo CD batch, the Missing Persons bundle box & first 2 Berlin's...will be ordering the Oingo bundle #2 in a few days, and this interview made me reconsider getting every Rubellan release, whether I know the band or not, like Slow Children & maybe I will take the plunge with Visage!! Two things I'm curious about is... first, what's up with Boingo Alive on 2CD & what happened with Berlin's 3rd Geffen album "Count Three & Pray"?? I do know Scott was denied at first but didn't explain why...BUT he just said he asks again in gentle persistence sometimes & does get approved...so perhaps he will try again as the original CD is out of print...maybe he will repress the 2 Ric Ocasek Geffen albums as well?? And maybe he takes requests or suggestions?? Being a 1 man operation just blows my mind really...
Scott Davies posted a very interesting video on Youtube some time ago in which he explained how he carefully adjusted the drop outs from the original master tape (mostly at the beginning of a track caused by the adhesive tape between the tracks). Finally found another person who cares about drop outs too.
Zanye East is one among the plethora of monickers and stage names used by Zane Michael O'Brien, A&R, and head of ESCC9 Escape Sirius Cybernetics Corporation. Zane has recorded twenty six full length LPs under aliases Fauxmusica, Sacred Star (Collaboration with Gus Maiden and Lauren James), CyberChrist&Crucifixion (Collaboration with David Atlas), a three piece band, Folding Pyramid (backed by Zevan Rosser and Leah Christopherson), as well as his DJ and remix craftmanship under his IXΘΥΣ pseudonym.
I certainly can't reach out personally to as many networks as a five-piece band could in one sitting. But in my many travels, I've been lucky enough to have met or come into contact with people that get behind my music and spread it farther and wider than I could have on my own. I'm slowly building that following in a grassroots way. I've also had a great deal of connections through online means like Facebook, Instagram, Bandsintown, YouTube, Pandora, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Twitter, among many others. Having your music available in as many places as you can get it is never a bad thing.
It is possible, of course, that he had a good incentive to rock with more vigor than usual Wednesday. The temperature was 56 degrees when John took the stage at 8:09 p.m. under a nearly full moon. It dipped to 51 by the time the show concluded at 10:32 p.m.
In terms of a one man band operation and staying covert, I usually go for this (tinyurl.com/6rdroy2) as my main stabilizer, and a 50 prime plus some type of wide zoom (11-22). I can't recommend that monopod enough, really just doubled my options for shots. I steal shots all the time, but then again, nobody really cares where I live. I imagine if you wanted to be really sneaky you could slap a 300 L on and hide in the bushes while your actors did their thing, giving direction via ear pieces. Sneaky stuff.
Thanks for a very interesting post Koo,Raafi.Having just completed a one man crew shoot myself, I can vouch for how much easier it is to just "up sticks" and relocate the talent.I took only one bag on the shoot as we had to hike through forest and rough terrain ((in the dark so we could catch a sunrise).Crane shots were achieved by gaffer taping a fully extended monopod to the tripod head and letting gravity do it's thing.I don't own a RED as I have only two English pounds in my pocket, but am a firm believer in content over packaging. 2b1af7f3a8