Sublight Records: Twisted Fairy Tale
- Words: Cameron Macdonald
Aaron Rintoul has a tip if you want to visit Winnipeg. He recalls an incident where a man convicted of robbing a Pizza Hut in Arkansas was legally forbidden from entering Canada. No red tape could stop true love, and so he underwent a 100-hour trek on foot from North Dakota to Winnipeg to see his internet girlfriend. Eventually, he was found wandering a golf course with hypothermia, and had to have all of his fingers and some of his toes amputated. The moral? "If you plan to visit in February, pack something warm."
Rintoul's fondness for the abnormal is reflected in the music on his Sublight imprint. Within two years, his label has gone from spewing out splattered beats fresh from bedrooms where the sun never shines to becoming one of Canada's prime breakcore outposts. In winter 2005, Method of Defiance, led by maverick NYC producer/bassist Bill Laswell, released its debut album on Sublight; luminaries including Richard Devine, Jason Forrest, Fanny, Venetian Snares, Hecate, and Datach'i are also on board.
At Sublight, a dark, introverted sensibility prevails. "Many of the records explore subjects that don't fit into the normality of society–things that are dark or perverse and also within themes that look at the world with wonder and see beauty despite the negative," Rintoul explains. He began the label after watching Venetian Snares and Fanny perform in Winnipeg's unheated clubs. "It sounded like nothing I had ever heard before," he recalls. "[It was] more inspired by punk than by dance music and it really represented what growing up in Winnipeg can be like when you're young."
Aaron "Venetian Snares" Funk was perhaps the first artist to scream Sublight's name loud and clear to an unsuspecting public. The inner cover of his Horse and Goat EP was a painting of a Lolita surrounded by toys and lollipops that only Dr. Freud would love. Painter Trevor Brown, best known for his portraits of bruised Japanese schoolgirls, was responsible; he also inspired the record's chromosome-damaged ruckus. "I did have a little trouble getting it printed," Rintoul remembers. "Several manufacturers wanted nothing to do with it but I was determined to get it out there."
And then there's Funk's gabber-drummed revolt against his hometown, Winnipeg is a Frozen Shithole. One track samples a newscaster announcing that a Winnipeg wrestling coach was accused of sexually assaulting one of his students. The reporter encountered the record and called Rintoul.
"I thought for sure I was about to be sued," he recounts. "But then he proceeded to tell me he had been playing the CD in the lunchroom at work all day and just wanted to say he really liked the album."
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