As Peter Chapman moved his way up from shipping and receiving to operations manager at Stony Plain Records, he always toyed around with the idea of one day starting his own record label. That idea morphed into a reality after Alvin Jahns—one of the founders of the acclaimed label—decided to retire and the other founder, Holger Petersen, decided to partner up with Ontario’s Linus Entertainment.
“That was sort of the catalyst to start thinking about actually making my own label,” Chapman says. “Stony Plain is still Holger doing his thing but now he has a team in Ontario instead of Edmonton.”
Chapman—known for hosting his “Full English Breakfast” radio show on CJSR—also spoke with Toronto’s singer-songwriter star Jon Brooks at last year’s Edmonton Folk Music Festival. Soon after, Chapman created Fallen Tree Records.
“We just reissued Jon’s first two albums,” Chapman says. “Then we talked to other artists like 100 mile house and Jessica Heines; I started full time on Fallen Tree Records, January of this year.”
Chapman decided on calling his new venture Fallen Tree Records after a driving trip along the West Coast with his wife.
“We saw a fallen tree off the road and we put it on the list … the beautiful thing about a fallen tree is it looks like a record. Inside the tree’s trunk you see grooves and you can see the years and when a tree falls, there’s so much life that comes back out of it,” Chapman says.
The image stuck in Chapman’s mind and eventually became his own little metaphor for the cycle of music.
“Think of the tree like a song. The tree falls down when the artist releases the song and it’s no longer theirs. All the other people who are hearing it make new life out of the tune and they make it their own. It’s just like a fallen tree when new shoots of life feed out of the trunk.” So far, Fallen Tree has focused more on roots folk/ Americana in terms of artists, but Chapman says he’s open to anything.
“I’ve never met anyone who only likes one genre of music,” he says. “The benefit for us at the moment is that we’re very small and local with only four artists [100 mile house, Jon Brooks, Jessica Heine, and Logan and Nathan]. So we can focus on one kind of area and market those recordings in a similar way. In the long run, I think we’re looking for a diverse catalogue of music.”
Still, Chapman says that his main priority is focusing on Canadian artists, mainly those in Western Canada.
“There are so many musicians that are sort of overlooked here and you get that whole thing that they have to move to Toronto to get big. It doesn’t need to happen that way and we’re looking to help build that infrastructure in Western Canada,” he says.
Two more reissues are planned for vinyl releases for mid-July: 100 mile house’s Hiraeth and Jessica Heine’s Goodbye Party. Another one for Jon Brooks is also planned for Autumn and a new project from BC duo Logan and Nathan is on the horizon for 2020.
Chapman is also basing his whole business plan on building trust with the artists that decide to sign with Fallen Tree Records by working on a release by release schedule.
“I consider myself part of the artists’ team,” he says. “I don’t want them to feel like I’m telling them what to do. I want it to be the other way around. My role is about manufacturing, distribution, and promotion and taking care of the royalties and publishing side of things so they don’t have to. It’s a beneficial symbiotic relationship.”
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