Øystein and Jan Tore Megård and their Wonderful & Strange Records

Photo: Olga Bushueva/IHTLNY

Can you give us a little introduction to Wonderful and Strange Records?

We are one tiny leaf in the ever-expanding record label flora in Trondheim, focusing mainly on releasing indie/alternative rock music on high quality vinyl. We have been associated with the Brygga Records label since the beginning, sharing distribution channels and other administrative features. Most of the bands we have released have either one or both of us involved as performers, although there are a few exceptions to the rule. I guess it started out as an easy way to get our own music out there. We have always shared a love of physical releases, and vinyl records in particular. It’s really a milestone feeling to hold your own vinyl record in your hands, opening the gatefold cover, examining the coloured vinyl and of course the ritual of putting it on your turntable and listening to it. It’s really a completely different way of enjoying music than these algorithm-generated playlists designed to listen to on the fly, not to speak of how so much of the mainstream music made nowadays sounds exactly the same. It probably sounds like we are bitter and old, but I guess we are. HAHA

You founded Wonderful and Strange Records in 2015. How has the record label changed in the last five years?

It started as a solo venture by Øystein, in order to release the first vinyl single by his band, The Sideways. Jan Tore also joined the band and got involved in the label, having previously been involved in another local record label, Kakao Musikk, who released 12 records on vinyl from 2010-2015. In the start we were being very modest, and tried reaching out ourselves to record stores to commission our records. Being all cute and independent. It was also super difficult to get any reviews or airplay in the papers and radio. We even tried spending a lot of money we didn’t have on promotion, but we can safely say we never recouped that investment. We never considered joining Paradise Hotel to get attention, though. Maybe we should have? I guess it’s a hit and miss thing. Anyways, we now have a solid distribution network in Norway and hopefully are starting to gain notice by some of the Norwegian record buyers. Since the beginning we have tried to make nice limited editions of most releases. We have made as little as 50 copies with hand made unique covers for each record, quite cynically hoping to make collectors items. Last year we started printing our records at Coastal Town Records in Egersund, and we think it is going really good. We are able to press smaller quantities of records there than we were while printing in Europe, where the minimum order often is 500 units. This means that we can better facilitate the wishes of the various bands we are working with, and even do small runs of albums previously released only on CD, such as The High Water Marks’ 2007 album Polar, which we released in 200 copies last year. We also did only 100 hand numbered copies of Singing Swords self-titled debut album. If you can still find one, you should get it!

How many artists are now on your record label?

As previously mentioned, many of the bands are bands we are involved in ourselves. We both play various instruments in The Sideways, Singing Swords, Fuckleberry Hinn and The High Water Marks. Øystein also used to be a member of Kings of the Valley and is all over their new album (out september 18th) playing keyboards. Common for all these bands is the connection to our hometown of Sunndalsøra and the surrounding towns, where a lot of the band members come from. That being said, none of the bands are tied to the label in a sense where we can stop them if they wanna do something else. And all the bands pay for the record printing themselves, so the bands own their own records, and are free to do with them as they please. We just facilitate the releases and make sure everything looks nice and pretty and is done the right way. A new band we are releasing this fall is called Major Fluke, and they are the first band not to have us involved in much other than just doing the release. The band recorded the album in Brygga studio with members of our extended family from there, and we simply thought it too good not to release.

What are your most ambitious plans for this year?

Getting involved with other labels and distributors outside Norway has been something we’ve been working on lately. Our two next releases are getting international distribution, and that’s a whole new ballgame for us. Kings of the Valley’s self-titled debut LP is released outside Norway through our friends in Hamburg, Stickman Records and The High Water Marks upcoming album Ecstasy Rhymes on the Chicago label Minty Fresh. We are of course hoping to sell some records there, and maybe the label will grow a little and more people will gain interest in what we do. We think both these bands have great potential in their own rights, and hope that new followers might also discover the rest of our catalogue through them.