Profile of a record label: You’ve Changed Records turns five

You’ve Changed Records began on the road. In 2008, Steve Lambke of Baby Eagle was driving home to Montreal with Attack in Black after touring together. Attack in Black, including Daniel Romano and Ian Kehoe, wanted more artistic freedom with their releases. As they drove, the guys chatted and hatched a plan to form their own label.

“(Attack In Black) were a very prolific band and were making more music than their label at the time was willing to put out,” says Steve Lambke of the Constantines, who performs under the name Baby Eagle and runs You’ve Changed.

Kehoe (who now performs as Marine Dreams) thought up the name, basing it on a phrase teenagers said in high school.

Attack in Black lead singer and guitarist Daniel Romano and Lambke took the idea and ran with it. The first planned release was a split 7-inch record where the two bands would cover each other’s songs. But before they could finish the split record, friend and tourmate Jim “Shotgun Jimmie” Kilpatrick finished a new record. On March 10, 2009, Still Jimmie became the label’s debut release. The first record to sell a lot of units came at the end of the label’s first year when Romano, Fred Squires and Julie Doiron released an album simply titled Daniel, Fred & Julie

The core of You’ve Changed Records has always been a close group of friends. According to Lambke, when selecting artists for the label, it’s not just about being a talented musician; having a rapport with the label is also crucial.

“The decision of who we’re going to work with is made relatively carefully, and if those things don’t align, we don’t put out a record.”

One example is Apollo Ghosts, a now defunct Vancouver band fronted by Adrian Teacher. Teacher was living in Sackville, N.B. at the same time as Lambke when he was the SappyFest music festival songwriter in residence. You’ve Changed and Apollo Ghosts shared expectations and ideas leading to the release of Landmark on the label.

Having a label run by a small team means sometimes only a couple records come out in a year. The label doesn’t have an elaborate blueprint or a quota with a target number of releases per year, instead focusing on a case-by-case basis. They’ve found the rockier albums have weak CD sales, but strong digital and vinyl sales. With folk and country albums, CD sales have been strong.

“It’s not so much that there was a big plan, it was just trying to do right by the ideas and the projects that came up. And when we decide to work with somebody new, we try to do right by that person. So (the plan) takes its own shape as much as we shape it.”

Marine Dreams album Corner of the Eye was only released in digital and vinyl formats, forgoing CDs completely. The pros and cons of releasing like this were discussed with Ian Kehoe of Marine Dreams and Lambke.

“The pros are obviously you’re not spending the money making CDs, the cons are that you don’t have CDs to mail out for radio and promo. You’re moving all that to digital.”

The result was not as much radio play and lost airplay royalties, but the project also cost less.

Romano’s album Workin’ For the Music Man came out 2010 on CD but didn’t see its first vinyl release until last year. In terms of sale, Romano’s 2011 album Sleep Beneath the Willow has been the most successful and has been re-pressed a few times.

“We try and make all our decisions very thoughtfully and to the best of our knowledge.”

This article will appear in the upcoming spring issue of Mixtape Magazine. Please note at the time of the interview, the Constantines’s reunion was not public knowledge and was not discussed. 

Photo of Baby Eagle: Supplied

About Jonathan Briggins 70 Articles
Editor-in-chief of Mixtape magazine.