Chris Cantalini, who founded the influential music blog Gorilla vs. Bear out of Texas in early 2005, is teaming up with Fat Possum Records’ House Arrest Distribution to launch a new record label, Luminelle Recordings. Cantalini will serve as A&R, and Canadian singer/songwriter Helena Deland is the first artist signed to the label.
The label came together after Peter Wiley, Fat Possum’s director of distributed labels, approached Cantalini with the idea, offering infrastructure and support to help get the company off the ground. Luminelle — a combination of the word luminous and Cantalini’s daughter’s name — will, he says, “in many ways be a natural extension of the vision I’ve always tried to uphold with Gorilla vs. Bear,” but will operate independently from the site.
“I’m only interested in working with artists that move me, regardless of genre or trends, and that’s something that you just sort of recognize when you hear it,” Cantalini told Billboard in an email, calling Deland a “dream artist” with which to launch the label. “Fitting in with the broader music industry ecosystem isn’t something that we’re too concerned with, or really thinking about at all, especially in the beginning.”
Luminelle will kick off with a focus primarily on an artist-friendly approach. In terms of A&R, Cantalini says there isn’t any single characteristic he’s looking for in signing artists, but will take the approach he’s always taken in choosing the artists and songs to highlight on GvB. (For a taste of what that might look like, here’s the blog’s albums of the year for 2017.)
“I’m a huge fan of Fat Possum and the House Arrest labels and their respective rosters, and in talking to Peter, I felt like they were presenting sort of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to run my own label exactly the way I wanted, with their full support and guidance in navigating some of the trickier parts of the record business,” Cantalini said. “Having the infrastructure and such a tight team in place from the beginning will allow me to concentrate on the aspects of running a record label that truly excite me, like discovering and working with new artists and putting out special records. I appreciate how rare and privileged an opportunity that is, and I plan on making the most of it.”