We continue our Label Spotlight series this week with Portland’s Machu Picchu Ltd. These guys have put out a lot of great releases in the past couple months, some of our favorites include Anonymous - Inside The Shadow and Dark - Round The Edges. We chatted with the label’s co-owner, Brett Lyman (Fiona Campbell is the other co-owner), about origins of Machu Picchu Ltd., Ancient Incan expression, and their sister label M’lady’s Records.
1. Tell us a little bit about Machu Picchu Ltd. and how did you get your start?
Fiona [Campbell, my business partner and partner in life] and I were already running M’lady‘s together, documenting new underground music. I was sick of seeing a lot of disreputable European record labels (no names necessary) that were reissuing shoddy editions of truly classic records, and not even paying the artists. Apparently, some countries have lax copyright standards. Anyway, we wanted to do right by these groups, and attempt to put out definitive editions of these albums, and paying the artists (in some cases, for the first time in decades/ever). A lot of what we’ve selected to reissue are titles that we’ve loved for many years. It’s a real honor to get the opportunity to have them back in the water supply!
2. Why the name Machu Picchu Ltd.?
Couple reasons, but the public one is this: the way culture has changed in the past 10 years, it makes a lot of the ideas and values documented in our releases seem as ancient as that of the Incans. In most cases, these groups were looking to document their expression, regardless of its commercial viability. Which makes a lot of sense to us. Hopefully hearing these albums won’t mean a multi-day hike for anyone, though.
3. You guys have been putting out a lot of great music lately, How do the projects come about? What is the selection process for what you decide to reissue?
I’ve got a list of dream projects (that’s not getting shorter!), and most of what we’ve done has originated from the list. Generally, we get in touch with the artists, negotiate a fee for permission to license the reissue, and then work collaboratively to get things just right, as far as sound and presentation are concerned.
4. You also run m’lady’s records and are gearing up to release two Tronic reissues. Why did you form a new label for these releases and what’s the selection process for what goes on which label?
The identities are very different, but the ethos is the same. Shorthand, M’lady’s deals with new radical groups, and reissues that could be classified as “punk”, which has special and specific meanings to everyone, but on our end it’s about a vision rather than a sound. Machu Picchu is concentrating on officially licensed and high-quality reissues of privately pressed classics from the 60s and 70s. One could (successfully) argue that the same creative impulses are a through line for both enterprises of ours, for sure.
5. Without giving too much away, do you have any upcoming releases on the horizon that you want to tell us about?
Our lips are sealed, sorry!
6. Before I let you go, if you could reissue any record you wanted to, what would it be?
One that I love with all my heart but wouldn’t ever attempt to reissue (as it’s owned by a multinational ogre) is Ola Belle Reed’s album on Rounder. It’s an amazing album, but I think Starbucks owns it now. Maybe we’ll see it in Starbucks someday.