Alex is talking in this interview with Nikolay from Sofia, Bulgaria about his record label Ugly and Proud Records.
Hi Nikolay, can you please introduce yourself and your label Ugly and Proud?
Hey Alex, what’s up? I am Nikolay, a 31 years old straight edge kid from Sofia, Bulgaria. I created Ugly and Proud Records when I was studying in France back in 2007 and I’ve been living in Sofia since 2008. I’ve released more than 20 records since the beginning of the label and almost all of them are on vinyl.
I started listening to Hardcore and Punk in my late teen years. I went to a show with some friends and it immediately felt like home. First I was just going to shows and buying records when I could afford it (being young in Eastern Europe didn’t help haha). In 2007 I started booking shows with a friend of mine in Rennes, France and shortly after that I started the distro and the label.
Now in Sofia I run U&P and I’m also ⅓ of For The Kids Booking Bulgaria – a booking collective, which is basically me and two friends. We all do shows under that name and it’s pretty cool. I also help out friends who book shows either by doing the door (no one likes that usually) or by hosting the bands at my (mom’s) place after the show.
In your opinion: Is a vegan/SxE lifestyle important for the scene?
I’m vegetarian and straight edge so my opinion is maybe biased. Yes, I think it’s important for the younger generation to see some dudes still believing in these choices, which do challenge the status quo. For me SxE and veg(et)anism are political choices and it’s important that the hardcore scene is still a place, which could inspire people to make a change.
Can you tell us something about the Bulgarian HC/Punk scene?
I don’t want to sound too negative or ungrateful but I will tell you the two things that make the local scene special for me. The first one is that kids are still dancing, moshing and having fun at shows, instead of just watching the bands and clapping between songs. On the other hand you can have 600 people at a Madball show and there are maybe 5% of them who know that Ugly and Proud Records exist. I learned to deal with it but it still feels strange sometimes…
What do you think is special about running a HC/Punk label in Bulgaria?
I think I partly answered that question in my previous answer. It’s sometimes hard and frustrating that people here don’t pay much attention/recognition to Ugly and Proud Records. People aren’t buying that many records because they can’t afford to. It also kinda sucks that there were two raises in the shipping rates in the last 12 months. But it’s also fun and it forces me to find ways to sell my stuff abroad. Except for
Except for KPD-0 which is the first local band I released on vinyl and with their lyircs in Bulgarian and being defunct it’s quite of a hard sale abroad. I don’t think I’ve sold more than 8 or 9 copies of any of my releases in Bulgaria and this number is due to having a few collectors buying all the color variants from one release…
Running a DIY-project for several years takes a lot of effort in any way. What’s your motivation to spend a lot of time and money for that?
I’ve met a lot of people through the years that I can proudly call friends today. Meeting new people and working with bands I love are the main reasons for keeping it up. It’s truly special to hold a physical release in your hands – the whole process is exciting. Firstly getting the masters and getting psyched, then approving the test pressings, having the records and the covers and assembling them as I usually do. Nothing can beat these feelings!
I love hardcore and I love spending time and doing things for the scene. By the kids for the kids, you know?
A few years ago, you released Die Young TX – “Chosen Path”. It marks a connection between a band from Texas and a label from Sofia, Bulgaria. What’s the story behind this collaboration?
The story is very simple – I saw a post on facebook that Die Young is reuniting and will release new songs. I was super excited and while thinking about it just sent them a message and offered to release the new songs in Europe. They already had a label for the USA and we just figured out how to differentiate the two pressings and make each one special in its own way. We’ve been in touch ever since and I should say their new album rocks hard! Let’s hope they’ll make it to Europe in the near future!
What are your plans for the future? (personally, if you want to tell and for the label)
I am not afraid to tell you my personal plans haha. I started a new job in October and hope to stick around longer than on the previous one. I am also looking to buy an apartment or a house with my girlfriend and the market in Sofia makes me feel sad. It’s stupidly expensive and whatnot.
For the label the new Nine Eleven LP “Sentinels” is out since October too. I’m getting my copies as I’m typing this. I got the Old Ghosts 3 songs flexies last week and I’m waiting for the covers to start promoting the record. Hopefully at least one new song will be up for a preview soon. I already have 3 releases planned for 2017 and all 3 are going to be LPs.
xDevourx from Belgium (with friends from Blade) are currently recording their material. King of Sorrow and Wake of Humanity are writing new songs, which should also be recorded in December or January.
Tell us the nicest story with HC/Punk that you’ve been the witness of?
Going to another country/continent, meeting people for the first time outside the internet and having the best of times! Also people helping out bands/people when they need support.
Now the worst one?
Hard one but I guess people taking Hardcore/the scene for granted and not doing anything to keep it alive and kicking!
Something you want to tell our readers?
Be the change you want to see! It’s easy to get jaded and fed up with life/people/society but guess what – you can always find inner peace in Hardcore (or in whatever else that makes you happy). Spend time with your precious ones because life is short. And of course have fun!
Famous Last Words?
Thank you for the opportunity to voice my opinions and for doing a paper zine in 2016. A big cliche for the end – write a zine, book a show, start a band, buy a record, release a record, go to shows, support smaller and unknown bands. Be yourself!
And stay straigth edge!