Interview with Leonardo Pavkovic the founder of Moonjune Records

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Moonjune Records is a one of a kind label created by Leonardo Pavkovic, a jazz-progressive-rock enthusiast with a great taste in contemporary music. Moonjune keeps a compelling balance between the music of the past, present and future, its founder talked to JazzWorldQuest about his amazing intellectual and creative journey.

JWQ: What made you want to start Moonjune Records? What was the starting point of the Moonjune Records and how it was developped along the way ? What achievements can you highlight?

Leonardo Pavkovic: I have started by an “accident’, I was involved in a jazz label, briefly, around 2000/2001 and wanted to have my own, and when I discovered at the NearFest ( the amazing Italian progressive fusion band DFA, and heard about another Italian band FINISTERRE, I decided to release some live cds, and have included also a tape from Mark Hewins’ archives featuring my all time sax hero Elton Dean.

The name of my company that does mostly bookings of established vetarans of jazz-rock and prog-rock, was taken from Robert Wyatt’s composition on the Soft machine’s famous “Third” album, “The Moon In June”.

I must admit that Robert Wyatt is my ultimate music hero, and Soft machine 1969-1973 is my favorite band. I was a sort of irregular label, have released few more records in meantime, but only in 2006 I have to decided to keep running a niche market quality label and now I have 16 releases with 3-4 more coming in this calendar year and 10-12 in 2008. MoonJune Records’ focus is to release internationally-situated music by artists exploring the expanding boundaries of genuine, challenging and non-over-produced music that cannot be easily categorized into any specific format.

MoonJune’s ongoing goal is to support music that transcends stylistic pigeon-holing, but operates within an evolutionary musical continuum that places jazz at one end and progressive rock at the other.

The ever-expanding boundaries of these two musical signposts have since come to include everything from jam-rock to the avant-garde, neoclassical, experimental music and more. As MoonJune continues to grow so, too, will its commitment to representing this evolving musical space.

Particular emphasis is paid to current and archival performances, as well as innovative genre cross-pollination.

JWQ: How do you chose the musicians you’re recording? What is your involvement in the artistic project ?

Leonardo Pavkovic: I do not have any strategic plan, all what I do in my life is based on inspiration, moments and circumstances. All my releases are circumstantial and each of them has its own compelling story behind the scene, and I believe that would be the case in the future.

I have things in my mind what I would like to release, but its not always easy to achieve what You really want, but I try. I would like to release a lot of archival ‘70s jazz-rock live broadcast recordings of little known or unknown but great European artists, I simply love live music, and I believe that most of my future releases will be live. 9 out of 16 of my releases are live recordings.

Some of the records I have produced, co-produced or have been involved with, were released on other labels in Japan, Europe and USA.

JWQ: Is there any special recording or recordings you’ve produced that have a special place in your heart?

Leonardo Pavkovic: Difficult to say, but the record I like specially is DFA’s “Work In Progress Live”, because that concert from NearFest 2000 made me think of having my own label. The band was totally unknown to me and after the gig, I approached those 4 wonderful guys from Verona and we instantly became friends, the record was released in 2001 and gave me a lot of personal satisfaction.

I am very proud of the new upcoming Soft Machine Legacy studio album “Steam”, that I have produced with this legends and heroes of mine at Jon Hiseman’s studio in Surrey, England last December.

I have very special relationship with Soft Machine Legacy guys, since days when Elton Dean was alive, and now with the new saxophone/flute player Theo Travis, the band is going more and more to progressive-jam-rock dimensions, and having in the band the guitar-extraordinaire John Etheridge, who plays better than ever, Hugh Hopper, the fuzz-bass wizard and the central figure of the whole Canterbury scene and my favorite drummer John Marshall, I just feel in intellectual paradise.

I am also proud of New York based band TriPod and their spectacular homonymous debut and of Indonesian progressive ethno-jazz band simakDIALOG, whose album “Patahan” is coming out this Summer. Clint Bahr, the 12-string bassist of TriPod, and Riza Arshad, leader/composer/pianist of simakDIALOG are phenomenally skilled musicians that need much broader recognition.

JWQ: How do you balance the activity of MOONJUNE BOOKING & MANAGEMENT and MOONJUNE RECORDS?

Leonardo Pavkovic: I am one-man-army and I am challenging myself booking a dozen of artists and running an indy label. Today is easier than before I guess, most of booking business is done via e-mail, I travel a lot, and still have time to do what is needed to be done. I really do not “manage” anyone, “management” means something “corporate”, all musicians that I work with are my friends, or becoming my friends, and I like to keep it simple. I have specialized in Japan where I’ve been so far 20+ times in past 4 years, and I like to explore new territories like Asia and Latin America. I enjoy my relationship with Allan Holdsworth, whose band with Jimmy Johnson and Chad Wackerman, I am now booking worldwide. Allan is one-of-a-kind, in any sense, one of the greatest musicians ever, probably.

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