Label Profile: Stormspell Records

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In metal more than any other genre it seems that the domain of the small/underground record label is more often than not run by those with a genuine appreciation and love of the music over anything remotely resembling profit motivation. That is certainly the case with Iordan K, owner, operator, and overload of Stormspell Records. The music offered is, in the most fundamental of terms, Heavy Metal. If it furthers your understanding of the Stormspell mission, then you may also wish to consider descriptors like “old school,” “traditional,” or “classic” heavy metal, as well as “thrash.” Iordan prides himself on offering the complete package to consumers and eschews MP3 sales. He also scours the planet in a quest to find the true gems of the genre, whether old, new, obscure, or geographically isolated. Iordan’s story is an interesting one, to say the least, and Stormspell Records is one of the coolest labels on this planet we call Earth. Read on, learn, and support metal! Labels like Stormspell and guys like Iordan deserve it.

How about a little background on yourself, from where you hail, and the band sand albums that have impacted your life?

Hello, my name is Iordan. I’m formerly a Bulgarian who moved recently to USA. I was born and raised in Sofia City, which is the capital of Bulgaria. When I was at 8th grade a long, long time ago in the mid-80s a friend gave me a dubbed tape with Def Leppard ‘83 and Ratt ‘84 on it. It snowballed from there and not long after I was an avid Judas Priest and Iron Maiden fan. Then in 1986 I discovered King Diamond, which is still one of my all-time favorite bands ever. As well as a dark romantic band called Stormwitch. A year later (1987) I moved to a new school where I met some new friends that introduced me to all the great speed/thrash bands of the day, and so on.

At what point did you decide to start a record label and why?

Well, living behind the Iron Curtain wasn’t the best place for a metal collector. Buying original tapes or LPs was pretty much out of the question, except for a “party approved” handful of Russian and Polish licensed pressings sold officially in the book stores. Like every fellow metal head I had a huge collection, but it was mostly of dubbed tapes. So once I moved to the USA and found myself with unimaginable amounts of cash on my hands (compared to what I was paid back home) I’ve started re-building my collection with great zest. That’s when I discovered that most of the 80s albums I wanted were either long time OOP [out of print] and hard to find, or when found on eBay for big bucks, they were just very poor and cheaply done pressings with one-page inserts and such. One day a fellow collector got tired of hearing my constant ramblings and told me “if you are not happy with it, go release it yourself.” It was an interesting idea which stuck to the back of my head. One thing led to another and shortly after Stormspell was conceived.

What was involved from an organization/business/financial standpoint in starting up Stormspell Records?

I just commissioned a dude to draw the wizard logo for me, then pulled out my wallet and financed my first release, which was a complete disaster sales-wise [laughs]. We had a small spare bedroom which I claimed as Stormspell’s office, and still use as such to this day.

Any lessons learned that you’ve like to pass on to those that may wish to one day start down the same road?

Oh man! It was all trials and errors at the beginning. And in fact it still is. I learn something new almost every day. I really don’t know what to say, other than if you expect to make it for profit, better choose something else to do [laughs]. This is more like one very expensive and time consuming hobby, and it needs to be approached as such – with a lot of determination, sacrifices, and passion.

What is your philosophy with respect to Stormspell Records and the products that you carry?

My philosophy is quite simple: I keep it personal and release stuff I personally like and enjoy. I also try never to make compromises with the packaging of the products. Stormspell is a tangible label. The music is not only some flying MP3s on an iPod – the good custom hand-drawn artwork and nice booklet have always been a very important and integral part of the whole package for me, and I try to make it as best as possible. It is not an easy task to do, especially for arcane demos in small pressings, which don’t appeal to the mass-market (and don’t sell good) but I’d rather kill the label than start cutting corners. There are enough labels doing that already anyway.

Do you believe that is a much bigger audience in the States for traditional heavy metal and power metal than most may realize?

I don’t know man. From what I see from my sale figures it looks like the traditional metal scene in US is quite small. I only sell less than 15 percent domestically, all the rest goes to Europe and Japan. I sure wish you were right though!

Have you been surprised in that regard with respect to folks that have found out about your label and ordered from you?

It is hard for me to say, as a very small portion of my sales are directly through my online store. The majority are through distributors and wholesale buyers. I do have a small dedicated core of returning customers that buy directly from me and follow up on my releases. Not many from the USA though. Perhaps most domestic buyers prefer to buy my releases from distributors like Century Media or Sentinel Steel

There has been a thrash metal resurgence of the old school variety these past few years. Has this impacted Stromspell records in a positive way?

As an avid old school thrash metal fan I like it, yeah. I was dedicated to thrash releases from the start and it was nice to see some of the bands getting recognition and better sales. It had a bit of a negative impact too though, as at some point so many labels started releasing thrash metal, I had to stop releasing our Thrash Clash series (split CDs with two new and upcoming bands on each volume) as it started to become trendy and the underground market saturated quite fast. It was a very good initiative at the beginning though and the first several volumes generated quite a lot of interest.

Generally speaking, do you have any idea about the demographics of your customer base?

Germany is the biggest market for sure, then Japan, then the rest of Western Europe (UK, France, Holland, Italy, Scandinavia, Greece, etc.), USA and Canada, Rest of World.

Stormspell specializes in “East European Metal, most notably Russian and Bulgarian scenes.” Can one attribute that to your heritage?

Actually this motto is quite outdated and was valid in the beginning when Stormspell was more of a distro than a label. Nowadays I do have some Bulgarian and Russian bands on the roster, but definitely not priority. But yeah, I have great affinity for that scene due to my heritage, and also due to the fact I can speak Russian and enjoy listening to metal sung in that language.

You’ve certainly got an ear for thrash metal in Eastern Europe, considering the excellence of a band like Serbia’s Space Eater or Bulgaria’s Hades. What’s your secret to finding these hidden gems?

I met SPACE EATER at Thrash Bash I (a small festival we organized in Sofia city in 2009) – they blew me away and I knew I had to release them. Great guys, incredibly talented and tight on stage! Once that happened I started to get tons of Serbian bands contacting me, so I had not to do anything but listen and choose. Serbia and Greece look like the Bay Area in the 80s, with tons of interesting and talented retro thrash bands coming up. Not many Bulgarian thrash bands noteworthy at the moment though, sad to say.

You also tout the low prices of your new and used CDs, LPS, and DVDS. Please discuss.

As your average fellow buyer I also enjoy getting a good deal when buying CDs for my collection. That’s why I try to keep the prices as low and friendly as possible. Introducing special deals like “Buy 6 CDs and get free shipping worldwide” helps too and has become a popular feature at our online store.

Regarding your policy on sending out promotional copies to journalists, you’ve made the following statement. “Due to the fact most of our releases are limited to 1000 copies or even less, and because we send complete actual CDs as promos (CD+all inserts, opposed to cardboard sleeve or naked CDs like many other labels do) we have only limited resources to operate with and are not able to fulfill all requests.” While I personally love getting actual CDs to review, are you concerned that this might limited your ability to get coverage for your bands and albums?

Well, since the packaging is really an integral and very important part of our products, I really feel it is pointless to send CD-Rs or MP3s around. They do not represent the actual product we sell you know. If someone is keen on making a review based on MP3s they can as easily just download the album from the Net. There are countless blogspots and torrents which rip and offer my releases for free download all the time.

Many of your releases are produced in limited runs of, for example, 1,000 copies. What is the reasoning here?

Since quite a few of my releases are obscure demos/albums which do not appeal to everyone but a handful of die-hard fans, 1000 is more than enough to last for quite some time. In fact, if you check my website, you will see that only a handful of releases have sold out so far. Sad but true.

Please discuss the manner in which Stormspell Records is segmented into three divisions: Dark Lore, Days of Yore, and Silken Spell.

Those are just sub-labels to help me organize inventory a bit. Dark Lore is a division dedicated to current active bands; Days of Yore is for the 80s re-releases; and Silken Spell is for Melodic Hard Rock / AOR releases (yes, I do enjoy those styles on occasion).

What is the key to offering a reissue of a classic album that perhaps gives the owner of an original release more bang for the buck? Clearly though some of these “reissues” of albums are hard to get in the first place, so I realize it’s not a black and white question.

Perhaps it is worth to note that I very seldom re-release classic albums which have been released on CDs already, unless there are tons of bonuses and major repackaging involved. I prefer to hunt down and release stuff which has not been pressed onto CDs previously, creating a brand new unique product.

In closing, where do you see Stormspell in five or ten years and do you believe that you’ve found a niche market that is largely unaffected by the digital age?

I really don’t know. I’ve been entertaining the notion of moving back to Europe and fulfilling my other dream – having a metal pub/club. If I do that perhaps Stormspell would be on a backburner for a while. But if I don’t anything is possible. Stormspell has been on a rise with more and more bands asking to be on the roster, so who knows. In five years Stormspell could be a force to behold.


  1. Commented by: Biff_Tannen

    great feature !! I’ve seen a few of these releases in other distros, but didn’t know anything about the label or what bands they are offering. I will definitely be ordering from him in the future !

  2. Commented by: IgnacioBrown

    Great interview. I have enjoyed a few of the releases by Stormspell. Nitefall – Red Moon Rising – that reissue was great….

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