Fullsteam Family - Straddling the Fence

Fullsteam Records recently celebrated its 10th anniversary. What started as a as a hobbyist foray into record distribution has over the last ten years evolved into an important part of the Finnish music business, with its finger in many pies from festival promotion and practice spaces to publishing, booking Finnish concerts for major international stars and a turnover of 6 million euros.

The company won the Independent Label of the Year Award at the Music&Media Conference six years in a row between 2004 and 2009. Fullsteam also promotes the Lost In Music showcase festival organized in conjunction with the international conference.

Fullsteam was started by Juha Kyyrö and Johannes Ylinen in 2002, at a time when Kyyrö was running a small label called Sitruunamaailma (trans. world of lemons). Fullsteam was initially a sub-label that concentrated on distribution, but it soon took on a life of its own. Ylinen left the company in 2005.

Fullsteam Records first started attracting wider attention with bands like No Shame (already a fixture on Sitruunamaailma), Disco Ensemble and a licensing relationship they struck up with popular Irish-American band Flogging Molly. The company is often seen as concentrating on music that straddles the fence, such as it is, between alternative rock and punk, but even a cursory look at the label’s release history reveals that it was a much more heterogeneous operation from the get-go. In addition to Disco Ensemble’s passionate and noisy alternative onslaught, Fullsteam’s early releases include the epic American-influenced storytelling of Damn Seagulls, atmospheric post-metal of Callisto, experimental hip-hop by Ceebrolistics and lots more.

Bands like Disco Ensemble and the heart-on-their-sleeve art rockers Rubik have found international success in recent years, with record releases and successful tours all over Europe and North America, including in Rubik’s case, Mexico where they seem to have attracted quite a rabid fan base. Others, like Lapko, Jaakko & Jay and DWNSTRS are hot on their heels.

In 2006, Fullsteam Agency was started. The agency is currently the most important promoter of international alternative music on the Finnish market, with highlights of recent years including concerts for the likes of Prince, The Prodigy, Fleet Foxes, The Flaming Lips, Rush, Wilco, Lily Allen, Gogol Bordello and hundreds of others, including experimental music that draws very small audiences. It’s all about the love. Fullsteam Agency works with all major festivals in Finland and its domestic roster is formidable and runs the gamut from hardcore punk to ska, disco, garage rock and blues.

Fullsteam has done a great job of diversifying their activities in the field of music. They were pioneers in running a record company and agency, as well as merchandise services out of the same house in Finland, but that’s pretty basic 360-model stuff. In addition to the record company and agency, the Fullsteam Family, as the conglomeration is sometimes referred to, now includes a publishing arm, a major rehearsal space complex and a music distribution company.

Fullsteam Family is Fullsteam Records, Fullsteam Agency, Fullsteam Publishing, which works closely with Air Chrysalis, Indie Center, the biggest rehearsal space complex in the Nordic countries + a share in the Supersounds Music, a distribution company.