July CIMA Member Spotlight – Sonic Unyon Records
Over the summer, CIMA will feature different members of ours who are currently making an impact on the Canadian and international independent music scenes. This week’s spotlight focuses on the history and ongoing creative activities of Sonic Unyon Records, founded in Hamilton in 1992.
As they grew from bandmates into business partners, Tim Potocic and Mark Milne always wanted to be in charge of their own destinies, which eventually led to the formation of their iconic, multifaceted music company, Sonic Unyon Records. Their band, Tristan Psionic was originally comprised of Potocic, Milne and Sandy McIntosh, who is now a practicing architect in Dundas, Ontario.
Commenting on his inspiration for transitioning from playing in a band to starting a label, Potocic says, “I think like lot of music companies, we started ours because we were in a band, me and my business partner together. So, it seemed like the most logical thing to do at the time twenty years ago.”
If there is one word to describe Sonic Unyon, it would be ‘adaptive’. Over the past twenty years, the company launched and sold Sonic Unyon Distribution, run labels such as Goodfellow Records and Labworks, and developed a multi-use cultural events space, Mills Hardware. They have also tackled events-based projects – organizing Hamilton’s Supercrawl music and arts festival, the Because Beer craft beer festival , the Sundays in Gage Park series, JUNOfest 2015 and the Hamilton Pan Am Games closing events.
Sonic Unyon has maintained a consistent vision, based on their original mandate of supporting talent, signing world-class bands, and doing their best to cultivate their artists’ careers. These artists include:
- Terra Lightfoot
- Dinner Belles
- Oh Susanna
Most recently, Sonic Unyon has begun working with blues artist Steve Strongman, whose upcoming record will be released this fall. A Canadian Company, Sonic Unyon takes pride in their DIY approach, which has helped them to foster strong relationships with a wealth of artists and professionals throughout the independent industry.
In their early years, Deane Cameron (former President of EMI) was instrumental to shaping the direction of the company. Speaking of Cameron’s involvement, Potocic says, “he helped us out a lot in the early days and didn’t get in the way of what we were doing. He just sort of helped us when we needed the help. If anything, it was kind of a very nice, open door relationship we had with him”.
Much Music and The Wedge were key television networks who the label collaborated with in the the pre-internet 1990s, to generate excitement about Canadian music and videos. The distribution companies Caroline and the Orchard (in the United States) have also worked with Sonic Unyon to promote the company’s international growth. Exclaim! Magazine and Ian Danzig have also cooperated extensively with Sonic Unyon over the years, to achieve mutual public relations goals.
Sonic Unyon remains as busy as ever in 2016, planning Terra Lightfoot’s latest Canadian and European Tour. Having recently performed with Canadian legends Randy Bachman and Blue Rodeo – as well as Nashville’s The Wood Brothers – Lightfoot will return to Europe this fall to support her 2015 album, Every Time My Mind Runs Wild. According to Potocic, she will begin recording a new album at the beginning of 2017 to be released next year.
For more information on the latest Sonic Unyon projects and releases, check out: