By Brittany Rudyck
EDMONTON – Even if you don’t personally know Craig Martel, you’ve likely heard his name or been to a show he’s put on. If you’re lucky enough to have him as an acquaintance, artist or friend, you’ll have heard a handful of stories only someone so intimately woven into the fabric of Edmonton’s music community would be able to share.
A few years ago the Wunderbar closed down, giving Martel the opportunity to chase after a long time dream. The inception of Double Lunch Productions gave him an outlet to put on shows and still be part of the Edmonton community. Time passed and a few failures offered opportunities to fearlessly pursue the record label Martel had always dreamed of creating.
“I always flirted with the idea of having a record label, and for a thousand reasons didn’t,” he explains over a casual breakfast at Friends & Neighbours, a beloved diner on Whyte Ave.
“But in early May of 2016, I just decided I was going to do it. I had been discouraged by conversations with bands in the past, but after talking to Birds Bear Arms, I knew I had something to offer.”
Two years later, Martel has put out tapes for a plethora of local artists in addition to fun re-releases from bands like Nipper! Wait, who?
“In 1996 my only way of hearing new music was a magazine called CMJ (College Music Journal) which came with a 25 song sampler pack of bands they reviewed in the magazine,” he says, reminiscing.
“There was one song on one CD in particular that blew me away. It was on every mix tape my friend and I made for about six years. In 2003 or 2004 I bought the full CD for a penny on eBay and found the singer by messaging everyone with that name on Facebook to ask if they would consider playing Wunderbar. They hadn’t done music since that recording but were flattered someone from Edmonton knew who Nipper! was,” he says, laughing.
“Fast forward to the label. I messaged this guy again and asked if we could make a cassette copy of that album. He told me to do whatever I want, but wonders if anyone would care seeing as they only sold 100 copies of the original release. My reply was that at least 100 people would care and you can’t do worse than your first round. Over the years I’ve only known two other people who knew about Nipper! It was my friend who I made mix tapes with and the singer for Rural Alberta Advantage because he bought the same CMJ magazine in the ‘90s. That was a pretty awesome thing to release. I’m still thrilled about it.”
Recently Double Lunch added Ella Coyes of Sister Ray to the mix, which has added a crucial element to Martel’s operation.
“Number one: Ella is one of my best friends,” states Martel. “Number two: I find it hard to work with people and I don’t find it hard to work with Ella. She has these plans and ideas and I will never want to let her down.”
Since the label’s inception, they’ve released tapes by Daydreaming, Sister Ray, CHAM, Vibes, Wares, Dead Fibres, and more. Their first foray into vinyl of the 7-inch variety is with Vancouver’s Sightlines; the power-punk band will be releasing their Love Ethic EP on May 11.
As Martel explains, “We want to give everyone the best chance possible and have a blast doing it. You never know if a band is going to blow up, so we want to be as ready for that as possible. We’re trying to figure out how much of a family Double Lunch is going to be. For now, we’re having a lot of fun together.”
Celebrate Double Lunch’s second anniversary May 15 at The Buckingham (Edmonton) with Blessed, Tunic and guests. Double Lunch will release Love Ethic by Sightlines on May 11. Order a copy at https://sightlines.bandcamp.com/.Blessed, Double Lunch, Love Ethic, Sightlines, The Buckingham, Tunic