When Tragically Hip guitarist Paul Langlois founded Ching Music in 2005, he did so specifically to release The High Cost of Low Living, fellow Kingstonian and Headstones‚Äô frontman, Hugh Dillon‚Äôs debut record.
Given the changing landscape of the industry in the mid-2000s, and the fact that major labels were investing in fewer projects than they previously had, starting Ching Music seemed the best way to provide Dillon with the opportunity to make the record he wanted, with Langlois at the helm as producer. Since, however, the Kingston, Ontario-based indie label has grown substantially, adding other local talents to its roster and becoming a truly unique community of like-minded artists dedicated to reaching a wider audience, individually and collectively.
With a distribution deal in hand from MapleNationwide (now Fontana North) and Ching‚Äôs first release under his belt, Langlois headed back into the studio with Dillon in 2006 to record Works Well With Others. Ultimately, however, the strength of the record and Dillon‚Äôs growing profile as an actor attracted attention from the majors and led Ching and Dillon to part ways.
‚ÄúBut it was an entirely amicable split,‚Äù Langlois adds, owing not only to their longstanding friendship, but also to Langlois‚Äô belief that ‚Äì creatively and professionally ‚Äì artists should always follow the path they believe is best for them; a principle he‚Äôs continued to apply to his work on the debut records of other emerging Kingston-based artists. Among them; Songs From the Middle (2008) by My Friend Andy, Jim Tidman‚Äôs Stealing Ghosts (2009) and Greg Ball‚Äôs Excessive Until August (2011).
In 2012, Langlois also released his own solo debut, Fix This Head, on Ching, but the album that perhaps best exemplifies the spirit of community that‚Äôs central to Langlois vision for the label is Out To Lunch by The Campfire Liars Club, which showcases the collective talents of Langlois, Tidman, Ball, and My Friend Andy‚Äôs Jeff Montgomery.
‚ÄúI‚Äôm looking for unique voices,‚Äù Langlois explains. ‚ÄúSongwriting and storytelling are what‚Äôs most important. It‚Äôs not about following a particular trend. It‚Äôs about trying to be true to the artists and allow them to record music that‚Äôs raw, true and organic.‚Äù
Going forward, that remains a determining factor in Langlois‚Äô approach to Ching; an approach informed heavily by his 27 years of writing, recording and touring with the Tragically Hip. During that time, the Hip has released thirteen records ‚Äì nine of which have reached No. 1 on the Canadian charts. They‚Äôve also won fourteen JUNO Awards, been inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and were honoured with a star on Canada‚Äôs Walk of Fame in 2002.
Awards and accolades aside, however, the value Langlois brings to his artists is based on his talents as a producer/songwriter in his own right and the knowledge he‚Äôs gained from collaborating with the Hip and producers such as Hugh Padgham (The Police, David Bowie), Adam Kasper (Foo Fighters, Pearl Jam) and Bob Rock (Aerosmith, Metallica).
‚ÄúThe Tragically Hip may not be an indie band, but all of us have a huge amount of respect for indie artists and labels. We‚Äôve been lucky in that we‚Äôve been able to do our own thing over time and that‚Äôs impacted my songwriting, how I assess other people‚Äôs music and my ability to put myself in a listener‚Äôs head and be objective,‚Äù Langlois says.
Although Langlois continues to identify closely with the Kingston music scene as Ching Music becomes an increasingly important focus for him he intends to expand the label‚Äôs operations, not only to serve the needs of Ching‚Äôs current roster‚Äôs more effectively, but to provide other dedicated songwriters, performers and storytellers with a welcoming home for their music.
Currently Ching Music is preparing for the release of Greg Ball‚Äôs sophomore album, Mr. Rightplace (June 2013) as well as Langlois‚Äô second solo offering and first full Canadian tour with a band that includes Ching recording artist, Jeff Montgomery, on bass, Mauro Sepe on drums and fellow Hip member, Rob Baker, on guitar.