Gimme Your Answers (Beyond the Stage): An Interview w/ Parkside, Hidden Pony Records President

Ever wonder what happens beyond the stage? Well we do. These roadies, managers, guitar techs, lighting directors, publicists (and even positions you may not have known about) make the music you love come alive! In a recent interview, A Music Blog, Yea? spoke with Parkside (Mike Renaud), President of Hidden Pony Records and Upper Management. Hidden Pony Records will soon celebrate their fifth anniversary in Toronto on Friday, June 20th. The celebration will feature sets from Rah Rah, Royal Tusk, The Danks, and Odds and takes place at The Horseshoe Tavern. Before the party, Parkside and AMBY discuss advice for label owners, their upcoming party, favourite venues, and golf — enjoy!

AMBY: Hey Parkside, thanks for speaking with us today! How did you first get into your industry?

Parkside: I started as an intern at Aquarius Records in Montreal about 1996. I quickly fenagled my way into the A&R department and began working with bands such as Serial Joe and Sum 41. I also worked on the soundtrack to the movie Fubar which was a very fun experience. I had to go “jean skiing” with the Deaner to get the record.

AMBY: Please explain to our readers what you do.

Parkside: I own and run 2 companies – Upper Management and Hidden Pony Records. We manage a lot of artists, release their records, plan their lives, help them financially, give them advice and generally perform the functions of mentor, father, brother, psychiatrist, bank and overlord.

AMBY: You’re about to celebrate the fifth anniversary of Hidden Pony Records (congratulations!). What advice would you give someone who wants to start their own label?

Parkside: Expect to spend a lot of money and not get any back. Learn as much as you can about government funding for the arts. Don’t try to chase trends, just work with music that you LOVE.

AMBY: What have been some of your favourite moments while running Hidden Pony Records?

Parkside: My favorite moment is always when people start noticing the band that you discovered, nutured and developed. It comes in different forms, but it’s always a very staisfying experience. Also, Said The Whale winning the Juno for best new group in 2011 was pretty fun. This video will give you an idea of what it was like for us afterwards…

AMBY: In celebration of the birthday, you’re having an anniversary party in Toronto (at the Horseshoe) and one in Hamilton (This Ain’t Hollywood) next Friday which takes place during NXNE. What prompted you to tie your parties into such a big music festival?

Parkside: Well we had started to think about doing a party and I ran into Craig Laskey from the Horseshoe in the Dallas airport on the way down to SXSW. We talked about day parties and the sort of lack of them historically at NXNE. I suggested maybe we do one and he thought it was a great idea so we made it so!

AMBY: And, which artists do you look forward to seeing the most this year at NXNE?

Parkside: Ours.

AMBY: Which venues in Toronto/Hamilton are your favourite?

Parkside: I love This Ain’t Hollywood, Casbah and Absinthe in Hamilton. Of course The Shoe in Toronto. I also like seeing bands at the Rivoli as it’s pretty intimate and usually sounds good.

AMBY: Where did the label name Hidden Pony Records come from?

Parkside: I went to a youth leadership seminar in grade 10 and literally the only thing I remember was a story about keeping a positive mental attitude. It said that if you put a child in a room full of horse shit, the first thing they would ask is “Where’s the pony?” The logo came to me on night after doing shadow puppets with my daughter before.

AMBY: What do you do for fun outside of loving music?

Parkside: I love to golf. I caught the bug about 5 years ago and can’t stop. I help organize the Canadian Entertainment Charity Golf tournament that happens June 18 so it’s a busy week. We raise money for the Unison Benevolent Fund which is a great cause.

AMBY: And lastly, what’s something about you that nobody knows yet?

Parkside: I’ve started writing a little blog called “Tales From The Parkside” about some of my music industry stories and experiences. I haven’t really shared it with too many people but I guess I am now. I’ve been very fortunate to have been in some pretty amazing situations and I’m starting to put them down on virtual paper.


Thank you Parkside, for giving us your answers!

Interview by Alicia Atout | @AliciaAtout

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