“I’m a music lover, and I’ve been collecting progressive rock records since I was a teenager,” says MoonJune founder Leonardo Pavkovic. “I own almost every progressive rock album that was recorded in the late 60s and early 70s, and some of those bands are still among my favourites.”
It was this passion for prog that led to the accidental birth of Pavkovic’s label in 2001.
Born in the former Yugoslavia, Pavkovic spent his formative years in Italy before relocating to New York in 1990, where he went to work for a graphic design company. Within seven years, he had become a partner in the firm and built up contacts within the music industry, which he quickly put to good use.
“My good friend Elton Dean [Soft Machine] came to me with a tape he’d made with Mark Hewins [Gong] and he asked if I could find him a record deal,” he says.
At the time, the pair were working on a Soft Machine reunion under the banner of Soft Works, but with no forthcoming label, Pavkovic offered to put out the recording, Bar Torque, himself. He also committed himself to reissuing Finisterre’s live recording from ProgDay 1997, repackaged as Storybook, and DFA’s Work In Progress Live. And so MoonJune was born with a hat-trick of releases, and a name inspired by Robert Wyatt’s Moon In June.
“When I started the label, I really didn’t know what I was doing, but here I am 15 years and 83 albums later!” he laughs. “I don’t consider MoonJune to be just a progressive rock or jazz fusion label. It’s a label of progressive music that explores and expands boundaries beyond jazz, rock and avant-garde – in my opinion, that’s the true sense of progressive music.”
These days, MoonJune is more than just a ‘boutique label’ – it’s a bookings agency and management company. Pavkovic is currently looking after Stick Men and even produces albums. His new venture, MoonJune Asia, also promotes artists in south-east Asia. “They have an amazing music culture out there and I like challenges.”
See the MoonJune website for more.