Dead By Dawn Records is a Belgian record label that started in September 2018. Dead By Dawn focuses on extreme metal. Here you can read some history about the label and owner, Laura Kerkhofs.

When I was in primary school I used to sleep over at my uncle’s every weekend. He’s a record and movie collector himself and even once built an extra real house (not just a shed) in his garden for his collection. He listens to a lot of classic and hard rock, but also artists like Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra etc. He was and still is a big influence to me. He even buys and gives me records almost monthly, but only from artists that he thinks aren’t too heavy. The coolest records he gave me were an original copy of Oz’s Fire In The Brain on Combat Records and the Type O Negative – Dead Again boxset. At home there was always country and rock ‘n roll music playing. My uncle also gave me my first decent turntable and helped me out when I wanted to buy a new setup.

It all started with CDs for me. I remember buying one myself for the first time as a teenager, which was Hatebreed’s Perseverance. The first record I bought was the Gardens of Grief EP by At The Gates. Back then, I didn’t even have a record player, I loved the golden colored details on it and I just had to have it. From that moment I preferred vinyl over any other format.

In 2017 Tito Vespasiani asked me if I wanted to join him and Giorgio Spevo at Everlasting Spew Records. Back then we were often in touch with each other, always talking about new releases. They both knew about my dream to start my own label one day and I was really thankful they wanted to give me this chance to gain experience. I joined Tito in the promotion team. Everlasting Spew Records has an amazing own discography and distro. All for very small prices. Giorgio and Tito both helped me out when I had some questions about starting a label and everything that comes with it.

Those years I was also an author and editor for Grimm Gent. I mostly wrote articles about bands I personally like. Sometimes I interviewed them as well. I had the idea people were always promoting bands that didn’t really need any more promotion and I wanted to do something about that. My first ever face-to-face interview was already with Max and Iggor Cavalera. I also got to interview Skeletal Remains, Gruesome, Tomb Mold and many others. Next to that I often wrote album and gig/festival reviews as well. One time I totally nerded out about a Cannibal Corpse gig in an article. I don’t know if anyone has ever read it, but I don’t really care because for some reason I like overanalyzing all kind of things about music/bands and somehow it satisfies me extremely. After a while I decided to quit because I had the feeling I put too much time into writing articles compared to other authors (easily 12 hours for a review). Unfortunately this together with two part-time jobs as a social worker, Dead By Dawn Records and Everlasting Spew Records, just wasn’t attainable anymore.

As you can see I’ve always been surrounded by music and records. I only realized this myself when my friend Chad Gailey (Carbonized Records/drums in Necrot, Mortuous and Atrament) from California stayed at my place when we went to Netherlands Death Fest together. He told me how he likes that there is always music playing in my house. Downstairs my dad listens to his music and upstairs I spin my records. Back then he was still starting up Carbonized Records and I followed every step he took in it. I remember us endlessly discussing about what color combinations to choose for the Mortuous – Through Wilderness splatter wax. Chad always supported me in my dreams and was always willing to listen and give advice whenever needed.

In 2018 I travelled to Copenhagen (Denmark) to attend Kill-Town Death Fest. Here I met some amazing people, including Matt Calvert (Dark Descent Records) and Jesus Iglesias (Me Saco Un Ojo Records). I remember sitting outside the venue for the whole Demilich set with Matt. He told me about how he started and gave me some advice about how to do it. They knew I had this dream for a long time and I had everything figured out already in my head. I just didn’t feel secure enough to actually start. I also thought I was too young, compared to all other label owners. Somehow for a long time I was convinced I’d only be able to start in my 30s. Failing is never an option for me, especially when it comes to my biggest dream. Matt motivated me to just go for it and the day after I got home from Kill-Town I started working everything out.

As already mentioned I met Jesus Iglesias at the festival. Me Saco Un Ojo Records and Everlasting Spew Records collaborated on Galvanizer’s debut. Just like all others mentioned above, Jesus has always been supportive of me. When I was starting up Dead By Dawn Records he sometimes called me for an hour to see where I’d stand with the label and to give advice whenever needed. Jesus has been a huge support and is one of the most honest and kindest people I’ve ever met in the business. He often sends me records of his discography just because, for my birthday and so on. I truly appreciate everything Jesus has done for me.

Yarne Heylen (Carnation/Project Zero Studio/Y-Productions) works as web- and graphic designer for the label. He keeps Dead By Dawn looking great but also dead, which of course isn’t an easy task. Professionally Yarne is a producer, who taught me about ISRC-codes and all other things I had never heard of before back then. He’s also always willing to listen to me when I have any doubts or to give me his unsalted opinion when I have new ideas.

Endless thanks to everyone mentioned above. I wouldn’t have done it without any of you.

Support death and the physical format,

Laura Kerkhofs
Dead By Dawn Records





Picture of Yarne taken by Sacha Jennis