Mark Milne, Sandy McIntosh and Tim Potocic, all members of the band Tristan Psionic, started the Sonic Unyon label in 1992 and incorporated in 1993. Still in university at the time, Sandy and Mark began dubbing tapes for their own and other local bands on a pair of tape decks while spending evenings at Kinkos making colour copied inserts. When the two took on Tim as the band's new drummer, they had unknowingly found the final partner required to operate their dream business.
From the beginning, the company's mandate has been to foster awareness of undiscovered musical talent while offering artists a chance to become successful, independent of major label influences. Sonic Unyon hoped to fill a gap they saw existing in their musical community, a gap that could previously only be bridged by an independent artist's leap to a major label.
In the late 1990’s Sonic Unyon started an offshoot distribution company, Sonic Unyon Distribution, that carried labels including Epitaph, Warp, Nuclear Blast, Anti, Polyvinyl, Dischord, Jade Tree, Season of Mist and many, many others. SUD was responsible for the sales and marketing for these labels and their 30,000 + titles across Canada dealing with the many great independent and chain accounts alike. In 2008, Sonic Unyon Distribution formed a strategic alliance with Maple Music / Universal Music.
Co-founder Sandy McIntosh left Sonic Unyon in 2001 to head back to university and has since become a successful architect. In recent years, Sonic Unyon has weathered the storm brought on by the turbulent changes that have happened in the current music industry climate. While continuing to release a wealth of quality albums from the likes of Ringo Deathstarr, Paley and Francis, Voivod and Young Rival to name a few, the label has also started to step out and into the community of their home base in Hamilton, Ontario to help bring more notice to the city’s burgeoning arts scene.
In 2004 Sonic Unyon owners Mark Milne and Tim Potocic were jointly nominated for and were subsequently named “Young Entrepreneur of the Year” as awarded by The Hamilton Chamber of Commerce.
Sonic Unyon started Labwork Music in conjunction with EMI Music Canada in 2006. The label’s first signing, Wintersleep, won a Juno for the album “Welcome to the Night Sky”. Over the years Sonic Unyon has had a number of Juno Nominations and wins for its distributed artists and direct signings.
2009 saw Sonic Unyon help put together the first Supercrawl festival on James Street North in the Hamilton’s downtown core. What started as a small Friday night amplification of the already existing James Street Art Crawl has exploded substantially in only three short years. The latest edition of Supercrawl saw 50,000 people descend onto the street to partake in the daylong festival, which included art, dance, theatre troupes and musical performances by the likes of national touring acts Broken Social Scene, the Junior Boys, J. Mascis and many more.
Supercrawl was awarded best Small Event of Festival in its first year at the Annual Hamilton Tourism Awards, Best Medium Event or Festival in its second year, and honourable mention for best large Event or Festival in its third year.
2009 also saw the creation of the Sonic Unyon Metal label imprint, as a means to differentiate between the two very different styles of music that we release. Sonic Unyon Records remains the home to the more pop and rock side of the label, while Sonic Unyon Metal handles the heavier end of the roster. The album kicked off in grand fashion with new releases by Threat Signal, Voivod and Untimely Demise. Already on the schedule for 2012 is the sophomore album by female metal duo Mares Of Thrace.
In 2012, Sean Palmerston and Tim Potocic successfully lobbied the Canadian Music Industry and CARAS to bring about the introduction of the “Metal” category to Canada’s Juno Awards. In the first year of the award, a Sonic Unyon distributed label, Profound Lore, won with their artist KEN mode.
Through ingenuity and adaptability, Sonic Unyon Records has managed to thrive and survive in its hometown of Hamilton, Ontario. Hamilton has never been the centre of the Canadian music industry, and despite being asked “when are we moving to Toronto” for two decades, we remain committed to our hometown... we like being able to do our part to bring the world of music to Hamilton while simultaneously letting the rest of the World know about some of our local artists in combination with our International roster of talent.
It's 2012 and we are turning TWENTY and we plan on celebrating in a big way. You’ll also see new releases from the likes of The Megaphonic Thrift, Ringo Deathstarr, Grand Duchy, Camouflage Nights, Kestrels, Mares of Thrace, and a bigger and better Supercrawl in September.