Memphis Concrete: An Experimental Electronic Music Fest in the MidSouth

On June 24th and 25th of 2017 an interesting experimental electronic music fest descended upon the MidSouth with artists primarily from Memphis, Mississippi, and the southeast.

20170616_081359“I wanted to take electronic music back to its roots,” said creator Robert Traxler. His inception for the fest came from the experimental spirit of the original electronic music artists like Delia Derbyshire, Karlheinz Stockhausen, John Cage, Pauline Oliveros, Suzanne Ciani, Pierre Schaeffer, and many, many more from the 1940s, 50s and 60s. But musique concrete is not all we found at this festival. Harsh noise, techno, ambient analog improv sets, and a live score of Forbidden Planet were a few of the performances found at Memphis Concrete.

Take a tour through the fest with Robert and some of the talented artists that participated in the Memphis Concrete Festival in the latest episode of Sonosphere.

 

 

 

Thanks to:

Robert Traxler

Dominic Van Horn (Aster, manualcontrol)

Luis Seixas

Ben Bauermeister

Kim Rueger (Belly Full of Stars)

Connor Brown (Cheap Spirits)

Kane Blanchard (Tatras)

Kole Oakes (Pas Moi)

The live Memphis Concrete sets heard here by Belly Full of Stars, Aster, Cheap Spirits, Pas Moi, Ben Bauermeister, Tatras, manualcontrol, and Robert Traxler were captured and edited by Robert Traxler.

 

Two other tracks used by participants in the fest are “#2” by NEPTR and “Viginti Quintuplet” by Ben Ricketts. Thanks to all the artists for sharing their time and work.

 

An Evening with Wu Fei

 

In this special, bonus episode of Sonosphere we present An Evening with Wu Fei in collaboration with Crosstown Arts. This is Fei’s live performance at the Crosstown Arts gallery on Cleveland Street in Memphis, TN on June 30, 2017. Fei CA PosterThe intimate space lent itself to an interactive performance between the audience and Wu Fei as she showcases what the guzheng can do through its thousand-year history.

Wu Fei is a composer and guzheng player. She is a native of Beijing and a current Nashville resident. She is a master of the guzheng, the ancient 21-string Chinese zither. At this performance Fei told stories of her upbringing in Beijing, her relentless practice with the guzheng and how she found improv at Mills College as well as through her time in New York’s improv scene. She mixes her Western and Chinese traditional sensibilities with a contemporary, experimental dialect that only Fei can convey in her “down-to-earth,” personable way. We thank her and Crosstown Arts for an amazing show!

 

 

Pauline Oliveros

This episode of Sonosphere takes a look at the life and work of composer Pauline Oliveros through the eyes and ears of those who worked with her and learned from her. We spoke with Claire Chase, Wu Fei, Monique Buzzarte, Tara Rodgers, and Kerry O’Brien about how Pauline touched their lives personally and professionally, and how her legacy shaped the musical world of today.
Join us.
Tracks in this episode:
Mnemonics IV – Pauline Oliveros
Ocean State – Tara Rodgers
A Bubble in My Eye – Monique Buzzarte
Dawn – Wu Fei
b_second – Deep Listening Band
Bye Bye Butterfly – Pauline Oliveros
Nike – Deep Listening Band
d_forth – Deep Listening Band
Tribute to Pauline Oliveros Sonic Meditations – Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre
ICE Performs Pauline Oliveros “Concerto for Bass Drum”
ICE Performs Pauline Oliveros “Double X”
Poliveros

Oh, What Big Ears You Have!

 

 

Knoxville, a city of just under 200,000 residents, was vibrant during this year’s Big Ears Festival. It is impossible to experience this festival without experiencing Knoxville itself. Wonderfully woven into Old City, downtown, and World’s Fair Park, Big Ears makes Knoxville feel like a quaint European city.

Big Ears is a festival focused on connecting pop, classical, and experimental music. The inaugural Big Ears took place in 2009 and featured composers such as Phillip Glass and Pauline Oliveros. This year’s festival honored Oliveros, who passed last November, by opening the festival with Nief-Norf performing the composer’s Single Stroke Meditation. Oliveros taught us to listen; she composed for “ear-minded people.” It was fitting to begin a festival with her practice of approaching the world with open ears. The Mill & Mine, a concert and event venue in the historic Old City, was filled with people of all ages trying to center themselves before four days of beautiful and confounding music, art, and film.

Big Ears offered an endless supply of entertainment, all in close proximity, letting you freely flow from one exhibition to the next. With international acts such as Colleen, Gavin Bryars, Anna Meredith, DakhaBrakha, Frode Haltli, Nils Økland, and Wu Fei, among many others, attendees would have been extremely hard pressed not to experience something completely new. Acts such as Wilco, Blonde Redhead, Tortoise, and Deerhoof brought more familiarity. Members of Wilco spread their influence to every corner of the city, performing solo and with collaborators.

We spoke with artists Cecile Schott (Colleen), Jamie Stewart (Xiu Xiu), Anna Meredith, Andrew Bliss and Kerry O’Brien of Nief-Norf, Wu Fei, Frode Haltli, and Melinda Lio. They provided insight to a plethora of differing music styles and approaches, and they remarked on Knoxville’s inspiring environment. One specific message remained the same to them: music is a free-flowing art form that can be composed from any background and in many styles.

Nief-Norf performed Michael Gordon’s “Timber” [an hour-long composition for six percussionists playing wooden simantras (2x4s)] in front of hundreds that packed in around their circle at the Mill & Mine. This was a wonderfully meditative piece that was also a measure of endurance for the performers.

There were so many fun and challenging performances during the festival it is hard to recount all of them. We will recap a few that really resonated with us. Wu Fei played her guzheng,an ancient Chinese instrument, in a packed in the gothic revival-style St. John’s Cathedral. The Chinese folk songs echoing around the room were foreign to a Tennessee Catholic church, but it did provide a religious-like experience that was also bright and thought-provoking. Plucking the guzheng, Fei’s demeanor was very intense. Each song was followed by a loud sigh that would signal the end. She was insightful and playful between songs, pausing between songs to make jokes or give the audience some education about the instrument. She revealed that this performance marked the first time she played two guzheng at once. One could never have guessed.

Anna Meredith, British composer, producer and performer, weaved electronic and acoustic sounds through up tempo dance songs that got the audience moving on the first night of the festival. As the last leg on her first U.S. tour, Anna Meredith brought energy and her fierce personality to the stage at Big Ears. Her band included a tuba, drums/percussion, guitar, and cellist – with Anna Meredith at the helm. If she wasn’t banging on a drum, whipping out her clarinet, or bringing the digital sounds, she was dancing – and so were we.

Being a fan of Twin Peaks and Xiu Xiu, this performance at Tennessee Theatre was on our list of must see events. Xiu Xiu’s performance was everything we had hoped for. It was eerie and dramatic, bringing you into their vision of Lynch’s cult television show. The performance ended with Shanya reading an entry from Laura Palmer’s diary wherein she curses Bob for everything and wishes for death. Right as she finished reading, Jamie stopped drumming and embodied Leland Palmer by singing Mairzy Doats while dancing mad and sporadically.

At the Square Room, Philip Jeck spun records and created a sometimes harsh but mostly calm listening experience. As we watched him meticulously shift the sounds we were fascinated while also being lulled into a trance.

Colleen performed both on Friday at the Mill & Mine and at The Standard on Sunday. The Standard offered a more intimate environment. She invited everyone to sit down and enjoy the performance. She picked her viola de gamba and carried us to another place with her voice, which was also looping in time. Her cover of “Pearl’s Dream” by Walter Schumann from James Agee’s Night of the Hunter was mesmerizing and thoughtful considering Agee is from Knoxville.

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith performing Saturday at the Mill & Mine hypnotized the audience with the intriguing, analogue sounds of her Buchla synthesizer. A dark and roomy Mill & Mine buzzed with curiosity as the audience, enchanted by original, digital artwork swarming in vibrant colors behind her, danced and swayed to upbeat, yet thoughtful music. Her music entrenched in natural sounds, made you feel like you were outside in the woods dancing around a fire.

Michael Hurley performed both in the Tennessee Theatre and at the Standard. We saw Hurley at the Tennessee Theatre, which was decked out for Wilco’s performance later that evening. Hurley offered what only he can, stories of lonely but often whimsy folk that is familiar because his influence runs deep in early and modern folk and rock music. The large theatre environment left us longing to see him in a more intimate environment that The Standard might have offered, but the Pilot Light – a small dive close by – may have been an even more ideal space for Hurley to share his playful storytelling in song.

Numerous panels focusing on a variety of issues and topics that let curious audience members further entrench themselves. We attended one such panel discussing Pauline Oliveros’ life and works; presented by The Wire (UK) with Alvin Curran and Emily Manzo as speakers. Curran painted a vivid picture of Oliveros life, influence and inclusivity in her music-making. Curran highlighted her discontent with the status quo, a discontent that allowed her compositional “experiments” to open the ears and minds of her students and peers. Her ideas resonate so perfectly with what Big Ears accomplishes. Curran, thoughtfully reminiscing on Oliveros’ love of finding music in various sounds around us, asked the audience to “burst into spontaneous music-making.” Curran conducted a 30-second humming orchestra of attendees’ voices that was both beautiful and surprising to the audience. Concluding the panel we were allowed to participate with many others in a group meditation as well as Rock Piece by Pauline. With our fellow attendees, we made sound with the natural, local environment – with Tennessee rocks. Each rock contributed its unique note to the group’s music. The most resounding experience of the festival, this piece, composed by one of the utmost accomplished, and inspiring composers of our time, brought strangers together growing not only our ears but opening our minds to Oliveros’ world of sound-making. 

The lineup was one of the most eclectic and interesting ones you’d find at any U.S. music festival, and like the rocks, each performer provided a unique experience that built upon the history, evolution and connectivity of modern music, new music, noise music, and pop music. Among the festival attendees, volunteers, guests, and artists, everyone was open to new sounds and ideas. After the final performance of the festival (Xiu Xiu at the Mill & Mine), Cecile (Colleen) wandered up toward the stage and asked how Shanya was producing those sounds. It is this curiosity and intrigue that makes Big Ears Festival such a unique experience.

What the Wind has to Say: Marfa Myths

Last year Sonosphere visited the small, Texas town of Marfa for the Marfa Myths music festival created by Mexican Summer and Ballroom Marfa. Now in its fourth year Marfa Myths has grown to a three day fest with hundreds of individuals from around the country in attendance. It’s still a small festival, which allows for intimate conversations.

This year’s festival is upon us, so let’s travel back in time to Marfa Myths 2016 during a two-day wind storm, where I talk with sound artist Maria Chavez about her performance informed by the wind and chards of vinyl; where harpist Mary Lattimore shares insight into her latest album informed by road trips out west.

Head out this year, March 9-12 to Marfa Myths 2017 and you won’t regret it. Tickets at mexicansummer.com

 

 

The World’s First Duets for Mellotron

With the upcoming release of the Duets for Mellotron LP, we decided to share our interview with the people behind this project.  Prior to the April 16, 2016 performance, at Crosstown Arts in Memphis, TN, we sat down with Winston Eggleston, Robby Grant and Johnathan Kirkscey and talked about what brought this show to fruition and their history with this unique instrument.  Check out the interview on this episode of Sonosphere featuring a track from the performance, “Joan Folds Towels” written by Robby Grant and Jonathan Kirkscey.

15826566_203776573418898_2656035400152452806_nPick up your album January 13-18th, 2017 at Crosstown Arts and relive a beautiful night that was a first of its kind.

The Birth of Modern Music Series Part 5: Karlheinz Stockhausen

Welcome to Sonosphere the podcast that explores the sounds all around us; in art and music movements through history.  

This is part 5 of our Birth of Modern Music Series on European composers of the early 20th century from the atonal compositions of Austria’s Schoenberg to the realization of total serialism of Olivier Messiaen we continue our coverage with German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen and the evolution of electronic music. This episode we’ll hear from Stockhausen scholar Joe Drew; thanks to Ben Siler as the voice of Stockhausen.

 

Stockhausen tracks in order:
Kontra-Punkte
Kreuzspiel
Klavierstuck
Gesang Der Junglinge
Gruppen
Kontakte
Stimmung
Momente
Aus Den Seiben
Fur Kommende
Gesang Der Junglinge

The Birth of Modern Music Series Part 4: Olivier Messiaen

Welcome back to Sonosphere’s Birth of Modern Music series featuring modern European, classical composers that inspired the experimental, avant garde art and music scenes of the 50s, 60s and resonate in music composition today.

In the first episode of the series we highlighted Arnold Schoenberg whose atonal works ushered in a  new school  of composers. Then we moved to Erik Satie whose Vexations and other “sonic experiments” influenced his peers and John Cage who discovered the piece years later.  After that we covered Edgard Varese, a peculiar composer who sculpted sounds in a way never accomplished previously. Today we will delve into the life and works of Olivier Messiaen.

Messiaen escaped the world of composition’s shift to serialism through religion, nature, and birdsong, but he had a profound influence on the evolution of electronic music composition through composers like Karlheinz Stockhausen, Pierre Boulez, and Xenakis. 

Join us by subscribing on iTunes and following us on Soundcloud, Facebook, and Twitter.

Thanks for listening!

Songs in this month’s episode:

  1. Des Canyons Aux Etoiles I: Le Desert
  2. Des Canyons Aux Etoiles II: Les Orioles
  3. Preludes: La Colombe (The Dove)
  4. Quartet for the End of Time
  5. Turangalila – Symphonie
  6. Mode de valeurs et d’intensites
  7. Meditations sur le mystere de la Sainte Trinite

 

photo: Catalogue d’Oiseaux: styriarte.com

For Rabid Music Lovers: Goner Records

Welcome to Sonosphere! This month’s episode features Zac Ives co-founder and co-owner of Goner Records, Natalie Hoffman of NOTS, Chris Shaw of Ex-cult and JB Horrell of Ex-Cult and Aquarian Blood to bring you a Goner Fest 2016 Special Edition.

Thanks to the Goner family and Memphis musicians for sharing their passion! Goner Fest 13 is this weekend starting tonight, Wednesday September 28, 2016 at Crosstown featuring flyers from the Memphis underground installation called Torn Down by Thursday. Bands are playing September 29th through Oct. 2nd. Come on out!

Check out the Goner Special Edition on iTunes and play on Soundcloud below.

Gonerfest13_FINAL logo_WHITE BACKGROUND_LowRes.jpg

The Birth of Modern Music Series Part 3: Edgard Varese

Varese searched for the modern sound, the sound that would define his generation. Like Schoenberg before him, Varese’s early atonal period broke down language and form into a stream of sensations – “his screaming chords seemed to have no emotion tied to them, no history or future” – just very present in the now.

Join us on the journey through the life and mind of French American composer Edgard Varese.

The Birth of Modern Music Series Part 2: Erik Satie

The ultimate “underground” modernist artist in Paris, Satie didn’t get a lot of credit when he was alive for his work. He was largely forgotten until John Cage found his Vexations composition fifty years after his death.

His music “did not resolve as it should according to tonal laws” says our guest Dr. Caroline Potter. She talks with us about how Satie broke from Parisian tradition and led an avant-garde scene which influenced ambient and minimalist artists for years to come.

Join us as we traverse the eccentric life and work of Erik Satie.

The Birth of Modern Music Series Part 1: Arnold Schoenberg

 

This episode is the first in a series of European composers that start a change in music, paving the way for avant-garde and disruptive sounds from the classical minimalist genre, to punk and rock and roll we hear today.

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Preview to Birth of Modern Music Series

This episode is an introduction to our series on the Birth of Modern Music. It will highlight radical dissonance in Western classical compositions. We will individually describe the work and influence of Arnold Schoenberg, Erik Satie, Edgard Varese, Olivier Messiaen, Karlheinz Stockhausen and John Cage. They were powerhouses in the classical composition revolution at the turn of the 20th century and their influence permeated into mid-century beatnik, free improv and psychedelic culture.

Look for the first episode in this series next week. Until then, we have prepared for you a playlist highlighting the work of Arnold Schoenberg, the first modernist we’ll explore in our next episode. Check it out at sonospherepodcast.com and click on Press Play. Enjoy!

Featured track:
Pierre Boulez – Le Marteau sans Maitre VI Bourreaux de Solitude

Episode 2 – Futurist and Fascist: Modern Music of 20th Century Italy

The early Twentieth century was a period of rapid change that brought with it a certain violent chaos. Italian artists, led by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, embraced the fast, furious, noisy and ever-changing environment by creating art and music reflecting their feeling and experience. The Futurist Movement aimed to destroy the status quo and was met with obvious controversy. Tied to fascism and anti-feminist views, people rejected Marinetti and his followers…
This episode explores the inception of Futurism, its growth and influence on modern music, and the self-inflected backlash.

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Experimenting with Memphis Concrète

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Memphis Concrète Tickets

Memphis is set to host an experimental electronic music festival unlike anything we have witnessed. Robert Traxler curated a two-day festival, at Crosstown Arts, that showcases Memphis electronic musicians among other national acts.  We were able to connect with Robert via e-mail and asked him a few questions about this rare festival.

Check out the playlist that follows the Q&A.

When/How did you start making music?

So, I joined band in high school under the impression that it would get me out of gym. That didn’t work, but it got me playing drums. Later in high school I joined a punk band. I’ve been more or less making music since then.

What is Memphis Concrète?

In the simplest terms, Memphis Concrète is an experimental electronic music festival. It is a bunch of musicians from Memphis and surrounding areas coming together with a wide array of different styles and sounds (ambient, dance, noise, drone, abstract, pretty, atonal, atmospheric) to put on an event where everyone is exploring the possibilities of sound and pushing in their own unique direction. So there’s the performances. There’s also exhibits during the afternoon that are free to everyone: interactive sound installations. There’s a screening of Forbidden Planet (with a live score in tribute to Bebe and Louis Barron’s original soundtrack).FB_IMG_1497532993330

When did the idea for Memphis Concrète come to mind? What was the inspiration?

The idea of a festival like this is something that’s been floating in the back of my head for a while now, at least as a kind of fantasy. Last year I helped organize a Bands for Bernie benefit concert and after it went off pretty successfully, I started to think about it in terms of something I could actually do. And hearing about other festivals later, such as Big Ears in Knoxville, thriving in places you wouldn’t expect, it helped bolster my feeling that this could work in Memphis. I think if people approach new music with an open mind and without expectations or preconceptions, they can appreciate the sounds at face value and enjoy what they hear as sound, even if they don’t have a vocabulary to understand it as music. I think it’s possible for anyone in the right mindset to understand sound on its own terms.

Why is it important to host a festival like this in Memphis?

I think it’s important for several reasons. One is that there hasn’t been anything like it here before. There have been plenty of thriving rock festivals here, which is great, but any music or art scene is only strengthened by new ideas and sounds. I’d like to provide a platform both for people who are into experimental music to find what they maybe don’t see enough of here, as well as people who aren’t into it (yet) to have an opportunity to approach sound in different ways. Selfishly, I’d love to see more of the bands and artists I love come to Memphis more often. Making this city a destination for experimental musicians starts here with the shows and support we give each other here. If we make an attractive and supportive scene for ourselves, then one hopes it would attract outsiders (but by that point, it’s really just a byproduct of something even better as you’ve already created “the world you wanted”). But maybe I just have some Field of Dreams complex. With or without outside artists though, more experimental musicians coalescing into a larger community will serve to strengthen our artistic experiences.

What is the electronic music scene like here?

My feeling is that it’s a bit fragmented. That may partly be on me as an old, out-of-touch guy. The Rare Nnudes label (from which Qemist and minivan_markus are playing the festival) has a pretty big presence in the realm of more beat-centric music, what you might call experimental dance music. I feel there’s a lot more people out there making experimental music than I know about. Even just putting this thing together, I’ve discovered a lot of musicians around town. If doing just a little bit of work has gotten me this far, I’m sure there’s a good number of people in this city making incredible, experimental music that I have yet to discover. My hope is for more and more shows to pop up around town. There’s this series called Sounder that’s being held at Marshall Arts, Aster and Cheap Spirits played that as well. There’s only been one so far, but I hope to see a lot more.

Was it important to include artists from Memphis?

Absolutely. I love that we have a good number of artists coming in from elsewhere, but “Memphis” is in the name of the festival for a reason and the majority of artists are from here. I want this festival to be focused on the community we’re in and what’s possible in Memphis. It’s fantastic to get musicians from other places coming through. I think that sort of “exchange” can help infuse a vitality into a scene and bring new influences and new ideas and new perspectives. But it’s the artists living here that are at the heart of it all. It’s the artists living here that we get to see grow and develop each time they play out. The people here are the people we see (or can or could see) just about every day and entertain us and inspire us anew every day. There isn’t a Memphis without the artists of Memphis. It all starts where you are.

Being the inaugural Memphis Concrète , where do you see this festival in a few years?

As with anything starting out, you hope to see it grow in the coming years. I see Memphis Concrète getting more high profile acts (famous as far as experimental electronic music goes). And while that’s exciting to think about, what’s even more exciting is thinking about the people around town that aren’t playing out now but who might get drawn out to perform at future festivals or shows around town. The bigger acts are going to be playing shows somewhere (whether here or not) no matter what we do. But if there are people here who could be making music and aren’t (at least not publicly), then I find it incredibly exciting to think about them starting to contribute something new and offering a new voice and, just by their presence, expanding what’s happening right here in our city. And I also want to stress that with technology being the way it is now, you don’t need big synthesizers or fancy technology (as awesome as that can be), anyone can get a variety of apps on their phones for almost nothing and make amazing sounds with them. It has the potential to make it all the more democratic and open.

Who are you most looking forward to see perform as a fan?

I have to start out with something of a cheap cop out and say (in all honesty) that I’m looking forward to hearing each and every musician that’s playing. It’s been an incredible experience putting this thing together and being blown away every single time I heard music by someone new added to the lineup. Okay, I know that though my feelgood response is true, it won’t completely fly for this question so I’ll bite and name some names. I’m looking forward to seeing Ihcilon who, full disclosure, is a old friend of mine going back years, but this is really a case where someone you know starts doing something creatively and it’s just so good that it leaves you dumbfounded. His style is quite ambient, very textural, atmospheric, sometimes brushes against something like musique concrète with layers of found sound.

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Nonconnah

 Nonconnah have impressed me live before as well. Their sound is guitar-based but very effects-heavy and very ambient. Whereas Ihcilon’s sound evokes something like anxiety, Nonconnah is more introspective and soothing. Aster has been using synths to make lush, beautiful, ambient textures. I look forward to seeing Qemist perform, his ability to work deep textures into jagged, danceable rhythms is very exciting. Argiflex (from Cleveland, MS) works in a similar territory. Belly Full of Stars (from Nashville) has a soothing, glitch-heavy dose of ambient. manualcontrol’s set is entirely based on light sensors and audience interaction and I know that’s going to be a very special, immersive experience. snwv (from Pittsburgh) has a generative approach to music, that gives his stuff a conceptual sound that I’m really into so I’m looking forward to that a lot. Then there are a few of the artists who have never performed in a live setting before, and I’m beyond enthusiastic to see them bring out something new, into a new setting, that had only existed in the studio or at home. I always look forward to seeing that moment of emergence, when a new voice is added to the noise. There’s a lot to be garnered from established and well-polished artists, but there’s just as much to get from new and inexperienced artists. It’s more of a risk to give your time over to something you haven’t heard before (which is why nostalgia acts are always thriving), but in an area as open as experimental music is, I think it’s easier for new artists to develop a unique identity or fresh approach. Oof. I strayed onto a soapbox. Apologies. Anyway, I’m as much looking forward to becoming a fan as remaining a fan.

spirit goth

Sonosphere corresponded over email with Josh Hwang founder of spirit goth and songwriter/producer for the project, Castlebeat about the impetus for the spirit goth label, how he works with artists on the label, latest releases and what’s in store for spirit goth.

He also provided a compilation for us to share with you! Find out more about spirit goth at www.spiritgoth.com

When did you create spirit goth? 

I started spirit goth as a net label in college around the start of 2016 as a way to release my own music and my friends’ music. I always enjoyed discovering new music, and I want to bring that experience to others by exposing smaller/new artists.

The name comes from one of the first lofi garage-rock songs I ever made called ‘downtown spirit goth.’ I just kind of liked the name and stuck with it.

How do you find your artists? 

I used to find a lot of artists through soundcloud, bandcamp, and some small blogs. But now we get a lot of demo submissions. Putting together the HPSTR GEMS playlists every couple months, which are made up of 10 dreampop/shoegaze “hidden gems” that I’m listening to at that time, is another way I find artists.

What do you look for in an artist/band? How do you shape or “feel out” the “sound of spirit goth”? 

Diy diy diy diy diy.

I look for a good melody above anything else. Next thing I look for is the style and how the melodies are presented. I really like when artists do all the recording/producing themselves. It just sounds more natural than a clean-cut studio recording.

We don’t force the artists into any binding contracts. The way we work is very mutual, more like a relationship with the artist to help them get their music out. So it’s very important to me that I can work well with the artist, and also important that the artist wants a diy release versus a corporate release. At the end of the day it’s the artist’s music and I like to let them make the decisions – release date, format, music video, etc.. My role is to just help them get it done.

What is your preferred “genre” or sound to represent on the label? Is it mostly personal taste or does some consumer demand play in?

Some of the genres that spirit goth represents are dreampop, shoegaze, and postpunk. But overall, it’s just lo-fi music that I really love. Each release is selected because I dig the sound and think that other people will dig it too.

Who was the first spirit goth artist/band? 

 My high school lofi surf pop band, Jaded Juice Riders. I recorded an 8-track album called ‘Girlfight’ and decided to release it myself.

Who is the newest addition to the label? 

We just released an EP for a Spanish dream pop band, Terry vs. Tori. One of the reasons why I like this band is because my mom is Spanish and I grew up listening to lot of older Spanish music like Alsaka y los Pegamoides and Hombres G. In general, it’s always exciting for me to find international artists.

But we are currently in the process of releasing a full-length album by a band called Foliage. So far there’s one single out and another one releasing later this month. Full album release will be in mid July.

Has the label evolved since the beginning? If so, how?

Yes, we’ve evolved from a digital net label to hand-making physical merchandise for our artists. However, now I am starting to outsource the merchandise labor because it has become very tedious.

I also no longer run every single aspect of the label by myself anymore. I’ve been getting help from friends and my girlfriend who handles the social media and weighs in on demo decisions.

How important is physical copies of music? I know a lot of folks just stream or download but the cassette and vinyl game is going pretty strong right now.  

We have yet to do vinyl, but I usually will record the cassettes and make the CD’s in my room. I think streaming and downloading is really great but there’s something really special about owning a cassette or CD of a band you like, especially if they are a smaller diy-focused artist. We’re trying to make our cassette tapes more collectible.

Streaming services have been great for finding new music. How is it working through bandcamp/soundcloud? Does that drive the business?

Yeah the spirit goth store is basically just a bandcamp account. I think it’s great because it makes it easy for people to find the music, and it’s very simple and low maintenance for me.

What are you excited about for the next year for your label? What do plan for future?

I’m excited for the releases we have coming up. Also working on making vinyl records available. And we’ve been talking to promoters about possibly putting together a small spirit goth music fest somewhere.

 

Adagio 830

Welcome to Sonosphere’s Press Play. Today we are featuring a DIY, Berlin-based label, Adagio 830.

They’ve put out some great underground punk and hardcore albums like the Flaming Massacres LP, ZANN, and ZARATHRUSTRA in the 1990s, 2015’s Positive Energy by DIAT, this year’s Votive Offerings by Artefact and I’ve especially loved RANK/XEROX ‘s M.y.t.h. out earlier this year.

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Adagio 830 began with their first LP release of the emo hardcore band Cole Quintet and grew from a mail order label to record store in 2006 when co-founders Robert Schulze and Stefan von Bis opened their own record stores in Berlin. Bis Aufs Messer is Robert’s store and Stefan runs Vendetta. Now, they are one of the premiere punk/hardcore labels in Germany that offer an array of music in-store. Stop in if you’re in Berlin!

Sonosphere connected with co-founder Robert Schulze over email on some basics about the label. Check out the mix tape by pressing play below.

When did you form the label and where is it located? 

Thats was in 1997 in Berlin, germany

Who presses your vinyl records? 

it depends on our needs, we do a lot via Handle With Care and then also XVINYLX in Czech.

How do you find your artists? 

 

It’s different. It used to be only friends or people I know for a while to document my scenery or help my friends out. Now its also demos we get etc.

What do you look for in an artist/band? 

 

Well – style is not priority. we released various different music in the last 20 years from hardcore over  to goth post-punk, singer / songwriter, kraut, drone etc etc. Important to me is that I feel connected to the band, the music has to do something for me and also the attitude or how the band / people behind operate and their beliefs …

Who was the first Adagio 830 artist/band?

 

That was Cole Quintet LP

Who is the newest addition to the label?

 

We are pretty stoked on Artefact from Cardiff where we just released their debut and Rank/Xerox, Dark Blue and Ruined Families we also just put out. Thats the latest stuff we put out … then we have the currently have the Rememberables LP at the pressing plant which is amazing. Its a band from D.C. that play super catchy shoe gaze feat. peeps from Coke Bust, etc.

What are you excited about for the next year for your label? What do plan for future?

 

there is a couple things. Def keep going, maybe a release a little less. We are pretty excited about the unreleased City Of Caterpillar LP thats coming out soon.