Press Play

Press Play: Analog Tara

This month the Press Play mixtape features Tara Rodgers, aka Analog Tara. Tara is a multi-instrumentalist composer and historian of electronic music and sound who produces techno tracks using analog sound sources.

This is a mix of Analog Tara tracks from the album At the Switch Hotel from 2003, written, performed, and produced by Analog Tara on synths, drum machines & more.

Tara Rodgers is a former Sonosphere podcast guest, and we are big fans of her book, Pink Noises: Women on Electronic Music and Sound. The book features 24 interviews with 24 women from the electronic music genre.

Rodgers originally hails from upstate New York and is now based in the Washington, DC area. She earned an MFA in Electronic Music & Recording Media at Mills College and a PhD in Communication Studies at McGill University.

SoundObservations_Poster_TaraRodgers

She’ll be presenting a free, open to the public artist talk at noon on the Crosstown Concourse Theater Stair on March 31. Later that night at 8 pm (doors at 7:30 pm), she’ll perform original compositions in Crosstown Arts’ East Atrium, including tracks from her new Fundamentals EP, out this spring on the DC label 1432R.

The performance is a ticketed event with a cash bar. Tickets are $12 and available on
Eventbrite: https://tinyurl.com/y82m3v7e

This is the first performance in Sonosphere’s Sound Observations series. This four-part series will highlight new explorations in sound through lectures and performances by musicians, composers, and scholars from across the country. Join us as we explore the sounds all around us.

Enjoy the mix:

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Press Play: A N Y W A V E

Welcome to Press Play, the monthly playlist curated by labels and artists from around the world. Today Sonosphere highlights the French label, A N Y W A V E. We had the pleasure to correspond with Aurel Delamour, artist and co-creator of the label.

Check out the interview, mixtape and track list below. Subscribe to us at SoundCloud, itunes, and GooglePlay.

 

anywave logo

Tell me about Anywave, how did it begin?

I created the label with my friend Stephanie 15 years ago – mainly because we wanted to release our own work. But we quickly took a break… that lasted over 10 years! As for the name, it was her idea, IIRC she thought about no wave and I was very much into new wave, so that’s what “Anywave” is supposed to mean: the synthesis of different types of wave music – hopefully it’s still relevant, now that we’ve been releasing music for real.

How do you find and work with your artists? 

We dig through Internet every day with my buddies in the label. But we also receive many submissions from artists.

It has happened many times that we worked with other labels. Sometimes, because we need extra money to achieve a budget, sometimes just because we want to have a release in common with people we like, like with Lentonia or Montagne Sacrée for instance.

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

“Singularity” is a word I much enjoy to use when I speak about our artists, singularity can take different shapes, I’m fully aware that it’s very difficult to be purely innovative, you always take from what has been done before. For instance, Heather Celeste’s work gathers dark techno codes, it also includes minimal wave, but she doesn’t simply put all this together, she really does something special, with a lot of improvisation, a rather lo-fi production – at least on the material she’s released on Anywave. It’s her personal balance that makes her music unique to our ears. It’s true for most of the artists we’ve produced, they do their stuff in a very particular way.

When we decide to work with a band, we try to include their project into our own story. As we seek total freedom in our artistic choices (no boundaries of style, no strategic plan), we give the artists the same freedom. So we have to find a way to make their project a part of our own without betraying their intentions. Sometimes enthusiasm and mutual love just do the job! But I think the visual work we do might be the cement that makes the label understandable at first.

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

I don’t know. « Bedroom-pop », or « bedroom-something ». As for A V G V S T, which is my own band, I once wrote “postwave”, and then “pornwave”, though it has nothing really [to do with] porn. My friend Zane O’Brien who rules escc9 and Lux Era found an excellent genre designation: “post-whatever”, I’m a bit upset I couldn’t come up with that myself!

Who was the first Anywave artist/band signed?

A V G V S T, obviously. Then, we really started the current version of Anywave with two Egyptian bands, PanSTARRS and Gast, by the way, the two most opposite sides of our catalogue, one a pure lo-fi post-punk band, and the other an IDM project, sounding a bit like the early Warp Records’ productions.

Who is the newest addition to the label?

Patrick Wiklacz, a French ambient / experimental electronic composer and sound designer, who never released his work on a label before. An album will be be out in April or May.

And Laura Gozlan : we’ve published Physical Self, her exhibition soundtrack. The format of this project is a bit unusual for a music label because it is an artist book by Myriam Barchechat and Laura Gozlan with a download code for the music, a 10 minutes track of abstract darkwave composed by Laura. The book reinterprets her video installation, it is meant to be an adaptation of the original artwork.

Wavecore5Has the label evolved since the beginning? If so, how?

A lot!! We went through v1, v2, v3, and we’re heading to v4. It fits better to our current frame of mind , I guess our scheme wasn’t very clear, and rather clumsy, at the beginning. At some point, I got a bit pissed with mimicry. The fact is we didn’t plan to make things grow, but when you’re releasing 5 to 7 records in one year, I guess you can say you are actually developing the label. So you try to make something that works, and as you have no idea how things work, you look at what other labels do… and then you realise after a while you’ve just been in someone else’s shoes. Still, I’ve got many references, and there are many inspiring labels, but as far as we’re concerned inspiration should stay on an artistic level, we have to find our own way to make things work.

atelier_09_rcd cassetteWho presses your vinyl records/cassettes? How important is physical copies of music? 

We like to work with small factories for vinyls and tapes. We’d like to be able to press the cassettes ourselves in the near future. That’s what we already do with CDs. For us physical copies are important for different reasons: first it gives the project some credibility in the eyes of the audience and of the media (it’s almost impossible to get any review with only a digital release). The second reason is that we love creating objects, touching them. Myriam, our art director, is a great designer, and I do share her concern about giving a physical shape to music, that can add a meaningful dimension to a record – not to mention the aesthetic dimension of course. Hence it’s a real pleasure to go on with physical copies, in particular when it’s handmade limited series.

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

It’s been a primary tool for us to get our name out there. Well, we’re not really famous of course, but we have a little audience we can reach through social networks and platforms like Soundcloud and Bandcamp. Changes in those platforms have huge consequences on the way we communicate and share music, so it means we might be too dependent on them.

Bad News from CosmosWhat are you excited about for the next year for your label? What do plan for future?

You may have noticed this last year was a rather quiet one. We’ve been focusing on other matters than music production, such as booking a tour for the Ukrainian duet Bad News from Cosmos, or questioning ourselves about the meaning of a label in 2017. By many aspects, a label is more or less comparable to a political party, especially when you rule it with three other persons, you have to make decisions but you also have to listen to what they have to say. I can be a bit authoritarian when I’m discussing our projects, but I’m also full of doubt. This year was a year of doubts, to be honest. Now, we’ve decided to rule Anywave in a different way: we’re gonna travel light. What I’m saying regarding the future is in total contradiction with our next release! Indeed Fléau’s second album is the most ambitious project we’ve ever made (thanks to the help of our friend label Atelier Ciseaux, who co-produced the record): a double vinyl and a collector edition with an artist booklet… But then, we plan to release mostly limited editions, screen printed CDs and tapes. What’s already on track is a split album with Bad News from Cosmos and Heima Matti, Patrick Wiklacz’s album «      » and the sixth volume of the Wavecore series.

Tracklist:

Side A selected by Bad News from Cosmos:
1 Vitamin Wig C – Why A Key Go (Wavecore 3, 2014)
2 Crystal Coast – DSTNT (Wavecore 4, 2015)
3 A V G V S T – The Hill (A Sorry Plain, 2005)
4 Verpackt – (Wavecore 4, 2015)
5 Seahorse Hunter – Disappear (Wavecore 1, 2013)
6 Tainsus – Computer Screen (Wavecore 4, 2015)
7 Jacqueline Sauvage – (Wavecore 2, 2013)
8 Ferdinand Carclash – Donde no Hay Despues (Wavecore 3, 2014)
Side B selected by Aurel:
9 Fléau – IV (intro) (Fléau II, 2018) premiere 
10 Sphyxion – Sphyxion 3 (Sphyxion, 2016)
11 Heather Celeste – Lemon Trade (Modern Death, 2015)
12 Bad News from Cosmos – Someday (Minn Sjo, 2016)
13 Gross Net – Spiralling Down (Wavecore 4, 2015)
14 Mareux – Cold Summer (Wavecore 2, 2013)
15 Patrick Wiklacz – N5 (N, 2018) premiere

Making Noise with Ihcilon

We linked up with Memphis electronic artist Ihcilon and asked him a few questions. He was also kind enough to make a playlist for everyone’s enjoyment. Look for him to be playing some shows around town this year.

How long have you been performing as Ihcilon?

The first thing I released was an EP in December 2014. But I had been futzing around with the idea of electronic music since around 1999.

Can you tell our followers how to pronounce Ihcilon phonetically?

To be honest, I really don’t have an official way of pronouncing it that has stuck. I decided on ee-hih-lohn but most people say ih-sih-lon so really either way. When I chose it I never expected anyone to have to pronounce it.

Can you describe your process to making your sounds?

It usually starts with something I hear in regular time: motors, blowers, or sometimes the sound of things hitting together like hammers or wind chimes. I’ll try to recreate it in software and if that doesn’t work I turn to household objects and cheap wind instruments. A lot of it happens by accident. Everything is improvised and recorded in one take. I’ll have a basic road map but fingers will slip or memories will lapse and will yield some sometimes interesting results.

What instruments do you most enjoy working with?

I don’t know if many would agree with this definition, but my favorite instrument at the moment is my phone. I mean, I would love to say that I absolutely love my Buchla or Moog but I don’t own anything like that. There is software on my phone that kind of sound like those things and that’s where the joy is right now.

What inspires you to create?

Personal experiences. Much of the sound you will hear from Ihcilon are more autobiographical than anything. You will hear reinterpreted sounds of medical equipment, internal audio of migraines, sounds from dreams, conversations, shows I have been to… It all kind of mixes together.

Are there any moments as a performer that stand out to you?

Memphis Concréte 2017 was by and large the best thing I had ever been involved in up to that point. It was amazing and unlike anything I had ever seen here.

What can Memphis do better to grow and promote electronic music here?

We’re doing a really good job cultivating a scene here. It’s all still a relatively new idea for this area. I think Memphis is still trying to figure out what to do with music you can’t necessarily dance to. But we have many venues that will let us in and as long as that keeps happening I feel like the scene will grow on its own.

If you were to collaborate with one artist who would it be?

Just one?? Probably Diamanda Galás. Her voice has always been captivating. But I will collaborate with just about anyone.

What do you have planned for 2018?

Memphis Concréte, do a handful of shows, and release at least one album. There’s nothing bigger than that.

Here are the songs featured on the mix:

Cyril The Dancing Bear – Pending Disco

iscDo – The Dust Gets In

Three Voices – Retrospection

False – Operant

All is Almost a Prayer – Stammer

Null – Stammer

Mainsplainer – Ihcilon

Enjoy!!

Photo by Heather Wallace

Press Play on Parsons Rocket Project

Parsons Rocket Project is obsessed with all things celestial and spacey. Perhaps that’s why they named their band after Rocket Scientist, Jack Parsons. Sonosphere corresponded with the members of PRP to talk about space, time, and the music in between. They also shared a dream-pop playlist flush with rock reverb, fuzz and disco thumps. Check it all out in the interview and playlist below. Thanks PRP for the tunes!

The debut EP was formed during a tumultuous time for you all as individuals and a band – what songs were you listening to, who/what were your inspirations; was songwriting almost like therapy for you all? Did it bring you together, solidifying the band?

well, it still is tumultuous! we were/are listening to No Joy, Brian Eno, The War on Drugs,Trailer Trash Tracys, Ulrich Schnauss, TYCHO, and a lot of fun stuff like Summer Camp and disco-era Bee Gees (not kidding, its that disco thump) the way we recorded the EP we never were all in the same room at the same time, so it really was isolated in that sense. it really was a virtual band until after the tracks were recorded. there was some definite personal turbulence going on the time these were written, that is reflected in the tracks particularly “burn.” 

Were you always interested in science and space as a kid? What about Jack Parsons led you to name your band after him?

Definitely an obsession with celestial/space things for all of us. Saturn and stars tattoos, spacey graphics, space noises,  space rock, I’m not kidding when I use the term “obsession.” its definitely a thing for us. 

Parsons’ mingling of science and occultism is fascinating and it produced amazing results with dire consequences. he innovated some rocket technology, but ended up blowing himself up and leaving a very sordid legacy. He is such an interesting character though, the creation of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, the trip to the moon, he played a huge role in that and he was also a real legendary degenerate, so that is really intriguing. NASA has disowned his history, but there is a crater on the moon named after him (on the dark side of the moon of course.) and many still refer to JPL, the Jet Propulsion Lab as the Jack Parsons Lab. there may be some upcoming movies or TV shows that explore Parsons, so that will be interesting. 

Do you incorporate science and space into your performances?

like a trip to hyperspace

Does the city of Atlanta influence your sound/aesthetic? 

there are a lot of interesting bands around ATL, there are Applesauce Tears & Twin Studies, Deerhunter. as far as the environment here, it can be very urban and gritty, we spend some time in that environment but also spend some time in areas with a lot of mid-century architecture (space age) and that has an influence too. 

What was it like working with Joe Lambert and recording in a space where some legendary songs were made?

Joe Lambert is such a heavyweight in the industry, we could not have been more pleased with the results there. Ben Price’s StudiLaroche where we recorded is such a great space. we’ve all recorded there in other bands so it is a very familiar, comfortable, homey space.  Plus its a great studio, he has a lot of cool sound toys there to play with and he is one of the best around as far as engineering & producing. recording was just a lot of fun, when we brought in Anne, Michelle and Jennifer for vocals tracking and it was such a great time, like a house party. we had to keep leaving to get more beer, we really invoked some 80s absurd rock star good times but it was productive sonically too, we’re pleased with the tracks. 

Parsons Rocket Project (cover)

Will you be touring with the new record? 

that was the plan but we got hit by the life tornado, Ben Price (guitars, vox) was injured in a really terrible bicycle crash and then there has been other disturbances…so the touring plans got pushed back for now but we’ll come back to that. we’re now all super busy at the moment not just with working on new parsons rocket project material, but we also have our other projects. K Michelle is working on her 2nd LP, Paul has another space rock band called map of the moon that is recording with Dan Dixon (PLS PLS)

Parsons Rocket Project has some big shows coming up in Atlanta in the meantime and we can’t wait for that. The EP is out and its been well-received, so we’re definitely looking forward to expressing ourselves at high volume. after we get our new material recorded, we’d like to do a compact tour which was the original intent.

What are you looking forward to most about touring?

its exciting, the travel, playing different rooms and meeting people. (individually) we’ve toured pretty extensively before in all of our previous bands, so we’re looking forward to touring more intelligently now. we used to slug it out in the clubs for long stretches of time and we really weren’t very smart about it. short, disciplined, focused bursts are the way to go and that is what we plan to do, eventually. 

 

 

Track listing:

Trailer Trash Tracys – Strangling Good Guys (0:01)

Ulrich Schnauss, Mark Peters – Slow Southern Skies (3:48)

Parsons Rocket Project – Exit Launch (8:05)

Amber Arcades – Turning Light (11:01)

Blouse – Happy Days (18:02)

No Joy – Second Spine (22:13)

PLS PLS – Jet Black (26:03)

Applesauce Tears – Fuzzy Mammoth (29:30)

Bee Gees – Jive Talkin’ (33:21)

No Joy – Hellhole (37:06)

Ummagma – Rotation (40:25)

Dais Gone By

Dais Records is run by Gibby Miller and Ryan Martin. They release records that most assumed they would only hear stories about and never hear the tracks themselves. From there first release, “Early Worm,” a 1968 recording from Genesis P-Orridge, thought to be long lost, they have positioned themselves as one of the best curated labels in existence.  Dais is now 10 years old and they’ve managed to do all of this while on opposite coasts  Through Skype and e-mail correspondence we were able to catch up with the guys at Dais Records. Take a listen to the interview with Gibby and Ryan followed by a playlist.

 

 

Tracklist:

2:45 Ragnar Grippe – Sand Part 1

30:02 Tor Lundvall – Hiding

32:56 Coil – 7-Methoxy-β-Carboline: (Telepathine)

55:49  GENESIS BREYER P-ORRIDGE & Thee Early Worm – Rather Hard to Libel

57:22 Choir Boy – Sunday Light

1:01:29 YOU – Feral

1:05:26 Psychic TV – Papal Breakdance

1:11:37 Annabelle’s Garden – If

1:16:37 Youth Code – What Is The Answer

1:19:37 Drab Majesty – 39 By Design

1:24:30 Death of Lovers – The Absolute

1:29:35 Deviation Social – Machines Convulse

1:32:58 Sissy Spacek – Always Eating

1:33:16 Aaron Dilloway – Ghost

1:38:05 Iceage – Remember

1:40:17 Coum Transmissions – 73 Vibrant

1:43:07 Them Are Us Too – Marilyn

1:46:41 Twin Stumps – Siberia

1:50:58 Tor Lundvall – July Evening

1:52:30 Cold Showers – New Dawn

1:57:00 Martial Canterel – And I Thought

2:00:49 Drew McDowall – This Is What It’s Like

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adhesive Sounds

This month’s Press Play mixtape comes from a Toronto-based label called Adhesive Sounds (A/S). Sonosphere connected with A/S creator, Kel.

When did you create Adhesive Sounds?

The winter of 2014 was a time when I was basically housebound with an illness. I was forced to find some kind of creative outlet to keep me active and ease any symptoms of cabin fever.

During my imposed confinement, I started listening to more ambient and freeform music. Film scores were big on my listening menu as well as modern composers. I studied graphic design, and have an enduring interest in the relationship between sound and imagery and its packaging. Music has always been a huge part of my life and starting a label had been a pipe-dream. The label developed from this period of isolation. A blessing in disguise.

How do you find your artists?

By reaching out, and in some cases hunting down, these artists. I listen to everything along the way, everything that is sent to me, everything that seems to share that invisible connecting thread of sound and visual aesthetics.

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

I typically look to release records by current artists who I feel connects with A/S on some stylistic level, unconventional sounds blended with a pop sensibility (in the broadest sense) and an aesthetic that crosses cultures.

Gyoza District

Does Toronto as the city/scene affect your choices for the label? If so, how?

Having moved from Edmonton to Toronto in 2010, I had some catching up to do to get a hold on the art and music scene, and the history – and I do feel committed and obligated to represent Toronto with A/S.

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

Well, for the last couple of years, I guess Vaporwave has been our defining genre. I fell in love with the genre – the whole thing – the influences both visual and sonic. Plundering that era just on the cusp of the Internet Age. The Utopian and Dystopian themes. And certainly consumer demand plays a big part. That’s when the label really lifted off. Vaporwave listeners are a pretty devoted group. And the whole packaging that goes along with the sound. And the main medium, the cassette, is kind of a fetish.

Japanese Treats

Who was the first Adhesive Sound artist/band? 

Our first release was the Clockwork Wizards inspired side project by Japanese Treats.

Who is the newest addition to the label?

自決 9 6and Gyoza District are a couple new producers that we’re super stoked to have on board. We’d also like to welcome Soda Lite, qualchan. and AVION to the A/S roster.

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

I think we had an strong idea of how we wanted things to go, but of course as time progresses you sharpen your skills when it comes to how things get released and the manner of systems you put in place to make things more accessible to your audience.

Who presses your vinyl records/cassettes? How important is physical copies of music? 

We typically get our physical media done through Analogue Media. I think a few label models were influential subconsciously with the curatorial path of A/S. 4AD, Factory, Italians Do It Better…

3 ninjasks

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

Streaming is a big driver, for sure. Listeners and potential buyers get to sample the tracks and preview the artwork. And for us, the label, it’s invaluable to stream new talent that we may consider approaching to collaborate on a project.

New releases to promote this year?

The second half of 2017 will include new projects from Waterfront Dining, a sophomore release from 3 Ninjasks, and a debut EP from David Ben Jack.

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

We’re looking forward to continuing releasing records by progressive artists who we feel connect with A/S on an aesthetic level. Also, we’re excited about unconventional formats. Releasing poster albums, zines.

Track listing:

  1. 69.7ºF Summer is Life. – skyline divine
  2. 01-PASTiS (Sonosphere Premiere track) – KöSHRiMP
  3. Nature’s 5.02 Setting – Finlii
  4. regardi la ripples – Soda Lite
  5. Bermuda-Coral – Hi Tide
  6. Dimensional – Gyoza District
  7. ものを降伏させる – haircuts for men
  8. Waterfall Sanctuary – バーチャルボーイA t s u
  9. b o d y l i n e – s h o r e (Sonosphere Premiere track) – b o d y l i n e
  10. Magic Cavern – Form
  11. In the Dark – Manchac Networks
  12. sky full of stars (Sonosphere Premiere track) – AVION
  13. Aftermath (ft. t e l e p a t h テレパシー能力者) – Hong Kong Express
  14. 真夜中の庭 [midnight garden] – TVVin_PINEZ_M4LL
  15. The Capsule Hotel Where She Lives – 自決 9 6
  16. オープニング・テーマ (Leisure Centre remix) – 豊平区民TOYOHIRAKUMIN
  17. Entrance (Sonosphere Premiere track) – David Ben Jack

A Glamorous Midnight Opera

Sonosphere connected with Nicole Marxen-Myers of Midnight Opera. The band will be hitting the Midwest for two-weeks to showcase their theatrical live performance starting August 30th in Dallas. Midnight Opera is the glam rock band of four friends from Dallas, TX. Mixing ominous art pop with opulent set design and deranged alter egos, their live show makes you feel like you could go out and invent a new color, or wear a leotard to work. Check out Midnight Opera in your city soon but for now check out the rad playlist Nicole assembled for us following the Q&A.
Judd-Myers-Midnight-Opera-1
 
Do you write songs with theatrics already in mind?

We don’t, but we do a lot of prep work while writing that helps inform the theatrical aspect of the band. I’m a very visual person. I find that I naturally associate music with film, so one thing we do is make mood boards for songs we’re writing. It’s like storyboarding a film, it helps to find specific moments and tone within a song.

How much focus is put on the aesthetics of the performance?

We put a lot of work into the visual aspect of the band, whether it’s choreography, lighting, set and costume design. Songwriting comes first, but I tend to think about both aspects simultaneously. We each have different skill sets that we bring to the table, which balances out the work load. Both of the Pauls build, while Teddy and I sew, etc.

You are headed out on another tour soon. Y’all have been hitting the road quite frequently. What effects has it had on the band as a whole? 

Tour has made us a well oiled machine. It can be challenging, but we’re all so close now because of it. And personally, I love playing every night. I feel like I’ve grown as a performer, I learn something new everyday.

Are there certain tricks of trade you have learned on your first few trips on the road?

Wear sensible shoes. Get out of the van every 2 hours and stretch. If you’re going to wear a weird costume, you better bring a steamer. Abba is a dance party’s key ingredient. Sometimes the solution to all your problems is a nap. If your lung collapses, go to the hospital and don’t try to blame it on too much Sriracha.

What do you look forward to on the new tour?

We’re excited to see all of our friends in the Midwest. We’ve toured there a few times now and we’ve always had a positive response. 

What can you tell us about coming out of Dallas. How has the city/state affected your sound?

Dallas is actually a cool city. A lot of people talk about how great Austin is, but it’s so oversaturated. The Dallas community is very tight knit and supportive. It’s come a long way too. I don’t think that we could be doing what we’re doing five years ago. 

Can we look forward to more new tunes from Midnight Opera soon?

Yes! We’ll have a new album in 2018.

 

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.