LABEL PROFILE: DYNAMOPHONE
In March 2007, Dynamophone's manager Evan Sornstein spoke with textura about the label's raison d'être, artists, releases, influences, and future plans.
What year was Dynamophone Records founded, who founded it, why is it located in San Francisco, and who currently manages it?
We began working on Dynamophone in San Francisco in the summer of 2005, but finally got it going in November, while I was living in London. It is managed by me, Evan Sornstein, and the label is assisted by Darren Layne, Ryan Coseboom, and Fonta Hadley.
What prompted you to establish Dynamophone Records?
Several things, really. We wanted to create something beautiful, meaningful and rewarding; to somehow make a difference at home and in the industry. Also, to further a small genre of music that we love, as well as to create a venue for our own music. Something that would let us express our love for music, art, and branding.
Was there a particular musical void that you believed needed to be filled?
Absolutely. But it's really difficult to identify that so-called genre. It's experimental and underground, but it's pretty. Moody, thoughtful, non-aggressive, but not weak. Adult, expressive, warm music. We also are aware of how music is used, and we were wanting to release music for the hours of the day and night in which we most listen: music to work by, and music to relax by. The tricky part is is making sure it's rich and interesting, to keep it as far away as possible from 'down tempo', 'new age', 'dark ambient' and the like. Similarly, to keep it away from more frenetic genres like 'noise', 'glitch', or 'electronica'.
How would you define the label's identity and are there distinguishing characteristics that identify a release as a Dynamophone release?
We hope that Dynamophone's musical and branding identities come across as interesting, beautiful, evocative, and fulfilling. Another key element is that enigmatic combination of Victorian, turn-of-last-century aesthetic and progressive, modern-day experimentation. Old and new simultaneously. Steampunk. Jules Verne. Think Atlantis/Shanghai from Neal Stephenson's Diamond Age and also Gibson & Sterling's The Difference Engine.
There's a sense in which Dynamophone and Type seem to be kindred spirits, despite being geographically far apart. Does that strike you as an accurate statement? Or is there another label that inspired Dynamophone's label philosophy?
Yes, absolutley. We fully appreciate what Type has done, and we enjoy much of their music. Type's Lynchian cinematic approach to building their catalog works very well. I agree that the kinds of music we both endeavor to release are close in genre. We also appreciate what Leaf and Morr have done over the years.
What are some of your favourite label(s)?
Other than the three mentioned above, we're also quite fond of Touch, City Centre Offices, Static Caravan, and, of course, the wonderful 4AD.
What would be your proudest accomplishment to date?
Getting the whole thing up and running in such a short amount of time while looking and sounding consistent across the board.
What releases(s) are you currently promoting?
Our 2006 catalog consists of a really talented array of artists from all over the world - a truly international venture. From Canterbury's young prodigy, James Vella's A Lily to Iceland's Pornopop; through our very own local San Franciscans R/R Coseboom and much of Curium's work in London, we're very excited to have such a diverse pool of talent and quality that represents the Dynamophone sound in just the way we had imagined.
What's in the label's future?
2007 is going to be a busy year for us. There are at least ten new releases we will be promoting in the coming months, including full-length albums from Matt Brown's (from Trespassers William) Disinterested, the cinematic Abbasi Brothers , gorgeous Rigil, Denmark's Po, and a very special Halou record. We are also launching a new product line called the Parcel series. These are limited-edition, hand-made mini-CDs of gorgeous ambient work from a host of exciting artists: The Lullaby League, Sleep Robot, The Science Teacher, Curium, and R/R Coseboom. Finally, we've been giving lots of attention to a Dynamophone sister project, the online music information site we call Ixmae. In essence, Ixmae is a complete resource for reviews, samples, and interviews of artists that we love and want to spread the word about. Things are busy and looking good just ahead.