2005 10 FAVOURITE LABELS
Year founded and location: 1999, London, UK.
Year founded and location: 1998, Düsseldorf , Germany.
Managed by: Andy Vaz.
Identity: Minimal, deep, forward thinking, soulful electronic music.
Distinguishing characteristics: Willing to take risks with what I put out, always trying to feature and discover new talents, not following media trends or hypes, only releasing what I really feel, and staying focused on what I believe in, even though it may not be wise from a business point of view.
Proudest accomplishment: Running the label consistently for seven years now and knowing that's there many more to follow; I'm also happy that, looking back, I've never put out anything I'm now embarrassed about.
Currently promoting: Background Records' 50th release anniversary compilation (various artists, double 12-inch), Terrence Dixon's Minimalism III (12-inch).
Future: We will be changing Background Records's distribution in January 2006 by teaming up with Mutualism in Berlin who will handle export sales. As house music (my first love) is becoming more important to me again, the focus of my label work will also shift a bit more to the A Touch of Class sub-label. A debut full-length album by Paul Hammond (aka Further Details) is scheduled to be released in 2006, plus we've signed new artists like Janek Schaefer (Cologne) and also added Lowtec to the A Touch of Class roster.
Favourite label(s): Soundsignature, because Theo has consequently been making the deepest stuff around for years and his music has always been a great inspiration; Stones Throw, mainly because of Madlib/Quasimoto but also Madvillian and most of the other great stuff they've been putting out. They brought hip-hop to a new level after it stagnated for years and it's always a great pleasure listening to their records while I do my daily label-related office work.
CITY CENTRE OFFICES
Year founded and location: 1998, Manchester, UK and Berlin, Germany.
Managed by: Shlom Sviri (Manchester), Thaddeus Herrmann (Berlin).
Identity: Too diverse to pin it down these days: electronic listening music, hip-hop, indie.
Distinguishing characteristics: The combination of the aforementioned styles distinguishes CCO.
Proudest accomplishment: Every record we put out makes us proud.
Currently promoting: Porn Sword Tobacco's Explains Freedom, CYNE's Evolution Fight, Static's Re: Talking About Memories.
Future: Next year will see releases from already-established artists on the label such as Dictaphone, Donato Wharton, Marsen Jules, Miwon, plus brand new stuff; also, watch out for our new sublabel Büro.
Favourite label(s): Modern Love (because it rocks the floor), Plop (quality Japanese label with releases from Fenton, Fifla et cetera), and Sleeparchive (because the stuff is just so good).
Year founded and location: 1999, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA.
Distinguishing characteristics: Its willingness to champion of the extreme ends of the spectrum, from sweet to mean, and its brazen lack of adherence to genre.
Currently promoting: Skeletons and The Girl-Faced Boys: "Git" (the demo took my breath away, major ruckus, uncomfortable in the best kind of way), Mobius Band: The Loving Sounds Of Static (gorgeously executed piece of modern pop, imbued with sincerity and experience), Audion: Suckfish (subconscious techno, very personal), VA: Idol Tryouts 2: The Ghostly International Company Vol. 2 (28-track Compilation of the Ghostly Universe, mostly new and exclusive, where we are and where we're going).
Thorsten Sideb0ard self-portait
Year founded and location: 2001, London, UK and San Francisco, USA.
Managed by: The label was started by me (Thorsten Sideb0ard) and a friend named Joseph Hurt. We released our first disc in 2001 when we were both based in San Francisco but shortly afterwards both of us moved away, I to London and Joe to Chicago. The label ended up on a hiatus for just over a year, since when I got to London, I ended up getting involved in a label my wife was starting called tsk! tsk! records. Our second Highpoint Lowlife release didn't happen until summer of 2003, and we've been going steady since then, mostly run by me out of London but more and more Joe (who has now moved back to San Francisco) who is taking on other projects, such as the new randomNumber album.
Identity: It's really somewhere between indie-rock and electronics, although that doesn't specifically mean a combination of the two, it's really just a reflection of our taste. Our one stipulation for a release is: “Is it something I would buy?” It's strange, because even though the music can be different, no matter where I am, I find I'm as likely to see the same kids at an Autechre show as I do at a Mogwai or Devendra Banhart show, so we don't see any division between the styles.
Currently promoting: All of them, I'm overwhelmed at the moment! Our two current ones are Bovaflux and the Village Orchestra, both leaning towards the quieter side of electronics. The Marcia Blaine School For Girls' album is still in the works, but the pieces I have heard from it so far are extraordinary! Another Glasgow band with a very different sound, Fuck-Off Machete, is one of my favorite bands, especially after seeing them last year. I had met them a few times; we became good friends and now are working on a single and a full-length for them. We have another new band on the label called The Mandelbrot Set who are more in the line of loud instrumental space-rock, absolutely stunning live and on record. Our new randomNumber and Tigrics albums have a really cutting-edge quality to their electronics, very hyperactive and absorbing. The two getting mastered at the moment (Fisk Industries and Izu) are big chunky electronic numbers, and we have a few new releases due from artists like Marshall Watson and Like A Stuntman. For next year, I am really excited about a 7-inch project we're doing called The Beautiful Tactile Objects Series Vol. 1. It's going to be a run of seven 7-inch releases in each volume, all pressed on heavyweight vinyl with thick card sleeves. Each release will be a different monochrome screen print, which together will make up a rainbow. On board so far, we have Bugs Eat Books, Tarentel, Colophon, and a few other amazing artists who I cannot name just yet.
Year founded and location: 1993, Chicago, Illnois, USA.
Distinguishing characteristics: That's all in the ear of the beholder.
Proudest accomplishment: The best is yet to come. In 'Viagra and Hummers America' staying in business independent of the corporate apparatus is an accomplishment in itself.
Currently promoting: Boduf Songs' Boduf Songs, Lichens' The Psychic Nature of Being, Christopher Bissonnette's Periphery, Dawn Smithson's Safer Here, Brian McBride's When the Detail Lost its Freedom, and Windy & Carl's The Dream House / Dedications to Flea (double-disc)—all out this fall and all magnificent albums.
Year founded and location: January 2000, Miami, Florida, USA.
Distinguishing characteristics: Specific attention to the quality of releases, lack of in-your-face hype/promotion.
Proudest accomplishment: Machine Drum's Half the Battle CD.
Currently promoting: Malcom Kipe.
Year founded and location: 2004, New York City, NY, USA.
Distinguishing characteristics: Hopefully Microcosm distinguishes itself as a singular voice within the realm of the aforementioned styles of music, both in approach and broadness of range. I'm trying to release music that may fall under the expansive umbrella of the word techno, while still offering a lot that surpasses the dance floor and other genre confines, and hopefully can push the sound forward. I think that by doing this you get a nice mixture of tracks that may have fit on other labels by themselves, but Microcosm brings them all together and highlights the connections between them, all the shared, underlying themes. I hope that people can listen to something and say, “That's a Microcosm song,” because of a personalized stamp, different from another label that might be releasing similar material, albeit from a different voice.
Proudest accomplishment: Honestly, I feel lucky and honored and proud about the whole project, like it's all one big amazing moment. Sorry if that sounds cliché, but it's how I feel about it, just shaping this label into what I want it to be, and working with the people I've been working with. If I had to pinpoint a couple of signposts where I started to feel like the label was gaining momentum, or more interest, it would be when Macrofun 2 sold out (the first release to sell out) and when Kompakt picked us up for distribution. Both examples made me realize that a wider audience was appreciating the label, and the wider worldwide distribution is key.
Currently promoting: I'm really looking forward to the new Socks and Sandals release, their first solo 12-inch, which will be out in November. Early next year, we have a new 12-inch from Someone Else, two 12-inch remix releases of Early Morning Migration material, a new CD album by either me alone or with Morgan Packard, and lots of other releases that are almost confirmed. The Macrofun Compilation CD, which will be out later next year, maybe in the summer or fall, is something I've been looking forward to since the label's inception. It'll be a culmination of the 10-inch series (which is still awaiting more releases on vinyl) and I think it will be a benchmark for the label in general. There will be plenty of extras and exclusives on the CD, and there will be a major concentration on the artwork and packaging to make it an extra-special release, one that kind of looks backward and forward at the same time.
Favourite label(s): There are many, but I'll say The Leaf Label, for the overall quality and variety. Colleen and Murcof? That's enough for me right there.
Randy Jones (Caro), Bruno Pronsato, Strategy, Helicopter Hearts, Mossa
Year founded and location: 2001, Seattle, USA.
Currently promoting: Our latest full-length Helicopter Hearts by [a]pendics.shuffle.
Future: We are going to keep our regional focus while mixing it up with releases and remixes from guest artists, such as the Dapayk single coming soon. Besides being fun and interesting, this cultural interchange helps us define our space in the global context of dance music.
Favourite label(s): Aside from labels run by our immediate family, like Adjunct and Community Library, Boogizm is one of our favorites. They combine a wide range of influences from house to techno to hiphop with a super-positivo energy and a wide-eyed openness to explore. They are helping make the future we want to live in.
Year founded and location: 2003, Birmingham, UK.
Proudest accomplishment: The success of Khonnor's Handwriting has been a great pleasure to me. Having worked with Connor for many years, it felt very good to see people enjoying his music as much as I do. However, my favourite moments have been when we've had a team together—family meet-ups! This year's Sonar festival was great in that respect, as was the Rydal festival in Sweden last year. There's nothing quite as enjoyable as having a drink and a chat with the Type extended family.
Currently promoting: Our next release is the Midaircondo album Shopping For Images and that's a really exciting release. We've been working with Lisa, Malin, and Lisen for a really long time now, since the album was conceived, and it's obviously a very special project for us all. They're amazingly talented and if anyone gets a chance to see them live they should do it without any further thought! After that is the Deaf Center album Pale Ravine which is a gorgeous, foggy cinematic work. They kicked off our Type series with Neon City last year and this is an impeccable follow-up.