Home Normal – An interview with Ian Hawgood.

HOMENORMAL_LOGO

I Don’t think there has been a label that has influenced my listening quite like Home Normal. I came across the label relatively early on and have been following them since eagerly picking up their quality releases. Label boss Ian Hawgood took time out of his busy schedule to kindly answered my questions. 

In March it will be 9 years since the label started. Over those years a number of labels have shut their doors (or just gone to digital only eg: Line). In that time the label has moved from the UK to Japan, back to the UK and now based in Poland (with a presence in the previous homes). Its quite an achievement to last this long. What propels you to keep going in this ever changing environment ?

Home Normal actually started when I was living in Japan, and I fully restarted the label when we moved to Poland again after a little bit of a break while my wife studied in the UK. Home Normal was founded on the idea of what ‘home’ and ‘normality’ meant and sounded like whilst living in a country other than where I grew up in the UK, so it has always made more sense and been inspired by my experiences living in homes beyond. Without a shadow of a doubt, the move to Poland and my constant contact in Japan (where we are still mostly distributed and based), have kept things fresh and alive in this vein. Music that connects to me deeply and makes wherever I am at that moment ‘home’ is truly inspirational on a spiritual / auditory level.

The other side are the people involved, notably the artists right now. They are all friends, supporters, and we have a bit of a family now with the work we do together. Working on a physical package together really is a joy, and seeing an end product that you can hold in your hands makes all the work worth it. I do understand labels closing or going digital, and we are constantly on the edge really as we don’t break even on most releases. So we produce work very carefully. The simple truth is that certain small things can happen that can deeply impact the funding of a label, and we have to be aware of that. I would never go digital only for Home Normal as it just wouldn’t be worth it at all as it would be too limited and limiting without any physical end product or reason. I love physical formats and that has to be the end of the creative path as it has a permanence to it. And I love the idea that when the digital age passes, when things are lost and forgotten, someone will come across this disc of music they’ve never come across before wherever that may be, and it connects to them as it does to me each and every day. That’s what keeps me going. Discovery.

You have become an in-demand mastering engineer with your credits appearing on numerous releases. As well as running a label and mastering how do you combat listening fatigue?

That’s a really good question. I’ve been doing sound engineering and mastering for 20 years now, so before I started the labels. The labels were in some way a reaction to some of the work I did in the past that was commercial and quite tiring to work on each day. I’m lucky in that I can pick and choose my projects now, and that the label and mastering are not my day to day work. However, I found myself feeling incredibly exhausted listening to almost any music earlier in the year, as if I had finally peaked and my ears couldn’t take anymore. I started meditating and minimising the flow of my life in Warsaw, and when flying (which I do a lot for work) I chose to not listen to music nor watch films, but instead quietly read books or just relax / meditate. That might sound weird, but I learnt how to slow down my life when not switched ‘on’ for the label and engineering works. I now no longer listen to anything outside the studio or my home, no headphones on the go, and I have come to massively enjoy walking slowly and absorbing my surroundings. The listening fatigue I felt kind of saved me really, as I never feel rushed or tired, and I come at music in a fresh way each time as a result. I enjoy the mastering I do so much now as well because of this.

Beyond the music I work on in whatever capacity, I’ve also taken to really enjoying my old records and cassettes again. I listen to mostly old Folkways recordings and old Blues music. The music keeps me connected to something real when I listen to quite a lot of digitised work, and keeps my ears fresh in a way. It sometimes feels like I am giving my ears a sound bath when listening to some crackly old harmonica record for example.

How mindful are you when selecting music to release? Does being aware of musical trends and the sudden influx of music such as the Modern Classical  resurgence influence your decision making?

Not at all. If the music has soul, is true and connects, that is all I need. Whilst we are very careful in our scheduling, we’ve released a wider variety of genres than many people seem aware. The one connection to each album is a sense of identity and self; something organic and timeless. Trends are too limited to a certain time, and I have no energy for the modern trend of music artists and labels that seem solely focused on getting on playlists through any means necessary, and ignoring the art they should really be creating with their undoubted talent.

From the outside the label appears to foster a family approach with a regular roster of artists (as well as newer artists) and collaborators such as art and design. How important are the relationships to the success and longevity of the label?

Massively. I wanted the label to release works by new artists, and we’ve tried to keep this up for the past 9 years, I think fairly successfully. But the simply truth is that a label has to have an identity and group of people that keep it going, and financially and energy-wise, you can’t keep releasing new artists. There are so many people who I am personally connected to, so whatever the storm (not many to be honest), we survive and thrive based on this. Jeremy Bible and Christian Roth are still friends who are always there for me, Ben Jones is still my best friend and sounding-board for the label. My friends in Japan always help whenever I need to step away for a bit, and this keeps me sane. Hitoshi Ishihara and Eirik Holmøyvik are amazing photographers and always there to support, constantly appearing on the label. And then the artists…I am in regular contact with people like Stefano Guzzetti, James Murray, Giulio Aldinucci, Danny Norbury, Stijn Huwels, Federico Durand, Moritz Leppers (Altars Altars ) and many more, so it is enjoyable to work on artistic projects with them. It is collaborative and inspiring, and this is so fundamental to running a label I feel, and without this I wouldn’t have carried on far as long as I have.

 You have dabbled with vinyl for the Pimmon and Fabio Orsi & Sontag Shogun and Moskitoo releases. Is this a format that we will see more releases on HN?

Sadly not. In Japan we just can’t sell vinyl really, and less people buy it than you’d think outside, no matter what the press say. We put everything into the former release, and only the CD edition we sold ourselves saved the label, as we never received anything for the vinyl sadly. It was just a bit of a nightmare, despite being such an amazing release. We actually had to put the label on hold for a long time just to make up for the losses. The Sontag Shogun and Moskitoo release was a 7″ and was made by the group themselves. We just helped to release it with them really as I’m a big fan of Jeremy Young’s various projects, and even then people didn’t grab it from us, with quite a few people asking why we didn’t put it out on CD. So I’m content in the knowledge that we are set-up as a CD label now, and that seems to be the best thing for us for better or for worse.

I still mostly buy vinyl myself though, and I have been working on a vinyl and cassette label for a few years now which should see light of day later this year. It is only for the odd reissue, and these are mostly just Japanese classics that many people outside Japan might not know. I’m mostly doing this because I want to own the vinyl of these amazing albums, so this is really for my own benefit really!

The Tokyo Droning and Nomadic Kids Republic labels have been quiet for a while. Will we see them revived at some point? 2017 and 2018 has seen you release on the label. Will we see more collaborative releases between yourself and others?

Tokyo Droning was based on using local paper and objects from where we lived in rural Saitama (Japan). The paper company closed down after the Tohoku earthquake so we stopped the label sadly. NKR was always supposed to be limited to a set of ‘polaroid’ style releases which we stopped in 2012. However, whilst TD focused on more experimental sound design, NKR was always intended to release works from various artists we have come across on our travels and lives around the world. We were supposed to re-open NKR last year but have been mapping out the best way to do this with friends in Japan as I don’t have time alongside my own work. Both labels should be re-opening this year as digital labels with the odd physical releases, and these will help to finance the future of the Home Normal physical packages and promotion in turn which is good.

In terms of collaborations, yes we will release more. I had been working on a bunch of collaborations over the years that I stopped working on a couple of years ago due to some personal stuff. After releasing some piano sketches last year in ‘Love Retained’ (my first solo album in 4 years by that point), it somehow cleared a path to return to these great collaborations and I realised just how special they were. It brought me back to music-making after a long hiatus, and I now have some secret projects coming out this year on amazing labels and some really great collaborations on HN and some other labels. The first of these will be my collaborations with Danny Norbury and Giulio Aldinucci respectively. I’m also currently tying up a monolithic work/s with James Murray. Our work together is ongoing now on a daily basis and is a huge surprise in how perfect it is coming together really.

What does the future hold with the decade anniversary not too far away?

A decade…phew. I’ve been asked this a number of times but the simple truth is I can’t think in those terms really as I am just enjoying the day to day creativity of working with friends. We’ve got very special packages coming out by Stefano Guzzetti and Federico Durand in the first half of the year, then a whole series of collaborations featuring Stijn Hüwels, a new Chronovalve, a reissue of my favourite Altars Altars album, a couple of other collaborations between various artist friends…and a lot more going up to 2020 at least. All I can really say is I am so excited to be releasing some truly special, subtle, magical works over the next year before we reach our ten year anniversary. Once we get there, I’ll probably just invite some artists and friends over for a road trip, go to a mountain, climb to the peak, and feel at peace in the quietude of these friendships I’ve made, and the amazing people they are…then climb down the mountain, go home, and start on with the next musical package to send out into the world. That would be a pretty fitting.

Advertisements

Interview with Hayden Berry – Preserved Sound.

2gxt

I have been a fan of Preserved Sound and was lucky to discover them early on and have several of their releases in my collection. Over the years they have maintained a handmade aesthetic while producing releases over a variety of genres while cultivating a roster that includes Vitaly Beskrovny, Tess Said So, Adrian Lane, Ales Tsurko and label boss Hayden Berry’s own Visionary Hours project. Hayden generously answered the questions I sent to him.

a3691429944_16

What were your intentions in starting the label? Was it to release your own music or document an artist(s) or scene? 

Preserved Sound was started by a small group of friends in Krakow, Poland, in 2011. Between us we were in four different musical projects producing music in the post-rock and ambient genres, and we felt that we needed some kind of platform to promote and release our music. We put on a concert by all four artists played and gave away a free 4-track sampler. This was followed by releases from Visionary Hours, New Century Classics and Lights Dim. At this stage, Preserved Sound wasn’t so much of a label, as a collective of artists who believed in strength in numbers and that we were better of promoting our music together than individually.

 

Shortly after this, we had an idea to release a compilation of ambient artists from Ukraine and Poland, and worked with our friends at AZK Promo in Kyiv to pull together some of the most important ambient artists working in both countries. We released this as a hand-made, limited edition double CD called It’s Not Boring, It’s Ambient, featuring artists such as Emiter and Pleq from Poland, and Heinali and Endless Melancholy from Ukraine. The compilation can still be downloaded for free from our website. On the back of the success of the compilation, we started receiving loads of requests from artists asking us to release their albums. And so Preserved Sound was born!

a4118650737_16

You’ve developed a catalogue by putting out several releases by Vitaly Beskrovny, Tess Said So, Adrian Lane, Max Ananyev and others. Is it important to build a catalogue as opposed to being a destination label (by that I mean a label that has releases from artists who release on many other labels)?

Preserved Sound has always been about building a family of artists, rather than being a “destination” label. When we decide to release a particular artist, we do so with the understanding that the artist will develop, and we hope that he or she won’t just create the same album over and over again, but will deliver something new. Our artists understand that Preserved Sound won’t make them rich, but they also know that they are contributing to building a space for them to grow and develop their work. This is why it’s important for us to be loyal to our artists. We don’t use contracts, and our artists are free to take their albums elsewhere if they choose. Like many small labels, we operate on a good faith basis.

What are the fundamental requirements in putting out a release? Is it purely the music, the relationships formed or are there also economic considerations?

The only requirement for Preserved Sound to put out a release is that we like the music. This means that we’re prepared to take the hit if an album doesn’t do as well as we expected. But at the same time, it’s important that an artist is prepared to help promote their album. We’re all in this together, and it’s important for us to know that an artist won’t just sit back and expect everything to happen, but will be fully involved in the process. The more an artist is engaged in promotion, the further the album will go. Like Richard Knox from Gizeh Records mentioned in one of your previous interviews: “The only thing I’m concerned about is; are the people involved nice and is the music good.” This sums it up really!

 

a2963064952_2

Labels have come and gone in the time you have been running Preserved Sound. What has kept you going while others have stopped?

 That’s a difficult question to answer. Running a small label can be a lonely pursuit, and I question why I do it on a fairly regular basis. I have a full-time job and a young family, and the time I can dedicate to running the label is pretty limited. I suppose the one thing that has kept me going is the belief in the music Preserved Sound releases. I enjoy the process of developing a release, from initial contact with an artist through to sending out the product. There’s something quite addictive about it! I also like the idea of giving a platform to unknown artists

 You’ve released one vinyl LP in Richard Youngs’ Red Alphabet in the Snow. Is this a format you would return to?

Yes! I’ve just released Beyond the White by my own Visionary Hours project as a limited edition vinyl of just 99 copies. And I’m releasing a new album on vinyl by Richard Youngs called Arrow in late spring 2018. I’d love to release more on vinyl, but the cost is quite prohibitive. It’s important for a label to be accessible, and unfortunately vinyl isn’t the most accessible format. How many people under the age of 25 can afford to regularly buy vinyl priced £15 or more? Not to mention the postage costs!

a2869001528_2

 

What does the future bring for Preserved Sound? How far do you plan into the future?

 I never used to think we planned very much into the future, but when I look at what we’ve got lined up for 2018, I suppose you could call it a plan. Other than the Richard Youngs vinyl, we have a new album by cellist Aaron Martin coming in January. We’ve also got a couple of albums by new artists to Preserved Sound—more on that to come soon. Tess Said So and Poppy Nogood are also recording new albums.

An interview with Dronarivm’s Dmitry Taldykin.

Dronarivm has been around since May 2012 with the release of Star Turbines “The Sleeping Land” on cassette. From this auspicious start and with Bartosz Dziadosz (Pleq) acting as curator, the label has gone from strength to strength releasing music from the likes of Celer, Offthesky, Porya Hatami, The Green Kingdom, Caught in the Wake Forever, Guilio Aldinucci and many more. Label boss Dmitry Taldykin kindly answered my questions.

Please introduce yourself. Why did you start Dronarivm?  Did you have experience with music before starting the label? Was there a label prior to Dronarivm? 

My name is Dmitry Taldykin.  I’m from Moscow, Russia.

Dronarivm is the logical continuation of Radiodrone Records, that was focused on the Russian experimental ambient scene. After I had received the first demo from abroad I took thought to work with foreign markets. Radiodrone Records was not very successful and I decided to start Dronarivm-  that’s how it appeared. The first release was reissue on CD of a cassette album by Celer – Rags of Contentment. I just sent the email to Will Long and he gave me authorization…..it was 5 years ago, Autumn 2012.

When I was younger I played the guitar in an alternative rock group, but it was not connected with the label. It was another story from both sides, musical and aesthetic.

From the outside looking in you and Pleq have a close relationship. How did you meet/come across his music? How important to Dronarivm is he?

Continuing the story… When I was ready to take over the world J)) I got the account on Facebook, where I met Bartosz Dziadosz aka Pleq. I sent him one message: – Hi! Do you want to release something on a cassette? And he replied: – Yes, that would be great!

After that I released the split Pleq / Philippe Lamy. It was very limited edition – around 30 copies. I ordered new cassettes from USA, recorded them at home on two-cassette deck Pioneer, that was equipped with digital input. I bought it in Yaroslavl, Russian city located 300 km away from Moscow.

After some time Bartosz decided to become the curator of Dronarivm. He introduced me to many musicians via internet and acted as an intermediary in the publication of many subsequent releases. This partly remains to this day.

What quality do you look for in a release for Dronarivm ? Do you accept demos?

It is very complicated question. It depends on personal preferences. We are trying not to concentrate on one music genre. We can release drone ambient like Chihei Hatakeyama, or piano modern classical like Lorenzo Masotto. We don’t care about the commercial profit in general. We always look for completeness, perfection… Ideally an album should sound as hell from start to end as much as possible. I don’t know how to express the idea exactly… But I hope sometimes we get it 🙂

Dronarivm is interested mostly in fusion of such genres as ambient, modern classical, electronic, field recordings, experimental. Sometimes we release them in pure, but it happens very seldom.

It is possible to send us demos. But unfortunately we can’t release all we get and listen.

So far 2017 has seen 7 releases. What can be expected for the rest of the year and have you got plans for 2018? (Please note I factored in the just released omrr CD, which was wasn’t released at the time the questions were sent and the re-issued /expanded Olan Mill CD)

Frankly speaking nowadays I see only 5 🙂 Elegi, Lorenzo Masotto, Pausal, Pleq, Enrico Coniglio & Matteo Uggeri… We can also consider Omrr – Devils for my Darling as sixth, it will be issued in the end of September. By the time this interview will be published it could be fait accompli

In 2017 we are planning to release Sven Laux – Paper Streets and Aaron Martin & Machinefabriek – Seeker.

Also we have some plans for 2018. I don’t want to give any comments on that. The only thing I would like to say – these will be wonderful albums, as always 🙂 Hope everything will work out fine.

How important is the visual identity of packaging and format to the label? You have done tapes and cds. Have you considered vinyl?

I’m not sure if listener can recognize Dronarivm once looked at it. Many labels create their own aesthetic canons to make their releases appear visually recognizable, identifiable in the general flow. It is very clear desire taking into consideration the volume of music production.

As for Dronarivm, we work individually with each particular release. We don’t have any rules in design. It is absolutely up to the taste of musician and editor.

CD is the optimal format for us now. To release vinyl, I would need to move to Latvia or the Czech Republic, or somewhere else forever. In Russia, to release vinyl costs a lot of money. If sometimes it happen it will be the last release of Dronarivm 🙂 Maybe in future something will change. But while we continue to do what we do. With hope for the best …

An interview with Whitelabrec’s Harry Towell.

One of the hardest working people in the Ambient/Drone sphere is Harry Towell. He wears many hats and has four labels in various states of activity as well as his well known Spheruleus moniker. I caught up with Harry to talk about his Whitelab Rec’s label.

You record under the Spheruleus name (as well as Magnofon) and run the Tesselate, Audio Gourmet and Warehouse Decay labels while also writing for the Irregular Crates Blog. What was the impetus in starting another label? Are you a workaholic? Are Tesselate and Warehouse Decay still active?

I am indeed a workaholic. I have no idea how I find the time. But then I don’t truly see music as work so it’s not hard. With all the labels and pseudonyms, I guess like many artists, I have a habit of starting something new! Some creators end things by closing doors neatly behind them when they intend to open a new one. Others, like me, tend to leave doors open and chop and change between projects. Audio Gourmet for instance could have stopped a couple of years back when I was working more on Tesselate and Warehouse Decay, but I am glad I left the door ajar , as this year I’ve been putting out free EP’s again and really enjoyed it, with some great support.

 

Currently Warehouse Decay is inactive and I’ve no immediate plans to get it going again. I’ve always loved House music and wanted to be a part of the scene and use my experience running Ambient labels to make a go of it. Unfortunately it proved a tough nut to crack and apart from a few friends who supported it loyally, I felt pretty alone. It’s interesting that Ambient music fans, artists, labels etc have all taken different paths to stumble on the genre, many from Post Rock, Metal or IDM, many from the New Age or ethnic Ambient genres too. It seems that Deep House is not such a conventional route and so I didn’t have as many interested contacts or a connected audience.

Tessellate is not fully closed, despite being inactive of late. I always feel it could be another window if I felt like splashing the cash on some more luxurious packaging but the trouble is the risk as to whether I’d make enough back to justify a bigger release.

I launched Whitelabrecs after an idea which was the blueprint for the packaging and I recalled how well Under The Spire did as a label when starting out, when they released things in simple rubber stamped cardboard packages. I had also recently been reunited with my record collection and was feeling very nostalgic about the days when I’d visit local record stores, purchasing white label vinyl as I got to grips with DJing. Often records would have nothing other than a sticker or rubber stamp, sometimes even just an etching on the black plastic space near the label. So I did the usual, set up a website, a Bandcamp page and started asking around to see if anyone would want to release on this new label of mine. Thankfully there was a lot of interest and here we are today!

How important is the visual identity to the label? Compared to the Tesselate releases, Whitelabrec’s releases have the hand-made aesthetic. Was it important for the label to have an aesthetic to encompass a concept?

For Whitelabrecs this has become crucially important – it was the idea behind the label and I’ll keep it going for as long as I can. I think this is also why I slowed down with Tessellate, as the packaging is different for pretty much every release and the label never truly found an identity. When the idea struck for Whitelabrecs, I truly connected with it and wanted this to be the plan for all releases on the label. I knew there’d be the odd detour but for general releases, I decided that it was very important to follow the pattern this time so I could build an identity.

Is the label genre bound or do the releases float over various genres?

The label isn’t genre-bound as it will be rooted in my own music taste which is incredibly varied. So far releases have been generally within the modern Ambient scene, perhaps encompassing most of the sub-genres from floatier drone stuff, to glitch electronics and onto Modern Classical, Folk and even Jazz. This has generally gone down well with listeners. I’m open to pushing the boundaries in the future and taking one or two detours so watch this space! But generally, I’m looking at releasing introspective, thought-provoking music and can’t see that changing. In other words, I’m not likely to rekindle my failed dreams from Warehouse Decay by releasing dancefloor-ready Tech House!

A glance at the catalog reveals a mixture of familiar names with those that are new (or side projects). How important is it to you to expose people to new artists? Does this become a factor when deciding what to release?

I have always worked with both newer names to the scene and more established artists and in the Whitelabrecs catalog there is a blend. I don’t dwell too much on whether an artist has released before, how successful their other work was or how many Instagram followers they have. We’ve only got 50 copies to make and sell, of which the artist gets 10. So I only have to worry about those 40 copies and they tend to shift regardless of how well established an artist is. Sure, it certainly helps to have some familiar names –releases by Tsone, Steve Pacheco and Guy Gelem took little in the way of a push! I’m also delighted to give some other artists their first taste of releasing a physical album however, such as Sea Trials, Ludmila and Ben McElroy. I remember how exciting this felt when I first held a copy of ‘Frozen Quarters’ which I released as Spheruleus on Under The Spire.

Looking at the future of the label there are no plans to just attract well-known artists now it’s a bit more established. We have demos queued up until WLR043 and in that queue we’ve got some well-known artists as well as new comers so the blend will continue.

You’ve recently done a cassette release and the 20 cdr box set. What other plans do you have for the future? Do you plan quite far in advance?

There’ll likely be another box set for those that don’t mind waiting a year or two to play catch up. I did this so that there’s a way for people new to the label to not miss out completely and also, because I was getting asked about out of print releases. I’ve always said I wouldn’t reissue anything individually, but since box set orders are always likely to be low due to the price tag, I took the decision to do this just so there is a way for new collectors to join in the fun.
I enjoyed making the mix tape too and was surprised at the level of interest having never worked with this format before. I’ll certainly be doing more mix tape releases in the future and perhaps get into the local fields and continue the photography theme for the artwork.

There are no other clear ideas just yet as I’m currently just getting my head down and working my way through the discography queue. I think another compilation could be in order at some point but there’s no overall rush on that. There will be new ideas though – with both the box set and the tape, the ideas struck me suddenly and it doesn’t take me long to pull it all together once ideas such as these set in.

With schedule, I’ll take in demos and add them to the back of the queue once approved. I’ll leave them until I get nearer – perhaps drop in with the artist and have a chat now and again. Some artists are very keen and understandably so, so we organise things well in advance so everything’s ready. Other artists are happy to leave it until the few weeks in the run up to the release and wait for me to get back in touch.

There is a lot to do for each release but we’ve followed a similar formula since the beginning, so I’m quite used to it now, 28 releases in – so the work isn’t too daunting. I guess burning the CDs is the most time-consuming thing but that gives me a chance to work on other things, listen to music and relax bit too.

You can check out more :

Whitelabrecs

Bandcamp

An interview with Lost Tribe Sound’s Ryan Keane.

wp-image--341619263

 

 

In the first in an occasional series bringing light to those that are responsible the physical release of music, I sent off some questions to Lost Tribe Sound boss Ryan Keane. Ryan is responsible for releases from William Ryan Fritch, The Green Kingdom, Graveyard Tapes, Western Skies Motel, Part Timer and others. There will be more reviews of the LTS catalog to come, but in the meantime please enjoy this interview.

wp-image--1480848194.

Please introduce yourself. Why did you start Lost Tribe Sound? Did you have experience with music before starting the label? Is it a one man operation?

Hi DAF, thanks for taking the time to talk with me. I’m Ryan Keane, owner at LTS. Lost Tribe Sound originally started as a way for my buddy Andrew Sanchez and I to release the music we made as Tokyo Bloodworm back in 2007. After one self release we decided it was a better idea to release with a more established label, so we reached out to Andrew and Craig at Moteer to release our next two albums.

In 2009, I had the crazy notion I could take on releasing music from other artists. Enter William Ryan Fritch’s Vieo Abiungo project. And yes, I am technically a one man operation. Of course all the musicians, visual artists, and fans play a big part in keeping me busy. But I am the PR team, the art & video department, the packing & shipping division, manufacturing and the complaint department.

From the outside looking in you and William Ryan Fritch have a close relationship. How did you meet/come across his music? How important to Lost Tribe Sound is he?

William and I first met in Tempe, AZ where I was living at the time, he came down from Flagstaff to play a show that my musical project Tokyo Bloodworm was also scheduled to play. I ended up backing out of the show, but I’d become interested in his music from some of the samples online so I decide to attend. William and I hit it off almost immediately, discussing our similar taste in music for artists such as Muslimgauze, Manyfingers and Bonnie Prince Billy to name a few. At that point, I mentioned it might be fun to release some of William’s music he had posted from his experimental ethno-centric project Vieo Abiungo. It immediately struck me as the sound I had been hoping someone would create for years. Deep drums, modern classical elements, textured as hell, and it dipped in the realm of world music without coming off as cheesy or contrived.

It’s easy for me to say, that without William Ryan Fritch there would be no Lost Tribe Sound. He has definitely been the most crucial and central artist on our roster. His talents as a multi-instrumentalist are unparalleled. The rough-hewn and organic approach Fritch delivers on all of his releases, speaks so perfectly to the central vision I had for Lost Tribe Sound from the beginning. The fact that we still speak almost daily, and that he’s trusted LTS to release 26 of his albums since 2010, I realize is an unbelievable privilege. Fritch is my closest ally, a best friend, and the most talented individual I ever had the opportunity to work with. I always remind him he needs to remember the little people when he is famous one day.

wp-image--2095960876.

You also do publishing/licensing with Settled Scores. How did this come about? Do you represent other artists than those on Lost Tribe Sound?

Settled Scores is the licensing arm of Lost Tribe Sound. It has been a slow burning project since 2013 or so, spawning from much of the work for film that William Ryan Fritch was bringing in. We expanded the licensing end to include other artists from the LTS roster and beyond in 2014, working with clients like GoPro cameras and an ever-growing list of indie film makers and forward thinking companies. Including the LTS roster, we represent catalogs for a select group of artists who approach making music in a similarly rustic and unique way. The goal behind Settled Scores is to show commercial, tv and film makers that we offer a great alternative the highly overused and often times drab music that seems to dominate the industry. I personally love seeing a high action scene set to music that is more contemplative and out of the ordinary, it adds a tension and interest to the shot, that no canned “action music” could even touch (example).

I’m hoping that more directors move in this direction, as there is a big beautiful world of experimental and extraordinary music out there that deserves their attention. Our Settled Scores roster outside of the LTS catalog currently includes works from Christoph Berg, Skyphone, Aaron Martin, James Murray, Anne Garner, Wickerbird, Glacis, Kyle Bobby Dunn and Mid-Wife to name a few.

a2911921273_16.jpg

What quality do you look for in a release for Lost Tribe Sound? Do you accept demos?

There is no set genre or style I hold a LTS release to. I am more attracted to the vibe and mood the music offers. Usually, LTS releases tend to be less electronic, with a focus on real instrumentation. Not to say they can’t feature electronic elements but it is more about the nature in which they are treated. I love music when it is hard to place a time or region it may have come from. Of course rustic, dark, pulsing blends of folk, classical and ancient sounding rhythmic oddities always hit the spot, yet I feel like we also managed to created our own intriguing take on pop, indie and rock music as well. I’ve tried to get in the frame of mind of gathering more seasons within the music, yet the winter and fall toned music always seems to have the biggest draw for me.

Not opposed to receiving demos if the artist has really checked out the music we release and really gets it. Most LTS releases come by way of a friend of friend type situation, but every now and then I come across an artist and fall in love, enough to reach out to them and see if they are interested in releasing on LTS. It’s just hard releasing all the music I enjoy on the label. Just because I like an album doesn’t mean it is the best thing to release on LTS. I have to really love it, usually listening to it over a period of month, to make sure the music stays with me emotionally. Running a small operation I have to be overly picky, since one or two poorly received physical releases can really make or break my budget.

How important is the visual identity of packaging and format to the label? It’s a pretty huge part of label. I’d say the artwork is the second most important part of the release, outside of the music sounding amazing and carrying the right impact. Keeping with the vibe of the music, most of the artwork we choose fits that timeless, rustic vibe I am a sucker for. Sometimes the artist brings the art to the table and other times, I get to work on the artwork and design from scratch. This happens to be my most favorite things I get to do running the label. We’ve had the chance to work with some of the most amazing visual artists over the years, like Joao Ruas, Gregory Euclide, Jamie Mills and Sail. They’re some of the most exciting illustrators and fine artists in the modern-day, so blown away by the depth and detail they bring to their art. I always try to treat each LTS release like a piece of fine art, from the cover design to the music within.

Sometimes I creating handcrafted packaging to give it the feel it deserves, hopefully coming off like a precious artifact. For example, the new panoramic CD editions for this year’s Prelude to the Decline (Subscription Series), I wanted to design a case that felt substantial and provided a much larger canvas for the artwork than standard CD packaging provides. I tested a lot of materials and different paper stocks in the design, also figuring out how the metal screws would work into the design. The end result feels and looks amazing, so hopefully when fans hold them in their hands they will get a sense of how much love went into them.

a2546151558_16

2017 is a pretty ambitious year with the great Prelude to the Decline series. Have you looked beyond the year or are concentrating on the releases from that schedule?

It has been an ambitious year with the series, perhaps too ambitious, as I’ve barely had time for anything else.  I’ve already hand-built over 600 CD cases, hand-numbering them all, along with the hand-numbered the vinyl editions. Oddly enough even with the generous deal the subscription series offers, the response to subscribe to it has been slow.  Not sure if it’s just the uncertainty times we are living in or what, but I stand behind it as perhaps the greatest thing the label has managed to pull off.
We are still looking to the future with Lost Tribe Sound, we have a few amazing releases lined up for next year already from a couple of my favorite artists Skyphone and Spheruleus, along with a brilliant new release from a lesser known artist, Phonometrician, that should have fans drooling. Fritch may go into a slow down period in 2018. He’s been on such a rampage of releases over the last few years, we figured it might be a good idea to put some distance between them. Perhaps this will help folks realize his brilliance and better appreciate his work. That said, we may still have a surprise or two from him in 2018.  We’ll see how many more years of LTS I have left in me. I treat each release like it was my baby, so it is not always easy on the psyche when a release does poorly, or is just not well received by the public.  If I am no longer feeling useful to the artists or the music community any longer than what’s the point.
I think a lot of labels face concerns of adequacy, I rarely mention it publicly with regard to LTS.  But it is always in the back of my mind. Pushing to get real press for a release, selling enough copies to have a physical edition make sense, and being able to pay our artists something decent always stresses me out. My main love has always been the music, but not being able to create a beautiful physical edition anymore would really make me lose interest. The fans we have are very supportive, and send some great encouragement (usually when I need it the most), but it still bums me to see those waste-of-space download sites passing around our artist’s releases for free like they’re worthless.  Moaning aside, I think real music fans know to show their support through buying the music from the labels and artists they love.  It’s so vital to continuing to bring high quality music into the world.  So in that, I have hope for the future of LTS.

 

a3078311730_16

Many thanks for Ryan talking the time to answer my questions. You can find out more about the label via the following :

Losttribesound.com

Losttribesound.bandcamp.com

Soundcloud.com/losttribesound

https://www.youtube.com/user/Losttribesound