Archive for July, 2009
Here is a little taster of what you can expect from Gonja Sufi (who has a forthcoming album on Warp)…
On Saturday 1st August, Victoria Park will be ambushed by 20,000 party go-ers to check out the finely curated Field Day Festival by our good friends, Eat Your Own Ears. With Mogwai and Santigold headlining, plus Little Boots, The Horrors, Fennesz, Toumani Diabate, The Errors, Four Tet, Erol Alkan, and much more – this promises to be quite a day out!
Bleep are lucky enough to be giving away a pair of tickets to this festival. To win, simply e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us what is Four Tet’s real name?
To coincide with Bleep’s feature on Touch, we caught up with founder, Jon Wozencroft, and asked him a few questions behind his “not a label” that has been releasing music for over 25 years.
Can you tell us why you started Touch?
In 1981, there was a spirit abroad, a brief moment where it seemed that it was possible to be pioneering, critically-engaged and popular at one and the same time (as opposed to populist…). History tells us that the year zero of Punk, 1976 into 1977, was when (musical) culture was transformed and new forms of distribution emerged. 1979 to 1982 was when this truly bore fruit, in terms of achievement… Closer, Metal Box, 20 Jazz Funk Greats… These records were in the charts. Inconceivable now.
Secondly, along with the emphasis on film/projections used by the Sheffield bands Cabaret Voltaire and The Human League, there was the sense that Post-Punk music was reconnecting with the sensory ambitions of the psychedelic era. We took the cue that this could be extended into a publishing platform that was expressly audiovisual.
The precedent of Factory Records and Industrial/TG was obviously a big influence. The first manifesto and ambitions of the embryonic Psychic TV project were a major spur to action, as was the example of the Residents and Ralph Records.
Are you quite dogmatic about what kind of music gets released on the label?
No, simply that the logistics of our organisation means that we don’t have the time to sift through demo tapes – as it says on the T-shirt, we are not a record label – but we are always open to new ways of thinking about sound and music, and at the same time closely involved with the development of the artists we do work with. We never passively process the finished projects we’re handed, there is always a good deal of collaboration involved. Curatorial listening gives rise to a certain method of art direction, we can’t explain how it works, it depends on each artist and their work.
You have openly talked of your admiration for artists such as Joy Division, Augustus Pablo, which artists outside of the Touch catalogue do you admire?
Very many – the dedication of Arvo Pärt, the jouissance of Jon Hassell, the pulse of Basic Channel (especially Rhythm and Sound), the intrigue of Wire (though gloriously they have become collaborators in various different ways).
Recently we have made contact with Eleh, whose work for Important Records has been a revelation. The kinship we have with Editions Mego and Sähkö represents just two examples of a shared ambition, though the end results are quite different.
Returning to the question, is it conceivable that Joy Division and Augustus Pablo will be considered along the same lines as Bach and Beethoven in 200 years time?
The way that people have been consuming music has changed greatly and rapidly in the last half decade. Do you feel that this has had an impact what you do and the music that Touch has released?
Of course. We are not only doing this for the way things are now… It’s attempting to have a long term view of this compressed time we inhabit.
Where do you envisage music as a commodity and music consumption going in the next twenty years?
Evan Eisenberg wrote a very persuasive postscript to his book The Recording Angel when it was republished a few years ago. It’s one of the best books ever written about recorded sound, first published in the late 80s. He postulates that soon, there will be a global jukebox where everything ever recorded will be instantly available – well, this isn’t very far off actually, but there’s still no way that The Hafler Trio or the first Eleh 12 will fit any compressed audio format.
What in fact is being proposed, is that music will become like air. This is an extraordinary ecological condition that nobody really talks about. Imagine… one breathes music… Well of course this has always been happening and in some senses it’s a return to the essential condition, sound being part of the lifestream, but the difference here is in terms of mental space and perception.
You can imagine in 10 years time there will be a levy on clean air, just like there’s a levy currently on gas, electricity and broadband. Broadband – therefore entertainment – will become free, and everything else will become more expensive. Music will be needing its own version of Greenpeace.
Can you tell us more about the background of using photography over typography for the sleeve art? Visually and musically, from Philip Jeck, Fennesz, Chris Watson, to your own photographs, there is a strong connection with the natural world, can you tell us more about this relationship?
This interview with Philip Sherburne hovered well around this question.
Of course there is much more to say in retrospect about the strange disappearance of graphic design and typography as a way of expressing artistic practice. Graphic design, curiously, seemed to burn itself out in the mid-90s… This thing about being popular and experimental at the same time was neatly assimilated into mainstream visual culture, from Raygun and MTV to the High Street.
Photography somehow is a rogue development of postmodernism. Something that is fascinating, for example, is how one can possibly be a bad photographer. Also, look at the way people exchange photos set against the way people exchange music. It’s a time-based question. You can look at a photo for a nanosecond and get something from it, but in spite of the compression and the random shuffle mode, a 3 minute song still takes 3 minutes to listen to.
John Peel on the other hand got so many records and tapes that he reckoned it took him 15 seconds to tell whether anything was any good. Or was it 7 seconds? It doesn’t matter. When you have so much music, you can hardly tell the Beach Boys from the Bay City Rollers, it’s as Paul Virilio wrote, an essential loss of perspective. Or according to Baudrillard, The Final Illusion. You could say that the sense of perspective pioneered by the Renaissance artists, exploded by the Romantics, split in 3 by the Dadaists, finally ends up in a black hole of pattern generation and repetition.
So much for futurism! The only reference left is the natural world. It is natural, whatever Virilio, Baudrillard and Dworkins or Darwin says about it.
Photographs are a vehicle. The first idea is to try and steer an obvious illustration away from the music. These two should be contrapuntal, counterpoints, not in any way to do with the music, as such. This much I learned from working with Neville Brody, Peter Saville and others. They never paid that much attention to the music, but made beautiful responses to it. The main chemistry I had to add was only my way of listening, I also suppose intuitively I was choosing an area that nobody had really highlighted on — I wanted to study a subject that wasn’t harnessed to digital upgrades, but reflected all of those conditions. The natural world offers a mode of visualization as if it could be a litmus test of inner space.
Over the past 25 years, we have seen independent labels come and go; distributors go bankrupt and we witnessed other huge changes in the music industry. Can you tell us what the key has been to Touch’s survival over the years? And where do you see Touch in the years to come?
The key to survival is an open mind… how can anyone have any idea what will happen next? I guess we survived because we got this early lesson, it’s not about following anything. To love what you do in a progressive way is the main thing… To be prepared to go against the grain.
This Sunday sees Axel Willner (better known as The Field) perform at one of London’s hottest new venues – the Queen of Hoxton. We have managed to snag a pair of tickets to give away. To win this pair of tickets, simple e-mail email@example.com and list the 5 choices picked by The Field in their recent “Best of Bleep” chart.
As part of our special Glade Feature, we have decided to interview Ned Beckett. The man behind the Overkill programming at Glade Festival and the Littlebig artist booking agency that’s roster includes people like Aphex Twin, Squarepusher, Autechre, The Field, Otto Von Schirach, Fuck Buttons and Mike Patton (to name a few).
B: How did you get into the music industry?
NB: Looking back it seems that i was always drawn to parties / events.. I started djing & putting on small events in my teens. I then realised that my uncle (Steve Beckett – co-founder of Warp Records) was involved in something very interesting.. I started making tea & answering phones for Warp in Sheffield.. and it went from there .. it was when i got my teeth into the live side that i really got hooked.
B: What made you move from the UK to Berlin?
NB: Mainly because me and my lady wanted to get out of England for a while and Berlin was the one place we both loved. When i realised i could run Littlebig from there and save money it was a no brainer…. er.. and you can get a big bottle of beer for 40p…
B: What do you feel is the state of the live music industry at the moment and what challenges are you currently facing?
NB: In general the live industry is booming. As the recording industry hangs on for dear life, the live side has been growing rapidly. For acts that play live and tour, the fact that you can easily hear their music gives them quick & easy promo. But its a bit of a double edged sword .. without the record labels pushing high quality product, the challenge is ‘how do you promote the artists?’
Things change so quick in the live industry.. a band or festival can do well one year and then be gone the next. For us as a booking agency the challenge is maintaining a good network of trusted people (promoters / clubs / festivals etc) whilst promoting the acts we’re working with. Its really saturated out there now .. Compared with 5 years ago there are a swath of new exciting acts / bands / trends.. its Overkill!!
B: Tell us one of your favourite stories from a show or tour?
NB: hmmm.. On The Overkill tour in Nov 2006, Budapest, pre show. Wandering around with Shige (Scotch Egg), we spotted a ladies dance class in full swing.. mirrored walls and stockings vibes.. Shige rides into the room on a hobby horse that emits hi pitch 8bit horsey noises and starts doing insane japanese freestyle breakdancing at the front of the class.. and then profusely apologises and gives them all a flyer for the show. I’ve got it on film somewhere.. that whole tour was bonkers. (Bleep: we will be requesting for that video!)
B: You work with many artists who have reputations for being “aloof”. Do you consider your role to be the link between certain industry-shy artists and the industry who want a piece of these artists? How does this relationship work for all said parties?
Haha, yes, i’m the gatekeeper to the awkward little geniuses locked in their underground studios.. :0) you know, some of them have developed their own languages that revolve around complex musical scales. I’ve had to learn it so i can pass on gig offers. hhmmm….
I was lucky enough to get to know alot of the Warp acts through doing alot of work with them when i was at Warp, so i guess i’ve got an understanding of how some of them want to work and certainly what doesnt work.. thats it really.
You can catch Ned’s Overkill Tent at this year’s Glade Festival featuring Venetian Snares, Hudson Mohawke, Kid 606, Drums of Death, DJ Scoth Egg, Tim Exile, iTal tEK, Limewax, Milanese, Shitmat and Ned himself. Tickets are available to buy here.
Thanks to everyone that came down to the Bleep party a few weeks ago. With Débruit (pictured), Nathan Fake, Appleblim, Jackson and his Computer Band, Floating Points, Bullion, Paul White, Alex Chase and James Holden (who stepped in at the last moment) all doing great sets…. a brilliant night was had by all.
Bleep have teamed up with those good folk at Field Day to offer you a unique prize. Anyone that buys a ticket for Field Day will be immediately entered into a competition to win the special “Golden Ticket” or to be more specific, “Golden Rosette”.
Brought to you by London’s most daring promoters Adventures In The Beetroot Field, Bugged Out, Bloggers Delight and Eat Your Own Ears, Field Day transform the heart of East London into a Village Fete.
Away from the stages featuring UK festival exclusives from Mogwai and Santigold, plus Little Boots, The Horrors,Fennesz, Toumani Diabate, The Errors, Four Tet, Erol Alkan, and much more, the masses can get into a ‘village mentality’ – a reminder of life’s simpler pleasures with countrified fun and games on the Village Green area.
The Bleep exclusive Golden Rosette will win you a free go on an activity of your choice (Onion Peeling, Giant Pick and Mix, Pea Shelling, the infamous Lucky Dip, etc); a free slice of cake; a set of Field Day tea towels; one potato sack, one real ale voucher and a Warp t-shirt and some Bleep goodies thrown in for good measure.
The lucky winner will be picked from all the people who purchase a Field Day ticket on Bleep and will contacted by e-mail. They will be able to pick up their Golden Rosette on the guestlist door at the event. So go and quickly buy your tickets HERE.
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