What’s Next for Smalltown Supersound? More Records. Always More Records.

Joakim-Haugland

At the end of 2018 Norwegian indie label Smalltown Supersound celebrated 25 years of releasing quirky, experimental and wholly wonderful leftfield music. From the beginning of the label founder Joakim Haugland (pictured above) wasn’t interested in signing music with obvious commercial appeal. Weened on ’80s indie-rock and attracted to its DIY below-the-radar mindset, he knew to trust his ears and gut. He prioritized the creation of a platform intended to nurture artists as opposed to developing a hit-machine bent on chasing ephemeral (but potentially far more financially lucrative) chart success.

Haugland came of age in an era when labels of a certain ilk prided themselves on establishing a sense of trust with the audience at large. Having grown up in the era I can attest that I often bought records on labels like SST, Dischord, Twin Tone, Homestead, etc. on the advice of a fanzine without hearing more than a song or two. (For early ’90s house, I’d scoop up anything on Nu Groove, Strictly Rhythm and R&S without cracking open the plastic wrap.)

Smallltown Superound’s laser-focused musical ethos has never stopped evolving. The label’s essence is captured on The Movement Of The Free Spirit, a sprawling and utterly delightful 80-track mix by Prins Thomas, which marks 25 eventful years in the game.

Over the course of nearly four compelling hours of music, Thomas presents an array of glorious music by Sonic Youth, Todd Rundgren, The Orb, Lindstrøm, Ricardo Villalobos, Neneh Cherry, Jaga Jazzist, Four Tet, Biosphere and Peter Brötzmann.

In December we connected with Haugland via email and asked him to trace Smalltown Supersound’s humble beginnings to the present day for the fourth installment of our Why I Did It series, where we candidly talk to label founders.

When asked about the decision to mark Smalltown Supersound’s 25th anniversary,Haugland mused, “I skipped the 15th and 20th celebration, so I felt I couldn’t skip 25.”

Read on to learn more about how the label got off the ground, and where Haugland is planning to take it in the future. Continue Reading

Worship Recordings at 50 Releases: Rob Paine on Pioneering Philly Label’s History

worship recordings

Rob Paine launched Worship Recordings along with partners Zach Eberz and Dan McGehean in 1998. I discovered the label not too long after its debut upon several recommendations from various home town peers.

In the late ‘90s the City of Brotherly love’s underground dance music scene was a network of diverse artists: Wink was the chart-topping crossover techno phenom; Pete Moss and DJ Dozia espoused singular deep-house vibes; King Britt championed a cosmic blend of R&B, soul, hip-hop and house; Dieselboy represented drum ’n’ bass with a stamp of approval from notable UK junglists; and Nigel Richards gushed a fire hose of rave-focused releases on his 611 Records imprint.

From the onset, Worship Recordings rolled to a different beat. House music was the bedrock of his label but the foundation was anchored by a profound respect and passion for dubby, reggae sounds.

As Worship released early dance floor gems by Moss, Jay Tripwire, Håkan Lidbo, Chris Udoh and Gary Beck, Paine and Eberz made international waves with Solomonic Sound, a reggae sound system focusing on roots and culture dancehall reggae. They scored their biggest success in 2001 with “Children Of Israel.”

For the label’s 50th release issued in late November, Worship tapped a pair of top-notch producers (ironically?) from Tel Aviv — Yotam Avni (Hotflush, Stroboscopic Artefacts, Innervisions) and Laroz (Chalk Music, Magnetic Moon, Souq Records) — to remix their breakthrough track with fantastic results.

For the latest installment of our Why I Did It series, where we speak with artists who started their own labels, we connected with Paine and asked him about the early days of the label, commissioning remixes for the 50th release and the road ahead. Continue Reading

At 100 Releases Mexico Electronic Label Sounds of Earth Looks Back — And Ahead

sounds-of-earth

Victor Ezcurdia (a.k.a. DJ Vazik) is a stalwart of Mexico City’s vibrant electronic music scene. In 2007, he launched Sounds of Earth Records to shine the spotlight on up-and-coming talent. While the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry, Ezcurdia has managed to stay focused on his vision. Eleven years on SOE have hit the 100-release plateau, a milestone marked by SOE 100th Moving Forward 5.

For the second installment of our Why I Did It series, in which we talk to artists about the motivation behind starting their own labels, we asked Ezcurdia, who has released tracks on Flash Recordings, Flow Records, Maktub Music, Spring Tube, and Plastik Park, about the history of his label, the expansion of the label’s sound from progressive house to techno and tech-house, and SOE’s first showcase at ADE on October 19. Continue Reading

How A Mentor’s Advice Inspired Yeah Yeah Yeahs Drummer Brian Chase To Form Chaikin Records

Brian Chase Chaikin Records

What compels an artist to start their own record label? Is it a desire for unbridled creative freedom? Pure hubris? Revenge on The Man? All of the above? In our new series titled Why I Did It, we’re going beneath the surface and asking DJs, producers and musicians about why they decided to form their own imprint.

Launching a DIY project has always required a leap of faith. But what drives creatives to go through the hassle in an era when labels are faced with countless challenges?

For our debut profile we spoke with Brian Chase. A founding member of highly influential NYC trio Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Chase and his cohorts, Karen O and Nick Zinner, have eschewed trends to etch out a post-everything experimental sound on their own terms for nearly 20 years.

In addition to his work as a drummer, Chase works as a drone musician, performing and recording with the likes of John Zorn, Stefan Tcherepnin and Seth Misterka. (Chase’s drone style has been inspired by his time working at La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela’s Dream House in NYC.)

Along the way he recently launched Chaikin Records and just released Untitled: After, a provocative avant-jazz album with Irish saxophonist, improviser and composer Catherine Sikora. Below we asked Chase about how the label came together, what his YYY bandmates think of his label and plans for his new endeavor. Continue Reading