Free up the music.



Net Label Focus: QUIET LOUNGE

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Let it be known that I a bit of a China freak. My job deals with China, and I lived there for 3 years, travelled all over Asia and have been back many times over the last ten years. My other nerdy passion is electronic music, so I have been fascinated to watch the development of the electronic music scene in Asia since I first went there in 1997. With the internet allowing millions of people to access all of the music that the world has to offer, as well as software to make music, everything changed, especially in China. Its on, and one would be wise to keep their eyes and ears on East Asia for new sounds.

Quiet Lounge
caught my eye with it's Asian theme and multiple Maoist album covers and icons on their site. The music on the label embraces not only technology and electronic music, but also traditional influences and sound sources. Tracks range from light and trancey to electroid glitch tracks. There are even tracks with Cultural Revolution bits in there, which I am a sucker for.

J.J.e from Quiet Lounge was nice enough to answer the BeatsGratis questionaire, and in such a nice and polite manner. Big up Quiet Lounge and the Asian electronix massive!


Name of Net Label: Quiet Lounge

URL:http://www.quietlounge.com/

Your Name: J.J.e


Relation to Label:
label co-founder

Age: 37


Do you have a day job?
Yes. I am a university lecturer.

Where is your label run from? Tokyo, Japan

Are most of your artists from there? No. They are from Japan, China and Italy.


How many artists are currently on the label?
6 artists

What was your inspiration to start the label?

Before we launched our QUIETLOUNGE, I had put my music, which fuses
electronic sounds with Buddhist chants, on the Vitaminic site. Some
artists who are interested in my music contacted me. Among them,
there were Asian artists who creates new electronic music by using
traditional Asian music like me. At that time, there’s quite
few netlabels that is based in Asia, and their quality was not good.
Then, we launched our QUIETLOUNGE for disseminating Asian electronic
music.

How many releases do you have so far?
1LP and 9EP

What is the concept of your label?
QUIETLOUNGE focuses on Asian artists who are creating new music by
fusing electronic sounds with traditional Asian music.

What do you think of the “electronic music scene” in
Asia now?


Electronic music has a long history in Japan since the time of Y.M.O.
Nowadays, all genres of electronic music exist in Japan, and the
electronic music scene seems to have already grown mature. Now, I am
interested in music scene in China.
It has zing! I look forward to the continuing growth of electronic
music scene in China.

Which artists in Asia do you find most exciting right now?

Movement of Chinese electronic music scene. Especially indies scene.


I notice a lot of Maoist elements in the artwork and track titles of
your releases. Could you talk a little bit about that?


In Shanghai, a symbol of economic growth, skyscrapers tower over the
city and imports flood the market. It seems to be without particular
distinction from a sight of a city in a capitalist country. However,
the tenet of communism hides in the sight. Our music does not be a
expression of contemporary communism, but be a expression of shadows
of communism that lurks in contemporary society. The impression and
the interpretation of our music are left to the person who hears it.
We only express it. (Red Unit)

Any exciting things coming up for Quiet Lounge in 2006?

A new Ep from a new artist will soon be arriving.

Anything else?

QUIETLOUNGE produces artists that use not only Chinese elements in
their music, but also Japanese and Indian elements. Techno groups that uses Asian music and sounds are now wanted. I would like to disseminate
Asian electronic music to the world.

Note: top photo from www.shanghaistreets.net - a great site!


Chicago: HOUSE NATION

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I just saw this on the internet, and have to say that I am proud to be a Chicagoan. Having grown up on the southside, with WBMX and WGCI mixes on the radio, Medusa's, Gramaphone, Derrick/Mark/Miles/Heather/Diz/Spencer... what can I say? Baptisim by bass and booty shake. Big up Chicago. Here's looking forward to the forthcoming Chicago House Music Festival (still unnamed as far as I know) which apparently is being put on by the City of Chicago in the vein of DEMF. Jacktastic!

For anyone who is interested in learning to jack, feel free to stop by Dubsoundsystem and grab the 312 Acid mix I have up there. All oldschool Chicago acid and jack trax.


Net Label Focus: OBLAST

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I am going to be honest with you and tell you that electro acoustic/experimental music is sometimes a bit over my head. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I read the Wire (lol) and can hang with some strange sonic stuff, but often times I find that the music comes off better on paper than it does in my ears. Maybe this is a problem of my own unrefined pallet, but it is the case nonetheless.

That having been said, I find that when this music does connect for me, it is intensity all the way. Usually this happens to me when the music is overwhelmingly beautiful and/or hypnotic, and I catch myself two steps away. This is the case with many of the pieces which have been released by Oblast, a net/CDR label run by Vadim Sprikut, straight outta my home town, Chicago. Vadim has always appeared to me to be someone who is serious and committed to his interests in a way where he not only appreciates but is also consistently contributing.

Below is a short interview with Vadim where he breaks it down for us.

1. So, thanks for taking the time to answer some questions for Beatsgratis. Nuff respect.

Word. Thanks for the opportunity.

2. So, who are you and what is your relationship to the label?

I'm pretty much Oblast.

3. Where is your label based out of?

Chicago, IL

4. Are most of your artists based out of there as well?

Geography has little to do with the label itself other than I happen to live in Chicago. Granted I've become more involved with this music because of some of people I've met here. But if I like the music, it matters little if they're from Seattle or Germany or Japan, etc.

5. How would you describe the music that is coming out on your label?

Abstract electroacoustics, which I know is rather vague and general. I'm especially interested in work that addressed the synthesis of improvisation, composition and perhaps some element of field recording. Typically the works lack obvious referents, such as harmony and melody, rather using indeterminate sound sources with more of an emphasis on texture and timbre.

Granted, it's more challenging in that the listener has to be more active in the listening process since there is often a lack of the familiar (e.g., the melody and harmony) but I hope that the effort ultimately pays off.

While I do have some specific aesthetic directions for Oblast, it largely comes down to whether I personally enjoy the work or not. I've received demos of fine stuff, but something I felt that Oblast would not be the best outlet for.

6. Do artists who record on Oblast also release commercially available music?

Marc Behrens (responsible for the first Oblast cdr), if anyone. He has a release on Raster-Noton, which has a fair amount of exposure and distribution, if that's what you mean by 'commercial'.

7. Is it all about music at Oblast, or are there other projects?

I've planned a standalone visual component, sort of a permanent on-line installation. Unfortunately, I haven't had time to pursue it yet so it's on the backburner for now.

8. What was the impetus that got Oblast started?

A sudden epiphany that the world needed just one more tiny cd-r/mp3 label. That and I realized that I could literally do everything myself out of my house for reasonable money. I had a few aesthetic interests that I wanted to pursue in terms of design, as well as music I wanted to make available, so Oblast was born.

9. Who designs your site?

I do. It's on it's second Flash incarnation and I've started on the next version that will incorporate css and xhtml for that all important cross-browser compatibility.

10. Why do you give music away for free?

I think many of the people working with this sort of music (abstract electroacoustic) are interested in reaching whatever small audience there may be out there for it. Not to say that they wouldn't want to be compensated for their work, but I think the goal is often to see their artistic ideas through and have it reach some sort of audience. It can be rather difficult to find an outlet for the more challenging music out there short of releasing work on your own.

It's also an alternative to the glut of pay for download music out there right now, much of which is poor to say the least. I would hope that if a prospective listener actually downloads some of the Oblast releases, they would be more inclined to support the artist through purchase of other items they may have in their catalog, or going to see/hear them perform.

Right now, there is still a market for selling cd's, especially if they are limited edition releases with a strong visual/tactile element to the packaging that doesn't scream 'Generic Wal-Mart alt-rock in standard plastic jewel case.' I don't think many mp3 labels like myself would expect to survive if we expected to generate anything significant from mp3 sales. So like I mentioned it is mostly to release interesting, thoughtful music by circumventing traditional channels of distribution, marketing and design. If that means I have to make free releases, so be it.

11. Is there any music out there which has been particularly inspiring to you lately?

So much to mention! Here are some recent favorites: Birgit Ulher and Gino Robair “Sputter”, Greg Davis and Sebastian Roux “Paquet Surprise”, Jason Kahn and Tetuzi Akiyama “Till We Meet Again”, AMM “Fine”, Sanhedolin “Manjoicchi Wa Muko”, the 5cd Filament box set on FMN Sound Factory. Anything by Boris. And a lot of dub such as Dennis Bovell, Sugar Minott, Big Youth, King Tubby, Prince Jammy, etc.

12. What about other net labels? Are there any that you recommend?

Stasisfield
and Con-V are particularly inspiring. Erstwhile, while not an mp3 label, has released a lot of music the past few years that I have really enjoyed.

13. What does 2006 have planned for Oblast?

The next several cdr's are in the works. Another mp3 release is due in a few weeks with another handful that will see release later this year. I'm also about to curate a side Oblast project specifically for field recordings that will be published on 3” CDR in small-runs (50 copies or so).

14. I know that you are an old school drum and bass head. Are you still feeling drum and bass at all? Any chance of a drum and bass release on Oblast?

Very doubtful. I've stepped away from the “scene” in Chicago, so I'm not at all connected these days. I still have all my old jungle records, so I can scratch that itch if I need be. Otherwise, I haven't kept up with it at all. As much as I like IDM, beat-oriented electronic stuff, I didn't envision Oblast as an outlet for it. I think there are a lot of folks who have that territory well covered right now!



15. Any shouts you need to give? Share the love.

My frequent sparring partner and collaborator Brian Labycz, the TV Pow boys (especially Mike Hartman), Rob Ray for the server space, Reuben for all the technical help, and all of the lovely musicians, curators and concert goers that I have met the past few years as I've become more involved in the electronic/improvising community in Chicago and abroad. And of course Squeeze, for many reasons.


Net Label Focus: AUDIO AUBERGINE

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Relative newcomers Audio Aubergine have started 2006 with a bang. 5 new releases of IDM/electroid goodness that ranges from "lets get the get dancefloor booties a sweatin" to "only my software understands me" have established these eggplant obsessed cats as a label to watch. Come for the beats, stay for the recipes.

Personal favorites so far are "Erotos"by Chas Mollet, "Big Face Funny Language" by Greg Scrase and "Fantadirty" by Ether. Let the purple party begin!

Name of net label: Audio Aubergine

URL: www.audioaubergine.com

Your Name: Chas

Age: 24

Relation to Label:
Founder


I know that you just started the label up recently, right?

Friday 20/01/2006 about 23:30.

Congrats on getting it started, how has the experience been so far?
Fun, thanks.

Where is the label based out of?
A tiny 1 bedroom flat in Londons east end.

How many artists are currently in the label? 5

Have any of the artists on the label released music commercially?

Yes, 3 have. Check the site for details.

How many releases have you put out to date? 5

Is there a style of music that you feel best sums of the Aubergine sound?


If its been made with machines and has soul then its definitely electronic eggplant style.



What’s the deal with the Aubergine theme? You seem very down with eggplants. They can be a bit bitter…


Make sure you slice up the delicious fruit before cooking and arrange evenly on a plate, sprinkle a healthy amount of salt gently over the pieces and leave to rest for about half an hour. The salt will slowly draw out the water which gives the eggplant a bitter taste.
My two favourite things in this world are electronic music and aubergines. Maybe I need to get out and about more and try some different food stuffs.

Do you have any contact with people who are running other net labels? Do you feel like you are part of a community?

Well its early days, looking at this site i've only just realized how many exist. I agree with Subjex, quality will prevail and hopefully the good netlabels will become renowned and support each other. Electrotoxic, Bedroom Research and Micromusic all get the aubergine thumbs up.

In your opinion, what is the most exciting thing happening in music right now?

Free quality Netlabels of course!

What’s on the horizon for Aubergine?


We've got a video section, remix section and other goodies all in production. We're also really excited about our next five releases, there's a couple of people involved some of you might have heard of before. Hold tight!

Ok, time to give shouts out to your people.


Biggups All Aubergine Crew!
Special thanks to my lady, Bene, for designing and creating the beautiful graphics for the site.

Word, much respect.

Municiple's Favorite Aubergine Recipe:

Chinese Recipe : Fish Flavored Eggplant
(recipe from www.chinesefood-recipes.com)



Famous Szechuan dish, it's hot and spicy. Although it is called "fish flavored", it actually doesn't contain any fish or fish flavorings. It is named so because it is said that its combination and the technique of cooking can make it has the flavor of fish. Interesting isn't?
Ingredients:
. 16 oz eggplant
. 1 tbsp chopped garlic
. 1 tbsp chopped spring onion
. 1 tbsp chopped ginger
. 1 tbsp hot bean paste sauce
Seasonings:
. 1 tbsp soy sauce
. 1 tsp sugar
. 1/2 tsp salt
. 2 tbsp water
. 1/2 tbsp vinegar (Chinese dark vinegar)
. 1/2 tbsp sesame oil
Directions:
. Cut eggplant into 2" long and then into 4 strips. Soak in water for a while. Drain and leave aside.
. Deep-fry eggplant strips until soft. Drain.
. Add hot bean paste sauce, chopped garlic, ginger, spring onion and seasonings into wok. Stir well, dish up and serve


Net Label Focus: BEDROOM RESEARCH

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Listening to all of the releases available on BR made me acutely aware of a few things. First, it is clear that these cats love their bass, and that is something that I can definitely hang with. Second, they know how to use their software like a bunch of electro jedis. Respect. Lastly, they like their music to sound clean and rough. With and overridingly electro style which dabbles in found sound, drum and bass, acid, 8 bit and techno, BR have an arsenal of quality releases available.

Not to be unmentioned, BR has developed a distinct visual presence, with label artist Deework on creative control. Covering album art, webdesign, clothes and sticker art, the BR visual identiy is well represented.

I was lucky enough to meet Matt Subjex, Bedroom Research cofounder and Planet µ recording artist, who agreed to answer some questions and share some info about the label. Much respect to the whole Bedroom Research crew... here's to lots more BR releases in 2006!!!


Name of Label: bedroom research

Label URL: www.bedroomresearch.com

Name of Person Responding: matthieu (subjex)

Age: 29

Relation to label: co-founder

1. What is the name of your net label and where did it come from?

Its name is bedroomresearch, I had the idea of this name simply looking of how me and my friends trend to spent our time: making experiments and twisted music all the time, trapped in a small room with a computer and a bed as main decoration! ;)


2. I know that you are in France, right? Are most of the artists on the label French?

Yeah, from Lille actually, a medium size town from the really north of France, very closed to Belgium. Most of the core crew of bedroom is living at less than 500meters from my flat: Tep, orange zebre, genjini, nikibi, deework etc...
But as we are very nice people :p we manage to make ourselves some friends coming from the rest of the world: Tomoroh Hidari (Vienna), megablocks (Miami), onethema (London), captrain marmelade (Los Angeles), Thiasch (south of France) etc etc..Some of the peeps I’m talking about will appear on some future B.R. releases.
We keep in touch thx to this fabulous thing called internet.


3. If the label is based in France, why did you choose to do most of the content in English?

Simply because this is about promoting and giving spotlights to people who r making great stuff, France is just to small regarding our will of world domination! We tried a few pages in "esperanto" with no big success ;) actually I’m starting lessons on some alien languages.

4. How many artists are on your label?

Many, and the list is growing :) I told u bout the "core crew" which are people who will probably release the most. But for some months people from everywhere are sending demos/links to their work.
That’s really great cuz we started as a collective more than a label, it has naturally grown to a label, and now people start to now it and send us stuff! What make us really happy

5. How many releases does your label currently have?

We released bedroom num 15 and 16 at the end of 2005, and we r working on the next ones

6. How would you describe the style of the music that your label puts out?

Hahaha, the tricky 1billion dollar question! Mmmm ... I’ll try a clever answer for once: as we consider it as freestyle electronics I think it could be good to describe this music as u could describe freedom: by negative forms: this is not techno, nor funk, nor electro, nor folk, nor salsa, nor waltz nor dance etc..
Life is full of different moods and we try to reflect that, from processed folk to breakcore we like many things.
This is about technology, freedom, fun and style

7. How were you inspired to start the label?

Have almost answered before, the collective has grown as a result of the efforts we put in it. At one point we felt like we could "open" the collective and become a label. We do want to act as a true label: good artwork and fussy selection of the tunes released. The thing is we have no money so we made a web label. But that's also something we do answering to some of our commitments: free quality stuff for all, aiming at triggering curiosity of the audience and why not making a few people discovering the twisted side of electronica.
The benefit for the artist will not be money but all the effort we try to put in promotion and exposition. We modestly want bedroom to have a true "sense" for the audience, I mean a "label" in the genuine meaning: a stamp! We’d like to have the artists booked and become known by being on bedroom as they could benefit from being on any good "physical" label... that's our ambition, we ‘re not there yet, but we r working on it!


8. Do the artists on your label also release music commercially?

Yep! Deework, alfredtoc, tep and some others will release on Invitro (lille based label), we have also people participating to our compilations like: electric kettle (peaceoff), Ommm (adaadat),hansel (dtrash), krumble (peaceoff-invitro), captain marmelade (somia) to name a few... wait for the next compilation!! ;)



9. Do you know other people work with net labels? Do you have a posse?

Not really, we know there are some great web labels and some crap. But I have to admit that's almost 1year since I haven't update my web links database! But now we have your blog so it will be easier for me now! hehehe
cuz I think that's sometime the problem for web labels: exposition, promotion is tricky and we r sometimes lost in the quantity.
That's why it is very cool to have someone who decided to sort this out and post the good ones online.


10. Does your label have a political agenda? Don’t you feel that giving music away for free is a bit, well, socialist?

Tricky... socialism has no monopole for freedom/democracy. but i guess we feel more socialists than neoliberal or conservative, obviously. Sometimes it could make u think of anarchy, dunno.
I do have commitments in politics and i think it naturally influences our decisions and orientations, but that's not what we r "selling". My own ideas about democracy are not really reflected totally in any of known political groups.
btw,dealing with music, i'm pro filesharing, pro "private copy", against DRM, have some troubles with how copyright works and the general laws dealing with artistic/cultural rights.....etc
I hope someone will find a true way of breaking how it works today : perverted radios, club taking no risk,some distributors not paying labels, etc...

But i try not to fall in any kind of idealism, we have to serve some very pragmatic interests for the artists we work with : they have to find dates to have money, they have to be shown to the world if they are good etc... so we r not taking our decision to reflect any political commitment, but more to spread and develop our label. We want artists simply to have an interest in participating to bedroom research.

I mean it's a very tricky transition period right now, all the music industry is messed with this transition to non-material/digital economy...
My wish is that "consumers" act with responsibility : freely download all they want to discover stuff, but buy when they can afford, donate to artists, go to gigs etc..
sometimes i hate people begging for free stuff, cheap gigs and all, while in fact they have enough buying power to support the "scene", and prefer put all their money into weed,clothes and crap ;) (But i also hate to be a fucking moralist hehehe). Of course,though, after a few vynil, a movie, a restaurant and a concert you often have no money left, and still the will of packing your brain with juicy stuff.
I'd like also record companies to trust consumers and stop being paranoid with file sharing. There is so many justification for downloading (bad distribution, curiosity, limited buying power etc..). Trying to completely destroy "black market" could become anti-democratic sometimes.

I think business has to adapt itself to how culture is growing, not inverse. i simply hate when "we" regulate freedom/culture regarding to some obscure economical laws. This just show the inability of business to evolve with creativity and pertinence to real world. Moreover history has shown that every single innovation brought economy to higher levels of rentability. this is my 2cents thought of the moment.

i'm sorry this is a bit hard for me to develop in english on all this topic.


11. What do you think distinguishes your label from others?

Our choices (I hope), choice is the root of both style and freedom. I’m sure that's quite the same if u ask to any artist what distinguishes his sound

12. What do you have planned for the label?

The next compilation!! It will be a truly kick ass one! We have some crazy tunes and some great featuring.... we planned to release that at the end of december2005 but we r super late! Anyway, we prefer to take the time of making everything good, it wont be too long.
It will be around 20 tracks, many different styles as always.


13. Any words of advice for people who are thinking of starting up a net label?

Wow! Mmm I don't think I could really advice anyone on how to make anything.... make choice this is it, try to avoid releasing systematically any tune that could be given for free (this is hard, particularly when it's a track of a friend), release the good ones only... it's better than any forum spamming in terms of communication. If u have quality the label may grow by itself.


14. What have you been listening to lately? Drop the knowledge.

I listen to a bunch of different stuff, depending of the mood of the day. I love all the aspect of funk from 70 to 2099. In electronic music it could be: atomheart, the ripoff artist, leafcutterjohn, µ Ziq, AFX, tipper, cristian vogel, beige, a few dubstep, otto von schirac, herbert....

The list could be one kilometer long! There is so much great music.
Sometimes I listen to stuff that impress me technically in order to train and improve my sound, but I always come back to artists who have a great style which for me beat any production skills, if one have both then I’ll surely become a big fan.


15. What Bedroom Research track should everyone have right this minute?

I love TEP and Thiaszch 's sounds, but my fav's are probably on the next compilation. Tep's track for this comp is awesome, we have this guy "giant dervish underwear" who gave a great Otto'ish tune... hard to tell once again
C'mon that’s for free! Figure out what u like by yourself !! ;) Hehehe get them all, like pokemons

16. Shouts?

A big kiss to all the artists that are not shy of giving us their good tunes, a big kiss to all the crew who is working on bedroom's development
A big kiss to people listening and promoting us
A big f_ck to sacem, majors and all those political fools from France and elsewhere, a special booooh to our sinister minister Sarkozy who is working with some other bastards on defacing some of the good aspects of our country.
Kiss to my girl and my cat

Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions. Much respect.

Munciple Recommends on Bedroom Research:

I listend to all of these releases, and they all are solid. The ones that got me most excited are as follows:

Deework
"Lobotom" especially the track "Roto"
Genjini "Ep n 1": check out "Take on Te", and 8-bit remake of "Take on Me" by A Ha
Moxx "Lowending" check out "aattaacckk" with its bass bombs and kung fu samples. proper!
Tep (seems to be untitled), “yahbstrd” is the jam, watch your bassbins and “megadub” inna clown dub stylee, watch your back dreadlock, Tep can bring the dub with the heavy manners, though

Go get them all (fast downloads!) at www.bedroomresearch.com


Thanks

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Thanks to everyone who has let me know about various net-labels. I have tried to include them all here. I also added a bunch of commercial labels which I enjoy and find particularly interesting. Special thanks to all the µ board massive for so many suggestions of great net labels and such where I have come up on so much music over the past year. Respect.


What is BeatsGratis?

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BeatGratis aims to be an informative source on all things free and electronic music based on the internet. I will take a look at individual labels, artists and djs and open everything up to discussion. Above all I want to connect people to music and celebrate the development of the international net-label movement.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with net labels, Wikipedia has this to say:

Netlabel:

A netlabel, also called online label, web label or MP3 label, distributes its music in digital audio formats (mainly MP3 or Ogg) online. Netlabels often work like traditional record labels to produce and promote music projects (such as albums or compilations). Most employ guerrilla marketing to promote their work. Few netlabels earn money for participants.
The primary difference between netlabels and record labels is that netlabels emphasize free downloads, as opposed to physical publishing (CD, vinyl or DVD). Often, the music is released under licenses that encourage sharing, such as the Creative Commons Licenses. Artists typically retain the copyright.

While I commend net labels for their commitment to make music available to people at no cost, I do understand that there are costs involved in keeping them running, etc. I encourage any of you who find that you particularly love a net label to make a donation to them which you can afford. Keep the net label movement forward.



Please feel free to contact me with other labels you know of and enjoy. I have provided a list of links to net labels that I know of, but I know there are tons more. I will keep the list updated and will focus on individual labels from time to time.

Enjoy, stop by, share the info.

Best, Bob Municiple



All photos copyright R. Davis 2005


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