I can’t believe it’s been ages since I did one of these posts!
But thankfully things have quietened down just a little on this front, I thought that now would be a good time to get you all filled in on some rather joyful music that’s out there, in the wild, fresh and free as the morning dew.
But in a change from the usual posts, I’ve decided to up the ante with a special spotlight focused on a particular netlabel that’s been producing some rather brilliant music for a long time now. Created in 2011, AURAL SECTS has been a label and collective that has been nibbling and picking away at the edges of the so-called “Post-Internet” with some relish for a while now. Rising in the middle of the primordial sound soup that was Witch House (Mental note to self – I must get a follow up post on Witch House v2.0 done these days) and other associated genres, they’ve grown and blossomed into one of the hottest burning netlabels online with releases that span from twisted trap rap and booming witch house, to some of the most melancholic trance music you’ve heard in years.
So in the interested of quality music writing, I got drunk and sent an expletive message to one of the label’s many hydra heads, Bunny Intonamorous, about the label and what drives them in this brave new world…
Tell us about yourself Bunny in excruciating detail. The who/hows/whats/whys of your life…
Hello, I am Bunny, I was born with a different name, but I like this one better. It was given to me by friends because I tend to just sit down and do very little, but then I was looking after a family pet that tried to suffocate me in the night with its arse so now I keep this name for the same reason that Batman calls himself that. To strike that same fear into the hearts and minds of my enemies. I’m 26 years young, and I am a music and info-addict. I live to ingest new information and music. I have a day job, but that’s not important, but I am also a musician (used to make avant-garde neoclassical music, traded the score for Ableton about a year and a half ago and… well put it this way, I’m getting better), labelhead, writer, DJ (HA! Everyone is a DJ these days), and now, an editor of a small philosophy and music blog.
How did you get started in this music lark in the first place?
I’ve always been an audio obsessive – an avid listener of EVERYTHING I can get my hands on. I decided on a whim to try to get into the practical side of things when I was 14, through education, and had a passion for writing avant-garde classical music, which I then studied, together with analysis throughout university… After that I got a bit bored with that and just went back to listening only until I found witch house, and got inspired by what seemed to be the punk DIY ethic of it all – use what you can to make something. It really inspired me to try to my hand at something relatively poppy (i.e. not alternating time signatures every bar and using 5-6 non-tonal scales in half-hour long works… 5 minute, 4 chord drag songs).
Aural Sects the label – Give us an overview/ ORG chart. Why did it start in the first place? what were the gaps that you wanted to fill with your ideas/desires?
We started it in the first place because it seemed like a lot of artists we thought were really, really good (like, the future of music good) weren’t getting the attention they deserved, and some of these people were our friends. We were all musicians ourselves, and we thought it’d just make sense if we all got together and focused on trying to get all this music out to a wider audience.
Since then, we’ve grown up a bit, and used/abused (depending on your outlook) our tiny, but growing position in a cultural scene, to push certain agendas that we stand for. We’ve started self-referring as “net-positive” since we try to actively encourage all the things that internet culture is built on – which can be traced back to the original hackers at MIT in the late 60s. Roughly this translates to: transparency (we always explain what we’re doing and why to people), virality (playing to the feed culture that the major social sites play to – we try to be a semi-constant feature in feeds, whilst avoiding repeating ourselves, which is what the graphical representations of tracks and EPs is on our page – it’s not just photosharing, it’s playing to the strengths of the feed), sharing our content as freely as possible, only charging for physical products (or things associated with physical products), a distaste for authority (which is why we try to have a fluid structure as a label – there are “labelheads” but anyone can be one, so long as they put the work in), AND, we cannot forget teh lulz.
How does aural sects decide on what music to publish on the label? Is there an overriding philosophy to what you guys so?
This is the hardest part to describe of what we do, really. Partly it’s logical – we don’t want our overall sound to be too clean, or too dirty (we like both the hi-fi dance stuff like VS//YOUTHCLUB and Rachel Haircut, and the dirtier hip-hop stuff like Thoed Myndez and Blam Lord). We do tend to pick up on artists that have a certain mindset though – nothing too backwards-looking, something unique and firmly based in one of several potential futures. I mean, all of our artists are aware of their roots. That’s important for any kind of artist. But I like to think we pick artists that aren’t afraid to gaze into the crystal ball and look towards what might happen in the future, too. Overall, we can kinda tell if an artist “belongs” with us or not. Some of our artists passionately get what we do, they chip in and help any way they can, and we love that. If I were a businessman I’d call it “synergy” but I’m not, so I’ll call it “us being on the same page”.
How have the label’s releases/ attitude changed since the early days. Do you think you are reflecting or helping to drive the changes going on the future-pop world?
We’re a lot more knowledgeable and critical about what we do now. We’ve had a few minor disasters in the past that we’ve definitely learned from, and we’ve learned that no matter how awesome we think we might be, no-one is going to come up and do you a favour or give you a leg up. I was discussing our current position with my friend and fellow labelhead, Joe, the other day, and he pointed out that unlike a lot of labels, we tend not to get overlooked on major platforms, and we’ve never been given a leg up, really, unlike some of our peers.
We’d like to think we’re making changes in the wider arena… but at the moment all we can do is support the general zeitgeist of “free music/art”. Our peculiarities don’t seem to be, so far, reaching a very wide audience, or affecting the way people experience musical culture.
Netlabels – Some say they help to cheapen music and the work of a musician by giving it away for nothing. What do you feel a netlabel such as Aural Sects provides to the role of music in general?
I can understand that point of view, although blaming netlabels is a bit much. Let’s not forget that it was listeners downloading shit for free that caused the collapse of the ’90s model. Let’s also take into account that this particular format has been dominant for the past 40 years ONLY and before that, throughout history, there’s been a variety of money/music/musician models. For me, our label is getting artists out there – we’re a platform to get musicians to the bread and butter of musicians’ paychecks these days, merchandise and touring. Also, the intention is to eventually (really far down the line!) to get all the artists who want to be on a physical, making money that way, onto physical media. There’s no sense in putting new music by relatively unknown artists behind a pay-wall that will ultimately only get pirated in a non-trackable way. At least this way, we can gauge an artists’ popularity and put them in touch with promoters relative to their size for gigs and the like, or in some cases, even organise a tour ourselves. We are actually in the process of organizing a full USA tour for five of our US artists, with assistance in each area, from local artists we’re friends with.
What’s so great about running a witch house netlabel?
Getting to hear new tracks by your favourite artists before release, getting to give advice to people on demos, the lulz to be had, and the weird and interesting ideas you encounter every day.
What’s not so great about running a witch house netlabel?
Comments sections, the “RPG Funk” factor, people giving you their stuff an hour before the release date – or giving it to you and saying they want it released that moment.
2013 – Already some interesting releases, but what’s the main object for Aural Sects?
The main object is just to grow, see how far we can take this, and see how far we can spread this music. I don’t think we’ll really think we’re a success until we have to have IRL offices.
Primer Time! – Tell us of 3 releases on the label and why people should download/listen to them.
AH SO DIFFICULT!Okay, I’m going to give my totally biased opinion, although in reality EVERY release has something for someone…
1) VS//YOUTHCLUB – WAVES EP. These are the gems of the UK side of AS (although one of the members is now Berlin based). Imagine the coolest, sleekest dance music you can, and then combine that with indie songwriting, and slick hi-fi sound. You have the unique futurist vision that is VS// right there.
2) Thoed Myndez – Candy Kisses EP: 5 solid tracks of production collaboration between the estimable veterans of the witch scene, Party Trash and Nattymari (who is one of the basic reasons that AS exists in the first place). They get some of the most interesting rappers around the scene to spit some hooks and verses on each track, creating perfect lo-fi, dirty southern, avant-garde hip-hop. Glorious stuff.
3) Psychic Rites – Psychic Rites EP. This explores the pop side of AS. Proper witchy dance-pop is probably the best way I can describe it. Impassioned and catchy-as-fuck choruses, and that cover art? DAYUM. They’re going on tour as part of the Aural Sects USA tour this summer. I so wish I could be there for what I’ve heard is a tour-de-force performance.
If you like the sound of the these three release, then AURAL SECTS have a metric ton of music that’s freely available at their BANDCAMP PAGE. Also check them out on Facebook as well. You will not regret this. Money back guarantee! etc, etc…