Tag Archives: Label Profile

One Release a Week is Business as Usual for Vaporwave Label Business Casual

Business Casual

Every Friday at noon (U.S. Eastern Standard Time), like clockwork, a new release from Pittsburgh-based vaporwave label Business Casual enters the world. According to label founder John Zobele, the main reason he can operate with this kind of quiet consistency is because of Business Casual’s longevity; the label just celebrated its fourth anniversary in May. “You get people thinking, ‘It’s Friday. A new Business Casual Release is coming out. Gotta go check that out,’” he says. For the past four years, the label has attracted some of the most exciting innovators in the electronic micro-genre.

In addition to the weekly releases, every other month there’s the release of a “BizBox,” a package of exclusive tapes (sometimes new releases, sometimes reissues) and extras. The most recent BizBox featured two tapes from popular YouTuber and producer FrankJavCee, best known for his “How to Make Vaporwave” video, which has been viewed more than 1.4 million times. The next BizBox, due this summer, will feature tapes from 猫 シ Corp., and will contain reissues of three of the artist’s currently sold out releases, along with bonus material previously unavailable on tape.

This punishing release schedule and high demand are the result of hard work from a label that was initially started “out of spite.” Zobele—who records and releases his own music under the name chris†††—explains: “Back in 2013, I heard Oneohtrix Point Never’s album Replica, and I was inspired by it. I’d been making plunderphonics-style sound collages and YouTube Poop mashups, but the track “Sleep Dealer” from Replica was my introduction to vaporwave-style music.”

Zobele made a demo and sent it to Fortune 500 records. He never heard back. “I thought, ‘You know, I don’t need them,’” he says. “There weren’t really that many vaporwave labels around at the time, so I decided to start my own, and to make it bigger and better than any other.” Some of those first chris††† tracks eventually became parts of his infamous Frasierwave album, while others were abandoned. Zobele contacted other vaporwave producers that he had met online, and gathered 12 tracks that were presented as Digital Office One, Business Casual’s first release. From that beginning, Business Casual has grown into what Zobele describes as “more or less a full-time job.”

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Electric Assault Records Lets the Metal Do the Talking

Electric Assault

Henry Yuan went to Norway and had an epiphany. This was back in 2011, the last year that the extreme Norwegian metal festival Hole In The Sky raised its flag over the city of Bergen. Yuan was covering the fest as a reporter for Guitar World magazine. At some point during the four-day extravaganza, he went to a listening party for the new album from a renowned Norwegian metal band that, for the purposes of this article, shall remain nameless. “I’d never been to a listening party before, but I remember thinking that we’d probably just drink beer at a bar and listen to the record,” the 27-year old Brooklyn native explains. Instead, all the journalists that the record label had invited were marched to the local aquarium. On the way, they took a detour to one of the area’s fabled fjords, where a table was set up with wine and cheese. “I was like, ‘What the fuck is going on?’” Yuan recalls with a laugh. “Of course, I was real young at the time, but I thought it was supposed to be this unpretentious, underground thing. It made me realize this whole business is about kissing ass.”

Before that fateful year was out, Yuan started Electric Assault Records. While celebrating the same types of metal bands that might play Hole In The Sky, its methodology is a middle finger to the wine-and-cheese way of doing business. “The whole idea of Electric Assault is that the music does the talking,” Yuan says. “Not PR agents and stock terms for bands. We want the rocking to do the talking.”

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The Auris Apothecary Label Has the “Very Real Desire to Destroy Everything”

Auris Apothecary

An island of blue in a swallowing sea of red, Monroe County is one of Indiana’s few liberal outposts, thanks particularly to the control of Bloomington, a laid-back college town of a little more than 80,000. There are essentially two brick-and-mortar record stores: one is a mainstay that caters to collectors and novices alike and has a good working relationship with Secretly Canadian, Bloomington’s indie-music administrator. The other is a basement-dwelling offshoot with a curated inventory that leans toward avant-garde, metal, and hardcore punk. There’s an art-house movie theater on campus, and a repurposed silent-movie house augmented by an ancient marquee. And on the outer fringes of the cultural scene is Auris Apothecary, an obscure micro-label operated by one guy acting as three who has become more fascinated with the destruction of music than its production.

Dante Augustus Scarlatti would seem a pretty ostentatious moniker if it weren’t for the ornate and cryptic label to which it’s inextricably tied. (That Auris Apothecary’s owner/operator requested to only be identified by said alias helps add to the label’s mystique.) To date, Scarlatti has overseen the production of nearly 150 releases, many of them experimental and naturalistic in sound—and all of them painstakingly designed and packaged. However, it’s been the label’s “anti-releases,” the records that require actual physical toil to unearth the damaged music contained within, that have confused, confounded, and delighted listeners the most. Scarlatti has become so enamored with his “very real desire to destroy everything” that he’s gone as far as to regard 2017 as “the year of the anti-release.”

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How Far Out Brought Brazilian Sounds to Britain

Far Out

Joyce Moreno

“I’ll never forget. I know the date: it was December 12, 1993,” recalled Joyce Moreno, in a 2009 interview. The singer-songwriter, a living legend in her native Brazil, was already a musical veteran and a substantial success at home. Swept up in the bossa nova revolution of the early 1960s, she began teaching herself guitar at 14 and released her first album at 20. Throughout the ensuing decades, she would record several more albums, tour extensively, and be declared “one of the greatest singers of all time” by bossa pioneer Antonio Carlos Jobim (who co-wrote the genre’s most famous song, “The Girl from Ipanema”).

Yet despite her stature, Moreno (whose professional name until the late aughts was simply “Joyce”) had never played in England, and couldn’t fathom why she ever would. Her music hadn’t been released in that country and seemingly wasn’t known within its borders, as was the case with many of her peers. There simply hadn’t been a great deal of international interest in Brazilian music after its brief flush of fame in the ’60s. (Jobim, Astrud Gilberto, and Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66 were the only Brazilian artists who enjoyed extended careers Stateside, and not even they were able to maintain much momentum into the next decade.) So it was surprising when a clutch of London-based DJs and tastemakers offered to fly her and a backup band to the city to play a single concert, at a now-defunct Brixton nightclub named the Fridge. She walked onstage to a sold-out room of 2,000, many of whom were less than half her 45 years. By all accounts, it was an unforgettable event, and testament to the serious influence the dance-fusion-oriented Acid Jazz movement exerted over British nightlife at the time.

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A Guide to Drag City’s Essential Releases

Drag City

Of the many labels that spurred the indie rock (philosophy, not brand) heyday of the early ‘90s, few have stuck to their guns as thoroughly as Drag City. Owners Dan Osborne and Dan Koretzky, who formed the imprint in 1990, have welcomed a diverse range of artists into their fold over the past 26 years, but they’ve never chased the next big thing.

Instead, they’ve stayed loyal to their musicians, allowing them to change and grow without commercial pressures. So many Drag City artists have made multiple excellent albums for the label that it’s tough to choose their respective peaks. And though most share a love of classic rock and folk forms, no two musicians on the label approach those in the same manner.  

If there’s a Drag City “sound,” it’s probably the idiosyncratic voice—a singer who finds a new way to tell musical tales. Will Oldham, Jennifer Herrema, Bill Callahan, Joanna Newsom, David Berman—it’s almost impossible to think of anyone else who sounds like any of them.

To welcome Drag City to Bandcamp, we’ve chosen nine of the label’s most iconic, enduring releases.

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