Monday, May 21, 2007



How it came into being:
Since 1994, I was doing an electro-pop/indie rock project called Flowchart. People tended to compare us a lot to Stereolab and My Bloody Valentine. Somewhere along the way, during the early and mid-'90s, I also discovered electronic music, raves, e, and all that fun stuff. This had a slow-evolving impact on the Flowchart sound. By 1998, Flowchart was fully electronic -- using samplers, drum machines and synthesizers. While I continued to make kitschy experimental pop music with Flowchart, I also started helping my friends throw raves in Philly and New York. The production crew was called the Pure Children. And then I started DJing a lot of ambient and IDM music in chill-out rooms at raves. At this time, I was a huge fan of Aphex Twin, The Orb, Plastikman and Autechre. This led to my job at 611 Records. At 611, I discovered the hard techno sound -- names like Surgeon, Regis and James Ruskin. To me, this was the closest thing to experimental and IDM music that was geared for the big dance floors. And of course, this quickly brought me to minimal techno. But at the same time, I discovered Matthew Herbert, Inland Knights, and a lot of other quirky and soulful deep house. And being that Philly is such a soul town, it was easy for me to also embrace deep house. Since the turn of the century, I have been very largely committed to minimalism as well as deep house.

Fuzzy Box was a label that I started in 1994 to release 7"s of Flowchart and other indie projects. It later became a CD label, and I continue to release CDs on this label to this day as a subsidiary to Darla Records. The last release was by Bochum Welt (formerly of Rephlex Records). But Fuzzy Box is a very part-time thing, and there's only about one release every one or two years. As for Tuning Spork, this label was launched around 1999 by Jay Haze, Bjoern Hartmann and me. It was a Philly thing at first. But around 2002, Jay and Bjoern moved to Europe, and I opted to stay in Philly. Since then, I have not been doing Tuning Spork with the others, and my new focus has been on the Foundsound and Unfoundsound labels. Foundsound is probably the best label that I have ever been a part of. Along with myself, it was founded by Cyhl (a.k.a. Fusiphorm) and Kate Iwanowicz (a.k.a. Miskate). But we also get a lot of help from Ben Parris, Rich Henning (a.k.a. Diss0nance), Barem, Accidentally Gay Andrew, and others. The simple aim behind Foundsound is to showcase quirky, dancefloor-friendly tracks constructed from fragmented samples, organic minimalism and random field recordings. That is, minimal techno made (at least in part) from found sounds of everyday life -- whether it's a pen cap dropping on the floor, tapping a glass bottle, laughing into a microphone, a squeaky chair, sampling talk radio, whatever. As for Unfoundsound, this is our free netlabel where we release high-res mp3s and flac files (which are basically compressed wave files). The releases on Unfoundsound serve as a nice testing ground to see if the (new) artist is a possible option for a release on Foundsound -- based on the response of the release and how many downloads the release gets. Barem is a perfect example of this. His Unfoundsound release had thousands of downloads, and it earned him releases on a variety of labels including Minus -- as well as heavy DJ play by Richie Hawtin, Magda, and other superstar mofos. But the concept behind Unfoundsound -- sound-wise -- is not really the same as Foundsound. It's more open-ended, and it's really just about freely distributing quality minimal electronic music. Are we contributing to the death of vinyl by doing this? Of course. Do we want the death of vinyl to happen? No. But realistically, it's irrelevant. The future of vinyl is what it is regardless of whether or not we distribute digital music. Afterall, what about all the people in South America, Russia, Australia and China that can't get vinyl? Digital music is necessary in many cases.

At the end of the '90s, Jay, Bjoern and I were basically the only people in Philly making and DJing minimal music. So one day I suggested to them that we should start a label together, and we should called it Tuning Spork. The suggestion was pretty logical at that time. They agreed immediately, and this was only months after Jay started producing his own music. And Jay's tracks were quite amazing right from the start. In the beginning, we were more focused on our Tuning Spork parties in Philly more than anything else. That took up most of our energy in the beginning. Some of the parties were quite legendary. At the time, the label sort of felt more like a byproduct of the parties more than the other way around. It was almost as if the label was there to promote our events. But realistically, it was indeed the other way around. After Jay and Bjoern moved to Europe, the label took off a lot more. And that's around the time Cyhl, Kate and I started Foundsound.

As for how I create music these days as "Someone Else”: There's not a lot of inspiration that goes into the creation of the music. It's simply spontaneous. I will sample whatever I have access to at that moment using a microphone or whatever. And then I will arrange them in some sort of way that happens more or less without any thought whatsoever -- which consists mainly of a lot of cutting, editing, copying and pasting on the computer -- and of course, lots of effects.

Any Questions?

Modyfier: As to Foundsound...I am most interested in the everyday, the mundane, the routine. In part because these are the familiars that define who we are and what we do. I find that to re-xamine, to question, to be curious re-invents them on a daily basis. Somehow it allows a self-awareness without being self-conscious. Do you find that this approach has allowed more play and freedom in your work?

Someone Else: It's quite beyond that actually. Using field recordings and found sounds of everyday life creates an infinite approach to making music. Sure, what I am doing now is for the dance floors. But it's really endless. New sounds occur every moment. Basically, one can sample literally any sound, and make it work musically. It's not a matter of sampling a variety of things and seeing what works and what doesn't. No matter what it is, it'll work in whatever piece of music you are creating. It's not as if I created this concept. But nonetheless, with it's infinite vastness and possibilities, it's an excellent concept to embrace for me.

Modyfier: Do you feel like perhaps you ended up where you are now in part because you have had a clear approach to how and why you make musc?

Someone Else: No. I just love music. But I still have no idea as to how and why I make it.

Modyfier: That is, did you end you where you are because you re-acted against things that weren't working for you, or because you were able to envision other ways of doing things that seemed potentially good?

Someone Else: Well, sure, that happens all the time. I will always react against things that don't work for me when it's doesn't work -- which usually occurs more with melodies and rhythms as opposed to samples and editing.

Modyfier: As to Unfoundsound…the relationship between the two labels seems so naturally symbiotic...that is, in how the “Unfound” end acts as a digital launching platform, a test ground for artists and music on which, if successful, migrates over to the “Found” branch and manifests as a record. It seems like a logical and pragmatic approach to see how artists/music will be received before committing to the production costs of vinyl. Why do you think more labels don't try to do this?

Someone Else: More labels don't try to do this because it's time-consuming, and also listeners and DJs don't take free netlabels very seriously. We just lucked out somehow. Maybe it's was the timing.

download: selected tracks from someone else's pen caps & colored pencils (rmay 2007 on foundsound)


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