WHILE WE DISCOVERED ERASED TAPES RECORDS THIS YEAR THANKS TO PETER BRODERICK AND ÓLAFUR ARNALDS RELEASES, THIS EXCITING YOUNG LABEL IS ALREADY PREPARING TO CELEBRATE ITS 3RD ANNIVERSARY. BASED IN LONDON, ERASED TAPES HAVE FOUND AN AESTHETIC ON THEIR OWN, SIGNING ARTISTS FROM BERLIN TO PORTLAND, FROM NEO-CLASICAL TO POST-ROCK AND SOULFUL ELECTRONICS, BRIDGING INNOVATIVE CONTEMPLATIVE MUSICS TO CONTEMPORARY DANCE AND VISUAL ARTISTS. LABEL FOUNDER ROBERT RATHS IS PRESENTING US THE ERASED TAPES FRIENDS AND EXTENDED FAMILY, AS THE FIRST ENTRY IN OUR SERIES OF LABEL INTERVIEWS FOR THE NEW YEAR.
A) Which records released in 2009 do you wish you had released on Erased Tapes?
Robert: I am not quite sure. Maybe there just wasn’t any other record that I wish I had put out in 2009? No, that can’t be, can it? Or maybe I was just too busy to pay enough attention to any other records out there? Well, if so, then that’s alright. It’s the timeless records that last and that we can discover years after any sort of hype or flavour of the week nonsense.
The only album that hit me so much I could not sleep without playing it at night, I could not eat without it in the morning and I could not work without it during the day was Nils Frahm’s “The Bells“. I count myself very lucky that it had only just been released in Europe at the time and I was able to sign it for the UK and North America, because I could not imagine Erased Tapes without it anymore.
Nils Frahm – “Said And Done” from “The Bells” (Erased Tapes)
Of course there were other great releases in 2009. For instance, I really enjoyed our good friends Efterklang & The Danish National Chamber Orchestra – “Performing Parades“. Partly because I was involved in getting them the Barbican show with Britten Sinfonia by telling the right people about this idea of performing their 2007 album with a live orchestra, which this record of course reminds me of. But also because it just sounds so much richer than the original recording, which I really did not think was possible until I heard it.
Then there is this new wave of psychedelic releases from the States, especially New York, which I enjoyed a lot all year. Songs like Animal Collective’s “My Girls” or Dan Deacon’s “Snookered” make me happy every time I hear them. Same thing with the latest Dirty Projectors album.
B) Which artist you wish you had signed will you keep an ear on in 2010?
Robert: EFTERKLANG. What I’ve heard of their new album called “Magic Chairs” so far sounded really fresh – more pop and at the same time rawer than their previous material. Think Paul Simon’s “Graceland” played by an army of the most natural and dedicated musicians I know.
OWEN PALLETT. Since I first saw Owen perform his violin with his loop station accompanied by his boyish voice whispering or shouting obscure poetry, I knew I would not rest until I’ve dragged everyone I know to his shows to experience the same. In January 2010 he will release his upcoming album “Heartland“, the first under his real name since he decided to no longer release under his moniker “Final Fantasy”. As a friend I wish for him and his music to finally reach a larger audience as he is one of the most gifted and hardest working musicians I know.
Owen Pallett – “Lewis Takes Action” from “Heartland” (Domino)
NICO MUHLY. Nico is the only person that makes me feel slow. He is also the only person I am actually worried about. Why? Because he is Nico Muhly, the busiest composer around but also a dear friend of mine and I don’t want to see him having a burn-out. Since I know him he has taken on a new project every week or so. The National, Grizzly Bear, Courtney Love, Pet Shop Boys, Elton John… The list is endless. Then there is his own solo recordings, touring and he is writing his first opera for the English National Opera planned to premiere in 2011. And yet he’d find the time to show his pretty face on cooking programs, write essay-sized blogs and reviews about hair, food and art that will now really interest you – all on a daily basis. Basically, it’s hard not to be obsessed with Nico. Last time I stayed at his apartment in Manhattan he was working on some string arrangements for Jónsi (Sigur Rós)’s debut solo album “Go“. He is a man pouring with energy and creativity – enough to power the whole of China Town and make his house cats cook their own fish à la carte.
C) What are you the most proud of for Erased Tapes in 2009?
Robert: Everything. 2009 has been our best year so far in so many ways; it’s been so exciting! Signing Nils Frahm and Peter Broderick to the label meant the world to me. It felt so natural.
I am also especially proud of the way we worked the “Found Songs” project and all the beautiful things that have come out of it. The way Ólafur Arnalds managed to finish a song per day for a whole week and how I had to set my alarm to remember uploading and linking each track every evening whilst on tour. It was such a crazy week! I loved the way fans were involved in creating the cover artwork via Flickr and how it inspired Esteban Diácono, a young visual talent from Buenos Aires, to create this astonishing particle animation video for “Ljósið“. It was so exciting to see the free low-res version receiving over 200.000 downloads and the video over 500.000 views within only a few weeks time… All the amazing feedback from fans and critics all around the world has given us so much hope really.
Then of course the release of two rather remarkable contemporary dance scores: first there was Peter Broderick’s score “Music For Falling From Trees” for Adrienne Hart’s piece in spring, then the collaboration we initiated between Óli and our choreographer friend Wayne McGregor for “Dyad 1909” in autumn 2009.
Ólafur Arnalds – “Til Enda” from “Dyad 1909” (Erased Tapes)
It makes me very proud to hear from so many people how they discovered contemporary dance through our music and the other way around, how the dance world discovered our music through the performances. It was also great to hear how many people thought this was Peter’s most distinguished work to date. I was so moved when his sister Heather and the Efterklang guys told me they thought so too. There is nothing more I could have hoped to achieve with these two projects.
But of course I am just as proud and happy about the albums we released with all the other acts this year. There are so many different forms of happiness I find in their music. Rival Consoles gives me energy every day anew. There must be something in my genes or in my heartbeat that synchs especially well with his tracks.
I’m very proud of all the touring Codes In The Clouds did in 2009. They used up all their holidays and really made an effort to play as many concerts, in-store shows and radio sessions as possible throughout the UK, Ireland and Europe mainland. There were actually so many live performances in 2009 that made me proud of what we’ve got going – it would take ages to list them all.
Codes In The Clouds – “Don’t Go Awash In This Digital Landscape” from “Paper Canyon” (Erased Tapes)
It feels so good to see Erased Tapes becoming more and more of a family. Being the “first born” on the label, Ryan aka Rival Consoles has, is and will always be special to me. He recently moved to London and now lives 5 minutes down the road, which is wonderful as we can meet pretty much every day now. Also Ólafur is visiting us in London more often. Now everyone actually realises the benefits of being on the same label – of being there for each other as artists and friends.
In general I am very happy about what we have created together this year. It’s almost as if there were no compromises needed – on neither side. It was all about sitting in the same boat, finding new currents for music and taking the same risk in doing so.
D) What are the label’s challenges for 2010?
Robert: 2010 will of course see a lot of great new challenges in form of “difficult” second albums, tours, label nights and special projects. We are also working on a brand new website (http://erasedtapes.com) to be launched in time for the official worldwide release of “Erased Tapes Collection II” on February 1 to celebrate our 3rd anniversary. People can download a free low-res version of the compilation by visiting http://ddc.erasedtapes.com and typing in “MY-FREE-ERATP020″ together with their email address.
I am currently working on a very exciting visual concept for the next Rival Consoles album. The music Ryan is making for it is sounding more organic and very cinematic. Also Peter and me skyped the other day and came up with a great concept for his next record on Erased Tapes. Ólafur Arnads just finished mixing Album 2, Codes In The Clouds are writing and Nils Frahm will be concentrating on touring with Balmorhea in spring and Peter Broderick in late 2010.
I don’t want to give away too much, mainly because I tend to change my mind a gazillion times before things are set in stone. It’s all part of the process. It’s pure chaos to begin with – like a puzzle. But once I found two little pieces that match and make sense together things are falling into place bit by bit. I don’t like planning things too tightly. I need enough room to still be flexible and to be able to surprise people – including myself. I hope to be able to surprise you in 2010. That’s my biggest challenge.
You can follow Erased Tapes Records on twitter.com/erasedtapes to be kept up-to-date.
… And please stay tuned to GoodMorninCaptn.com for further label interviews in the coming days.