What seems to have started as a small headless web-collective has grown into a nebulous massive net-label with releases from artists such as I††, VS//YOUTHCLUB, ▲NDRΛS, Witchboy, and Tash Wilmore and now even an Aural Sects mixtape for Long Clothing.
spf50, Pe† Ceme†ery aka Bunny, and Jack Mitchell aka FIre Coral sit down with MISHKA correspondant CUN Pittsburgh for a little internet chatter. Let’s cut right to the quick and let the Aural Sects.
What is the Aural Sects story and what spurred the genesis of the collective?
Aural Sects began when a group of like-minded musicians met and became friends through the online witch house scene – a few n00bs and a couple of 1337 old hands. After sharing our music between ourselves, we decided we wanted a platform to throw our music at people from, and also include a few people’s music we felt was criminally unappreciated. We started originally as a collective with everyone involved, but it soon became clear that some people were just more interested in their own projects. Eventually we whittled down the numbers so that just Joe (Spf50) and Bunny (Pet Cemetery) remain, supported by Jack (Fire Coral) and Micah (I AM WATER) who is now serving as our visual co-ordinator, as well as a few friends and phamilee who help as and when they can.
We were founded purely through a shared love of underground dark electronic music – the entire label would’ve been impossible without the social media boom. None of us knew each other – even remotely – before the glory of the internet connected us together through our mutual interests. Micah aka I Am Water was one of the main AS peeps and now he is the artistic coordinator
What was the reason for him to move positions?
Honestly, it was mostly just a time issue – Micah, in the end, wasn’t able to commit fully to the role of co-manager, so he felt it appropriate to have dominion over the one aspect of the label he felt was his major strong point, which was the art direction. When we were first founded, we all thought everyone would have equal input in EVERYTHING, but over time people have found the phenomenal pace of the label (life at the speed of internet!) difficult to keep up with.
What is the philosophy of AS and how does it shape your direction and daily workings as a label?
We began on the net, we grew up on the net, and we operate on the net. Our philosophy tends to revolve around the same principles the net grew up on – openness, a distaste for figures who have a monopoly on power (in our case the larger music industry and the dinosaurs it houses), being by and for the artists, and having no binds over the artists we release, and doing it all for the lulz. Also, we tend to release whatever we like, which has ended up guiding our release rate (which averages at just under one release a week).
How does 2013 look for AS? What are the big plans that you can share with us?
2013 is looking pretty mighty, with physical albums from Moon Mirror, Spell Hound and Madden all appearing before the Summer, and free releases from Psychic Rites, Marie Dior and a whole raft of others. We’re looking to put on a SXSW show, get a few of our acts touring, and looking (as always) to move into putting out vinyl.
You’ve done some great comps, Blam Lord’s Quest, the split with Pale Noir…any more big comps in the works?
Apart from a relatively small tribute to Marilyn Manson’s “Mechanical Animals” compilation, we actually don’t have any planned. Maybe it’s time to start another…
Oldschool MISHKA fam Nattymari has done some releases with AS and you even did a tribute of remixes of his tracks that I was lucky enough to be asked to participate in (Funny enough Nattymari responded with his own set of remixes of the remixes). What do you guys think of Nattymari’s immense output and secret identities/artistic aliases?
Natty is, has been, and always be integral to the pham. He was one of our collective tutors way back in the beginning when most of us were just starting out. We’re all fond of his output (both musical and literary). His output is MASSIVE and all bizarre outsider-art of the highest calibre. Much luv Nattypham ♥
What do you guys think about Seapunk and the recent stir around the Rihanna performance on SNL?
All forms of art get commodified at some point, whether it be into the mainstream pop circuit, or simply into another underground genre. It can be unfair, but in another way it can be seen as that pop and the underground are gradually fusing together. Look at artists like Charli XCX, an out-and-out pop singer, working with both mainstream producers and underground producers simultaneously. To heavy internet users who get most of their music recommendations from friends of friends, a Rihanna youtube vid looks much the same as a Charli XCX music vid. Everything’s becoming one thing, and it’s all becoming each other faster each year. Also to be noted without pop culture borrowing from the “underground”, causing things to lose their novelty and appeal to many, a lot of great new art movements wouldn’t exist. Once “sacred” or niche things become popularized forcing creative artists to come up with new underground culture, it’s all a very necessary cyclical process as old as the arts themselves.
I heard AS has a new website in the worx, what is the story on that?
We’ve always wanted our own website – a place where you get all of our vast output in one place, neatly organised, along with a way to discover new music, learn more about the artists and get news directly from us, since the social networking we grew up on seems to have been broken. Also, we see ourselves as a net-positive group, and having a central hub that’s relatively independent was a desirable thing for us to have – a proper home on the world wide webernet. The website is hopefully going to be all of these things and more soon, including some very specific fan bits that you’ll be able to access if you have a membership card and number, but that’s all in the pipeline. Watch this space!
Bunny, I see you have been playing shows lately in the UK. How is that all going and how are things going for Pet Cemetery?
I’ve played a couple of small shows in UK – one under the Witch House London (WHLND) banner, and one as part of the initial Griefcore meeting in Glasgow (shoutout to the Griefers). After the second I realized I have a fairly decent live set together, with a theatrical script, that I’m very proud of, so I’m looking to gig more in future. The past year or so I’ve seen as just attempting to find my feet, sonically, but I feel I’m finally approaching a sonic palette that I’m happy with for now. All things being well, you should expect a series of EPs from me in the new year, as well as some new music under a different direction, under the name ≥ (or greater than or equal to).
Jack your project is Fire Coral. What is the current direction of your music and what do you have planned for the future for your music?
Jack Mitchell: Over the space of two years, my music for Fire Coral has evolved to the point where it’s now 80s-centric; with a few genre tangents. I didn’t intend for this to happen, but I am happy it has turned out this way because I have never been more comfortable, since the inception of this project, with the vibe of the music. I will release a couple more tracks soon and then I will put Fire Coral on hiatus while I focus on another project. It’s not the beginning of the end, however.
Joe, your project is spf50. You had some great things happen this year including the remix of Crystal Castles which they posted and your current collab project Sniper Wolf. What is in the works for you?
Joe Royster: Well, I just put out a collaborative EP with my friend called Velours Rose which is quite a bit different than anything else I’ve been making. Also worth noting is the other collab EP i put out with German witch house producer ViatataiV “Strange Daze”. In terms of what’s coming, mostly focusing on finishing up the Sniper Wolf LP I’m making with A$$ R^IN then from there we’re gonna do another similar concept project based on our mutual love of all things Metal Gear Solid called “Gray Fox” which is based on the cyborg ninja character from the series. I believe that’s really all I can think of as of right now but I’m sure that’ll keep me quite busy. Maybe a few singles for free download from my main project, spf50, which is more focused on kinda house-y cyberpunk/dreamy vibes now more than anything witch house per se, Anyone who wants to keep up with any or all of this can do so just check out my facebook page i keep it pretty up-to-date.
Micah, what’s planned for I AM WATER? How do you see the future of your project?
Micah Clark: As for right now, I do have a few projects here and there, including a project featuring (AS favourite and pham) Blam Lord and Bobbi Dahl, but as far as the long run is concerned, I’m returning to a place of strictly visual work under the handle Mizo (and/or just my name). Music will come here and there, but I excel in the visual field, so that’s really my focus.
I really dig the VS//YOUTHCLUB release, how do you guys feel about VS//YOUTHCLUB and will there be more VS//YOUTHCLUB in the future on Aural Sects?
We absolutely adore VS//YOUTHCLUB. Their blend of modern dance music and indie songwriting skills is something I think we’ll be seeing a lot more of in the future. Both releases (the WAVES EP and the follow-up remix EP, TIDE OUT) are absolutely stellar, and the lads have been working on something since just before the last EP appeared, so we expect to see them release something with us in the future. We’re hoping to eventually re-release some of their previous tracks on vinyl in the future also.
Looking back on what you guys have done as AS, do you think you should have done anything differently?
Honestly, probably better organisation and a way for people to be able to go through our back catalogue a little easier would have been good to have done differently.
Collectively, what are you most proud of?
Our bangin’ style.