Year End Interview: flau

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Japanese record label Flau has been releasing an array of sensitive, beautiful music for nearly a decade, building a loyal following among discerning listeners in Japan and beyond. Their output ranges from folk and pop to experimental techno, but there is always a delicate sensibility that runs through every record, a quality that characterizes the Flau sound. We talked to Flau owner Yasuhiko Fukuzono about 2016 and where the label might be headed in coming years, on this special year-end interview.

Year End Interview: flau
By Alisa Yamasaki, December 31, 2016

What were the most memorable releases to you this year?
Serpentwithfeet left a big impression on me, with both his music and visuals.
In terms of Japanese releases, I listened to Little Museum of Bird, Asa-Chang & Junray and Theater 1. For overseas releases, I listened to Lee Lang and Beatrice Dillon a lot.

What about Flau releases?
At the end of last year, we released two albums (Ocean and Farewell) from the Taiwanese ensemble Cicada, and did a Japanese tour as well. The first release from Flau this year was by Port St. Willow, a singer-songwriter from New York. We couldn’t do a concert here, but he visited several times and we caught up. He told me all about gentrification, Donald Trump and moving to a suburb up North with friends. I helped with the BRRWD compilation, the project between Repeat Pattern and Ta-ku, as well as Submerse’s zine. We also had releases by Submerse, Fabio Caramuru and Molnbar av John. I really want Caramuru and av John to tour Japan next year. For reissues, we had Robert Lippok from Raum and MOTORO FAAM from Flau.

Were there any standout moments for the label this year? What were some new discoveries as a label owner?
We actually had the fewest releases and tours this year, but there were also a lot of interesting experiences through overseas festival bookings and compilations. There seems to be more of a focus on “Cool Japan” music at festivals overseas, and I had to think of how Flau as a label should be involved in that scene. These days I’m interested in how to support the growth of artists who’ve released on my label.

What are some labels you’ve been checking out recently?
I like to discover new labels through Bandcamp and SoundCloud and immediately download music, but I tend to forget to follow up on the labels. I always check out labels that Flau has a close relationship with. Sweet Dreams Press is a label that continues to inspire me.

There are countless microgenres in Tokyo alone. Are there any trends that have caught your attention in the Japanese music scene?
I’m not sure if it counts as a microgenre but I’m interested in local communities that aren’t visible through the internet. Shifts in styles and attitudes among groups are fascinating to me in general.

Flau has impacted the Japanese music scene not only through its releases, but also through its events. How do you approach event curation? What do you have in mind when showcasing live music?
With our regular event Foundland, I do think about how to create a relaxing environment for music. I want to keep throwing events that have the music front and center, not as background music.

What makes you want to release an artist’s music on Flau? Have there been any changes in the “Flau sound” over the years?
I used to only look at completed projects, but these days I’m moved by unfinished work as long as the artist’s personality shows through. I enjoy the process that begins there, thinking with the artists on how to present the project and how to connect it with the public. The label’s taste has changed since it first started. These days I want to release music by artists from Japan and Asia.

What makes Flau special is not only the style of music, but an entire personality created through the record artwork as well. Do you decide on the artwork? Is looking for good art like looking for good music?
I usually choose the artwork but sometimes the artists have requests too. I try to incorporate artwork that reflects the label’s style. I tend to rely on my instincts but I trust Ryuto Miyake who drew the Flau cat. I ask him to do a lot of artwork for the label. It’s the same for music, but I like art that doesn’t try to be weird or edgy for the sake of it, and has a classy aspect to it. A playful spirit is always great.

Do you think 2016 was a good year for Japanese artists abroad?
There are plenty of Japanese artists who do well in alternative scenes abroad, but these days I feel like major Japanese artists are also breaking through. With the internet it’s become so easy to trace what influenced today’s music scene, so in that sense I think a lot of older Japanese ambient and New Age records are going to be talked about again.

What are your goals for 2017 as a label?
We already have a lot of releases lined up for next year, like records by British harpist Emma Gatrill, a collaboration between Tomo Akikawabaya’s project The Future Eve and Robert Wyatt, as well as new projects by Noah and Henning Schmiedt. As I mentioned earlier, I want to focus more on small, local communities. You’ll be seeing more releases by Japanese artists.

Flau is turning 10 years old next year. How does it feel?
I want to use this upcoming year wisely so there will be a 20 year anniversary to celebrate in the future. I’m constantly looking for new talent, so please send me demos!

Connect with flau

Official
Facebook
Twitter
Soundcloud
Bandcamp

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Year End Interview: King Deluxe

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2016 might be one of the worst years the history could ever remember. God can only guess what the future holds. But as for the futuristic sounds of music, we can always count on King Deluxe, a Vancouver based record label that specialises in exploring the most cutting-edge, visual, and futuristic (and unsigned) artists of the moment. We had a chance to speak with a founder of the label, PK. We talked about who King Deluxe is, their take on 2016, and their own view on the music industry.

Year End Interview: King Deluxe
By Satoru ‘Teshi’ Teshima, December 28, 2016

Can you tell us a little bit about King Deluxe? Who is behind the label? Where is it based?
We’re based mostly in cyberspace, with me running things currently from Vancouver. With me are a loose collective of artists that sometimes work together, for this label and elsewhere. Plus we constantly have new people contributing from all over the planet although a lot of those are animators and 3D modelers. I myself am a treeplanter, living remotely up in northern Canada for parts of the year. On one hand it makes it challenging to run a label year round but it also allows me to devote myself almost entirely to King Deluxe the rest of the time.

What’s King Deluxe’s manifesto?
It used to be something along the lines of let’s make future sounds. Then it evolved to lets make future sounds and sync it with cool visualizations that nobody’s seen before. Now, it’s to put people right inside of our creations. And eventually have our art interact with them.

Wave Arp from King Deluxe on Vimeo.

King Deluxe seems really particular about its curation. How do you find emerging artists and how do you approach them?
I spend a lot of time obsessively digging for new sounds and visual art when I’m not living in a tent, so the majority of the people working with the label are those I approached because I found it criminal that they weren’t already signed to a larger label. In the summers I have lots of time out in nature to listen to the music I’ve collected. It’s getting a bit easier though every year to find a good data connection up north, so I’m not entirely cut off.

Globally a lot has happened in 2016. For King Deluxe, what was the biggest news? What excited you the most?
On one hand the rise of global populism is disheartening, on the other we finally have impressive virtual reality devices, and a ton of creativity happening within this new medium. It’s early days but quite exciting to me. So years later looking back at 2017 we may all view it as the beginning of the slide into a 1984 style hellscape, but at the same time we’ll be able to escape into our stylized virtual dreamworlds, so it won’t be all bad.

While the streaming sites have been re-defining how we consume music, what’s your view on the music industry now?
I know we’re not the only ones finding it difficult to reach audiences and sell our work, streaming is definitely up but overall I feel like we’re in a dip that won’t last forever. Soundcloud once led the way when it came to showcasing fresh sounds and now we need the next big platform to come along. These things move in cycles and I’ve been around long enough to experience the rise and fall of many others, including Audiogalaxy, MP3.com, and Myspace, to name a few important ones.

Basically we need central hubs of new work from those pushing the form, that’s easily searchable and is great for keeping tabs on the artist as well as letting you get in touch with friends with similar tastes. The scene right now is too fractured, but I do think there’s a lot of potential to make a living doing music. I would be surprised if Spotify remains vital for too long unless they overhaul their business model.

As for King Deluxe, you’ll be able to find lots of our new stuff on Steam soon enough. It’s the best place to find VR works and that’s a big focus for 2018. Expect music videos (and short films) that completely immerse people, with 360 youtube versions for those without access to these headsets. Also we’re working on a virtual music festival.

Your Gay Thoughts – To Disappear from densuke28 on Vimeo.

Favourite album:
DVA – [HI:EMOTIONS]

Favourite track:
Julien Mier – Smokestacks, Shorelines

Favourite music video:
most intractable earworm – Genghis Khan

Favourite audio production / radioplay: MarsCorp
http://marscorppodcast.com

Music peripheral I could no longer live without:
Subpac M1

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Connect with King Deluxe
Facebook
Bandcamp
Official

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The Best Singles of 2016

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Our second year end feature is “The Best Singles of 2016”. The following selected tracks are all taken from the soundtrack. We hope you like it. For those who might not know so much about us, listen to the tracks and you will see what kind of music we dig.

  1. Stalking Gia – Second Nature
  2. Jessy Lanza – VV Violence
  3. Kllo – Walls To Build
  4. Fortunes. – 501’s
  5. Solange – Cranes In The Sky (Kaytranada DJ Edit)
  6. King – The Greatest
  7. Nite-Funk – Let Me Be Me
  8. Chinah – Can’t Remember How It Feels
  9. Honne – Good Together
  10. Living – A Light
  11. Elderbrook – Closer
  12. Katie Gately – Tuck
  13. Portishead – S.O.S. (ABBA Cover)
  14. Beyonce – Formation (Election Anxiety/America Is Over Edit)
  15. Marie Davidson – Naive To The Bone
  16. Mitski – Happy
  17. Oscar Key Sung – Hands
  18. Serpentwithfeet – Blisters
  19. Ry X – Deliverance
  20. Julianna Barwick – Nebula
  21. Lanks – Golden Age
  22. Dems – Gold
  23. Submerse x lee (asano + ryuhei) – primm
  24. Ash Koosha – Mudafossil
  25. Morly – Something More Holy
  26. Anna Meredith – Nautilus
  27. Leon Vynehall – Kiburu’s
  28. International Feel – Driving To Cap Negret
  29. Port St. Willow – Motion

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The Best Albums Of 2016

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The time is ripe. Coule be too late. I don’t care. Here’s my favourite albums and EPs of this year. The above fantastic and dashing logo is made by a very talented designer friend Kana Saechout. Thanks!

1. Fantôme – Utada Hikaru

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2. Hopelessness – Anohni

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3. The Hope Six Demolition Project – PJ Harvey

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4. Moon Shaped Pool – Radiohead

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5. Love Streams – Tim Hecker

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6.  Blisters EP – Serpentwithfeet

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7. Boy King – Wild Beats

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8. James Blake – The Colour in Anything

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9. Skeleton Tree – Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

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10. Viet Rose EP – Lanks

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11. Sirens – Nicholas Jaar

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12. Before the Dawn – Kate Bush

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13. A Seat At The Table – Solange

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14. You Want It Darker – Leonard Cohen

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15. Take Her Up To Monto – Roisin Murphy

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16. Blackstar – David Bowie

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17. Ultimate Lounge – Semi Precious

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18. Oh No – Jessy Lanza

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19. Advancement – Solar Bears

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20. My Woman – Angel Olsen

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21. Redemption – Dawn Richard

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22. Freetown Sound – Blood Orange

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23. I Had a Dream That You Were Mine – Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam

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24. Puberty 2 – Mitsuki

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25. 22, a Million – Bon Iver

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26. Big Black Coat – Junior Boys

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27. Syncope – Port St. Willow

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28. The Bride – Bat For Lashes

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29. 1 Of 1 – SHINee

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30. One Day All Of This Won’t Matter Anymore – Slow Club

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31. Third Law – Roly Porter

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32. Heart Like a Levee – Hiss Golden Messenger

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33. We Move – James Vincent McMorrow

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34. Strangers – Marissa Nadler

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35. Good Luck and Do Your Best – Gold Panda

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36. You Know What It’s Like – Carla Del Forno

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37. Stranger Things Original Soundtrack Vol.1 – Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein

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38. For Those Of You Who Never Have (And Those Who Have) – Huerco. S

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39. Too Many Voices – Andy Stott

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40. Collapse – Seiho

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Favourite Albums of 2016 (So Far)

a1895762218_10Anohni, “Hopelessness”

Love-StreamsTim Hecker, “Love Streams”

d258705b-d6d7-4e3c-9c65-972533d94d41_grandeLuh, “Spiritual Songs for Lovers to Sing”

a0513035967_10Julianna Barwick, “Will”

80b24721e3e5fba67f5a86898770d019Radiohead, “A Moon Shaped Pool”

JESSY-LANZA-OH-NOJessy Lanza, “Oh No”

unnamed_ujpnc5Roly Porter, “Third Law”

PJ-Harvey-The-Hope-Six-Demolition-ProjectPJ Harvey, “The Hope Six Demolition Project”

james-blake-the-colour-in-anything-640x640-1James Blake, “The Colour In Anything”

6050520Port St. Willow, “Syncope”

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