VF Industrial. All Hail!
So hi there. In case you missed it, there’s a new tab on the top of the site touting the words VF Industrial. Want me to explain what that’s all about? Sure you do. So. A few months back, Pau and I decided to take a trip to Mexico to take advantage of Xime’s waning child-in-lap privileges, as well as meet up with some art-friends, check out a couple galleries and eat ourselves into a coma on our favorite Poblano snacks, of which there are many. And while we were there, two general trains of thought collided, creating the secret sauce that’s lead to this current venture.
Thought the first goes back to January 2013 when I first met Carlos Amorales when Pau and I were showing at the Central American Biennial in Panama City. He was giving a talk on his Nuevos Ricos project and I, being slightly submerged in the worlds of punk rock and absurdity was amused. By the by, since I’ll only screw up on explaining the project, here’s a video of Carlos himself making the pitch.
Thought the second was taken from David Novak’s Japanoise book that I brought with me on the trip, leading to so highly circumspect reading as I tried to take a book about the noise scene in Japan seriously in spite of it’s use of one of my most hated phrases in the lexicon of academia – “ethnographic field study.” Long story. I’ll probably write a book about it one day, possibly a dissertation. Either way, let’s talk about what ties these two thoughts together as opposed to my usual gripes and tandems. For me, said tie was the thought of curation. In one of the later chapters of Novak’s book, he compares the differences between US net labels and Japanese net labels and what archival data can be derived from them. Was there a scene? Did these people know each other and play shows together? Or was this the product of a singular fanatic who offered to release recordings that tickled his particular fancy? My money’s on door number three – which in some ways is also what ties the idea of curation to Amorales’ project where he’s more or less creating the music scene that he would have wanted during his youth in Mexico.
This of course led to one of my infamous thought spirals whee most of the dogmatic rules that provide cohesion to my universe momentarily become unhinged. A quick case study. During my time at Oberlin, I was pretty hard into the IDM, but eventually realized I lacked the skills, patience and community to truly commit to the genre. Not to mention Reason was limited, Ableton was in it’s infancy and I lacked the cash to pick up hardware. Through the usual liberal arts channels – i.e. recreational thought exercises, college radio, the indie media network and the virtue of running a clandestine venue out of my living room, I was introduced to noise music – which appealed to me through the idea that trough noise, you could express limitless possibilities simultaneously. Imagine 9 symphonies playing at once. Now imagine 9000. Now imagine every piece of music ever recorded. Somewhere between the bad and the ugly, the beautiful lie. To rewind back to my thesis, imagine the recording produced 15000 feet above Manhattan – where every individual sound of 9 million individual contributes to the caustic drone of existence.
Or at least those were my ideals coming into California. Before I enrolled at Mills, I began collecting my share of records, centering primarily around Load, Bulb and Skin Graft. Later, by way of the Oberlin Conservatory Library, I was exposed to Asphodel and Tzadik. During my 6 months in Ann Arbor, I inherited a copy of the Merzbox, copied over a series of late-night guest DJ sessions at WCBN. Somehow I actually ended up with a lot of Merzbow records – not sure how. Or where they are. Apparently, they’re worth a lot of money when they’re not on your iPod. Whoops. In California, my first semester allowed me further access to the Tzadik catalog, the experimental bins at Amoeba, Tigerbeat 6, and by way of several unnecessary paragraphs, Ipecac Recordings – a label that somehow featured anything from Japanese noisers to the Locust to the Melvins. Ok, kind of a narrow band there, but from the perspective of my early-20’s addled cranium, the associations were insane – I mean, how can a label have all these disparate elements going on at once? What’s the connection? Obviously, later on I learned the lynchpin to it all was Mike Patton’s general eclecticism (again, curation), but I was still under the influence of the ’80’s hardcore credo that for a movement, all you ever really need is 10 people and a space and it’ll happen. And typically it does about 70 percent of the time. Thanks for that one, Black Flag. I had also recently met Mike Watt shortly before graduating Oberlin, so I was still glowing with the thought that if you stick with your buddies and support them through thick and thin, you’ll all end up famous and guest star on each other’s records. Not to say that this isn’t happening and a slow, yet progressive clip, but in most circumstances, I think I could be described as naive, or at the very least, optimistic.
Back to that curation thing. Years ago I tried to run a label. It didn’t work out so well and it ended with a cease and desist notice. That’s how we ended up here. It also failed for reasons other than that – for instance lack of capital for materials and distribution and largely, simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. In the late-oughts, there was a swarm of net-labels that propped themselves up during the twilight of the Myspace. They were interesting, for sure, but never quite had the heft of a label that printed a physical disc at the time. A decade later, the physical disc has become a product of ephemera with an enclosed download code. Why even print it – you might as well give away small action figures or those weird all-white Japanese figurines. At least those look more interesting on a shelf than a stack of sealed 180 gram vinyl. So looking to curate a space where I could have all my friends and interests on a single page, with little-to-no overhead and the incentive of designing new gear for my friends’ projects, I decided to launch VF Industrial. It’s a little freeform at the moment though I’m sure rules will eventually impose themselves. The initial one we thought of was to only do releases on solstices and equinoxes. So 3 discs dropped the other week. One from me, one from Dereck Donohue and one from Hey Exit. 3 more will drop in December. And so it will go. Call it a project. Call it a curation. Call it a dated concept and I’m showing my age. Whatever. It’s something. A sobering thought I often return to is that over the course of my musical career, I’d estimate that 90% of the venues I’ve played at and nearly every label I’ve released on is defunct. If anything, I’m just doing what I can for my fellow survivors to fill the void. Either way, go take a listen. If you’re racing this and there’s no links or pictures, just give it a few days. As the last post clearly establishes, I’m a.) doing al that I can here and b.) I’ll get to it. Just give me time.