Charles Damga is the founder of avant-garde dance music label UNO records, whose roster includes the likes of Gobby, Arca and Fatima Al Qadiri. This is his first contribution to Electronic Beats. Interview conducted by A.J. Samuels.
I first met Nicolas Jaar when I was working for DFA. He must have been seventeen or eighteen years old at the time. I came back from lunch one day and found him talking enthusiastically but eloquently and immediately assumed he was some band’s manager, because those are the only types who command that kind of attention in the laid back office. He was talking about Joy Division in relation to Wolf + Lamb, so the context was wild, but Nico’s monologue felt inspired and energetic. Of course, Nico’s personality is large. He’s a tenacious guy, and it speaks through his music and performances. He’s never not doing something, which is rare for young guys finding their way. In my opinion, he’s on a pioneering artist track that not many people I know lead. Musically, I call him a unicorn—a mix of artists like Ricardo Villalobos on the one hand and Madlib/J Dilla on the other. And he’s got the chops to back it up. I can say as a promoter of other artists with my label UNO, there certainly aren’t many people who would kill a great label when it’s working, like Nico did with Clown & Sunset after such a successful beginning. I think if you look back at his catalogue, you can see a desire to break artists. Not in terms of selling a million copies, but more like shining a light on those who are a challenge to market. In terms of Clown & Sunset, it’s not like you’ve heard every record. But Jesus, it’s like ten records that are pretty crucial. Of course, these are interspersed with ones that got little attention. There’s only so much new music someone wants to buy, and as a label owner you find yourself releasing music to no one sometimes—and releasing for everybody on the next.
In contrast, with Other People’s subscription model releasing albums and compilations every week to paying customers, people elect themselves into knowing what’s happening in that world. Together with Nico and the roster, they become more of a movement, serially signed up to having awareness of what’s going on at all times. It’s almost like an RSS feed to a pay blog where you don’t know what’s going to get posted but you trust whoever runs it enough to invest money in them. It’s a model that’s been made by the Internet. In a traditional label you usually need months and months of promotion to make sure the thing has any chance of success. For example, if I have a new single I want to get into the grime community or on Rinse FM and cater to that native audience first, I then drop it on Soundcloud later to show that it has legitimacy where it really matters. Only after that do you want the populace to decide. But with a serial model, it’s a constant flow of, say, ten releases in progress. It doesn’t involve so much trepidation, and that offers incredible freedom. I guess you could have said the same of dub 7-inch singles clubs, but that kind of excitement hasn’t been around for quite some time.
To a certain extent, I do hear a common denominator in the work of a lot of the artists on Other People, but it’s a difficult line to release people who sound like you vs. sound you like, as an artist label. You’re inevitably tied in to a conversation with artists that are related to what you do, much like with Oneohtrix and his Software label. With Other People, there are points of overlap in, say, Vtgnike from Moscow and Nico in New York, but vast space with others like Acid Pauli in Germany. All of which I have grown to appreciate, with each increasing the musicality of the others. It feels like Nico has looked in the mirror and seen Other People, both as his reflection and his vision. ~
This text first appeared first in Electronic Beats Magazine N° 36 (4, 2013). Read the full issue on issuu.com or in the embed below.
Clown & Sunset, the record label of Nicolas Jaar, are preparing a new compilation that does not come on one of the normal vinyl, CD, or digital formats. The compilation, which contains 12 tracks from the likes of Valentin Stip, Pavla & Noura and Jaar himself, is housed in an aluminium box that you connect headphones to in order to hear the music. Designed by Jaar the cube has two jacks for shared listening and we would guess the technology is not dissimilar to the Play Button. Check the track-listing and promo-video below. Just don’t mention Richie Hawtin and his ill-fated cube shaped experiments..
01 Brandon Wolcott & Emil Abramyan: “YouAndTheSpace Between”
02 Pavla & Noura: “Siblings Music”
03 Nikita Quasim: “GHOST”
04 Nicolas Jaar: “Why Didn’t You Save Me”
05 Pavla & Noura: “Don’t Owe Me A Thing”
06 Just Friends: “Avalanche”
07 Acid Pauli: “Palomitastep”
08 Nicolas Jaar & Will Epstein: “Never Have I Ever”
09 Vtgnike: “Untitled Juke”
10 Nicolas Jaar, Will Epstein, Dave Harrington, Ian Sims: “Ishmael”
11 Valentin Stip: “Hiathaikm”
12 Nicolas Jaar: “Don’t Break My Love”
Nicolas Jarr will be taking part in a five hour live, multi-discipline performance at New York’s MoMA PS1 next month. From Scratch is presented in collaboration with Clown & Sunset Aesthetics, which is the “interdisciplinary culture house” Jarr runs with filmmaker Noah Kraft. The five hour show will see Will Epstein, Sasha Spielberg and Dave Harrington all collaborate with Jaar musically on stage, although exactly how is not clear. The show also features a dance piece by Lizzie Feidelson and sound & video art from CSA’s resident filmmaker Ryan Staake.
Check out this video from the CSA website. Either Jaar has a supreme sense of irony, or he has not been paying attention to Richie Hawtin‘s more bombastic projects.
Pitchfork will present From Scratch On Sunday, February 5 from 1-6 p.m.
After the release of his acclaimed album Space Is Only Noise last year, the prolific Nicolas Jaar dropped another unreleased track named ‘With Just One Glance You’ some weeks ago. The compelling and sexy song pulls you in with the Jaaring percussion and infectious sax solo, keeping the mood with the rhythmic appeal of vocals from Scout LaRue, the Willis/Moore offspring. We celebrated this song already some days ago in our beloved Facebook series “‘EB favourite of the day”, but here’s your chance to not only listen to the track, but also download it. Make sure to catch Nicolas during his live tour here, too.
The intoxicating life of a touring musician is over and it’s back to school for Nicolas Jaar . Since the release of his debut album Space is Only Noise in early 2011, the New York based, Chilean born musician has been on the road pretty much all the time. The 21 year old producer was studying comparative literature at Brown University, Rhode Island until he became one of the most talked about artists of this and the past year, largley thanks to his Wolf + Lamb connection. Therefore he’ll be swapping samplers for university books for now and not playing any live shows until 2012.
As a parting gift Jaar is currently giving away his latest single, titled ‘Don’t Break My Love‘ (which you can listen to and download from the player embedded below). And there’s another little treat: alongside Azari & III (mind their Electronic Beats recommended tour with When Saints Go Machine), Nico put together a ‘Six Mix’ for BBC Radio 6 last sunday. The show is up for stream for another five days, and it’s definetly worth the listen: Jaar collected music that inspired him when growing up, followed by his current favourites – such as Animal Collective, Lil Wayne, Missy Elliott and Cat Power (which is an obvious pick since he was spinning her Rolling Stones cover version, the same one that Nikita Quasim used for her sweet Clown & Sunset mix).
Furthermore, Jaar started a new project, titled Darkside, where he’s collaborating with his band member and guitarist Dave Harrington, they’ll be releasing a self-titled three track EP on Clown & Sunset on December 5th which you can pre-listen here.
Last but not least (and as mentioned below): the first Nicolas Jaar shows in 2012 are already popping up – see below.
Nicolas Jaar Band live:
January 15th NL-Amsterdam – Melkweg
January 17th DE-Hamburg – Ego
January 19th, 2012 DE-Munich – Rote Sonne
January 20th, 2012 FR-Brest La Carène (Salle des Musiques Actuelles)
January 22nd FR-Paris – Le Trianon
January 26nd IT-Rome – Goa Club