Music From Memory Radio Show
"Our focus is on compiling music that we believe deserves a wider audience than it received at the time of its release or has maybe never been heard; unreleased material which has remained only in the archive of the musicians who made it." - this short but unambiguous description was written by three music diggers with a special touch: Abel Nagengast, Jamie Tiller and Tako Reyenga. It describes the ethos of their label Music From Memory, launched in Amsterdam 2013 with a big bang called Liquid Diamonds - a compilation of the work of Leon Lowman, a highly underrated US-American producer of ambient, funk, electronic and soul from the 1980ees. Since then, Music From Memory have released compilations, Eps and albums by artists such as Gigi Masin, Vito Ricci, Suso Sáiz, Joel Graham, Napoleon Cherry, Michal Turtle, Workdub, The System or Dip in the Pool, that all transformed the DIY imprint from the Netherlands into a globally demanded record label beyond the conventional. Besides reissuing overlooked and unreleased material from the 70's onwards, from all over the planet, on vinyl, with inspired packaging, they also give place to music from today and release with Gaussian Curve one of the finest contemporary bands dancing between ambient, downtempo and new age spheres. Coming initially from a dance music perspective, Music From Memory's catalogue is impossible to categorize, involving ambient and new age styles, instrumentation and vocals, from drone and percussion tracks through to full blown songs. For Carhartt WIP Radio the three boys behind the imprint conducted a radio show that takes a look on the past, present and future of Music From Memory. To accompany their musical journey, we spoke with the trio about their work, life and general adventures in music.
Hello Music From Memory folks, what is your musical background? What was the impetus behind the start-up of the label in 2013?
MFM: All three of us are avid music lovers and record collectors. We started the label after we machined to get in touch with artists we really admired while looking for their original albums. Of course we already loved the stuff we knew already, but some artists also had work that was never released before. Some of it was so amazing that we thought more people should hear this.
What do you find most challenging about the work you do?
MFM: Having a label is pretty exciting and the work that comes with it is quite diverse. Next to taking care of the more obvious tasks like handling the production process there’s a lot of other things coming your way. Keeping on top of it all this is the most challenging thing at the moment.
Music From Memory has his home base in the premises of Red Light Records in Amsterdam: how important is the record store for your label work?
MFM: We first started Red Light Records and Music From Memory later naturally grew out of the record shop. With lots of people visiting the shop it has always worked as a catalyst for the label. Although now we separated the two for practical reason it’s still the perfect place to share and enjoy the music.
Leon Lowman, Gigi Masin, Vito Ricci, Michael Turtle, Suzo Sáiz, Dip In The Pool, Workdub, The System, Becker/Stegmann/Zeumer: stylistically Music From Memory is hard to pigeonhole. How do you decide what you reissue in terms of musical style?
MFM: We all have a very broad taste in music so for us it could be anything; it just needs to feel right; when all three of us agree it fits the Music From Memory sound.
Generally seen: what qualities do you look for as "curators" of old forgotten music?
MFM: We love original ideas and music that’s distinct in some way, most of all we’re looking for music that move us.
With Gaussian Curve you released a project of contemporary music that emerged out of your peers in Amsterdam. Are there any more releases like this planned and will Gaussian Curve release new stuff, too?
MFM: We never really thought of Music From Memory as a compilation/reissue label only, so when we got the chance to get the guys from Gaussian Curve together in the studio, we were very excited. They produced a whole album in what was basically a long weekend and it really captured a special vibe so we never thought twice about bringing it out. There will be a new Gaussian Curve album coming out in April/May and there’s more contemporary music on the way; we’re also very excited that we’re releasing a new project by Suso Sáiz called Rainworks this year.
Since vinyl is booming again, printing qualities are often low. You excavate long forgotten music and reissue it in the best way in terms of sound quality. Is it hard to maintain the quality?
MFM: Because it’s not an exact science there’s a lot that can go wrong with pressing up vinyl, so quality control is a big part of the process. Thankfully we’re working with the best parties for the job, which makes everything a lot easier and help speed things up also. But it’s still a meticulous task.
When you re-master old music, do you have a special person who does it or do you choose the mastering in relation to the music you reissue?
MFM: Brandenburg Mastering masters all of our releases here in Amsterdam.
How important are the non-musical components of your releases, i.e. packaging, album art and foremost liner-notes?
MFM: It’s a big part of the release. We’re very happy to work with two designers we really admire: David McFarline and Steele Bonus. David made the layout and the design for the first release. We thought that it had such a strong feel that decided to stick with it. We didn’t have a chance to do that many liner-notes yet but managed to get John Gomez to do them for the Suso Sáiz: Odisea release and the Outro Tempo: Electronic And Contemporary Music From Brazil 1978-1992 compilation.
What about the quantity of copies you release? Are you doing represses or are you watching Discogs, to see how much your releases grow in terms of selling prizes?
MFM: We want to keep our entire catalogue available as much as possible; as soon as our distributor gives us the heads up we’ll do a repress.
Do you have a "wish list" of musicians you'd like to see on Music From Memory?
MFM: Doing a compilation of Haruomi Hosono’s works would be a dream, that would be at least three double albums
What exciting stuff do you have in the pipeline for 2017?
MFM: Next to the new Suso Sáiz and Gaussian Curve albums we’ve a mini album with tracks by Denis Mpunga/ Paul K on the way, that will be followed with a 12” of remixes. We’re also going to do an album with Caliban, which will feature a lot of previously unreleased tracks and more we still can’t say too much about.
Was there a moment in the Music From Memory story so far where you really felt like "this is it" or "We've made it now"? And were you generally happier after getting to that point?
MFM: We don’t think of success in that way; every release is a steppingstone and is very special to us. As long as we can sustain that feeling with each release we think we’re being very successful.
You also run the sub-label Second Circle, where you released music by friends like Montezumas Rache, Tornado Wallace or Sombrero Galaxy. Can you tell us a bit about the idea behind the label and what future releases are planned for 2017?
MFM: We wanted to do something more contemporary, electronic and aimed at dance floor. We’ve got a few exciting things lined up, the next one is going to be by Androo.
Do you think that Amsterdam has had a strong influence on your work as label people?
MFM: Amsterdam is a dynamic city that has always been open to a lot of foreign influences. It’s a liberated and open-minded place with a vibrant music culture so in that sense we feel right at home.
How important is the Internet for what you do business-wise as well as musically?
MFM: The Internet is a great platform to present our music and it’s is an integral part of most of our activities
What’s your favourite Music From Memory rumour?
MFM: To be honest we’re not sure if we ever heard a MFM rumour.
What was your biggest hit so far?
MFM: In terms of sales Talk To The Sea by Gigi Masin has been very successful. In terms of presales the recent Outro Tempo: Electronic And Contemporary Music From Brazil 1978-1992 compilation went out of the roof.
What do you want to accomplish with the music you release?
MFM: Share great music!
Are there any key albums from your adolescent or early years that you find yourself revisiting and enjoying in the current era?
MFM: So many but to name a few;
Roxy Music: Avalon ( EG 1982)
Anything by Kraftwerk.
What is your opinion the about the inflation of unearthing lost music in the past years? Will there be an end to it and everything's revealed with no more holy grails to look for?
MFM: There was an incredible amount of amazing music produced in the seventies and eighties. The thing you learn when you spend a lot of time looking for records is that you only can scratch the surface. It’s great that there’s a growing interest in this music. It was every musicians dream to have something out on vinyl and there a quite a few good ones that never got any recognition. There will be always an interest in good music regardless of when it was made; how the reissue boom will develop is hard to predict but reissues and compilations will definitely always have its place.
What's you're favourite record label?
MFM: Invisible City Editions, RVNG Intl., Moodhut.
How did you select the tracks for your Carhartt Radio show?
MFM: We wanted to make something that includes all the artists we have releases so far.
What can music do, which all other art forms cannot?
MFM: Span the gap between familiarity and newness.
What superpower would you like to have?
MFM: Telepathy. And to do Jedi mind tricks!
If smelling is the sense that helps taste, what’s the sense that helps hearing (in relation to music)?
MFM: The sense of time.
When it comes to art, what are you most interested in?
MFM: Music, painting, photography and architecture.
What are albums that you'll absolutely never get tired of listening to?
MFM: Philippe Chany: Rive Gauche ( Polydor 1983)
Who are your favour rite heroes/heroines in fiction?
MFM: Chewbacca, Axel Foley.
Music From Memory discography