Since 2013 the Los Angeles based independent record label New Los Angeles releases music without blinkers. Owned and run by Matthew Kone, Luis Blanco and Maria Paredes, the record company is difficult to define in terms of style and genres. They push experimental and uncommon sounds within the frameworks of avant-garde hip hop, electronic, psychedelic, pop, and all things abstract. The New Los Angeles roster includes artists such as MC and hip hop producer The Koreatown Oddity, noise, rock, and ambient crossover arranger Walter Gross, the UK-based synth-pop and downtempo genius Hairy Hands or instrumental hip hop producer Ghost McGrady to name a few. For Carhartt WIP Radio the New Los Angeles folks conducted a mix that dives deep into the varied sounds of their sounding company.
Where and how did New Los Angeles start? What was the impetus behind the start-up of the label?
New Los Angeles: We formed in 2013 and released The Koreatown Oddity's Pops 45s cassette as a lead-up to his album 200 Tree Rings as our first official record in 2014. We wanted to start a record label that reflected not only our mutual love of hip hop, beats, and electronic music, but also our vastly diverse tastes in pop music, rock, jazz, noise, psyche, folk, funk, and every other sound under the spectrum.
Koreatown Oddity, Repeated Measures, Gangs, Kone, Jincallo, Walter Gross, Jeremiah Jae, AshTreJinkins, Ghost McGrady: your artist roster features many different bands/artists, that follow their very own style. How did you get in touch with them and what is the overall criterion that you published music by them?
New Los Angeles: Some of the artists we work with are friends from the community and people we hang out with and others are people we’ve come across either at a show, on Bandcamp, through demos, or on social media. We truly have no criteria when it comes to selecting music besides the fact that it should push some kind of boundary. We’re open to all genres, whether it’s crunk or classical.
On your website you write, that New Los Angeles is also an "art common“. Can you tell us a bit about that?
New Los Angeles: From the beginning, we’ve wanted to have a focus on design and on the artistic side of things, almost as important as the music itself. We’re all creatives and we wanted to leave the door open for any artistic endeavours we may be interested in.
What process do you follow for getting new artists?
New Los Angeles: There is no set standard procedure. Several of the first releases were artists we knew we wanted to work with from day one, but of the ones that we've found along the way some have come from our endless searches for new music, some have been referrals or tips from friends and artists, and some have been submissions we've received, which we always welcome and encourage.
What exciting stuff do you have in the pipeline currently?
New Los Angeles: We’re currently in the process of finishing a psychedelic rock album by a band from Chile named La Rabla, a trio of South American musketeers who do nothing but skate and shred. Also, we’re working on a joint project called Karavan that consists of our friends Lefto and Free The Robots. That’s something we’re really excited about. We’re also working with some new artists like Corbo (half of Bür Gür) and Mykele Deville, as well as sophomore albums from Repeated Measures, Ultragash, and Tom Ward, among others.
What advice would you give an artist in regards to sending tracks to a label?
New Los Angeles: The best advice we could give is to just to be yourself and let the label get a sense of not only your music, but also your personality and style. A lot comes down to compatibility, and there are many factors that weigh just as importantly as the music, such as work ethic and quality of character. We've sworn to never work with jerks, no matter how great their music is.
How important is the Internet for what you do business-wise as well as musically?
New Los Angeles: We need the Internet and it’s always going to be there, but we’re more interested in face-to-face interaction as well as our presence in the streets.
What's the best thing about the music scene in Los Angeles? And what’s the worst?
New Los Angeles: The best thing about the scene here in L.A. is that we are completely spoiled with amazing talent everywhere you look. On any given night there are more exciting events than you could possibly attend, in fact the worst thing would be having to choose which of your friends you go support from night to night.
Can you please recommend two upcoming L.A. based artists to our readers, which you feel deserve their attention?
How does living in L.A. shape your work as a label runner?
New Los Angeles: Living here keeps you very active, and keeps you on your toes. We try not to think of things in terms of competition, but since we're still young our best tools for success are being on the ball first, which we like to think we've already proven we do.
What are you doing besides running a label? Is this your full time job, or are you an artist, producer or DJ, too? If so: can you tell us a bit about these adventures?
New Los Angeles: Luis works at a record store, Kone is a DJ and producer, Maria is an artist, Remy Kay and Repeated Measures are teachers, The Koreatown Oddity delivers pizza, Chaucer prints shirts, Tom Ward is a fisherman, and Ghost McGrady drives for Uber. Sorry, guys.
What are three contemporary albums that you'll recommend to someone who want to feel L.A. with music?
What are five words that would describe your personal fashion style?
New Los Angeles: Maria’s in her Pajamas for most of the day. Kone tucks his shirt in. Luis wears pants. We all have long and shaggy hair. That’s 24 words.
Ice-T once said: Los Angeles is a microcosm of the United States. If L.A. falls, the country falls. Also here: agree or not? And what part you take in this cosmos?
New Los Angeles: The country would be much better off it were more like Los Angeles. For proof see recent election results.
If you could travel in time, which L.A. from the past would you like to visit?
New Los Angeles: Seeing L.A. in the 1940's would be amazing. We've always been enamoured with all things noir, and to see L.A. when Bunker Hill was bustling, and the downtown theatre row was thriving, and cable cars and Model T Ford's lined the streets would be a dream come true.
Which are your favourite beaches in L.A.?
New Los Angeles: There is a beautiful beach called Matador that is the first place to take out-of-town friends, but one of us (Kone) grew up surfing in L.A., so the best spots are definitely not something we can publish online.
And what is something L.A. got to offer to you that no other city got?