Every month we are going to support & pay tribute to one fantastic label or collective. We want to celebrate and illuminate the crazy sonofaguns who spend every spare waking hour nurturing a home for talented artists and their incredible music.
We are going to take you on an open house tour through that home – the past, present and future of each lofty establishment with curated mixes, interviews, articles, exclusive access to secret vaults and more.
To kick off this new feature on Frission we are totes thrilled to invite you to an April fit to bursting with the brilliant Cut Records. Front & centre and airing throughout the month across our UK, US and JP schedules will be a 2 hour podcast by Cut’s visionary head honcho Alex Cowles aka Stillhead. It’s two hours of exclusive chat and a showcase of 5 years of exceptional music since their first release in 2011. You can also get stuck in to some Q&A with Alex below. Alex is a wealth of knowledge and refreshingly honest about the bittersweet struggle of running a label.
We invited Cut to be the inaugural Label Of The Month because it’s honest, beautiful and forward thinking. If you don’t know them – it’s time. If you know them but you aren’t subscribed it’s time. For $2 you get exclusive music every month, impeccable design, top-notch curation and you know that your two bucks is making the next release possible.
Check the Cut website for a 15 track sampler you can download free of charge to get your ear buds salivating.
And hop on over to their Soundcloud to see for yourself how truly diverse this label is by checking their forthcoming release by Mu Vonz:
Our exclusive Cut mix gets it’s first airing UK Sunday 3rd April from 17.00-19.00 GMT and then same time every week throughout April. Also 18.00-20.00 on Thursdays in US on LA time & 18.00-20:00 Fridays if you are listening in Japan.
Label Lore – A Q&A with Alex Cowles – owner of Cut Records
What is the story of the label/collective’s birth?
Best place to find the story is here.
Who named you and why/WTF?
Well the name came from the logo initially – sort of an odd way to name a label – and definitely a bit of a backwards way to do things – but it’s definitely stuck now! I actually like it – and it’s short & sweet.
What is your manifesto – what are your aims?
This year I’d love to hit 1000 subscribers. The problem is it’s a MASSIVE mission. Haha
Right now we make enough to pay for release mastering, to pass back a small fee to the artists for their music and to cover a few other bits and bobs – but really, it KILLS me that I can’t give more to the artists up front – and it’s also a real struggle doing promotion at the moment – like, it’s IMPOSSIBLE to get people to check releases out and support them – I find it one of the hardest parts of running the label. I have tried so many different approaches too. With more subscribers would come the ability to invest a bit more into promotion for each releases so that artists could know I’ve been able to get their music into the right hands – and Cut becomes even more of a platform. If I could afford to spend 300 quid on each release promotion, I would – for sure – but we just don’t have enough subscribers yet – and with an increase in subscribers, comes that ability.
I have no desire to take cash for myself either – I’m not doing this as a moneymaking scheme – it’s about the music and curation.
Tell us about your City & how it shaped you?
Edinburgh, Scotland is where I was born – lived there for 29 years before moving to Riga, Latvia – neither city has had any real profound effect on the label or my own sound or development – however Latvia and the Baltics have started to shape some of the sounds on Cut – I’ve discovered a stack of local talent and I’ve been keen to try and support that, and give a few more producers some limelight.
What was your first record?
The first release on Cut was a free compilation called Cut Vol 1 – and I still love it 🙂 – I’d love to do a Cut volume 2 some time – but compilations are hard to curate and getting tracks is proving hard enough these days!!
What 3 tracks define the sound/intent of you label best so far?
This is the impossible question – it’s odd because we span a number of genres, so 3 tracks wouldn’t be enough, but we also have some sort of defining “sound” I’m told – but if I could define it I’d be a millionaire!
April’s release is an amazing woozy, experimental lo-fi hip hop album from an American producer and lyricist Mu Vonz, who I’ve worked with on stuff before for my own Iceberg album – he features on 2 tracks. When I heard his latest album, and that he was just going to put it on Bandcamp after another label deal fell through, I jumped on it for Cut – it seemed perfect to me, and it’s such a great album – definitely deserves repeated listens!
What has been the best moment for your label so far?
Years ago I was able to do a label showcase night supporting Sepalcure on part of their tour – which was awesome – to have Praveen and Travis in the crowd enjoying our output was a big deal for me.
Our recent “First Forty” compilation is a big deal too – to be able to get a physical product made and released with the help of crowdfunding is amazing – I’m really happy with how it turned out too – and it’s a phenomenal collection of 40 tracks. Plus a great primer for our label to those who don’t know us.
Who is the Diva on your label?
We don’t really have any divas, but perhaps considering a diva might be a great singer, someone with attitude, good music and high standards, I’d say maybe all of our artists fall into that category – Fingalick, a Lithuanian producer and vocalist definitely fits the bill – he’s a crazy-talented dude, both in the studio and live.
How many hours a week do you spend working on your label?
Countless – any spare moments are put into all sorts of different label-related things whether it’s curating new releases and checking stuff to sign, to UX or research of our users – upkeep of the site and maintenance to relations with other platforms, labels or journalists – it’s all in aid of the label, and it never ends!
Recommend 3 other labels/collectives?
Damn, this is tough.
I think first up I’d shout to Project Mooncircle. I know they used to dig our releases at Cut – and I believe Rain Dog went from Cut to those guys and put out some amazing music. I have a lot of respect for how they run things – very pro.
I’ve just recently discovered this label Kaer’Uiks which is more on the glitch-braindance end of the IDM spectrum – but boy do they have some great design. The designer is also the label owner (much like Cut) and it really shines through – they just launched with this amazing DVD called Black Box N, which was an order-on-sight thing for me.
Personally I also really like what Jamie is doing with Silent Season – his short-run limited releases are great – his curating of the deep dub-techno and ambient sounds totally works for me – and I think he has a great audience who are always keen for more. Definitely a great example of a small label done well.
In a parallel universe where anything is possible, who would contact you to do an album for your label/collective?
Nobody anybody knows. That’s the thing – I’m not trying to sign big acts, I’m trying to sign music that nobody has heard, and artists nobody has heard of. So my ultimate signing would be a producer or artist who has incredible music, but is still emerging. Which I think sums up almost all of our current artists anyway!
If you could bring one band back from the grave to record for you who would it be? (It can be musicians from different bands united into one super entity?
I wouldn’t – some things are best left in the past. I prefer to look forward and consider what new exciting musicians I might discover!
Answer these questions using only music videos:
Where do you get your inspiration?
There is no music video that can sum this up well enough! Haha – my inspiration comes from mostly surfing soundcloud, youtube and recommendations.
If you started your label in another decade what would it sound like?
Massive thank you to Alex and all at Cut for joining forces with us for April.