With last years Zeitgeist compilation of local techno, the new label if? Records firmly placed both itself and Melbourne on the techno map. Since then, the people behind the label have released the odd tape, held a few parties called Omniglobe and a few gigs under the banner of Zeitsprung, with each event smacking strongly of the local underground scene. Thanks to labels like If, the Melbourne scene has continued to prosper , so much so that labelmeister Andrez was seriously considering making Zeitgeist 2 a triple CD. TRISH asked Andrez where the If label fits into the burgeoning global techno scene.
Andrez was pleased to report that the first compilation, released in April last year, has made its mark, remarking that it had been licensed to Nova Zembla in Belgium. It was released in Europe and America in September last year and theyve sold about one and a half thousand over there. Weve pretty much sold out the release here of about a thousand, so were really happy with the way it went since it was our first release. Since this initial release, If has been concentrating on a lot of live events like Z eitsprung and Omniglobe. That was just to give a lot of the artists we met through the first compilation, especially the more underground, experimental ones, a lot more of a chance to play live, and take their art to audiences on a direct level rather than people having to go out and buy CDs. Thats really important to us because I think that a lot of the stuff thats produced is really produced on that level. It was really interesting, but this year were not going to do so much live stuff because weve fou nd the artists who we really want to develop now and theyve sort of gone beyond that purely playing live level, and just want to do recording.
Zeitgeist 2, released last month, sees many of these shining lights of the first compilation once again, such as Soulenoid, Amnesia, Sonic Voyagers and Voiteck, but also a number of fresh faces who submitted demos. Indicative of the health of the local techno community, Andrez found the sheer volume of submissions quite unwieldy. I wanted to do a triple CD, but we could only do two realistically! We picked the biggest cross-section of all different styles that we thought represented what Melbourne is doi ng; I dont think theres any particular style which dominates here. We tried to pick as many new artists as possible as well, so theres a healthy cross-section of established people and new artists. The new one has done exceptionally well so far, weve sold about 250 out of the 500 pressed in four weeks. Its already been licensed to Nova Zembla and theyre releasing on June 24th.
Released at the same time last month was the Guyver III debut album Perception Camera, marking him as one of the original If artists which the label are keen to nurture. Andrez remarked that Scott [Armstrong] is one of the most talented artists in Melbourne because hes the most original. Weve approached a few labels overseas to license his album,; theres a label over in the UK called Hydrogen Jukebox who put out Plaids album and theyve expressed interest, as well as the more experimental labels in England like Clear Records. But even if they dont license it I just want them to maybe get interested in what Scotts doing, and whats happening here in general. Advertising Melbourne to the rest of the world is something that If seems to have a talent for, having featured heavily in Mixmags recent expose on Australian techno culture. If featured prominently, though Andrez admitted that this may not be entirely due to the quality of its releases. He recalled that when Dom Phillips the editor came out we hooked up with him because he was really interested in what was happening in the underground here. Scott and I dragged them along to Global Warming when they first arrived, and we were all very, very drunk including them, and Scott was going on about aliens as a joke, then there was all these quotes in the article about aliens coming through the ozone layer! In a more serious vein, Mixmag waxed lyrical about the virtues of the first Zeitgeist compilation, especially Voiteck and Guyver III.
From the dizzy heights of international infamy to the hard slog of the interstate trek, however, its all in a days work for If. Despite current reservations about live shows, members of the If crew are launching the compilation next week in Sydney at a trip hop/ dub club called Warm Up. Andrez noted with a laugh that this style of club was chosen not only because its one of the only decent weekly clubs in Sydney, but also because in a lot of ways thats the direction both Scott and I want to explore. Weve put all If production on hold after this for three months at least because I felt we were being typecast in terms of the music we were putting out; we were being told that If is an hard label and I dont think If is a hard label at all, I think we explore all different angles. Personally Im just not into ambient music, but otherwise Im into slow beats, abstract stuff, experimental stuff, hard stuff, and I want to explore it all. I want to back track a bit and really get back into the music because its jus t becoming too much of a business.
The business of making money is something that If could never be accused of taking too seriously. For Andrez, the labels guiding ideology is to push local talent, especially Melbourne talent, so hard that everyone overseas is going to know about it and maybe appreciate whats happening here. I send the compilations to everyone I know through doing interviews as a radio announcer and journalist, so just about everyone overseas has got a copy! Even if they dont like it and they sell it, well its still going to be overseas and somebody else will pick it up! Back in Australia, prices for new If releases resemble the price tags of second hand imports, so its clear that all If wants is Melbournes underground techno on the sound systems of the universe. And there aint no ifs about it.
Zeitgeist 2 and Guyver IIIs Perception Camera are now available from leading specialist music stores.