Regular readers of The Letter will already be familiar with the now defunct net label basic_sounds who brought us the very best House, Dub Techno and Ambient music from producers like Chord, Textural Being, Joel Pryde, Erich Schall, Overcast Sound and Mikaere. Anyone diving in cold can get a head start with this selection of my favourites (the Chord mini-album Year as a Ghost in particular is one of my favourites). For me, one of the key artists to emerge from basic_sounds was Michael Pettit, the man behind three of those celebrated monikers: Overcast Sound, Chord and Mikaere.
As Overcast Sound, initially with Jamie Drouin, he explored the darker, dubbier side of Techno (check out the monumental Commute soundscapes) whereas with Chord and (currently) Mikaere, the focus is on chilled-out House rhythms with melancholic melodies.
In 2015 (having released on various labels over the years, including Silent Season, basic_sounds, Falk Recordings and Thoughtless Music) Pettit decided to launch his own label: Sound & Object. Four releases in, the exquisite contributions from Timmy, Area, G.U.A. and (the inaugural EP from himself as) Mikaere indicate that maintaining this high level of quality will certainly be challenging. I spoke to Pettit about Sound & Object to find out more:
Why did you set the label up?
I've been drawn to the idea of running a label for a long time. Well before I was a DJ, or made my own music, there was something about running a label that appealed to me. Additionally, in the last few years I have been looking for an outlet for my own Mikaere productions. It felt like the right time as different aspects of my life aligned — a natural extension of the work I was already doing.
What's the ethos behind the label?
As of yet there is no overarching philosophy or ethos, it’s still developing. On the about page for Sound & Object website I wrote:
We are a small independent label releasing house and techno music
...and while that sounds extremely broad, it provides guidance for the label.
The “small independent” part is important to me. I want to work with people who have a level of vulnerability and openness, who don’t care that vulnerability comes with imperfection. I like this. I enjoy the strangeness or awkwardness of speaking from the heart. One part tentative, one part confident. There are some descriptors I keep in my head to help me pick artists and music for Sound & Object. I use house and techno as the centre points. I want dance music, but with a deeper edge or a bit more mellow, and maybe even a bit of melancholy. The music has to work in the context of dance floor and home listening.
Sound & Object is also shaped by my other interests: design and art. The name — Sound & Object — reflects this. Obviously the ‘sound’ is the music, and the ‘object’ is everything else surrounding and supporting the music: the physical release, the cover art, the photography, the text, the website… For me, the music and the surrounding space are both important.
Onyre by Timmy, from Vamo' Paco EP
How is it managed across different continents?
Everything is handled in Germany at the moment. I suspect it will get a bit more inter-continental when I move back to Canada (at some point).
Who (if anyone) helps you run it?
The label is run by only me, though my wife [Sarah Stein] does help me with artwork (she drew the images for Passeriform, Forbidden Plateau and Vamo’ Paco) and some administrative tasks. Plus, she provides moral support and brings me gin and tonics when I get stressed.
Sketches for Passeriform artwork
How do you find artists to release and promote?
So far it has been a mix of me searching for artists and receiving demos.
Each release so far has been different, for example Area and I had an existing connection. He remixed an Overcast Sound (a project of mine) track a number of years ago and we have stayed in touch. Timmy, I found when he posted in a Facebook group. May, who has an upcoming release, I was familiar with her music and asked her if she would be interested. And I had previously released a track with G.U.A’s label. I spend a fair bit of time trawling through SoundCloud and websites looking for interesting artists.
It's not all music though, you also promote art? How does that work? Public exhibitions? Online art only?
In the overall vision for Sound & Object, art is a part. However, at the moment the label is small and I can not fully realise that part yet. But as the label grows I would love to commission original pieces from visual artists to include with the releases. Or try out some more experimental packaging for the vinyl releases. Maybe a 12” release with a print, drawing, or photograph to hang on the wall. Or wooden boxes for records, or a batik wrapping, or a small sculptural element that ships with a USB stick release. Somewhere down the line, after working with a number of visual artists, an exhibition could make sense and be interesting. Until then, I’m happy to foster a more individual experience of relating sounds and artworks.
What's on the agenda for the next six months or so?
The next vinyl release has just gone into production. This will be a three track EP from an Argentinian artist named May. She has produced two lovely house tracks and there is a remix from Leonel Castillo. A perfect summer house EP, so hopefully the pressing plants are not backed up too much. I will put together another Mikaere release in the next couple months, I am a slow worker, so it is hard for me to say when exactly it will be finished. There are discussions with a few other artists about putting together releases, but nothing firm yet. Juno has started distributing the vinyl, so that will make the 12” releases a bit more accessible. I look forward to seeing the record getting out into people hands. Please send me a photo if you have one, I would love to see where they end up. If people are interested in staying in the loop, there is a newsletter at soundandobject.com to get notified about releases.
To celebrate Sound & Object Mikaere has put together a superb mix for The Letter, which includes an exlusive track from new Argentinian artist May.
- Area - Defense in Depth [Sound & Object]
- Aaron und Pascal - In Front of You (Ion Ludwig Remix) [Sorry For This]
- Ishmael - Titan, My Friend [Church]
- Peggy Gou - Day Without Yesterday [Phonica White]
- Baaz - Endori (Dorisburg Remix) [Office Recordings]
- Thor - Essential Thoughts [The Double R]
- Langenberg - Shadows (Frank & Tony Remix) [Dessous]
- Maxine & Cleo - Mind is Spinnin [Argot]
- May - Cometa [Sound & Object] (unreleased)
- Herbert - It’s Only (DJ Koze Remix) [Pampa]
Download the mix | 119MB | 51:56 | 320k