THE BEGINNING

Amanda Brown talks to Alex Hall about Not Not Fun’s experimental dancefloor sister label.

100silk

AMANDA BROWN TALKS TO ALEX HALL ABOUT NOT NOT FUN’S EXPERIMENTAL DANCEFLOOR SISTER LABEL

Since Amanda Brown embarked on her 100% SILK imprint a lot has changed. Her early mission statement devoting to release “45 rpm 12-inch singles of diamond-life dance, bliss-disco & basement luxury grooves by friends and lovers from all over the world” has proved to be an intoxicating broth, with Brown and SILK growing to be an integral part of contemporary independent music. Through a series of interviews, I picked her brains about the day-to-day runnings of the project and what we can expect in 2012.

Hi Amanda, for those unaware of 100% SILK who are you and what is the label all about?

“I’m Amanda Brown, I run 100% SILK and Not Not Fun Records, and record as LA VAMPIRES. SILK is a dance-inspired vinyl and cassette label focused on various strains of house and luxurious beat music.”

So what is a typical day in the life of Amanda Brown and 100% SILK?

“Immediately answer a million emails, listen to new demos and recordings from artists on the label, facilitate jobs already in progress, make packages to send out, go to the post office, update my site if need be, fill in my day planner with random activities, eat dinner, watch movies and TV episodes I’ve had to DVR because of some show or gallery event, then fall asleep with all my make-up on.”

Not Not Fun focused predominantly on experimental/ psychedelic releases. When did it become obvious that you needed another outlet for the SILK material?

“Obvious isn’t really the word. One of Not Not Fun’s whole deals has been that me and Britt always keep every door open and follow every curiosity we have. Our goal every day is to stay inspired and believing in the music that we help bring into creation and distribute into the world. Not Not Fun is still as vibrant as it’s ever been, but as my personal taste in music expanded. I started to find myself drawn to styles and artists that just did not make sense under the NNF umbrella. I’ve used SILK as an extension of NNF in some ways – we just needed a separate entity to curate this music and out of that impulse 100% SILK was born.”

100% SILK has been labelled as ‘retro’ and having a strong taste for the past.

“I disagree with the world’s idea of what ‘retro’ is. Music historians seem to love to immediately name a new phenomenon against its will, then get bored of it, and then decree it over – or that they’re sick of it. And if anyone continues to make that music, these critics denigrate it as retro. I use the example all the time of: ‘yes, house music has experienced a “golden age” or two, but just because that’s the case, does that mean that anyone making house music in 2012 is retro?  Is every rock’n’roll label retro just because rock is an old form?’ ”

Is there a particular label, past or present, that has inspired the running of 100% SILK?

“Different labels inspire me for different reasons. Musically: strictly rhythm, R & S, soundstream, future times, casablanca, hyperdub, L.I.E.S., fourth floor. But I like the way some smaller labels run with a family of artists, seeming actually more personally invested in helping people that they know as friends and propagators of the underground. So, professionally and thematically: Kill Rock Stars, K, PPM, Dischord.”

How do you come across such an awesome selection of new producers/artists? From what I’ve heard so far it seems that even the artists associated with the NNF imprint can turn their hand to pumping house gold?

“This is a question I get asked a lot. It’s sort of funny to me because I’ve just been running a label for seven years. It’s not as strategic as sometimes people think it is. I’m part of a community, an underground.  Friends of mine recommend friends of theirs; it’s a network of artists. I also get fantastic demos from strangers – because we’ve always had an open door demo policy. I’ll listen to anything and everything, and there’s lots of great dance music being made in the world right now. It’s a new dance era for sure.” 

The label releases purely on the vinyl format and in 45rpm and 12” format- why is that?

“We’ve recently started making cassettes as well. But the vinyl format is obviously the preferred format for a dancefloor inspired label. Who can excite anyone with a CD?”

Are there going to be any full length releases by any SILK artists in 2012?

“Yes, of course! We’ve got amazing ones from Sir Stephen, Mi Ami, Fort Romeau.”

How important is the visual presentation of the label’s music to you?

“Just like it has been for NNF: this is an art project. I’m not strictly interested in the music alone. I like the whole presentation, the story it tells, evocative song titles, the full-on vibe.”

Why do you think House music has made a resurgence recently?

“I think some people are bored with what’s being sold to them in regular indie music culture, and a lot of people I know (in my generation, so to speak) didn’t grow up with dance music – so it’s fresh. Maybe old school house fanatics would hate to hear that, but they shouldn’t. It’s amazing when people’s minds open and they get into styles they haven’t before.  That’s what’s deep about music and art in general. I also, like with NNF, am drawn to fringe interpretations of past styles, things that are a bit raw-er or have an outsider quality. Both my labels have never been interested in strict purists styles. Some of SILK’s philosophy is that it can be dance music for people who might not usually like dance music. And I’d be proud to be that. I’d love to open up minds through these amazing artists. It would be awesome to say it’s something really significant – because I believe that every day, at every dance show I throw and every time I hear a new SILK 12″, but it’s impossible to know.”

Are you excited about the SILK European tour in 2012?

“From an American perspective, Europeans often seem so much less trendy with music, just in that a lot of styles don’t go away there. People are freaking out to drum’n’bass like it just hit! And the day that it becomes hip in America to get into some new permutation of d’n’b again, Europeans will already be there. So we’re beyond excited to play for European audiences and dance freaks… and the bill we’re bringing are some of my favourite people making music.”

How about in the clubs – are there many differences between the U.S. and Europe there?

“YES. A lot of people in America seem like they come to shows mainly to just check it out, stand on the side, absorb out of cultural curiosity, be seen with friends. In Krakow and Lausanne and even Australia, people go nuts. They are there to engage and enjoy and most importantly DANCE, which is exactly the right reaction.”

You’re based in LA. Is SILK a very West Coast sound?

“I would say so. It’s subtle and abstract (and debatable), but I’m sure our selection of artists comes across as a bit laid back, looser. The SILK artists don’t necessarily make tightly wound, urban paranoia, minimal music.  There’s a bit of a hypnotized pleasure-seeking hedonism to it. It’s not Ibiza or anything, haha, but it’s how I like it. Again though, that’s not a rule of mine, it’s just what I’m drawn to.”

What are your top three favourite grooves?

“That’s too hard. Impossible. But lately I can’t stop listening to the Janet Jackson track ‘Got til It’s Gone’ with Q Tip.”

Finally, what can we look forward to from the label this year?

“So much!!  Strategy, Polonaise, Body Double, Coyote Clean Up, Polysick, Design, Jonas Reinhardt, Roland Tings, Mi Ami, Fort Romeau, and more music from Ital, Magic Touch, Sir Stephen, and Octo Octa.”

By Alex Hall

Originally published in issue 35 (vol 3) of Loud And Quiet. February 2012.

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