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INTERVIEW: Hands In The Dark

hands in the dark3 INTERVIEW: Hands In The Dark

S.o.t.r. contributor Mauricio Gudiño Jr. from Mondo Nation chats with french label Hands In The Dark.

 As a label in times of the loss of any type of structure or direction for the music industry in general, what is your drive/motivation for HITD?

It’s all about passion really since we are a non-profit record label. To be honest with you we didn’t really think of the current situation that the industry had been going through when we started off our activities. From day one, Hands in the Dark have been driven by the desire of sharing music we love but not only. There is also a moral aspect to our activities, there is obviously no point for us to spend hours and hours of our spare time being involved in a project with a band we don’t get on with. People seem to be interested in our modest activities and (sometimes very) special musical tastes, so it’s very gratifying and it gives us even more energy to carry on.

With out geographical location hindering what HITD is, or does, due to being primarily web based, what do you feel are some obstacles for you and record labels in your same position?

Being mainly active on the web definitely makes us less visible and effective than if we were based in a big city (Onito lives in London though). It’s harder to stretch our network the way record labels do usually: meet people, get better feedbacks/heads-up/partners, see bands play live and put-on shows as much as we’d like too. We think that we make up for these drawbacks by working even harder behind our computers… On the other hand it turned out to be a valuable asset because it enables us to stay focused and true about what we’re doing: no fake friends, no kiss ass bullshits or whatsoever.

What influences the labels aesthetics and what part do you feel the aesthetics play in the development of the label?

As you might have noticed, our visual identity as a label is very simple and bleak. It just lies in the fact that we do everything ourself without being particularly skilled in term of graphic design! So we try to keep things as simple as possible. However we are both fond of photography, that’s why we’ve started to incorporate our own snaps to our projects whenever it’s possible and we feel like it’s relevant… after all, such a name for a label was prone to a hint of visual originality, wasn’t it? Aesthetic-wise we are very lucky in the sense that most of the artists we’ve worked with so far had a pretty strong visual identity (which is also a big plus when we consider carrying out a project with a band) that fitted perfectly to their music and the feel we’d like to convey as a mainly psychedelic-oriented label. Overall, they kind of created the visual identity of the label so we actually owe them all the credits eheh…

In a spotlight for Impose Magazine, You state that you …”focus on providing music lovers like us with an original and unconventional “product..”. What are your “filters” when distinguishing what is original or unconventional?

We try to offer the few CD/LP buyers left something more than a mere CD in a plastic case or vinyl in a sleeve… Even tough we tend to be open-minded and encourage the bands to be fancy, the final result heavily depends on the artists’ creativity, who are responsible of their own art design and have to come up with ideas to make this happen in the first place. Our hands are also often tied by budget but if we can add to the item a little something like a download coupon to get unreleased tracks, a poster, a photography one of us shot that comes together well with the idea behind the album or propose different artworks for the same album, we’ll do it! We pay particular attention to the packaging as well, that’s why now all the productions we release come in a digipack, coloured vinyl or hand-made packaging (as for the Cough Cool – Johnny Hawaii split cassette co-release with La Station Radar and Atelier Ciseaux).

Because you guys showcase artists from all around the world, where do you feel the global consciousness of music as an industry/art is headed?

Oh man… tricky question, it could be subject to a long philosophical dissertation… to put it in a nutshell we feel like music is more and more dematerialized nowadays since every single individual who has a computer can compose and broadcast music. Therefore our generation is witnessing the emergence of solo artists, performing personal and perhaps more experimental music, who mainly exist digitally for a very small, specialized and curious audience. It’s a good thing because it means that frontiers of music as an art are prone to be pushed back more easily. Though artists don’t prove themselves live anymore or don’t feel like they need to, which is a bummer. Sure thing is that (live) bands will always survive, it’s part of the human instinct to gather into groups. It’s all the more true in the music business where live music has become the main source of income… have you noticed that over the past few years bands tend to reunite more than ever…..

Thanks a lot for your interest and relevant questions, it means a lot to us!

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