Set up by school pals Alex Clapworthy and Matt Cheblek, Pictures Music is the London based record label in love with the underdog.
Pictures Music began life in the summer of 2010 with the release of Dark Sky’s lurching garage influenced ‘Frames’ EP. Since then the duo have gone on to work with an immensely varied mix of artists, from Lapalux’s warm, hazy dream-pop to Chairman Kato’s scratchy, beat-driven electronica. Focusing primarily on providing a platform for newer, more obscure artists to make their way into the big wide music world, Alex and Matt go for the underdog rather than the top dog. i-D online caught up with the London duo to talk more about their upcoming releases, their love for all things electronic and the importance of a good recording.
How did Pictures Music come about?
Matt: We’d both worked at larger independent labels and felt that we knew enough to give it a go ourselves. There were a lot of people around us making exciting music and at that point in time we were in a position to try to release it!
We loved Dauwd‘s ‘Could it be/Shimmer’ EP! Have you consciously decided to focus on electronic music, or do you think you’ll take on a wider variety of artists as things develop?
Alex: It’s the music I’m most interested in. I think it’s moving really fast because from conception to the time people can hear a tune can be a matter of minutes. Bands need recording properly. There are a lot of dodgy band recordings out there – cheap sounding pro recordings. I’m a bit of a recording nerd, I’ve recorded a few bands and I know it takes a lot to get the right performance to sound right.
Matt: It’s certainly the music we’re exposed to the most at the moment. We don’t go to many gigs where there are live bands playing, but we’ll go and see DJs and producers perform. We grew up on guitar bands, but since then we’ve both changed what we listen to a huge amount. Electronic music, whether it be music for clubs or headphones, is the only stuff we seem to agree on!
What do you look for in new electronic artists?
Alex: I don’t think we really look for anything in particular. Most of the time things just tend to appear and you go ‘WOW’. I’ve tried going through Soundcloud and it’s hard to find the right stuff. I mean one day you can hear something and ignore it and another day it’ll blow your mind. Most of the music we’ve released has just appeared, I don’t think we’ve signed anything because someone’s sent a demo.
Matt: The speed at which electronic music is changing at the moment is incredible. Little micro-genres popping up all the time, young producers finding common ground and making something unique. Yeah, a lot of it is boring and sounds like cheap rip-offs of people that have come before, but finding someone new and unknown that you’re really into is a great feeling. Some of the time you’re one of the few people apart from the artist to ever hear the music; it’s a privilege.
If you could collaborate with any artists currently producing at the moment, who would it be?
Alex: I’m pretty happy with the ones we’re working on at the moment! We’ve started working with artists beyond just one release now too which is great. I think we’re aiming to be involved with people producing great music beyond just one release. Like with Dauwd we’re looking after the boring business stuff so he can get on and make the records.
Matt: Working with artists who are unknown is far more interesting than those who have had a few records under their belt. With the latter it can sometimes feel like you’re just doing it for the kudos, to show the public that you’re mates with someone a bit famous or whatever. I reckon there’s something more honest about dragging someone up from obscurity.
What are your top tracks at the moment? Anyone you can’t help but listen to on repeat?
Alex: Com Truise’s Galactic Melt EP has been on repeat and I love the New Look album, but that only came out this month. I think Lapalux’s Gwen Stefani bootleg is my most played track.
Matt: Either ‘Useless’ by Kerri Chandler or ‘Feelin’ Myself’ by Pusha T.
Listen to Pictures Music signed Dauwd’s i-DJ here.
Text: Thomas Curry