No Kings adalah satu dari sekian banyak label kaset yang beberapa tahun ke belakang bermunculan di seluruh dunia – Sebuah trend positif yang mengembalikan musik, dan khususnya album, sebagai sesuatu perjalanan aural yang membutuhkan fokus penuh agar benar-benar berarti. Tidak ada opsi mudah untuk me-skip lagu; Bentuk operasional sederhana dari kaset me’maksa’ pendengar untuk menyimak semua lagu dalam sebuah secara seksama. Yang menjadi ciri khas No Kings adalah design Risograph dari kover-kover album mereka yang sangat menawan. Ciri estetika ini (yang dimiliki hampir semua label kaset) juga menjadi daya jual yang – lagi – kembali mengingkatkan pada era sebelum musik digital menjadi mayoritas. Lee Noble, pemilik label No Kings berbicara sedikit dengan kita mengenai kultur musik kaset, labelnya, dan juga musik yang iya sendiri ciptakan (bisa dibeli dan diunduh di leenoble.bandcamp.com). Jangan lupa juga untuk mengunjungi nokingsrecord.co
Interviewed By: Marcel Thee
How and when did the initial idea for No Kings come about? How and when did it influence the music you were making at the time (and are making now)?
No Kings was created in 2006 originally by Stephen Molyneux and myself as a name to stamp on the music we were making ourselves. We were in a band together at the time, everyone had several projects going and we thought they could all fall under the same umbrella and it served to consolidate that place and time, and organize formless albums-to-be into more proper releases, but still we were just burning CDrs ourselves and stamping the packaging, very few copies. It sort of fell apart and I restarted the label in 2010 in Los Angeles as a cassette imprint. I’m not sure how much it influences the albums I make, since I now don’t release any of my own music myself… but I guess the more albums you listen to and see through production, the more you understand what you want when you’re working on a new one.
What is about cassettes that attract you? Are you planning on pressing records on other formats eventually?
Cassettes are affordable and have a pleasant physical presence. Yes I would love to do vinyl, and hope to in the future as soon as I have the budget for it.
How do you see the tape format, and its packaging, influence the music made by the current crop of experimental musicians?
The central characteristic of cassettes is the inability to directly skip to the next track, so that definitely lends itself to immersive music. For me the hope is that the releases are eye catching, I definitely want them to be judged by their covers at first, if you don’t recognize the artist’s name.
Your aesthetic is very particular – utilizing mostly risograph to create the cover sleeves. Can you explain the label’s sense of aesthetic to our readers?
Risograph printing is so inspiring to me! The machine I always dreamed of. When I first started the label I was working at a letterpress shop, and that was a big impetus for starting a label, I figured I could offer fairly unique packaging. I’m really inclined to use prints as packaging as opposed to full color digital, I have this slight aversion to is because it’s going through a middle medium / computer translation and then re-materialization. Direct printing: liquid ink onto paper is something I obsess about. It has no edges, and infinite density, and I think you can tell when you hold it in your hands.
How would you describe the relationship between your own music and art you are making now with running the label?
Right now running the label is my main art project, and I have many other smaller art projects that don’t have such a simple venue, but I’m trying to resolve that.
Are you aware of what tape and experimental music culture are happening in places such as Asia? Do you plan on performing or expanding the label towards these regions?
I am only slightly aware, mainly due to the steps that Goaty Tapes and Night People have taken to bring these musicians to the experimental community in the US. The other Asian labels I’ve followed a little bit is Hasana Press and Ginjoha. I would love to get deeper into this scene.