(2010 Oct 8) Altered Zones publishes 'Label Profile: Tri Angle' interview with Robin Carolan

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(2010 Oct 8) Altered Zones publishes 'Label Profile: Tri Angle' interview with Robin Carolan

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Originally posted here: https://web.archive.org/web/20101205120 ... tri-angle/
Label Profile: Tri Angle


By Jack Shankly (Transparent)

Tri Angle Records is an electronic stable curated by 24-year-old London/New York resident Robin Carolan. As a core contributor to the 20 Jazz Funk Greats blog (which is affiliated with Altered Zones, although Carolan himself is not an AZ contributor), Carolan's vision blurs the line between mainstream and avant-garde to the point of erasing the distinction altogether. With an artist roster that includes Balam Acab, oOoOO, Nowa Huta, and Stalker, the label is excavating the inherent weirdness and darkness of contemporary pop, and twisting its structures into brave new forms. Altered Zones recently spoke to Robin about his aims for Tri Angle, the curse of "witch house", and the fascinating car-crash that is Lindsay Lohan.

AZ: At what point did you decide to translate your success with 20JFG to a physical label?

Robin: Tri Angle was borne mostly out of frustration. As much as I enjoy writing about music and promoting it in that way, at some point last year I felt like I wanted to have more of a hand in getting the music out there.

AZ: Your deal with Kompakt seems perfectly appropriate. How did that come about?

Robin: Kompakt, knowing my background and what I was about, basically took a leap of faith and offered me a label. I’d known the Kompakt guys for a while and had helped out on a few projects, like the Fright imprint which [Kompakt founder] Michael Mayer and [Kompakt label manager] Jon Berry set up to release artists like Gatekeeper and Antoni Maiovvi. When I decided I was really serious about starting a label, I went to them merely looking for advice. A week later, they came back to me with this amazing offer. I grew up listening to Kompakt records, so it was a pretty surreal moment. Kompakt are so good at what they do. Having that kind of support has been massively important to me.

AZ: What do you make of the constant pigeonholing of Tri Angle's sound by the music press?

Robin: In the beginning, I definitely found terms like “witch house” to be quite irritating, purely because I never wanted the label to be boxed into a corner and branded as being about one sound in particular, or as some kind of novelty/fad set-up. My biggest problem with the “witch house” label is that it doesn’t really do justice to the music it’s often used to describe. It’s far too black-and-white in its suggestion of a certain mood: dark and fucked up. If you ask Balam Acab how he sees his music, he doesn’t describe it as dark or scary, but as secretive and lonesome. I have no problem with artists who want to call their music “witch house" because it’s their prerogative; and if the term has some meaning for them, that’s great. It just doesn’t have any for Tri Angle.

AZ: You’ve written quite a lot about your love for high-end pop music. What is it you look for in a perfect pop song?

Robin: I can’t really answer that, because there will never be a perfect pop song. Innovation is important, but not essential, because no one can expect every pop record to be another reinvention of the wheel. I couldn’t care less about whether a singer has a traditionally incredible voice. I love Britney Spears’ voice, and whether that sound is made by her or a group of technicians isn’t really of any importance to me; its origins mean nothing to my enjoyment of it. I think the thing I look for most in a pop record is personality, but not necessarily overpowering personality.

AZ: How do you see the relationship between Tri Angle artists and chart pop? It seems they all share a similar obsession with the mainstream.

Robin: It’s something that’s very genuine for those artists. Stalker and oOoOO don’t sit at home patting themselves on the back because of their listening habits, in the way I think some people who listen to pop music do because they think it’s cool, in a totally ironic way. We tend not to make a distinction between things like chart pop and what Tri Angle produces, because the lines between underground and mainstream culture have become completely blurred anyway.

AZ: Earlier this year, Tri Angle released the compilation Let Me Shine for You, which featured artists reinterpreting Lindsay Lohan's music. How did the idea for that come about?

Robin: If you could take a voyage through Lindsay Lohan’s damaged psyche, what would it sound like? That’s pretty much how the compilation came about. It was a simple idea that had been swimming around in my head for a long time. When I heard she’d been incarcerated-- not to sound opportunistic-- it seemed like the perfect time to put that idea into practice. So I asked some friends who I knew would be sympathetic to the original songs to get involved, and drag their own meaning out of them. I think what interests me about Lindsay Lohan is that even though she’s often portrayed by the media as a cartoonish car-wreck, there’s something very human and violent about her existence-- the way she’s fought against what in theory she should have been, even if it’s been to her own detriment. She's a tragic and fascinating creature, or at least what she symbolizes is.

AZ: What are your future plans for the label?

Robin: I want Tri Angle to be unpredictable, and I think the artists I’m working with definitely function on not necessarily doing what is expected of them. I’m not really interested in exploring one very specific sound or feeling, so I think future releases will open up people’s conceptions of what the label is really about.

MP3: Balam Acab: "Big Boy"

MP3: oOoOO: "Plains Is Hot"

Tags: tri angle records, features, label profiles

Posted by alteredzones on 10/08/2010 at 1 p.m.

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