The RML Cine Chamber, Naut Humon’s current project

Escape Velocity: Naut Humon and Asphodel Records

Laurent Fintoni
Nov 16, 2015 · 25 min read

Timing is everything. Working on the oral history of illbient last year, I was struck by was how this particular musical and cultural movement had fallen through the cracks of modern history. Despite happening just as the internet (as we know it today) was revving up, it wasn’t extensively documented. There were few photos, and even less videos, and the music was often never re-released digitally. It died in the wake of 9/11 and Napster. It happened, and then it was gone.

Asphodel Records, a label founded in San Francisco in the early 1990s, was part of the illbient story. It championed the music with physical releases, alongside early turntablist recordings. I wasn’t able to speak with Naut Humon, co-founder and A&R of the label, for the illbient story but he’d long been on my list for other reasons. Thanks to Raz Mesinai I was able to finally get in contact with him earlier this year and sit down for an extended conversation about Asphodel, another blip on the historical radar that has gone largely unexplored.

With a career going back to experimental theatre and performance in the ’70s, Naut is a strange and fascinating character. In many ways he resembles the music the label released and championed: dark, quirky, unashamed. I wanted to know more about Asphodel to better place the label in the story of a book I’m writing about beats and the producer as artist. After two hours I came out with a fair bit more.

Our conversation became the basis for a feature I recently wrote for FACT magazine, detailing the history and importance of Asphodel. Alongside my interview with Naut it includes insights from artists and others who worked at the label.

What follows is a largely unedited extract of my conversation with Naut, touching on his background, the birth of the label, the ties with the NYC underground and more. Consider it additional color to the Asphodel feature.

Today Naut occupies himself the RML Cine-Chamber project.

How did you end up working at Asphodel?

It was myself and my wife at the time, Mitzi Johnson.

She founded the label?

She enabled the label (laughs). In other words she had resources, we met and became involved and in 1994 we got married. So during that time… Asphodel had already begun. She had a group called Blue Rubbies, which used luth, hand drum, and vocals, much more in the dark folk vein of what she was already doing at the time I met her back in 1989, 1990. That’s when we first ran into each other. Her idea of the label was to… first is the word Asphodel. The flower that grows on the river Styx in hell. The flower and the flame. Beauty and the beast, or beauty in the… juxtaposition of forms. That was her ideas.

We made a demo back in ‘92, ‘93, which was just a release of hers. Out of that sprang the idea of the Asphodel and that was a word she brought up and I thought it was a good juxtaposition, with the logo replicating the flower and the flame idea. By 1995 going into 1996 there was interest from some friends of ours at Re/Search magazine. During the punk period, late ‘70s and early ‘80s, there was a magazine called Search & Destroy, a punk mag out of San Francisco. All about the punk scene, internationally, and that was led by a guy named V. Vale who still works with Re/Search today. It was like a newspaper about the punk movement. And with the industrial culture gaining it turned into Re/Search magazine. They put out books like Incredibly Strange Films. Search & Destroy mostly covered punk and related things and when industrial emerged, with noise etc…, Re/Search took up that whole thing. They did a book called Industrial Culture. Rhythm & Noise, one of my earlier entities, was included in the Industrial Culture handbook that Re/Search put out. It had people like Throbbing Gristle, Cabaret Voltaire, SPK, those kinds of groups. That’s important because they were friends of ours. When we got to the ‘90s they still did special issues of the magazine, one of which was called Incredibly Strange Music and that came after a bunch of other culture topics they’d covered. So they wanted to put out some CDs of the whole exotica genre that was coming up and drawing from space age bachelor pad music going back to the ‘50s. Throbbing Gristle had done an album called Exotica in the ‘80s where they drew from Martin Denny and all these things.

Anyway, Re/Search wanted to do CDs and had already done Volume 1 but were looking for another trajectory to keep the series going and Asphodel became that trajectory because ironically Asphodel ended up putting out Incredibly Strange Music (laughs). That was our first public release, sort of officially distributed. But when we first went into it we did it as a favour to Vale. We were friends and so it became “let’s put out something.” That was Incredibly Strange Music Vol. 2. And it was jumping on a trajectory they’d started but we loved that whole strain of what was going on and so we wanted to pursue that and see what was going to happen. We put it out, it got some notice and became an internal launch pad for getting this thing out there. It turned out, after a period of time, we were getting better exposure for it than Vol. 1, and it was helping it as well, but that’s what got us on the tracks to start putting out material. That was again… 1995, 1996 zone when this general premise was occurring.

And during 1995 I was going to New York, visiting and getting familiar with things going on there and that’s when I ran into some of the people who turned out to be the illbient folks. I was just genuinely into the music there. And the illbient association and other things grew out of that. Emerged out of that whole thing. When Incredibly Strange Music was out for a while we sold a bunch of copies which inspired us to keep things going and so we decided to try more of this stuff. The label grew out of these experiences. It wasn’t a conscious decision to make a label. Sure we came up with the name, which was Mitzi’s idea, but we consider each other as co-founders of the label. I was the primary curator of it throughout its zones and she would put out ideas and things like that and also the support system but there was a philosophy there, a whole way of dealing with things, we wanted to put out a range of things and not just be stuck in this or that genre.

Say someone like Ninja Tune or Mo’ Wax from England, sort of came out of the whole downtempo and trip-hop thing and most of their releases related to that style and framework. And that was fine, I was a fan of that stuff, and conversely in New York, illbient… was ingraining those strains but with their style, with that New York thing. Course it was influenced by that but also many other things. Working with WeTM and DJ Spooky and Sub Dub and Byzar and everything going at that time there. Skiz was doing his label. Bill Laswell who I met at the time too. All that kinda thing, it was the atmosphere going on in New York at the time. And of course I went to the loft parties just before it was put into the Village Voice and some of the other periodicals. And that made it to the cover…

I felt like the flavour, character and personality of the music coming out of New York really had its own slant, a sort of New York grime

Did you choose to sign illbient and turntablists because, as you said, you were looking for incredibly strange music?

It was just an appreciation of music but putting no boundaries on what we would do. So stylistically more broad… in terms… if you look at the catalogue… it’s hugely varied. It was more of a sincerity with liking the material and of course new things that were coming up then but it isn’t liking it cos it’s new or hip, but it was personal: “‘hey these guys are fascinating musically.” More about the music and going towards that without the genre-ification of music that some people would do. Even though I loved Ninja and Mo’ Wax it was more of a genre, they were compared to each other a lot, but I felt like the flavour, character and personality of the music coming out of New York really had its own slant, a sort of New York grime, if you know what I mean. Which is funny because grime became a genre later on. It was… corroded. A sort of corroded form of that whole flavour. And there’s crossover. When you’d go see their sets they’d be playing all sorts of stuff and of course what Laswell was interested in, what was going on in his studio, Wordsound, all these guys… and so it was just going there, experiencing the shows, meeting them, living in that culture, that life.

Out of that we had a guy called Erik Gilbert, who started in SF but wanted to move to New York. So we started things up in SF thanks to Incredibly Strange Music, barely, but he wanted to move to New York and seemed like a good candidate to manage the label from there. I was travelling there but always from SF, living there, doing projects out there, but the fact that he went to NYC and forged a tiny office there you know… I would fly out there a lot, so would Mitzi, and see all these shows. So it was out of a genuine musical chemistry that all this stuff came about rather than “this is a cool new thing, we should do it.” It wasn’t about that at all.

Like a fanzine in label form?

Well… yeah but not just being fans. Really just having a feeling for the music, or something, being emotionally involved with it. Feeling it. Even to this day, I go to tons of things, cross genre, and I’m just a genuine obsessive. Music and sound obsessive. Which found its way into the visual realm with what I’m doing now. But this sort of curiosity, seeking this sort of thing, was the signature in how these signings came about, but more like “hey do you want to try a project?” With these hip-hop guys I realised, like with the illbient folk, through discovery and asking that no one had put anything out. “We’re working on stuff, we put out some tapes…” you know how it is, mixtapes, which was all great. So we looked for ways to help them get album projects going. And that seemed like something to do. There were resources we’d made from Incredibly Strange Music which had put us on the map. We had ideas and income from the release. So ok… let’s try some more projects, build upon this. And then the idea of a legitimate record label came out of that. It wasn’t like “ok let’s make a label.”

The label grew…

Oh yeah. We had no idea the first release would lead to this. We had come up with the label name, the odourless flower that grows in hell. It meant both elements. That’s how itemerged. But it wasn’t like… it gradually came to be. There was a gravitational pull here. An attraction with this whole thing that came about naturally and not through some company plan or something like that. But of course as you materialise, you need an office, you need to get more serious, bring in interns, other people to help and it sort of became serious after some of the initial projects were getting traction.

How did you balance that genuine curiosity and interest in new music with, at the time, the economic side of running a label?

Here’s one story related to that. I already had a studio out in SF. We were using new tools back then, late ‘80s, early ‘90s. Things like Pro Tools that enabled new ways of putting records together that was more fresh back then. Now it’s standard, part of the methodology. So… being interested in all this stuff and seeing… part of it wasn’t just seeing the musical works or the sets, be it groups or DJ sets or the loft thing going on. It was like… how… what’s the best way to work to achieve the best results? You know, we could have done the thing where we invited people to come to the studio and let them use it. Which is what a label might do. Bill Laswell had that going on in Greenpoint already. He’d have people over, releases on different labels. But since our operation had begun in SF, our studio was out of a place called the Compound. Out on a dirt road, all this stuff going on with it for years. Projects we’d do independently, artist residencies… when the NYC thing came into focus and I saw the community there, the musical community that was illbient, I thought if we’re going to work with these people they probably need some resources. They could come out, which they did a little, and work here in the studio with the board and accoutrements.

But Mitzi and I decided that instead of flying them out and using stuff here we could get a studio for them, Pro Tools, mixing board and some gear to set up their own place. So the idea became why don’t we give them resources and we can then have a few of those groups work in NYC, set this stuff up wherever they wanted it and have them run their own operation. Put it into the artists’ hand. Let them create it with some tools. And if they needed to master or go further with mixing, we had the facility in SF. But how about putting the power into the artists hands. Give them the tools, let them manage the studio. Co-ordinate between the various people of the illbient scene who were on Asphodel. They made their own schedules, creating under their own auspices. So instead of the typical label approach, it was about empowering them, letting them be mobile and put stuff together. They had different technical abilities. Some were learning from scratch, some of them had knowledge. Like John, who worked with Raz, was an engineer, and that’s how Raz got more hip to working in the studio. It meant several groups had access to it. The illbient guys, SoundLab and whoever wanted to work in the studio and become their own producers in a certain way. And of course different artists would take that to different levels… in terms of how they wanted to do it. That was one of Asphodel’s main things, giving technical power over to the artist. Some people are territorial about that. Excursions in Illbient was all mostly done in that studio in NYC.

So I guess… I’d visit New York twelve times a year, seeing how things developed. There was the admin side of things but also this creative side with the studio. That was our option instead of getting them to come out to SF to work on stuff. WeTM and others did come out to SF to mix and also do shows. We’d have a bunch of these groups in the show, and turntablists too. This idea of what we started in 1996 called the Recombinant shows. It was about recombining different genres and things. Electronic stuff from Europe with illbient and turntablists. Over the course of one or more evenings. Asphodel presented it but not just as a label. There’d be people not involved in the label, because we liked it. My idea with Recombinant was to put on a great… this idea of recombining different strains over the course of a presentation. DJ, hip-hop, illbient, electronic. To give the audience a broad range and diverse takes. That was the start of the Recombinant fest which became Recombinant Media Labs, a space for residencies, expanding upon the idea of what we started in the ‘90s. A nice, higher-end studio for experimental projects.

That was one of Asphodel’s main things, giving technical power over to the artist.

So you brought up the Recombinant parties and this idea of mixing up…

Well I wouldn’t call it parties. It’s interesting you bring that up. To me that’s more like what techno and house grew into. Recombinant was more about design. We did one in 1999 for 9 hours, 9 minutes and 9 seconds. These were more designed… performances. Rather than just here’s different artists on at different times we’d design the shows so that different things would happen. Put on a spectacle, organised in a certain way. Maybe over different nights. Sometimes stretching far beyond… it wasn’t really an Asphodel showcase either, it was a supporter of it but it wasn’t just about Asphodel artists. So with the DJ things we had X-Men and the Piklz but we’d also have the Beat Junkies from L.A. It was a wider cast so to speak.

What would you term it?

A Recombinant show. Ninja Tune would do a show with their DJs say, even if Amon Tobin and the likes grew into their own attractions. We didn’t like the idea of parties. Sure they were parties to some people. But I think you know what I mean. The idea was to have a designed performance. It was more orchestrated. Much more pre-designated you might say. Things happening at certain times but also big spontaneous sections. We’d have a big row of turntablists, 15 or 20 turntables, and people would come up and play them. That was one format. The illbient people were more flexible, in different places with their set ups doing performances in proximity with each other or in different places in the room. Coming from different areas of the space, which had multiple rooms. It wasn’t like a house or techno party that happened in the ‘90s. It was closer to the illbient parties in NYC.

Beth from Soundlab used the word experiential to describe those events.

Yes. Today I say that Recombinant Media Labs are experiential engineers.

What were the reactions from the crowd?

It was great. All over the map, there was a range of response to match the range of performances. But it was good. I helped out with the Anchorage shows in NYC. That was a nice place that lasted till 9/11, and there were also great gatherings of people. In SF we featured all the same groups in the Recombinant shows. We took it to Florida for an event too.

I came across an article from the Miami Times on the Recombinant lounge in my research.

We brought in other groups too like Tipsy, who did the exotica lounge thing and that was a springboard that came out of the whole exotica thing for Re/Search. Tipsy were a band we did remixes with that came out of SF. They took this material as a source alongside their own instruments and collaged it together. They were good friends with WeTM also. Remixes, cross working on projects on the label. We also brought this group called Granular Synthesis from Germany and Austria who did these huge giant screens, gigantic, with big sound. Also we took some of the illbient guys to L.A. So it did get around a bit. New York, L.A, Miami, SF. We got out of NYC to concentrate on SF just before 9/11.

And some of those cities were more electronic minded, some were grimier and downtempo. I guess Asphodel dealt with all those things. And soundtracks too. We had a genuine interest to help the scenes out.

In between all this though you did reissues as well. Like World Standard?

Oh I love that, country album. That was from someone in Japan who worked with YMO. It was a pretty wide angle.

Were these licences?

Yeah and distribution deals. Things we were interested in that needed US or North America distribution. We were interested in those things, but the content was the most important thing. How do we get the content to reach the people. Sure we’ll incubate a bunch of projects but we also wanted to get them good US exposure. Sometimes that meant bringing people over for shows, sometimes licensing the material. Rhythm & Sound was a great one. Again North American distribution. I brought Tikkiman and those guys to play at the Compound in SF in the early 2000s. There was always an interest there for this kind of hybrid. Coming from the dub direction.

The idea became to get into orchestration, what the orchestra of the future might become.

SF had a sound system scene right?

Somewhat. We were lucky in that we were one of the few people who had… we were into the idea of surround sound and in 1991 I did a big event with Maryanne Amacher, she came from the other direction of auto acoustic emissions and huge massive drone sounds. She was in upstate New York, worked with John Cage. In 1991 we did a big show in Japan with sound traffic control towers. Building these big towers… I should show you the pictures… it’s a huge story.

Starting in the ‘80s we built these things called Sound Traffic Control Towers, part of a sonic airport where different sonic cargos would land, taxi and take off. And the audience were like passengers on an imaginary run way between all of these different trajectories. That was part of the idea that became Recombinant. It grew out of this sensibility, big spatial sound networks… in ‘91 we were in a room with almost 800 loudspeakers. We built one of the sound towers and did the show with Maryanne but also had one in SF in our studio. Audiences would come and attend that. This is all before Asphodel. We released with Ralph’s Records. It was really the idea of networking. I didn’t want to be a group, which I had for a long time with Rhythm & Noise. That happened in the ‘80s into the early ‘90s. We toured, released, did all that. The idea became to get into orchestration, what the orchestra of the future might become. This wider idea of Recombinant. It’s beyond the group thing.

I always felt my role wasn’t just that of a musician, someone who played in a band, but someone who’s a sound traffic controller, who conducts and conveys… dealing with sound traffic as it moves through various spaces. Audio and visual and with groups. That led to the ISO orchestra, which were on early Asphodel records. The audience would come in and see TV sets of an orchestra playing in the room. We had them at the big Recombinant shows in SF. Then they would come into the main room and I would be conducting an actual orchestra with guitars, electronics, strings all being amplified in the room but they would discover that was the source and we would feed it into surround systems in the other rooms. So the entire building was like a remix chamber. You could hear the orchestra in different ways in the other rooms and then when you’re in the live room you’d see the orchestra.

So Asphodel was split between the music you were releasing and these experimental ideas of experience?

Sure, music is a consequence. With some of the groups who wanted to work that way. We were far more interested in the label as a lab, and even how that works with the words lab — label. Like a living laboratory with all this stuff going on that we could show in real time situations. It was really a big initiative that was there before, during and after the phases that defined the label. We’ve retained that and expanded upon it. There’s a thread through all this. I’d say the Recombinant shows that began back then were the incubator for these springboards: sound traffic control, recombining elements to create a bigger thing. The ones in NYC at the Anchorage were more wide angle, random. The SF shows were more designed, tighter arrangement. We also did Recombinant shows in Europe at the Ars Festival.

My work with Ars was from ‘96 to ‘06, I was over there on the sound juries. So of course, I would want to bring that. When I first got there they were all about academic, electronic and acoustic music, something I had a knowledge of and embraced, but I wondered about these other characters like Maryanne. We changed the name of the category from computer music to digital music, which meant the same thing. But then on the first year in 1999, when we’d changed the name, Aphex Twin won. That was a nomination I brought into the situation and you needed a jury to agree with you and the idea was to have a jury that didn’t always agree. The nice thing about Ars is that it brought… underground artists that weren’t in the academic scene but doing stuff in basements all over the world, and the illbient scene was one of those.

That music appealed to the academic world?

It did. Back in the ‘80s and ‘90s those scenes were more separated, but then more of them started listening to different things, participating in larger events so… it became more hybrid and entangled you might say.

Going back to Asphodel for a minute. You set up a distribution network?

Yes, it got to be worldwide and we worked with different outfits at the time.

How did it play out with you being an indie?

We sold over 10K for Incredibly Strange Music and the illbient stuff did well too. We did vinyl, CDs, DVDs. It was viable but we worked with distributors at the time. When we decided to get serious about maintaining the label, we had to engage with distributors and PR people and so on. Just as most labels had to do to be out there. Putting resources in it. Reinvesting back. Not a lot of profit, just reinvesting in getting the next thing out. We had a few releases that sold over 120K, like Mixmaster Mike. It was interesting because those guys seemed much more ghetto in those days, but then it got traction and we were lucky to be caught in that.

You were really one of the only people/label to give these guys a platform.

I was really surprised that no one else was helping them. Again the idea was to find out the way in which the artist wanted to work. Put the focus on their approach and try to support it. That’s where the best music would out. Some of the tracks were done in Laswell’s studio too. We were open to it all. We weren’t very territorial, we wanted to be transparent and artist friendly. Make it grow through time by putting it in their hands. I was talking to a lot of those people before they had management and the likes. And then through our releases they got bigger attention, like the X-Men going to Sony for the next album once turntablism blew up.

But at the start I was going to people’s houses. Mike had made all these cassettes, tons of them, racks of cassettes. I wanted to listen to it all and use some of that as sources too. Going back through the archives and use a blend of that to be reflected in the record. Show the voyage through all these things. I would also do spontaneous things with Mike, like give him a bunch of records he’d never heard before. We were sharing how to do stuff. ‘Surprize Packidge’, on Mike’s record, came from that. It really was a surprise, he hadn’t heart it before and used it to make segments that became the track. We tried all these different techniques of how to put together composition, tracks, different things. I went to Mike’s place in Vallejo and I listened to all the tapes. I would then tell him what I thought sounded good. Guiding the process as an inspirational thing. And recently I’ve gotten back in touch with a lot of these guys. It is kinda coming back after being saturated.

I got new stuff from Mike a month or so ago. And it was good to hear, bringing back some wildness that was there then. But it was also about the element of discovery back then, us discovering them and them discovering things through us. I was helping co-produce a lot of this stuff in a way. It depended also on how open the artist was to new influences. I was out there listening to all these genres and pointing things out. Trying to influence stuff. Working on tracks too. With Mike’s record and the others, I knew how to work with Pro Tools, so I was assembling all the fragments together. I was sort of a guiding hand. Giving the focus and credit but really working to push the extremes, the boundaries. Trying to bring out the more experimental in this experiential genre. Of course… experiential meaning how to bring the live energy in a studio environment and vice versa.

It’s not just “these are good artists.” When we try to put together an event it was about being another player, another influence. Each artist is different, they have their own ways of working and you want to support that but also give them options. I was… definitely on Mike’s record and some others, a big player on content and how the material evolved. I also worked with The Brian Jonestown Massacre in the early ‘90s before they became really famous. Did the same thing. We had Pro Tools in our place, there’d be people in the studio to help them use the stuff. You provide them access to the tools to learn the skills. Asphodel was trying to enable artists to learn the skills needed to be their own artist. I had a customised way that I would be a behind the scenes producer. How tracks emerged got blurred. I was involved in a lot of it, in the studio, in the recordings or sometimes it was live shows that provided ideas for records.

Not just what’s of the time, but what is timeless?

Looking at the discography there seems to be a switch in the early 2000s. You start with illbient and tablism but then it goes into different directions. I wondered if it was inspired by your work with Ars? People like Christian Marclay.

I was into that before Ars. I first met Christian in the ‘70s. I knew him through the years. Him, Otomo Yoshihide, these guys were as experimental as it gets. It holds on to the thread. We did a whole remix thing of Iannis Xenakis too, that came through some authorised sources in Europe and he knew about the remixes. He died before he could hear it. There was a remix record done with Spooky and Steve Reich, but I didn’t like it very much, I thought it was corny. So for ours I picked people within the genres I felt were good. To me it’s the integrity of it. In other words, not just what’s of the time but what is timeless? In other words spreads out to this broader area, and trying to see it from that vantage point. Our style was riding on different waves: east and west coast but also Europe. And then branching out more into these other areas cos we were genuinely interested. And we worked with artists on other labels on various projects.

It just struck me that the label’s life was perhaps split into two halves… how would you define the trajectory of the label in hindsight?

I think I said in the beginning we put out a lot of Incredibly Strange Music and we kept to that aspect… some of it was personal, some of it was connective, because of the artist or project… you wanna set up situations, circumstances for artists to be in. In NYC that meant a studio space. And we did this in SF too where people came to play live and met each other and another project would emerge from those meetings. You can’t always predict things, you want to create an atmosphere in a studio or live situation where people would meet each other. And so things happened, be it live, recorded or… it was an open ended platform with guidance. I would try and follow it all up, not just as A&R but in an active way. Give the ability for things to manifest between artists but also in compositions. Being in different cities, perhaps there was a New York phase and an SF phase, that might be another way to define it. Different things occurred in those two periods but we still had an international outlook also. Things to licence, incubate… having the lab and people playing live also being a source of material. The lab and label were very interlaced. Later when we couldn’t do the label anymore, in 2008, distributors were starting to go down…

When I spoke to Skiz he mentioned 9/11 having an impact in terms of the mood but also the internet creeping into indies’ ability to survive.

The handwriting was on the wall. We kept it as long as we could. Once some of our European distributors started to go down and iTunes came in… if you wanted to keep a label going… I was on that beacon since early 2000s. You can kinda see a big change going on. We wanted to continue but… there were other indicators of the demise. We stayed independent but once the distributors were gone it became about defining what was really important to go forward. We had the label and the lab but the idea was to keep the lab, which existed before the label anyway, and keep on with that whole deal. Audio visual was rising too, new abilities to work in different ways. Going more into the film world, live music, all these cross overs. Developing a platform.

What I’m interested in now… a label is a lab that is using as its platforms different things to express itself… and not… in terms of putting out more product. Labels today are shrunk down. You can maybe do a few thousand copies. Digital is now wine without the bottle. You have your fine wines of content but the packaging in digital is secondary. There are carry overs from the old era. In digital culture it’s all changed. The way things… the importance of music from the ‘60s to now, it’s changed because of social media. Music is still there but the relationship to music… record stores, all this stuff… the relationship of culture to music has altered with every generation.

The relationship between people and art has changed too.

Oh yeah, if you want to call it art. And then you also have this thing of the economy and the 1%, that whole struggle. The 1% of the art scene is made up of people with pieces worth a lot of money. Sometimes I look at these works commanding all this money, and I scratch my head. That’s what gives it value over a period of time. There is a 1% in the art scene.

There’s a larger quantity of stuff, more people making art, but then also things like streaming which don’t pay much. To me, most people who buy music aren’t into music, they’re into it for social reasons. The general public. It’s a different sort of emphasis. It was more culturally integral in the decades we talk about. It’s interesting how it’s changed. There’s still great indie labels doing work but really the context has shifted.

The Asphodel catalogue doesn’t exist in this new world order.

That was because we had a separation of label and lab. We had new material ready but it never got there. One part of it was… Mitzi and I divorced… I wanted to continue the lab because it was unfolding and new. But the label didn’t want to put out new material. It was too expensive or something. The idea was to keep the catalogue alive, that’s the agreement I made. If I take the lab I’d like the label to still be there or at least for the catalogue to survive and the rights should revert back to the artists. But I had no control over it. So… because most of the stock was in CDs, from my understanding that stock no longer exists but the rights to put out or licence went back to the artists. No one wants a bunch of CDs.

The lab has kept growing but the label didn’t want to maintain the responsibility of physical stock nor the digital distribution of the catalogue. That disappointed me. The iTunes links are all dead now. Of course I wrote to them about it but they didn’t want to do that, they didn’t want to deal with it anymore, it was only a couple left involved. They stopped being responsible for it. There’s still a lot of management involved in just keeping the catalogue alive. I wasn’t able to do it legally. I just wanted the artists to own it again. I never approved of the direction it took. I just tell stories of Asphodel now. I have digital recordings of the label, most of it, but I’m philosophically agreeing with you. I wish it’d be done in the correct way.

Dancing about architecture

Transcripts and other words from my music archive

Laurent Fintoni

Written by

Lost in identity. Mutate languages. Publish and be damned.

Dancing about architecture

Transcripts and other words from my music archive

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade