Jikken is born: what you should know about this new electronic music label
April 10th, Tokyo. While the world is understandably paralyzed by the COVID-19 pandemic, -Japanese word for “Experiment”- get started. I don’t know what the world will look like tomorrow, but I know one thing: music, and art in general, cannot vanish.
In the already quite large landscape of labels, Jikken wants to foster experimentations as well as solid artist/label relationships, and I think it’s important to take the time to share some thoughts on the past and current situation, as well as on that vision. I think this is the best way for y’all to learn more about the philosophy behind Jikken.
This first article will, therefore, be all about the start. Why the hell have I decided to start a yet-another label? As I’m writing this, Labelbase.net references 5,147 labels. The odds to find a label that perfectly suits your projects must be quite high, spanning many different genres with as many subtle differences between them. I wanted to make sure the decision to launch a new label had sincere, honest motivations to bring something new to the music ecosystem. When doing some research I particularly enjoyed this great article from MusicBusinessWorld: “ Why you (probably) shouldn’t start a record label… “. Rather than paraphrasing them, let me copy/paste my favorite quote and elaborate on what this means to me:
“Be honest with yourself: Are you a visionary who is truly going to bring this overlooked music to the world? Or is this little more than a vanity project that allows you to align yourself with music you like?”
While a little bit thought-provoking, this is a fair question to ask. I’ll be honest: I met with numerous folks who brag that they owned their own label. I’m sure they have positive intent and are passionate about what they are doing. But something didn’t sound right to me. These serial label founders couldn’t depict the true identity of their label in-depth and that identity was often characterized by the famous genre+city pair. This didn’t sound right to me. When I asked myself that question, I realized I was (hopefully) honest with myself. I don’t know if I’m a visionary, but I’m definitely not inaugurating this new journey to “align myself”. I collaborated with several labels in the past, and co-owned one, released tracks on vinyl and digital platforms. Probably not enough to have a perfectly accurate and holistic view of the industry but this provided me enough exposure to understand why and how one should or shouldn’t start a label. This is a lot of work, this will be tough, this will be exciting, probably boring at times, but I know why I’m doing it.
I’m a scientific person (and have a scientific background), and my whole life has been rhythmed by experimentations. Like others, I explored many different musical styles, sometimes at surface level, sometimes more in-depth. This includes some genres you’d probably find… amusing nowadays, in both electronic and non-electronic music (Norwegian Folk music is awesome!).
The first time I thought about starting Jikken was when I was looking for the “right” labels for my own tracks. I could find some pretty good matches for some and am thankful for our collaborations. Still, I had much more in mind and I couldn’t solve this equation:
- If I’m writing music the way I’d like to write music, then I can hardly find a label that would decently accept to release my tracks.
- If I’m collaborating with a label, I’d be hardly 100% aligned with their vision and probably wouldn’t find the collaboration fulfilling in the long run.
A lot of great labels are releasing music and end up behaving as a closed-loop: “a set of mechanical or electronic devices that automatically regulates a process variable to a desired state or set point without human interaction”. It’s handy for their fans who know what to expect and get what they expect. I wanted to commence something beyond that. I wanted to start a project where the boundaries would evolve continuously. Actually, I wanted to start this project in order to continuously shape these boundaries. Here we are. If experimenting is key, Jikken must be a thing. And yes, I’m absolutely fine with that: yes, Jikken will permit me to release my own projects. I’m also totally fine if I end up being the main or sole contributor. To me, the project itself is more important than who will achieve it.
With Jikken, experimentations will go beyond music. That’s why you may have noticed I used the word “project” rather than “tracks” or “music” as much as I could. I hope we’ll see experimentations with video clips, writings, photos, and who knows what someone can come up with (music+recipe, anyone?). I know some are already in preparation, and I also recognize that everything isn’t new. This is how I picture these explorations:
A word on artist/label collaborations
Here we are. I feel we’ve lost a bit of this in the current era. I don’t think a label can be any relevant if not supported by talented artists, and artists need the support they merit to help them grow and achieve their vision. When I look back at my past collaborations both as artist and label co-owner, I regret not having built more fertile relationships. One of the motivations behind Jikken is to strengthen and get the most out of these collaborations. Our artists get honest and thorough feedback to support them as best as we can. We want to be a platform flexible enough to accommodate with what helps them achieve their vision. We’ll take time to address things like mastering or visuals and create opportunities for artists to collaborate. There is no unique recipe that works, but we want this relationship to be the foundation of the project. Note that this is a two-way relationship, therefore we expect our artists to share that vision. It’s not engagement. We don’t require our artists to exclusively and always work with us, but we expect fruitful conversations to help Jikken define the future shape of sounds.
Let’s get started
Hopefully, everyone’s safe and we’ll soon get rid of that COVID-19. This should be a priority. If you want to support the project, take a listen to the first release: Thinking // Acting. Subscribe to our newsletter, and stay tuned!
Adrien, aka Paranormind.