It was just a few months ago that Chris from Bayshore Records contacted me via the Review Submission from on the site asking for me to give a listen to Bronze Eye’s Past Imperfect. After giving the release a quick listen, and realizing that Bayshore was a new netlabel, I asked if he would be interested in doing an interview. I was particularly interested in finding out more about what makes a person interested in starting a netlabel now when there are already so many labels out there.
Chris’s answers provide several surprises. First, that he was familiar with Archaic Horizon. I actually found Archaic Horizon after Chris had initially submitted a release for review, but before we conducted this interview. Second just what inspired him to start the label, which really fits the “scratch an itch” category (which is very similar to why many open source software projects get started). And a few other things.
Hopefully you will enjoy this interview as much as I have in conducting it.
Introduce yourself to our readers?
I’m Chris. I’m eighteen years old. Born and raised in Portland, Maine. I have zero connections to the local scene and zero reputation within it. I play no instruments, yet somehow I’ve found moderate success as an ambient musician over the past couple years. I run Bayshore Records, a netlabel that draws its name for the last street before the bridge between Falmouth, Maine and Portland. In the past year and a half or so we’ve put out ten releases, none of which have done particularly well due to my shortcomings as a promoter.
How did you get into netaudio?
When I was around 14, I was in a bit of a musical void. I couldn’t really find anything new to listen to, so I started looking around the internet for smaller genres that didn’t necessarily fall under the banner of “rock” or “electronic”. I found this tiny genre called illbient, which took ambient and fused it with hip hop beats. It didn’t have the same drive as trip hop and the breaks weren’t as complicated as downtempo, so it turned out to be a good launch pad. From there came my discovery of Earstroke Records and artists like Fieldtriqp and Milieu, which led me to my favorite netlabel of all time, Archaic Horizon records. When I found them, it was forty plus releases, most of them full length, all of them free, and me being fifteen and with no money of my own, I ate this stuff up. So it was really a combination of searching for something in left field and, while not necessarily finding it, finding something else that would point my tastes in a new direction from then on.
What is your philosophy for releasing new material?
It’s going to be free, and it’s going to be different. When I look at my own body of work, it sounds kind of hypocritical, but I want to hear something unique. That’s why we’ve put out stuff by Letterfounder and Bronze Eye, first because it sounds good, second because it’s a completely different kind of sound. I’ve been around the block a couple times and those records are rare breeds, even in this crazy scene. It sounds cliche to say, but we love misanthropes. We don’t want the person who sends a demo track to forty labels and waits for the biggest fish to bite. We want the person who digs through them all and says, “My sound doesn’t fit with any of these. What else is there?” Hopefully they end up seeking us out, or in some cases, we’ll seek them out. The “free” component is just that. We don’t want to be making any money, unless it’s off merch sales (which don’t exist at the moment). I’ve had more than a few people tell me that we should sell music, and I just don’t see it. We aren’t “the industry”, and we don’t wish to be. If we ever end up there, someone can send me the link to this interview and rub it in my face.
Who or what inspires you?
The biggest source is probably the two fine people who run Archaic Horizon Records. Dan and Scott are great people to deal with, and when I was working with them to release an EP, I thought, “This is something I’d like to do.” I have a slight issue emulating them because I’m never organized, but that’s really where the idea behind Bayshore started. I started getting to know all these people, and they all made weird music like me, and I figured someone ought to put them all under one banner with a name on it. We also take a lot of influence from the DIY punk scene and the underground hip hop scene, because they both emphasize a fierce sense of independence, and New Englanders (especially Mainers) are nothing if not independent. I like stuff with emotion, with drive. As Steve Albini so eloquently put it, “…big ass f***ing noise that makes my head spin.”
What is next for Bayshore?
I wish I had a good answer to this question! I’m headed back to college in Burlington in a few weeks, Jay has been in Japan for two weeks and he’s got another two and a half months before he gets back to the States. The plan, right now at least, is to keep doing what we’re doing. Keep releasing stuff that sounds like a wild noise out of deep left, keep making strange art to accompany those releases, and keep digging into the proverbial rabbit hole. Oh, and we’re going to try to get real vinyl stickers, as opposed to crappy paper shipping labels with Sharpie on them. I’d also like to get into some more of this “promoter” stuff, because I’ve been neglecting it so far; and at some point release a download of every piece of art used on the releases over the past two years, because some of that is pretty neat to look at.
Do you focus on specific styles of music?
Electronic music and all possible derivatives are the label’s bread and butter, but I wouldn’t mind releasing some more organic stuff. I had a demo from a bitpop band sitting in my email – if you guys see this, send something back! I loved their sound, and above all, it was something completely different. Experimental stuff is encouraged, because it’s no fun if you’re not trying something weird. I would probably put out a hardcore punk record or a shoegaze record or a jazz record if it sounded like something that would fit with the rest of what we’ve got. I’m putting spoken word stuff on my newest effort, and I have no idea how it’s going to work.
Why do you release CC music?
I sort of answered this in the “philosophy” question, but I suppose I’ll go a little deeper here. I’ve never liked the way “real” record labels operate. The idea that a consumer needs to pay to be entertained is almost alien to me, in our digital word of torrents and direct downloads. Creative Commons also makes things relatively simple with regards to explaining the release process to artists. It seems very out-of-place in the world today to make your consumer ask “Please, may I create?” with regards to remixes. Go for it. Rip it to pieces and put them back together like that guy from the movie Memento.
Is there anything you would like to add?
Send us demos! We had a busy spring but the queue is getting quite thin. The worst thing we can say is no, and even then we’ll try to point you in the direction of someone who will release your stuff.
So, one of the things that I didn’t want to reveal before the interview that surprised me is that it seems that Chris would represent a new generation of netlabel operators. Something that started back in the 80’s is still inspiring people today to continue working on. And that, to me, is quite awesome. It brings a new perspective on the music business and netlabel culture to me: these ideas are finding their way forward and the ideas aren’t going away. As more generations pick up the netlabel culture and do something to work with the ever-changing and evolving musical culture we stand to see it evolve into something greater. I think a label like Bayshore is a really good indicator that is happening.