[PURESTENCH: Introduce Bleak Environment. You started the label this past year (2011), correct? What was it that made you want to start up your own record label? ]
I honestly can't say when it started. I think the first tape marked BE was in 2010. The label just sort of came to be, really. I grew up in the mountains. I moved to the city. Bleak Environment was started to document the output of a small circle of people currently residing in Denver.. It has grown to include artists outside of that. It is more or less just to document my surroundings.
[PURESTENCH: What do you look for in the material you release? Is there a specific sound or formula that you want the artists to adhere to or do they pretty much have completely free reign with their own material? ]
It depends, really. When dealing with projects like Xothist, Vocivus, or Tollund Men, the people involved are my closest friends. They were doing noise bands in the town an hour north of me since before I was in high school. We all grew up in these nothing towns, being total weirdos. Eventually ending up in Denver and maintaining this outsider disposition. I think the whole 'outsider' thing is mainly what I look for. I feel that Nuit Noire is a pretty perfect example. Tenebras has done such beautiful things with that band, it fits so roughly into black metal, but it is everything I love about black metal, everything is so genuine and sincere, every time I listen to it, it feels really important. That's what I look for; this relation.
[PURESTENCH: What have you been listening to lately outside of the material on your label? How about reading? ]
Tenhi, Ride for Revenge, Crazy Spirit is a really good band. I've been re-reading Cat Eyed Boy and this book Other Tongues - Other Flesh about our brothers from the skies, has some really out there swastika history, and is far less obnoxious than any episode of Ancient Aliens.
[PURESTENCH: Are you a member of any of the bands on your label?]
[PURESTENCH: You have put out a couple of Metal releases (Xothist and Vocivus). What is it that attracts you to Metal music? The Metal that you put out is pretty lo-fi and raw. Does the recording quality effect the overall music itself and if so what do you think it brings out in the sound of Metal? ]
Black Metal is the truest expression of misanthropy. When it is removed from the initial feeling of hate, it no longer has a need to exist. I have little interest in bands spending countless hours in a studio trying to purvey hate through some clean, produced rock and roll song. After a point it gets lost . stops making sense. Xothist, as a solo project, the approach is very different from a "live band" and where it was definitely very fleshed out, and a lot of time went into it's production, it was written and recorded in a matter of days, not leaving the basement. No outside influence. No distance from the initial emotion.
[PURESTENCH: Your artwork is fairly uniform, although the tapes don't have the same themes they all have a distinct look that you can look at and say "oh this is Bleak Environment". Does the label or the artist create the art for the releases? Is the artwork as important to the release as the sounds are? ]
It depends. Neal (from TM) and I have these bouts where we'll sit in a Kinko's til 3 in the morning. Just feeding money into the machines. Eventually we just stop. A lot of the art comes from that. Some bands will do their own. Though I do say "no" often. I'm greatly concerned with the object; it's presentation, it's reception.
[PURESTENCH: What are the inspirations behind the general aesthetic of the label? ]
Negativity, Hate. Darkness, whatever.
[PURESTENCH: What are some of your favorite labels operating right now? ]
Anima Arctica - Finnish folk label I greatly admire and respect. Some of the most haunting and beautiful recordings I've ever come across. Though spanning several different genres, the catalog serves as this beautiful document of the people and the environment it was created in. Rather than rehashing these established sounds of Folk or Neo-Folk, they are truly contemporary. Pure Finnish art.
Satan's Din - Beautifully curated US noise label. Jason does a great job with all of his releases.
Nostilevo - New Detroit label from the ashes of Nursed Etiquette, Liable for Abuse is especially notable.
Kuunpalvelus - Another Finnish label. The absolute best of our time.
[PURESTENCH: Is BE a "solo project" or is there a few people helping with the label? ]
I find myself out of town for work a lot, while it is mainly my endeavor, my girlfriend will pack and ship orders, drive me to Kinko's, hold my fucking hand.
[PURESTENCH: "Limited editions" are a fairly common practice in the underground. BE is no exception. Why is this? Do you ever intend to increase the number of releases which you put out or do you prefer how it is now?]
There exists as many as we feel need to exist.
[PURESTENCH: If you could hang out with 3 people of your choice, anyone dead or alive, 24 hours each, who would you choose and why? ]
My grandfather, my friend, my dog.
[PURESTENCH: What does Bleak Environment have planned for the year 2012? ]
Nuit Noire, Black Church, Tollund Men 7", Garrotte I 7" more immediately, plenty to follow.
[PURESTENCH: Thanks a lot for doing this interview. Final comments? ]
Thank you for your interest.