Thursday, April 16, 2015

Label Interview: Amnesia Program

[HESalvo: First, the usual; when did this label start and why did you start the label? ]

Initial planning for the label began in November/December 2011, with the inaugural batch of releases appearing in August 2012. I started activities with the label out of a simple desire to curate what I felt would be a unique and interesting catalog consisting of overall quality releases. From the beginning, there was an awareness of how a label's output has the potential to shape and influence the perspective of art in which it operates. I wanted to focus on using Amnesia Program's releases to contribute to the landscape of Noise in a way that would hopefully further the evolution of the art rather than causing stagnation and repetition to thrive, while maintaining a respect for the foundation and principles of the overall tradition associated with the movement itself.

[HESalvo: Is there a specific creative influence behind the label itself, is there a similar vein that you are hoping to, I don't know, mine? I suppose is there a thread from one release to another, is there a uniformity within the label? ]

There isn't necessarily a singular influence to pinpoint, although there is certainly an intentional aspect of uniformity and concept that exists within the label. In some ways it's direct, but in other ways it can be more intangible. For instance, when referring to the appearance of the releases, the similarities are clear. Each release includes an 8-page booklet inside that contains all information pertaining to that release, as no text is featured on either side of the cover itself. This allows the imagery to be presented as more of an art piece rather than simply a traditional cover for a release. The booklets themselves also follow a set pattern when it comes to the format, although the artwork featured in the booklets vary and are specific to the release itself. The criteria for deciding on whether the material is fitting for the label can be more vague in nature. There isn't anything concrete that I require when choosing what to release. It just naturally makes sense to me whether it's a good fit for the label or not. It almost always comes down to the overall feeling of the material, and if it coincides with the label's aesthetic. Of course, the quality of the material is a prerequisite which is essential to the end decision.

[HESalvo: Is Amnesia Program your own label or are there multiple people involved? ]

I operate all aspects of the label, such as the curation of artists, duplicating, printing, and assembling the releases, while a friend of mine handles all of the artwork and design exclusively himself.

[HESalvo: "Amnesia Program"; What's the name mean? ]

The name is based on the concept that the label's output represent a body of work that has it's own identity. I like the idea of how amnesia somewhat represents the ideas of disconnection and being isolated within oneself. Existing independently of outside reference points or preconceived notions with only internal factors being the basis for decisions. In a sense, that mindset is the foundation of everything the label is based upon.

[HESalvo: The art on the releases is fucking outstanding. Is this all of your own work or does this come from the artists? If the former, what influences these images and collages you create? ]

As I briefly mentioned, all of the artwork and design for the releases are done by a friend of mind named Andy Krupinski. I've admired his art for a while, and he clearly understands what I had envisioned the visual aspect of the label to look like. I also really like the idea of having the same person handle all of the layouts, in order to help achieve a sense of continuity when it comes to the appearance of the releases. His art style is an integral part of what Amnesia Program represents, and often deals with themes such as damage, hopelessness, and detachment; all of which are among some of the elements present in the label's total aesthetic. 

[HESalvo: Has there been any one label, person, artist, whatever that has influenced you more than another, if so how? How does it effect your work? ]

I have been influenced in many different ways by several different artists and labels over the years, of which there are way too many to mention. I feel like various facets of these influences have played a part in shaping my overall identity as an artist/curator, which have culminated in the approach I choose to take. However, my work as a Noise artist and label operator has particularly been influenced by the Mid-west Noise scene. I've always felt a strong relation with a lot of the artists and recordings associated with that area. The textures/sounds, approach, and attitude that a lot of those acts present are the ones that I tend to prefer and gravitate towards the most.

[HESalvo: How do you find the artists you release, or do they find you? ]

I typically choose to work with individuals or artists that I am in contact with or whose work I am already familiar with and have an interest in. Although there have been a couple of instances in which I've reached out to an artist I haven't met before simply because I feel strongly about their material. I prefer to have some sort of connection to the projects and releases themselves, instead of seeking them out in an arbitrary manner. This adds to the feeling of the release having a personal significance, which I believe is an important part of the label's approach to things. I never release anything because I think someone else will enjoy it or in hopes that it will sell several copies. I instead base my decisions on what to release solely on the relationship that I feel to the material, and whether or not it fits into the label's vision.

[HESalvo: Are any of the projects on Amnesia Program your own? If so which project(s)? ]

I've issued recordings from some collaborations that I've been a part of via the label, but never any releases from what is my main project (Hostage Pageant). One of the releases is the split tape between Harness and Glass Half. Harness is the ongoing project between myself and Luke Tandy of Being/Skeleton Dust Recordings, and Glass Half is a collaboration between Nate Tandy of Diaphragmatic/Foxhole Atheism, and myself. Electrical Cord Noose was also a collaborative project with Patrik Dougherty that I was involved in for a short period of time.

[HESalvo: I could be wrong about this but it seems like every artist that has put a release out through the label is an American act (or at least the majority of the artists). Was this a deliberate, premeditated or did it just work out that way?  ]

The label has indeed only released works by American artists thus far, but that was never an established plan. Part of the reason for this could be that I do have a tendency to want to work with people that I know on a personal basis, or have at least had some sort of interaction with. I don't allow this to be a deciding factor on whether to work with an artist or not though, and there are already plans to work with select international artists in the future.

[HESalvo: Another similarity is that most are Harsh Noise, little Industrial or "true" Power Electronics, no rock music whatsoever. Do you consider Amnesia Program a Harsh Noise label? Or would you release other material, you just haven't had a chance yet? ]

I most definitely consider Amnesia Program a Noise label, as that is the only type of output that I ever intended to release through this outlet. With that being said, I've never limited the releases to only Harsh Noise acts, but rather different variations and styles of what is universally known as Noise/Experimental. For example, the Mark Van Fleet and Crown of Cerberus cassettes are very different from the other releases in the label's catalog in that they are more ambient in style. I plan on continuing forward in exploring different facets of experimental sound with the label's future output, and not confine the works to only one genre/sub-genre.

[HESalvo: Another parallel is every release is a cassette tape. Once again, was this on purpose? What makes cassettes an attractive medium for the material you release. ]

From the start, I planned on primarily issuing the recordings exclusively on cassette format, with hopes to eventually release some material on vinyl format as well. Basically, I choose to only work with those mediums simply because those are the formats that I personally enjoy to listen to the most and how I prefer to have audio art presented. Cassettes tend to be an ideal medium to work with due to the amount of control you have over the sound of the end result when home duplicating; and as most people would agree, Noise sounds exceptionally fitting on cassette format too, maybe even more so than when on vinyl.

[HESalvo: Future plans? ]

I plan on continuing activities with the label indefinitely. At this point, there are a few different things in the works. However, the next releases to surface will be the debut LP from Harness (which will be co-released with Skeleton Dust Recordings), as well as a cassette from Kjostad.

[HESalvo: Thanks for doing this interview. If there is anything you'd like to add it's all yours... ]

Thank you for the interview and to those that continue to support the label!

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