Starting a record label is arguably the easiest it’s ever been – digitised media, instant networking and a wealth of young talent mean anyone can try their luck. That said, this leads to an influx of mediocre content and oversaturation, which raises questions about what makes a label successful.
Circadian Rhythms are a London-based collective addressing this from a unique perspective. By refusing to pigeon-hole themselves into one genre, or format for that matter, they’re providing a platform to explore the intersection of music, fashion, art and design. Furthermore, they are doing so with a clear focus on quality and a respectful ethical code.
Tell us about the vision for CR and the people involved.
The label is comprised of me, Last Japan, fashion designer William Green, artist Dylan Tushar and designer Jase Coop. Our aim is to challenge the understanding of what makes a record label by exploring music through the creation of physical and non-physical objects. Each musical output has its own specific collection of clothing, alongside artwork, video and mini site. As a result, it’s more than a record/clothing label – a creative collective whose different interpretations of a single theme are executed under the same umbrella.
Behind the project is a real focus on localism and working amongst friends – all our products are made in London. It’s hugely important to me that people understand how much it costs to do things properly without compromise.
At the core of this is a co-operative structure which allows for all the artists in the collective to continue to create meaningful physical things. The vision for the label stems from my personal philosophy and the way in which I imagine sustainable projects should work.
Transparency is hugely important and I want people to really understand how much things actually cost. For this reason, we’ll be making all our costs public. Modern life is a subsidised madness built on the backs of others around the world – the only reason your t-shirt is £5 is because someone is being paid a pittance elsewhere to make it.
Is it important to have physical representations of music, i.e. clothing or artwork, despite the ease of staying digital?
Digital music has no real value when you consider it in terms of supply and demand. MP3s can be reproduced infinitely, their value is 0, and the only reason you’re paying is because iTunes and Spotify don’t want people to have free digital music. What we are now experiencing is a race to the bottom where the only artists benefiting are those with 100,000+ plays a month. This system is not working for the majority of underground artists.
For us, it was clear we had to go the other way – back to the physical world. By making high quality but limited physical objects, we create art as well as value – clothing, records, events, and whatever creative activities we want to pursue.
How will the non-musical aspects of CR differ from merchandise offered by most labels nowadays?
“Merch” offered by most labels tends to stop at medium quality t-shirts with a decent print. We’ve seen a few label collaborations, but nobody taking in-house creation to a serious level. I don’t look at what we’re doing as merchandise. I see it as conceptual wear that uses music at the core of its inspiration. I can’t stress how much development has gone into the collection. Will Green, who’s just been designing for Stone Island, spent a huge amount of time developing the silhouettes, materials and construction. I can’t wait for people to see the quality of what we’re doing.
‘Faded Hearing’ highlights your attention to detail as a producer, what were you trying to convey?
It’s funny you think that – I started working on it back in 2013. The song title was literal, my hearing problems had just started and it was all I could think about. I’ve got serious hearing issues in one ear and also suffer from tinnitus, it’s not fun.
I feel like the need for music to have a deeper narrative has become an obsession for a lot of people in the “scene”. While there are definitely artists who do it correctly, I all too often feel the way in which people present their work is dishonest and confused.
Did you produce it with other elements of CR in mind?
Not really. I don’t ever really make music for any end. I don’t care about being a “producer” or “DJ”. It’s something I’ve always done and not really given much thought to. If anything, it’s always been a personal pursuit, a moment to be alone, working on something for hours on end. I have so much music that people will never hear, stuff I make for no other purpose than my own amusement.
There are references to various genres in the track; would you say this is a metaphor for the collective overall?
Yeah, we’re interested in pushing the label in all directions. Once you try and repeat the same formula, it gets old. You’ve just got to look at some of the labels in the past few years that have carved a space, but flopped because they tried to sign music that was similar. There are only so many times you can hear the same thing.
Is London an inspiring place to be at the moment?
I don’t know how to begin on that one. Things being as they are now have inspired me to try and build something which can bring about good things for my family and friends – the label included. Musically, I think we’re in a weird place but there are still some incredible musicians doing stuff. That being said, it’s becoming harder and harder to be here. Living costs are spiralling out of control and finding time to be inspired is increasingly difficult.
Your NTS show has a strong grime presence; will the label follow in a similar vein?
Not really. Our agenda is always to keep things moving. We’ve always been pushing UK-inspired music, the best of it happens to be from producers who were partially responsible for its renaissance. We want to work with artists all over the world, and we’ve got a pretty broad release schedule. I look forward to sharing it with everyone x
CR001: Toasty – Metal is out March 6. Learn more on the CR website, and watch out for a number of releases coming early March.