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IMPRINTS: 1080p

Richard MacFarlane reveals the Vancouver label's inner workings.
June 19, 2014, 9:00pm

Photo by Andrew

Imprints brings you regular profiles of the most exciting record labels the world over, with input from the movers and shakers who contribute to their local electronic music communities.

Founded: June 2013

Location: Vancouver, British Columbia

Members:  1

Artists: 18

Number of Releases: 18

Social: TwitterFacebookSoundCloudWebsite

If your path to credibility as a musician doesn't involve fist-pumping and melting people's faces off at festivals then listen up, because 1080p is the Vancouver label you'll soon come to follow religiously. Run by one Richard MacFarlane, 1080p is revered in local circles for its commitment to aesthetic, its relaxed approach to marketing and its recognition of talent in pockets you wouldn't normally expect to find producers in. We spoke with Richard recently to shed some light on the project.

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What's the deal?

1080p is a label that I've run by myself here in Vancouver, British Columbia for the last year or so. I've been doing physical releases on tape and digital through Seed Distribution. The releases are from all over the world though I try to focus on local acts as much as I can.

Where does the name 1080p come from?

The name was meant to be sort of goofy and vague rather than a specific joke on the irony of a cassette label named after something high definition. I was working this holiday job for Nintendo, demoing the new Wii console in this massive mall in the suburbs and my supervisor was extremely stoked on the 1080p compatibility of the console and the screens we were using. He was a great guy who always wore a fedora and sort of encapsulated the obvious obsessions with HD and digital clarity that I thought were pretty funny and indicative of my present experience. I didn't really mean for it to focus on the irony of it but more the idea of someone being jacked on technology.

How would you describe the label's sound? 

I try to focus on a reasonably wide range of genres but the sound that 1080p aims to survey is broadly definable as experimental electronica. There's often an emphasis on combining various genres into one hybrid sound on a release, investigating sometimes unlikely mixtures of signifiers and tones that sometimes fall into dance music but are perhaps more habitual inside DIY (or digital DIY) landscape.

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Which release would you recommend to introduce a new listener to 1080p?

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I'd have to say the recent LNRDCROY tape is pretty accessible and is indicative in many ways of the scope of the label, though certainly a lot more "purist" in his approach than most other 1080 stuff in terms of genre. He looks back through an intense knowledge of 90s techno and euphoria classics to dust his ambient electronica with a really solid feel.

Which are some of your favourite tracks?

I drove over to Deep Cove in BC a couple of weekends back with some friends to go crabbing and we had LNRDCROY's "I Met You On BC Ferries" which I've found to be one of the most beautiful things I've heard recently—super romantic and sounds exactly like the landscape around Vancouver to me. D. Tiffany's "Tranq Moon" has been on high rotate too, very weird techno experiments by my friend Sophie Sweetland (from Vancouver) who went back to Nelson and holed up and made this amazing, loose low-tech electronica. I have to say I teared up slightly when Max McFerren sent me his new video for the MCFERRDOG project; he was a pleasure to work with. I feel weird picking favourites though actually, I love everyone.

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How do you choose the artists that you work with?

I spend a lot of time on the Internet, and have developed some very meaningful relationships over the last few years. So there are those existing relationships, and then trying to get a grasp on what's going on in different parts of the world through Soundcloud, Tumblr and various social networking platforms. For instance, I was chatting to my friend from back in New Zealand who makes a lot of techno at home and we decided to do a release. Also recently a friend of another artist I had released got in touch, who's work I had admired for a long time, which was really cool.

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What's the next release on 1080p? How far ahead do you plan your releases?

It's usually fairly far ahead, and actually right now the release schedule is all filled up until December. I'm pretty impatient so I try to get things out as soon as possible, but because tapes can take a little while and the schedule is so full now it's sometimes a few months form receiving a release to it coming out. That's probably not super long compared to bigger labels, but still seems like a while to me.

The next release is Khotin from Edmonton, real nice day-dreamy hybrid house. Then a collaboration between Perfume Advert (from the UK) and M/M (from NYC) who I had previously released separately. Their new release under the ATM name is this foggy but groove-focused. Then this real bonkers, muli-rhythmic electronica from an Australian acquaintance called Tlaotlon.

What are you looking for in a demo?

I've been lucky enough to get demos recently from people I either have an existing relationship with either from real life, being friends online or from corresponding through writing about their music in the past. There's usually a fairly mutual understanding of what is right for the label; somewhere down the line of genre or otherwise looser musical exploration interested in post-irony and sincerity. Stuff that has self-awareness but also looks to hopefully end up somewhere between the obvious space amidst club or anti-club focused stuff. I really got interested in American DIY music several years ago through labels like Not Not Fun, Siltbreeze, Olde English Spelling Bee, around the time where I contributed to the Altered Zones blog, which has informed 1080p a lot.

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Photo by Andrew

How important is design in packaging your releases?

It's really important for me in a couple of ways: it's one of the main ways that people initially interact with a release (ie. by seeing it online) and as the label is just as much digital as it is physical, it's crucial to have art that speaks to the release and is suggestive of the vibe inside.  I like to keep things varied in the visual art as much as possible too and steer away from any template-y idea that some labels do, which is also in line with the way I try to curate the releases: loosely and broadly, hopefully, but within the same broad scope of the label's aesthetic.

What are some challenges that you face day-to-day or week-to-week?

The only challenge is not having enough time, I feel really guilty putting time into the label sometimes because I'm about half way through this quite intense Web Development and New Media Design program at BCIT here in Vancouver. I always jump to reply to 1080p-related work when I'm in class or at home when I should be learning PHP, but sometimes the design elements cross over into the label stuff.

What's the next step for 1080p?

I plan to keep going with frequent biweekly cassette/digital releases for the rest of the year and then see what's up; it's really fun at the moment and I feel like, to me at least, there's some cohesion in the output, hopefully capturing something of a cross between what's going on in various areas of the world and internet right now. It doesn't seem like the type of thing that will go forever and I have a super short attention span, so probably next year I will look into what comes next.

Photo by Andrew