Manchester label Natural Sciences has made a bit of a splash in recent years, with several top selling ep’s, a boiler room and a residency on NTS. The dolphin logo is now synonymous with house and techno fans alike, introducing a number of previously unknown artists – DJ Swagger, Warren Raw and 外神田deepspace/Aquarium – as well as ‘lo-fi’ champions such as DJ Seinfeld.
The labels latest release by Australian debutant E Davd described as ‘forgotten love songs from glacial plains, expired vitamin compounds retrieved from petri dishes and the howls of extinct animal life condensed into 25 minutes’, looks certain to further cement the labels reputation. Dripping in cosmic funk, Davd takes the listener on a journey deep through the Mancunian ‘nebula’. We met up with NS boss Alex to find out more about the labels sonic soundscape, the much discussed ‘lo-fi’ label and the plethora of unknown artists that have propelled the label into the stratosphere. Pre-order it now.
The label uses a dolphin as it’s logo. What is the dolphin about?
I can’t say it stands for anything really. Me and my girlfriend made it up and just wanted each record to have a strong visual look to them. I dig labels where you can see a logo and just pick it up off the back of that. That’s all really -- it’s a sign to look out for when looking through the racks. We do all the art ourselves and in most cases it’s the longest bit. I can tell from the first 10 seconds whether it might come out on the label but the art might take months, literally -- it’s stupid.
Your next release is with unknown E.Davd and the label often puts out relatively unknown artists. Who is Davd and how do you find new artists/music?
This is Emmanuel (E Davd’s_ first record and he’s living in Australia. Really that’s all that you need to know. I try and keep away from that DJ bio thing -- that shit is stale.
Most of the releases like E Davd come from late night drinking and getting messy on soundcloud. There’s some killer stuff in there and you just have to wade it out. I like each release to be the first from any producer and it would be easy to pick out the well-tested / safe stuff and do it that way but that would bore the shit out of me This way you keep away from management and all that industry sludge that just gets in the way of rolling it out. Get the odd cool thing from demos and friends but the bulk is stuff I don’t associate with the label at all.
A lot has been said in the media and social media about ‘lo-fi’ artists and artists who use 90’s nostalgia to create hype. The argument goes -- the mind recognizes names, such as Seinfeld or Ross from Friends, and makes links in the same way an advert with a famous celebrity works in your subconscious. You see a celebrity’s name and your mind makes subconscious links. Advertising companies use this to sell products and now electronic musicians are utilizing popular 90’s culture in the same way. What do you think about the ‘lo-fi’ label and where does natural sciences stand in the argument?
I never thought of the label as lo-fi and think that term is just lazy. Was pretty late getting into electronic music and was more into bands and all that stuff, so for me, it was just a sound that I was already into from that. The label I had before NS was with Ed Davenport and we put out this cool krautrock band called ‘Circuit Diagram’- that’s a better reflection of how I see the sound of the label coming from.
Most of the releases come from dudes busting it out with budget equipment and you get a certain raw, unfinished and well honest sound from coming at it that way. Like Aquarium -- that one we had to basically reconstruct from corrupted MP3’s and the original files were lost. The end release isn’t an aesthetic but the only way that stuff can be heard. Not saying that’s always the case but the records I put out come from people being surprised you want to do anything with them in the first place and have been cooking on the net for months and years with a handful of plays. It would be weirder it that stuff was super lush westend disco or something -- but that would be sick.
So, the aesthetic is not as important as the music?
Again the whole name thing is unbelievably boring. Such a focus on aesthetic over the music I feel bad for these guys starting out and getting nailed for it. There’s a pre-judgment and it’s another neat way of branding everything into neat little boxes. It really is ok to not take everything so seriously all the time and the club / electronic scene is packed full of fucking long faces.
You recently you hosted a boiler room. How was that?
Boiler Room was a cool thing to do but came into it last minute after a passport went missing. Only had turntables for 8 months or something so it’s pretty amateur. Nice getting under the skin of the Facebook comment commanders lining up a sip of a beer to a BPM. Woody from Red Laser was the hero from that -- smashed it on iPhone earphones found on the tram. Literally picking out strangers wax from the buds.
Have you played anywhere recently that sticks out in your mind?
Played Poland recently as well as Berlin which were both ace + manchester of course. There’s this cool spot here called the white hotel which is a former mechanics garage and the beer is served from a pit in the floor. It always goes off.
Interview by Sameed