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LISTEN: Kranky 20th Anniversary Mixtape
Laurie Tuffrey , July 12th, 2013 13:12

Plus, we talk to the label's co-founder Joel Leoschke and ask their roster why Kranky's great

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Chicago independent Kranky, one of the Quietus' favourite labels, is twenty years in the running this year. After putting out Labradford's Prazision LP in 1993, they've gone on to release records by Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Deerhunter, Tim Hecker, Low, Grouper, Stars Of The Lid, Bowery Electric, Lichens, A Winged Victory For The Sullen Jessica Bailiff and Charalambides among many others and have recently had our ears pricked with Disappears (listen to their new track 'Power' here), Pan•American and Justin Walter.

To celebrate the anniversary, Kranky have put together a mixtape of some of the favourite tracks they've released. We also talked to Joel Leoschke, who co-founded the label with Bruce Adams, as well as Stars Of The Lid, Tim Hecker, Grouper and Boduf Songs from the roster to find out what makes the label tick. Listen and read below:

Tracklisting:

  1. Labradford - 'New Listening' (from Prazision LP)
  2. Bowery Electric - 'Black Night' (from Beat)
  3. Low - 'Will The Night' (from Songs For A Dead Pilot)
  4. Jessica Bailiff - 'Crush' (from Hour Of The Trace)
  5. Stars Of The Lid - 'Requiem For Dying Mothers, part 2' (from The Tired Sounds Of Stars Of The Lid)
  6. Keith Fullerton 'track3a (2waynice)' (from Playthroughs)
  7. Loscil - 'Lucy Dub' (from First Narrows)
  8. Growing - 'Anaheim II' (from The Soul Of The Rainbow And The Harmony Of Light)
  9. Chris Bissonnette - 'Travelling Light' (from Periphery)
  10. Benoit Pioulard - 'Together And Down' (from Precis)
  11. Deerhunter - 'Like New' (from Fluorescent Grey)
  12. Valet - 'Kehaar' (from Naked Acid)
  13. Tim Hecker - 'Paragon Point' (from An Imaginary Country)
  14. Felix - 'Where Is My Dragon?' (from You Are The One I Pick)
  15. Boduf Songs - 'I Am Going Away And I Am Never Coming Back' (from This Alone Above All Else In Spite Of Everything)
  16. Belong - 'Keep Still' (from Common Era)
  17. Dreamscape - 'Cradle' (from La-Di-Da Recordings)
  18. Grouper - 'Being Her Shadow' (from The Man Who Died In His Boat)

Joel Leoschke, co-founder

Looking back on the 20 years you’ve spent running the label, what do you make of the path you’ve taken?

Joel Leoschke: have never been one to dwell too much on the past, but it's been a good run with the occasional surprising success along the way.

What’s been the highlight of your time with Kranky?

JL: Working with a large number of really great artists, the vast majority of them being nothing less than entirely pleasant to deal with and a number of whom have become some of my best friends.

Using this article as a soapbox, is there anyone you’d like to reach out to to offer a deal with Kranky?

JL: Hmmm... we already signed our fantasy artists.

What are your favourite records the label has put out?

JL: If you check the record, I have never answered these kinds of questions. All of our children are special and I do not play favourites, at least not in a public forum.

Adam Bryanbaum Wiltzie, Stars Of The Lid

Can you talk about how you first came together with Kranky?

Adam Bryanbaum Wiltzie: The roots of the story grew out from when we released the first record, Music For Nitrous Oxide. Mr. Kranky was working at the time at the now-defunct Cargo Distribution in Chicago and he got a hold of that little release, and sold all 1000 of the CDs. I was grateful to say the least. I had caught wind that he was just starting a label, and put out the first record by Labradford (still one of my favourite bands past or present). So, when I was almost finished with the core of what would become The Ballasted Orchestra, I was on tour with a well known, half-baked shoe-gazer band, and we happened to be passing through "the Windy City", so I called him on the phone (as we used to do back in the early 90s) and said, "Mr. Kranky, do you like tacos?" Our mutual admiration was formed on this evening, and we enjoy spicy food together still, to this day.

What about it makes it great?

ABW: We get an honest accounting and paid in cold hard cash for ALL the income generated from the music released with the Kranky organisation, twice a year, like clockwork.

How does it compare to other labels you’ve worked with?

ABW: Like I said, we get accounted to and paid in the green stuff for ALL the income generated from my music twice a year like clockwork.

Have Bruce and/or Joel given you any sage advice that’s stuck with you?

ABW: "Let a frown be your umbrella."

Can you describe your best moment with the label?

ABW: Everytime I... See answer to numbers two and three...

Are there any plans for new Stars Of The Lid work?

ABW: Yes, but does anyone really give a flying fuck outside the underground hacker community?

Liz Harris, Grouper

What about Kranky makes it great?

Liz Harris: It is rare to find a label that has its heart in the right place and business ethics to match. Most folks have one or the other. On top of that, they feel like family.

Can you describe your best moment with the label?

LH: Years ago I sent Kranky Dragging A Dead Deer Up A Hill and they wrote to tell me they'd put it out the day after I agreed to do it with Type. Re-releasing it with Kranky this past year felt like something clicking in to place.

Tim Hecker

What about Kranky makes it great?

Tim Hecker: That we've worked together for five releases on a friendship basis with little to no influence on the artistic side of music production.

Mat Sweet, Boduf Songs

What about Kranky makes it great?

Mat Sweet: Kranky's identity is hard to pin down - they've put out a huge amount of amazing, diverse records. I think people typically think of stuff that might be described as 'ambient', but that's really a small part of the picture. And yet there seems to be some commonality between the music, some shared essence that connects each band in someway - not always directly, but along some weird cosmic web of deeply resonant sounds.

Can you describe your best moment with the label?

MS: I sent them a copy of a record I made - I was a huge fan, it was a total shot in the dark and I wasn't expecting anything, so it was an unbelievable surprise to see an e-mail from them, and the start of some extremely exciting times for me.


Jul 9, 2013 1:42am

Stars of the Lid are so far beyond most-- though not all-- of this label's output it's silly. Grouper is banal trash (but oh so "dreamy," right), Tim Hecker a one trick pony and it's not even that much of a trick. Still, props to Kranky, especially the Bruce Adams era, and especially all the SOTL vinyl.

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Labradford Smith
Jul 9, 2013 1:11pm

In reply to :

Never really got the SOTL buzz. Time-stretched Eno tracks (from the ambient records) and pretending to play guitar live to backing tracks?

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James McCaig
Jul 17, 2013 8:48am

Possibly one of THE most influencial record labels in my musical life. Incredible range of output but also some of the most beautiful i've ever heard. Jessamine's debut album is an incredible piece of work and probably in my top 10 albums ever. I wish the label would remaster and re-issue this as its crying out for it.

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