Interviews

What it’s like to start an indie label in 2016 with Nathan and Dexter from muffled records

Whenever we hear of local legends starting up indie labels, we’re always keen to seek them out and ask a few questions. Who? How? WHY??

Muffled Records (stylised muffled records) popped onto our radar a few weeks back when we premiered one of their first signings’ – the incredible Solidities – expansive, experimental debut EP.

The label is run by Nathan and Dexter, two mates who met at Conservatorium High School and bonded over a love of electronic music. Fast forward a few years and they are taking the plunge, birthing into the world some wonderful, sophisticated and totally weird electronica through their own self-run, self managed label.

With two releases in just a few weeks under their belts, Nathan and Dexter are no doubt taking everything head on. We caught up with them to get a run down on what muffled is all about.

muffled records

muffled records are one of the most exciting young indie labels to pop their heads up in recent months. We caught up with Nathan and Dexter to get the run down on what it’s all about.

HAPPY: Hey Nathan, Dexter. Can you tell us about some the artists you’ve signed already? Where did you find them and what drew you to them?

NATHAN: The kind of artists we look for are the type that mix ambient synths and samples with some sort of beat. We discovered Harry (Solidities) and Milan (Kameo Dreemr) at an Alaska Projects event where they had both written music for experimental short films. At the time, we were in the preliminary stages of setting up the label. We ended up meeting with the two of them a couple of months later and they decided to set up their personas and write EPs as a part of muffled.

HAPPY: So, what are yours and Dexter’s backgrounds in music?

NATHAN: We’ve both immersed ourselves in electronic music, yet as I answer this question, Dexter is sitting next to me in a full suit after having just played Sibelius 5 with the Sydney Youth Orchestra. We both went to the Con High (Conservatorium High School, Sydney), where we met each other, and have since become more inclined towards various electronic genres.

HAPPY: What inspired you to take the plunge and start an indie label?

NATHAN: Well we were struggling to write our own EPs, so in the meantime we thought we could get a bunch of people together to release some music. We also enjoy seeing what label an artist is on to then discover the sound world and group of people that the artist is a part of. We wanted to make our own little world I guess.

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HAPPY: You’ve got a pretty awesome minimal visual style too – where does that influence come from?

NATHAN: In the same way that we like analogue music, we also like analogue photography and video, so we wanted our aesthetic to be simple and have character, i.e. without digital perfection.

HAPPY: What is it about obscure music that draws you to it?

NATHAN: We are not necessarily drawn to obscure music, rather music that makes a statement or creates a world that you can immerse yourself in. It’s probably also influenced by our art music background, so I guess you could call us pretentious.

HAPPY: What exactly does ‘art music’ mean to you guys?

NATHAN: We normally come across art music as a modern term for ‘classical music’, but we tend to use it as a broader term for any music that has intention and concept, music that doesn’t just bang. Mind you, we’re definitely cool with it banging.

HAPPY: Where did the name muffled records from?

DEXTER: muffled was originally going to be Nathan’s artist name, which he even made a Tumblr for, but we later realised it was way better as a label name. I guess it is a bit ambiguous in nature. It is also funny that when you google muffled records, it comes up with people having problems with their record player.

HAPPY: Do you feel limited to a musical realm you want to work in or do think you could take the label anywhere, sonically?

NATHAN: We definitely would like to focus on electronic music, but as long as it’s good we’ll be interested.

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HAPPY: Any bands you’ve been sniffing around that we might be hearing from soon?

DEXTER: We’ve got an old-school electronic music maker on the lineup, as well as a lecturer at the Con (Conservatorium of Music). Also, Nathan is finally getting around to releasing some music, his EP is coming out on Sunday under the name ‘Land Systems’.

HAPPY: Who are some of your label heroes?

NATHAN: The biggest name we look up to is Warp, but we also have great respect for some smaller labels such as Plastic World, Solitaire, This Thing, Teef, Speaker Footage… the list goes on.

HAPPY: Besides your own artists, who are some local acts you’ve been digging?

NATHAN: We’ve been digging Collarbones, Thomas William, Corin, I’lls, Rainbow Chan, Cassius Select, Anatole, Pendant, Marcus Whale, Hyde, Lupa J, Seekae, Slim Set, Kimchi Princi, Fishing, Elkkle, and defs Black Vanilla. Among many others.

Keep an eye on future releases from muffled records via their Bandcamp.