Since its inception by musician Matthewdavid and his partner Jesselisa Moretti in 2009, lo-fi LA label Leaving Records has put out releases from Julia Holter, DIVA and Semya as well as unique collaborations from Matthewdavid with Odd Nosdam and Sun Araw. Records and cassettes are often silk-screened by hand, and all highly covetable in accordance with the label's manifesto that "art is sacred and music is magic."
Now, Leaving Records have inked a distribution deal with long-running LA label Stones Throw to bring their releases to a wider audience. The first of such releases will be Dual Form on 21 January, a diverse compilation of all-new material from Leaving Records' musical family which runs from avant-pop to trippy lo-fi beats.
Today Dazed premieres Julia Holter's contribution to the release, a bewitching live recording of her Arthur Russell cover 'You And Me Both' from Matthewdavid's personal archive. Holter transforms the original's discofunk into a spare pop hymnal, with lingering piano accompaniment as her vocal distorts in touching lyrics like "I know it's more fun to give than to get". Rather than the more pop-oriented Ekstasis, the song's drone elements pay closer homage to the textures ofTragedy, her debut 2011 album on Leaving Records which kickstarted her musical rise. We caught up with Matthewdavid to find out more about the compilation and his take on what 'lo-fi' means today.
Dazed Digital: What's the story with this new live recording of Julia Holter covering 'You and Me Both'?
I used to work at dublab full-time, and Frosty had invited her a couple of times to perform. We heard she was playing with friends at a Arthur Russell tribute show, and I had my tape recorder on me and bootlegged her performance. After the show I approached her and gave her a disc, which she appreciated. Jesselisa, the visual curator and half of Leaving Records, and I have been friends with Julia since.
DD: You've just partnered with Stones Throw to distribute Leaving Records. Why did you choose to partner with them?
Who wouldn't partner with Stones Throw? They're pros at the weird world of underground music, a staple and fixation of the community here in Los Angeles. The Stones Throw crew had heard about Leaving Records through the grapevines of LA, and they secretly showed up to watch our crew perform at SXSW 2012. We share many commonalities with Stones Throw, like an expansive and unafraid sense of curation with a defined vision. Most pertinent I feel is that we're freaks/trippers coming from a hip-hop background, I think Peanut Butter Wolf can relate!
DD: You could have made a great retrospective of the label's releases with this compilation - and it would have been much easier! Why source all-new tracks?
The call-to-action emails and phone calls I sent out to artists had an outstanding outcome. It was difficult to curate, but everyone was down to help and come as hard as possible with their tracks, it was destined for dope this way.
DD: 'You And Me Both' is an Arthur Russell cover. Do you think these kinds of nods to innovators of the past is important?
Absolutely. We try to reference our artistic ancestors and pioneers as often as possible. REAL TALK. It's important for the kids. Lord knows Jesselisa does it in her design work. We need need need to reissue some of these obscure new-age synth gems from the 80s. I have so many tapes...
DD: Do you have a personal favourite track on the compilation?
That knx. beat is amazing, and the Untitled track at the beginning I had to pull some teeth for ;-)
DD: Do you think that the "lo-fi" label has become commodified at all? Like, when major label artists try to create an illusion of this.
Yeah but you see right through it. If you're a head, you know. It's about fidelity, sure, but it needs to come naturally. We get turned on to various forms of fidelity through the experimentation process.
DD: Your first release to be distributed with Stones Throw will be The Cyclist's debut album. How did you discover him?
Andrew (The Cyclist) emailed Jesselisa. He was an 18 year old freshman in college interested in Jesse's design work, and our label. Upon first listen I was impressed at the choice in fidelity and could just about pinpoint shared influences from his tastes and ours. It's wondrously composed dance music with an authentic treatment, he was more than happy to release with us.
DD: What's your favourite decade for electronic music?
I'll go with two! 70s composers in Germany and 80s in American boogie funk.
DD: What are your Top 3 favourite new LA musicians?
M Geddes Gengras / DIVA / Zeroh
Stones Throw and Leaving Records present: Dual Form
Follow Owen Myers on Twitter here @owen_myers