Tucked away off the shores of Uruguay, the ethereal record label releasing Balearic disco gems to deep house sounds run by 'Mark' from Sheffield has been making waves on a global scale with only the aid of a shonky website. International Feel, rightly-named, is the mysterious home to the likes of IPG, Rocha, Hungry Ghost, Gatto Fritto, and Locossolus aka the legendary DJ Harvey's comeback alias. With tees selling at slick boutique LN-CC, the label has founded itself on a unique sense of both style and substance, shunning strict 'genres' for a more international feel.
Dazed Digital: The label has long been kept seemingly mysterious, what are the pros vs cons of keeping identities under wraps?
Mark: Well I am a total Contrarian, so the only Facebook page I’d ever consider joining is a ‘Turn Facebook off’ page – I’m really really sick to death of this modern consumeristic/celebrity culture that seems to have sneaked its way into most corners of modern society – everyone can be famous to 15 people – so fucking what – the ultimate journey of the human condition is the journey within, not without.
So, bearing all this in mind, it's nice to create a few smoke and mirrors and have a little bit of mystery going on. Equally, one of the main reasons behind not shouting from the rooftops about me, me, me, is that this is about the music, the art and the artists and producers that make that music – its about International Feel as a Brand.
DD: Are you really based in Uruguay? What is the electronic music scene like where you're from/based?
Mark: Well let's put it this way... I’m just back from a swim in the sea and I’m lying in the sun drying off - Hoxton in mid-November – I think not. So yes, although I’m originally from the UK, I’ve lived in La Barra near Punta Del Este for two years now and before that Berlin and Italy.
I’m from Sheffield, which has, I’m told, quite a vibrant 'Electronic Music Heritage'... but to relate your question to Uruguay: none at all, apart from the Rocha guys and a very, very small handful of enthusiasts. Culturally, Uruguay is somewhat ‘behind’ the blatant control culture (sorry I meant consumer) of most of the rest of the world, which is a really great reason to live here – no government interference in your daily lives, beautiful scenery and clean clean air. (I hear you need portable oxygen tanks in London these days?)
Occasionally it's frustrating because the culture is different to the ‘instant-ness’ of Europe, but once you get used to it, you realise that all the ‘stuff’ you had and craved is unnecessary anyway - all the nasties are trying to do is create this desire within you to sell you things that you definitely don’t need and there’s very little of that going on down here, which for me, is perfect.
What was the question again? Oh yeah... there is no scene – big room shitty ringtone house music in the high season and plastic chillout in the bars – but hey, I’ll pay the price to get all the other stuff that is unique to Uruguay and I have a super fast internet connection to take an occasional peek at what’s happening in the outside world.
DD: Why did you start International Feel? Do you feel the name fits now better than ever?
Mark: Because I wanted an outlet originally to release my own music (but that soon changed and now I don’t even have a space in the fucking release schedule for it, although I did manage to sneak out ‘The Coptic Sun’ as IFEEL Studio). I met the Rocha guys, worked on a track with them, thought it was brilliant (and I was right!), couldn’t get a deal for it, thought... hang on, there’s a different way to do this, let's make a statement against the Myspace penis vipers with their shitty music and digital labels and do something based on quality art, quality vinyl, quality music – something tangible that people will collect, desire and cherish for all the right reasons. And guess what, it worked... people do want real things.
With the name... it just popped into my head one day and it kind of summed everything up perfectly. Only then did I realise it was a bloody Todd Rundgren song title – never mind.
DD: How do you feel the sound of the label has changed or progressed over time?
Mark: Well, I release music... not genres. Although Harv’s known as the Disco Administrator, his tracks on the label are not really in that category. Maxxi & Zeus (Joel and Matt from Quiet Village) are releasing ambient/soundtrack-y stuff through us, so I don’t think we fall into any one category – labels are really just very lazy journalism. We’re a Balearic label in the true sense – anything goes, as long as it's good.
DD: Who do you recommend we keep an eye out for?
Mark: The new Gatto Fritto album coming in 2011 to a vinyl emporium near you - the return of Gatefold Vinyl! Gotta dash, the Ashes are just about to start on Radio 4.
International Feel's first label compilation is out now. Look out for albums from Locussolus (DJ Harvey) and Gatto Fritto as well as more 12" EP's in 2011.
Follow Flora Yin-Wong on Twitter here @petitflo