First off, could you tell us briefly what Love Torture Records does and what is it about?
D > Currently, Love Torture is an extremely tiny, DIY cassette and CDr label. I run it all by myself. Everything is handmade/hand assembled with the exception of a professionally printed cover here and there. It started out in the beginning of 2008 as a net label so that I could release my massive output of sound as well as release sound art by friends and like-minded people, and have it all be free to access. By the end of 2008, we were starting to release painfully limited edition cassettes and 3" CDrs. (The painfully limited editions are something that have stuck around for the most part).
The physical releases are mostly either my own projects, or splits, with the occasional release by other experimental artists. We are slowly starting to branch out and release other artists' work more frequently. Our mission always has and always will be to release experimental electronic- based music and sound that we enjoy and believe in. The net-label division is now dead because I don't have the free time or the interest to keep it going. I would rather release a few cassettes and CDs in a year than 100 free downloads to sort through and upload. I don't dislike net label, and I still will do the occasional net release on other labels, and once Love Torture physical copies are sold out, our releases are always free to download. (We are working on getting the back catalogue online for free on the bandcamp page).
You're quite an active artist in the field of experimental electronic music and noise. Your main project Endometrium Cuntplow has existed since 2007, the harsh noise-project Assholemouthead since 2008, and those are not the only ones you're involved with. How did you originally come to start making noise? Were your first projects experimental or noise-ones?
D > Endometrium cuntplow was born in mid 2006. It started out more industrial/gabber/ambient based with elements and waves of noise, and very quickly the beats phased out and the pure noisy aspects took over. I still will produce tracks with beats in them from time to time, but my live performances are always free form. Ever since I was a child I have been making weird and experimental music in my own home. I have played in many more traditional style bands in my lifetime, but more often than not, always tried to incorporate weird sounds and noises, either through the use of sampling or just fucking around with my pedals, or having loose songs that were largely improvised.
Noise and experimental music are my main focus. I have Endometrium Cuntplow (my main and live project), Queef Richards (my wife and I), Assholemouthead (RIP), cephalopods (collab w/ Sunken Landscapes), Catlady (collab w/ Pregnant Spore), DDDD (collab w/ +DOG+ & Destroy Date), and I also preform and record w/ +DOG+ from time to time. Aside from all that noise, I have also have a kind of industrial-neofolk project called internal improv, and I did a past project called Spooky Tree Scientist (vegetarian industrial metal). I have a band with my friend Sarah Ault called thenudiemagazines, and I also play keyboards and pedals in a space rock band called Outer 7th, but we hardly ever do anything because we are all in other bands and all spread out, all though at one time we were very active.
Anyways, so I guess you could just say that it is something that was inevitable. My art just kind of grew into being experimental and noise. I would say the first "noise" record I ever made was in 2000/2001. It was all vocals and distortion pedals on a 4 track cassette recorder. One day maybe I will re-release that.
Did you get the idea of forming a label through these endeavours, or what was it that gave you the spark of founding Love Torture Records?
D > Well, it basically started out 1- needing an outlet for my sound art, and 2- seeing a few other noise-based net labels out there and thinking to myself, "Hey, that's a great idea, I think I'll try that out." Eventually, I started missing having physical copies of my work, so I started doing CDr;s and cassettes. It's not that difficult to find labels to work with, but when your output is vast, it's easier to just do a lot of you yourself.
Does Love Torture have any ideological basis, either pro or con? I know that some of your bands' releases have been about animal rights and against consumerism, which is why I'm asking whether this extends to your label as well.
D > Well, my own beliefs and ideals are directly reflected in my own music, but I can only speak for myself. I would never put time and money into releasing anything outwardly and overtly hateful, racist, ignorant, or super religious though. All that kind of expression has it's place, but it's not Love Torture. We are about sound experimentation.
Love Torture is a fascinating combination of words. How did you choose it as your label name, how does it represent your label and what does it stand for?
D > Love can very much be torture. When I started the label, I was in a long-distance relationship with the amazing woman I am now married to. It was very hard being 1500 miles away from each other and hardly ever getting to see each other. I also liked it because most of the sounds we release are very abrasive and for many, difficult to listen to. But we love it that way. It is also a play on how introspective my own work is and how I have to do it, but it is often painful. Sometimes it really hurts to truly take a good, long look in the mirror.
Your label had a download-section with nearly 300 releases, most of which are still downloadable at archive.org for free. Did you start with the digital releasing, or was it spawned simultaneously with the physical releases?
D > Free digital downloads came first, but within a year we were doing cassettes and CDrs.
You kept publishing these online-releases from 2008 to 2011. How were these releases received overall? How did you choose the bands you offered a download-release (or many) under the Love Torture-banner? How did you come to bury this side of the label and focus on the physical releases?
D > It's hit-or-miss. Some releases have been downloaded thousands of times. Others only a handful. It all depends on individual artists, promotion, and I suppose timing? I basically just started releasing music for friends and other artists that I had worked with or wanted to work with, and it just grew all on it's own and became a totally different animal. At one point I was getting at least a dozen submissions a week. Eventually, just became overwhelming and I just didn't have the free time to focus on running a net-label as well as be married, work, go to University, take care of my animals, and have time to work on my own art. Something had to give, and I decided it had to be the net label. Besides, dubbing tapes and discs and making and assembling the packaging is much more fun, exciting, and rewarding to me personally.
Your approximately 50 physical releases with the label have been as small editions of DIY-tapes, CD-Rs and 3" CD-Rs. How do you find and choose the bands to offer a release to? Many of the releases have been split-releases with your own project Endometrium Cuntplow, so I'm assuming some of the releases have happened through your band-contacts.
D > That is correct. It has been a combination of me reaching out to other artists that I want to work with, and some artists approaching me to do splits and us just not having as label to release it. I also accept demos from time to time, but tend to just release those that I know and have worked with in the past. It is rare that I get a demo from someone I've never met/talked to or worked with and have it actually come out, although it has happened, and I hope it will happen more in the future.
On a personal note, I am much more likely to check out a demo for physical release if the artist has actually supported the label in the past by ordering tapes or CDs. It makes me feel like they actually care about the well being of the label and aren't just contacting random people to spend a bunch of money to release their album. I feel as though a lot of labels work like this as well, so it isn't just me being a dick.
How do you decide on the amount of copies, style of cover arts, format and such for each release? Do you envision and create the visual side for the releases by yourself?
D > It all depends. Amount depends on how much appropriate blank media that I have at any given time, plus trying to remain realistic as to the number of copies that will be ordered for a release, plus how much money is in the Love Torture account for printing/copying covers and inserts. As far as the visual sides, it depends. Sometimes an artist will have finished layouts for me to use, sometimes source material, and sometimes it's completely up to me. I like it when other artists submit artwork from time to time because I get tired of looking at my own stuff over and over again.
Regarding the above, have you had any plans for any video-releases or visual art publications or such with the label - or do they overall interest you as much as sound does?
D > I love DIY zines and I am a painter, so I suppose it's possible, although I don't have any plans to do anything like that. Videos, yes. In fact one of the releases from the summer batch I'm finishing up is a 3" DATA DISC CDr. It's our 53rd physical release: NEBULA VII / \\\V/// - MORKA TANKAR Split 3", it features one track from each project and a video for the Nebula VII track.
Where do you find the inspiration and motivation to keep on running the label, and how do you manage with the finances? I know we're talking about small DIY-pressings here, but the money for them and their postage costs still has to come from somewhere - and the same applies to the time that goes into making, handling and crafting the releases and upkeeping connections.
D > This is the biggest challenge. Money and time. This again touches back on why I am more willing to release people that have supported the label in the past. This is for the most part a self-supporting label, which means that we barely scrape by and keep breathing. New releases, materials, mailing out of artist copies etc., are all paid for by cassette and CDr sales. When I need a little more money to finish up a release, it ends up coming straight out of my pocket, which is part of the reason why this label works so slowly. I also end up giving away/trading a lot of copies at my live shows. I like trading for new music, but it makes it even harder to keep this beast breathing.
The other reason is free time. It takes a lot of time to create artwork, copy it, cut it out, fold it, burn discs and dub cassettes. Plus I'm married, have 3 cats, 4 fish tanks, a job, and I am doing a double major at Cal State University, Northridge. Plus I paint, have a social life and I have to make time to write, record and perform myself, so it's really hard to find time to assemble, and as I said earlier, I do this thing completely alone.
Regarding the above, what have been the biggest challenges with the label for yourself over the years - and what've been the greatest and most rewarding things or moments?
D > Same answer. Time and money. Also lack of support/interest. We cater to a very specific audience and I am probably the worst promoter ever :( But I guess balance has been the biggest challenge. Finding a balance between life and running a label. The entire process is the most rewarding thing. Every time I finish a release and put it up for sale on the website is an achievement. When I see an order in my inbox, that is one of the greatest feelings in the world.
How do you reach out to find new buyers, do you perhaps advertise a lot?
D > I need to be better at promotion. I need to reach out and connect with people more often. My cats need to get off their asses and help me promote.
Have you even thought about taking the label to a more "professional" level so to say, making pressed CDs or such, or do you aim to keep things DIY?
D > As much as I would LOVE to take things to the next level (pro-pressed cds & cassettes, and limited run vinyl) I don't think we will ever be able to afford it. Plus, at least to me, there is something really special about limited edition, hand made and numbered cassettes and CDs. So, in short. No. I don't think we will ever do professional duplication (except for a cover here and there).
When you buy releases personally, are you more into self-made releases than professionally manufactured ones? Do you listen to download-releases often, or are you more into physical copies - or are such preferences irrelevant and your focus on the actual music/art/noise?
D > I love them both. I love DIY release always, but at the same time, there is something really satisfying about getting a new pro-pressed release. For instance, my friend Derek Rogers just had this absolutely gorgeous 12" LP released on Greenup Industries called "Saturations" It's perfect!!! It has one of the nicest sleeves I have ever seen, and it is beautiful pressed on nice, heavyweight vinyl. It is a beautiful release that is completely deserving of its format. I wish so badly that I could provide that for myself and other artists, but I can't. Yes, I also love free downloads! Who doesn't love free music?
Would you like to share a word about your upcoming releases on the label?
D > At a snails pace, we are about to release an endometrium cuntplow c53 called "Orbs + Spirits" which was recorded directly to tape in a haunted room through a blown out mixer. Interesting results. Also EC split cassettes with Crank Sturgeon, Liver Cancer, Joshua Lovejoy, and more, as well as 3" Cdr's from Spreaders, Igor Amokian, HLO VS ECP, Nebula VII & |||V|||, and Catlady.
I mentioned your own projects earlier. Would you like to tell us the basics about them and their current activities? Saying something brief about EC might be a bit of a challenge though, or at least the EC-releases I've reviewed have varied a lot from each other.
D > Growing layers of sonic textures. Highly introspective and evolving tree hugging devil music. Plants and animals. Universal connectivity and symbiosis. Self portraits painted on a mirror and then held up to the rest of the world. That's how I describe endometrium cuntplow. I play out live as much as possible (usually once or twice a month) and I always have new releases coming out. I have some great splits coming out on Love Torture, as well as stuff coming out on Love Earth Music, Obfuscated Records, Placenta Recordings, and Rainbow Bridge. Queef Richards will likely do another cassette and a show or two this summer. Cephalopods hasn't played for a while, but we hope to change that soon. Catlady has a new 3" CDr coming out soon, but as we live on opposite sides of the country, will likely never perform live, and I feel a new internal improv EP stiring in my guts that I will likely record with Samur at the amazing Seahorse Sounds Studio.
I'm basically always working, growing and evolving my art, and I'm always looking to collaborate and work with new people. Oh, and I've also been working on a collaborative with my good friend Richard Conti from The Marches. He is one of the most talented individuals I have ever had the pleasure of working with and I am completely humbled to play music in the same room as him.
Anything you'd like to add?
D > Multiple cat ownership is a difficult but highly rewarding activity that I would recommend to anyone. Also, thanks for taking the time out to talk with me, and if you are reading this, then I hope you are having a wonderful day! Oh, and LISTEN TO TOM HALL!!!!!!! xoxox
That is all. Thank you for your time, and good luck with the label!