Label Love #104: Gang of Ducks
The Turin based label and multi disciplinary project reflect on their adventures so far.
Founded in 2012, Gang of Ducks is an Italian record label and experimental platform which has since released an array of music and material from friends and global creatives. It has evolved sporadically and naturally, having become an outlet for abstract experimentation which sits upon the fringes of dance music culture and leftfield contemporary art.
Since its formation in Turin all those years ago they have worked with a splendid array of musicians which has included the likes of Shit & Shine, Ital and N.M.O. amongst others. The formats for release have been mixed, sometimes tape based, others digital or on vinyl.
The nature of the labels format is perhaps best paired with the music and its ability to be transformed into a tangible artistic piece in and of itself.
Arguably their most successful, or at least widely known, venture has been in the release of a series of eclectic, forward thinking compilations which celebrate the versatility and maturity of the project thus far. The ‘Paradisia’ series is well renowned having hosted music and featured contributions from the likes of Don’t DJ, Stenny, DK, Azu Tiwaline, Lung Dart, Claude Speed, Chevel and many more.
The aesthetic being the project is varied, in the earlier years focussed more on intricate, minimal linear symbolism. This has since evolved to represent a broader remit and the artwork and design has become as essential to the record label as anything else.
We spoke to the label to discuss the rationality behind the journey to the present.
So, what first inspired you to start the label and did you ever imagine it might come this far?
“It was more a need rather than an actual plan, we were living a moment of great interaction with music because of the club culture in Turin at that time, we were chatting about a collective that could bring something to the music/art scene, but from the beginning we wanted something more than a record label, we wanted to be able to put inside the project more skills and visions. The starting point was more an explosion like “ok, let’s do it”, without any defined plan for the future.”
Where did the name originate from?
“At the beginning, as we were a few people in the collective, we thought that the concept of a Gang was pretty explanatory, but it was a bit too serious, so adding something a little bit funnier came natural. Also, ducks are pretty cool.”
The music you have released is versatile – is there a particular sound or identity associated with the music you’ve signed? How does it make sense to you?
“The choice is somehow connected with the feeling we get listening to some artist’s music, looking at both the visual and musical world he/she is describing. If it resonates with our vision, that’s quite enough for us to start talking about doing something together. Of course we have our own guidelines, but they aren’t strictly related to a specific genre.”
The compilations have acted as an opportunity to work with a diverse array of artists, what inspired those?
“A continuous development and growth is necessary for an artistic platform, travels and connections are the lifeblood to continue growing, Gang has always tried to maintain an open attitude towards collaborations and compilations are often a great way to connect with artists who share something in common. Lately we’ve given the curation of the compilation to single artists, such as Sabla for the last one and Mana for the previous one. It is great to hear the final product, you can feel the personality of the curator but also the identity of the label and of all the artists that are part of it.”
What are you looking for when signing music to the label?
“As previously said, we look at the general vision of the artist. Music is a communicative / expressive means, at the moment we’re focusing on music that speaks to us on different levels and that while having some challenging characteristics it’s still capable to speak to people. We focus on music with rituality, spiritual, human/nature, esoteric connections, linked to the club culture and catharsis practices.”
The latest release on the label is from Regno Maggiore, a local Turin musician who describes his album, ‘Esasummà’, as follows:
“Esasummà is an earth rooted record taking inspiration from the cosmo, which dances with our planet and makes the stars’ eyes shine”
“If it resonates with our vision, that’s quite enough for us.”
What inspires the artwork for the label, is there a theme or focus in mind?
“When we inaugurated the label, we started with a series of black and white coordinated artworks, inspired by symbols from all over the world and developing our alphabet of signs. Then we’ve felt the impulse to change, opening up to different horizons and with the possibility to design every artwork tailor-made on the record. Still, we keep being fascinated by icons and symbols, from ancient ones to more contemporary. We do work around this concept, rearranging and redesigning them.”
If you could have signed any record in the last twenty years what would it have been?
“The records we’ve released are all linked to a personal dimension in terms of time and space. Each one of them has a reason why to us, even not strictly connected to the music itself. Having said so, even if there are thousands of records we love, it’d be hard to pick one of them randomly, because they all miss this personal connection we have with the ones we’ve released.”
Which labels have inspired you over the years?
“We’ve been inspired by the work of many, from majors to local ones. The common traits of each one of them is the ability to work toward defining a specific aesthetic, but still being as much open minded as possible in terms of musical variety.
We still love many one-genre labels, but we feel that’s not the right path for us. Shout out in particular to some friends’ labels, such as Haunter Records, Artetetra, Other People, Lucia Dischi, Presto?!, Canti Magnetici, Discount, Details Sound, Hivern Discs, Knekelhuis, Hundebiss and DISK.”