going good talk
Going Good is a label to get excited about. With a superb first 12 courtesy of Moon B garnering a hugely positive reception, the London-based label looks set to continue the trend with a sophomore release from Canadas Aquarian Foundation and secure its position as one of the best burgeoning labels at the moment. But information on the label itself is fairly scant, so we took a bit time to catch up with long-time friends Sal and Brian, the secretive minds behind the imprint
What are your backgrounds in music? How did you finally come to the decision to launch Going Good?
Brian Ive been into buying records & DJ-ing since my teens. Over the years Ive had residencies, lost residencies, done parties of my own, played at parties for friends & even made some sporadic radio appearances. Right now Ive been working at Phonica Records for almost 3 years. With Going Good we had no grand plan in place or anything. I guess the idea to start a label had always been there, it was just a case of finding the right artist & music to release, which we eventually did in the shape of our main man Moon B. Fortunately everything has happened very fluidly & naturally with the people weve worked with so far. We've been lucky in that respect.
Sal I started a sound system in my younger days with some friends, from that point to this point is a bit of a haze, but Ive met lots of great people and heard lots of great music during the the ten plus years in between.. Going Good just happened naturally, we had been toying with the idea of starting a label and then Brian received some tracks from Moon B, played them to me and we both instinctively knew that it should be the first release.
The idea of running a label conjures up all sorts of romantic and glamorous imagery that is probably not particularly representative of the reality of it. How are you finding it?
Sal – It's cool! I mean, it's very early days for us, we've been going less than six months, and thankfully the response to the label has been really good so far. I think we're both still kind of getting used to the idea that we've actually got a label and one that people are acknowledging. Its definitely romantic, but not so glamorous at the moment.
Brian – Obviously its a huge learning curve. Im lucky that I have some experience & inside knowledge from working behind the scenes in a record store that deals with a lot of different types of labels, big & small. That really comes in handy from time to time. As for it being glamorous? I'm not so sure, lugging boxes of records around on the subway, doing lots of photocopying & hand stamping might not exactly fit into the notions of romance & glamour, but it sure is fun.
As a young label, your first two releases have been from relatively low profile artists, in the shape of Moon B and Aquarian Foundation. Would you release material from more established artists in the future, or do you think it's important to support burgeoning artists?
Sal – Just music we're into really, Im personally not too bothered about whether its an established or new artist. I think as a new label it is perhaps easier to get music from new artists as your both in the same position, just starting out – where as more established artists would be harder to reach. I think both hold the same value, if it sounds good, it doesn't matter if I've heard of the artist or not – though obviously a known name might sell more records because of their wider reach, but selling records for the sake of selling records is not really what it's about for me. I'd rather not cater to an audience who are buying records on name alone.
Brian I think we would release stuff from anybody, whether established or not, as long as its doing it for us musically. For me, some of the more under the radar people and labels out there are doing the most interesting things. Im constantly discovering peoples music where Im like Wow, What is this? On the flipside of that, there are a lot of big known artists & labels out there who are churning out the same old shit release after release, it just becomes tedious. Generally I feel its important to support anyone who is taking risks, being true to themselves and enjoying what they do. Its tough out there, but if youre doing something original & interesting it really stands out.
There doesn't seem to be an obvious thread connecting the aesthetics of the first two releases on Going Good, what would you say is the ethos of the label and what it aims to achieve?
Brian Its true that on the surface our first two releases dont have that much in common, but if you listen to them both & really get to know them you will hear the connection between them sooner or later. They both come from the same kind of place. As for having an ethos behind the label, we just want to put out music we love, regardless of genre, hype, trend or whatever else is happening around us. If we believe in it well put it out.
Sal – I think its about trying to be original and bring something new to the table, whatever that may be.
Do you think it's important to avoid focussing on one type of sound as a label in order to prevent artistic stagnation?
Sal – Perhaps more so not to be pigeonholed. We're into all sorts of music and the worst thing for me is to be associated with any type of scene or genre. It also affects the type of music you receive, for example after our first release people were sending us stuff that sounded like it, I guess its a natural thing to do, but we're into everything so want to be sent all different types of music.
Brian – I think its important for our label to represent the styles or sounds that we like to listen to. We are very passionate about lots of music & we check out a lot of different stuff. We dont want the label to be associated with just one thing, to be pigeonholed. We like it to be a bit unpredictable.
How do you go about finding artists you want to release music for?
Brian I guess by keeping an open mind & open ears & listening to lots of stuff. Obviously the internet is very helpful. We came into contact with both Moon B & the AQFN guys via the web. There are some other people whose music I have gotten into that Im now in contact with who I discovered through friends. If I hear something I really like, Ill email the person or hit them up somehow & say hello. Make contact with them and try to build on something.
As you say, you found both Moon B and Aquarian Foundation online, as theyre from across the pond, in the US and Canada respectively. What role do you think the internet has to play in the modern electronic music scene?
Brian Its a double edged sword. I think in terms of the Scene these days the web has really made everything a lot more accessible. The world is a lot smaller, its easier to reach out to people & collaborate. Its tough to remember back to the times before the internet was widely available, when you were checking your emails in the library or the Job Centre every fortnight! This is a good thing, but it can also be negative. Everybodys an expert at the touch of a button these days. Information and music is so freely shared back & forth online that it loses its value to a degree. It becomes more about likes, how many friends you have and how much a record is worth on Discogs than the actual music itself. Its a point scoring game. Gone are the days when you had to really go out of your way, be patient & work to find the really interesting things. Its all there for you now.
Sal – It makes it easier, quicker and cheaper to communicate ideas and send music back and forth, so I guess it helps to speed up the whole process of finding and releasing music.
Vinyl has enjoyed a surge in popularity over the past couple of years, but you've gone a step further into these 'dead formats' and decided to release material on tape. What was the reasoning behind that choice?
Brian These formats are very dear to my heart. Also Sal & I grew up with them. To us, they arent Dead. Vinyl & Tape will always hold a certain romance for me. I got some of my greatest musical educations from tapes that friends had sat down & made for me, thats a special thing that you never forget.
Sal – That was a hard one for me, because it could be perceived as a gimmick or novelty, but I guess its our romantic side coming out! One of the reasons was that we thought it would be good to release it in the format it was recorded, tape. And people are into it.
You seem to have taken a fair amount of time to consider the presentation of your releases, whilst not letting packaging overshadow the music itself. Do you think it's important to make a physical release more than just an arbitrary way of distributing music?
Sal – Yeah man for sure, you've got space to express yourself so why not utilise it. We're into more than just music; the packaging, artwork, videos are all important to the overall release and aspects we enjoy doing.
Brian -Its very important that the physical releases are in step with our visual interests (Which are too numerous & varied to list here!). Its also important that the aesthetic has some connection to the music contained within too. Some of the most intoxicating, visually arresting & stimulating pieces of art Ive ever seen have been record sleeves. Id rather have that than some anonymous file tucked away on a hard drive.
Do either of you dabble in production yourselves? Can we maybe expect to hear some stuff from yourselves in the future on Going Good?
Brian Ive always been a DJ first & foremost. Ive never had the patience to get into production. In the past Ive done some re-edits to play out myself but never anything major. Just for fun. Production wise, who knows? Recently I messed with a friends 808, 909 & some synths & I quite enjoyed it. Never say never.
Sal – Yeah we dabble.. Who knows, trying to take it one release at a time.
What does the future hold for the label? Obviously we've got the upcoming release of Going Good 002, is there anything on the horizon pencilled in at this moment in time?
Sal – Lots I hope. The third release is shaping up nicely and we've got some ideas for an audio/visual thing, that we might put out on DVD, maybe with some t-shirts thrown in for good measure. Before all of that, the Aquarian Foundation tape, which is going to be completely different to their vinyl release – containing new original music by them – but still connected to the overall project. I like the idea of trying to release stuff which is made up of many different entities; vinyl, tape, video etc, all containing different music but making up one overall release by the artist.
Brian Theres a couple of things on the horizon for sure. GOOD03 Im particularly excited about, once everythings fully under way with it well let you know more info about that. We dont want to give too much away! Also, theres an AQFN tape coming out right after their record. The Mind Miniatures set that we shared an excerpt from is coming out in full. Its some amazing, next level shit. You need that.
Aquarian Foundations Silent Teaching EP is out soon on Going Good.
Questions by Patrick Henderson.