Interview with David Newman
Hey David, how are you? What did you do this past weekend?
Hi Headphone Commute – I’m good thanks. Its summer here – I took a bike down a trail through the Derbyshire countryside. Beautiful and exhilarating.
Let’s get right to it. What is the mission of Audiobulb Records?
Audiobulb represents a home for exploratory music. Music that is beautiful, compelling made with both graft and craft. I like to work with artists who are authentically exploring who they are and a vision/narrative of their life experience through sound.
And what is behind the name, “Audiobulb”?
Sound as light, light as sound. The experience of synesthesia.
How was the label started and what prompted its birth?
I have an innate need to create, to conceive, gestate, develop and nurture. The label is a platform, a womb a holding space for any artist whose work I feel capable of supporting. The start came at a point when I could look beyond my own artistic expression and have the capacity to really care about the work of others.
Tell us about the very first release, Exhibition #1?
Exhibition #1 was a starting point. A free download album to showcase the work. The aim was to bring people to the site and to hear our work. Everything else looked to build on that start.
And at what point did you start producing your own music?
I started when I was 12 years of age. Mixing records, toy keyboards, piano and experimenting with splicing audio tapes. I recall feeling fascinated, absorbed – time would pass but I would not notice.
And did Autistici first appear on Exhibition #2?
Autistici found a little following on various net labels and sites before Exhibition #2. The track on Exhibition #2 entitled “Tiny Machines Engaged in An Unsuccessful Vasectomy” was a very intricate and complex. Over 14 minutes in length it was a chance for me to explore the idea of working with longer narratives that developed and changed from emotionally peaceful to emotionally active and disturbing.
I think that your Early Works volumes must be special to you. Tell us about releasing this archive?
Yes the Early Works mean a lot to me as they were so raw. They represent the earlydevelopmental stage of my work, using more primitive tools and less sophisticated recording techniques. However ultimately my process has not changed – I am just more able now to intuitively select recording processes that will enable me a firmer grasp on the quality of the recording.
By the way, while we’re talking, what does Autistici mean?
We are all on the autistic continuum. A struggle to make sense of ourselves, our interactions and communications with others, coupled with a focus on stimuli that intrigues us. Autistici is a name that recognised my preoccupation with sound.
Do you have a favourite release on your label?
No, but I have some favourite places.
Who would you love to sign?
Ultre – Finn McNicholas is a lovely genius with two releases on Audiobulb. I can only hope for a third, but he is a man whose own energy and vision means he travels across boundaries.
What is the balance between a physical or digital only releases?
66% physical 33% digital.
What is Endless Endless (v6)?
It is an evolving never-ending ambient track. Artists submit 120 second pieces and they are added to the start or the end of the track. Over time it grows and develops. We are currently on version 5.
And what are the Root of Sine volumes?
Whole albums made from the starting point of a single one second sinewave. As the project page states “when you enter this page you hear a 440 hz sine wave tone. A sine wave is waveform of a single constant frequency and amplitude that continues for all time. Since a sine wave has only a single frequency associated with it, it may be considered the simplest sound. The sine wave is the embodiment of audio-purity and strength as it presents an unchanging tonal quality.
In sound design we seek to change a sound wave and enable new harmonics, frequencies, oscillations and waveforms to come into play. In electronic music there are many tools (hardware and software) that can used to change the sine wave. From simply rerecording it via an old tape recorder and introducing some simple distortion to sending it through a myriad of effect processors or synthesis modules.
How did you get into releasing VST plugins?
Exploratory music requires you to have the tools to make news sounds in new ways. I have been lucky to work closely with programmers who have engineered ingenious Virtual Studio Tools. SOPHIE by Xik for example is a crazy synth that produces shuddering dark sounds. Our most recent software module is called Ambient (v3) and has been designed by the talented Christopher Hipgrave, who is an electronic musician in his own right. Ambient (v3) has proven to be very popular with sound designers receiving unanimous praise for its ability to manipulate sound by breaking it into microscopic grains of audio.
And you also release hardware? What’s that all about?
These instruments and FX are all part of the creative toolbox we need to move forwards. One day we are hoping to bring out a hardware analogue synthesizer module.
What other forms of creativity do you promote?
All creativity should be supported and celebrated where possible. Through creativity we stretch and expand ourselves. Audiobulb works in the realms of sound, design, and visual creativity. We have been lucky to work with some amazing video artists recently. This is the video clip for the advance single of :papercutz’s new album “Do Outro Lado Do Espelho (Lylac Ambient Reworks)” directed by Japan’s animation revelation, Daihei Shibata. The song “Lylac (Helios remix)” is a remix of :papercutz song by the American Keith Kenniff (Helios) whose Eingya album was considered one of the best in the year in the instrumental category for electronic publications as Popmatters, Stylus Magazine, Tiny Mix Tapes and All Music Guide and whose music can be heard on soundtracks of films like Mister Lonely, or Revolutionary Road by Sam Mendes.
If you don’t mind me asking, how do you manage to keep the label financially stable?
The books have to balance and I have to manage this. Keeping an eye of the accounts is my least favourite part of the job – however it is always satisfying to pay artists their earnings.
And where do you find the time?
I have a very active mind. I work hard and I work clever. I’m very organised – I have to be and when I need to be I am chaotic and creative.
How has the label evolved over the years?
The label has evolved from a purely electronic label into one which will embrace a wider range of sounds including guitar and vocals. My only focus is to ensure that as it evolves the quality is maintained and is developed also.
How and where do you meet the artists that you sign?
I meet them at gigs, in cafes, over the internet and over the telephone. The artists come from all over the world and I use whatever media or opportunity is availableto contact them and work closely with them. Sometimes I find them and sometimes they find me – there are no rules to this.
Any advice for people who want to get a record deal?
Work hard at your art, you have to both craft and graft to ensure your work stands up. When you have done all you can and you believe in your work that is the time to send it to me.
What are some of the most difficult aspects of running your own label?
Doing the annual tax returns.
And what are the rewarding ones?
Seeing artists get the recognition and praise they deserve. It may be an accolade @ iTunes or a shout out from a radio DJ, a great review or simply a customer emailing in to say they are into what we are doing.
Who takes care of all the packaging and shipping for Audiobulb?
I am in charge of the distribution for individual sales via our web-site. Our distributors around the world do their work in turn. I’d like to say a big thank you to Bill @ Cargo Records for his support.
Have you noticed the noise that your website makes? I think you have a bug!
:) Lol – yes we do – I love those bugs and the crackling circuitry.
What’s next for Audiobulb?
Audiobulb will soon be releasing a remix album of Autistici’s work – with contributions from many great artists – indeed I think you have a review of it on Headphone Commute! We will then be looking to work on promoting The Hole Punch Generation – an exciting rock/indie/electronic band from the USA.
Any advice for someone who wants to start their own label?
Do it for love not money. Do it for the long run not the short term. Do it because you want to support others not because you want to support yourself. Create a home for beautiful music and then tell the world about it!
Thank you for your time! Any last words for the readers of Headphone Commute?
I’d just like to wish them well and thank them for their support. Headphone Commute does a great job bringing new and exciting music to the attention of people. Indie labels like Audiobulb really appreciate your work and your interest.