MIX OF THE MONTH - MICHAEL KASPARIS (NIGHT SCHOOL RECORDS)


Michael Kasparis, head of Glasgow-based DIY label Night School Records, is another great acquisition of monthly podcast series on online web commenatry website A2LARM. Label started in 2011 and it has a lot of exceptional releases under its belt, especially from darkwave and synth pop music genre like for example Terror Bird, Julia Holter, Love Cult or Molly Nilsson. One of the most familiar releases of the label is a vinyl by The Space Lady, a nearly forgotten performer who roamed the streets of Boston in 70s and played an odd shows for passer-bys. Michael Kasparis managed to persuade her to release album on his label and restarted her music career. Kasparis is a very active musician himself. He's involved in numerous punk bands and has a soloproject called Apostille. His eccentric show is something between punk and synth pop. Apostille is currently on tour with synthpop duo Happy Meals. His exclusive mix made for A2LARM is mainly full of unreleased or forthcoming stuff either from Apostille or his label releases. You can expect Rose McDowall, Paper Dollhouse or PC Music-related Hannah Diamond. Download the mix for free!


Tracklist:
Aine O'Dwyer - The Cloud of Unknowing MIE Records
The Automatics Group - Call On Me (Rework) (Edit) The Death Of Rave
Group Rhoda - At The Dark Night School
Rose McDowall - Don't Fear The Reaper Night School, forthcoming
KAOS - Nova Bolest BEB
Apostille - Worry (Excerpt) Night School, forthcoming
Hannah Diamond - Pink And Blue PC Music
Sally Dige - Doppelganger Night School, forthcoming
Apostille - Control Night School, forthcoming
Zsa Zsa La Boum - Something Scary Musique Pour Le Dance
Happy Meals - Le Voyage (2015 Euro Tour Edit) Night School
Zamsi - Sexcess Self Released via Bandcamp
DJ Hype - Bad Man Ganja Records
Paper Dollhouse - Psyche Night School
Apostille - Untitled 1 Unreleased
Liberez - Grease The Axels, Night School, forthcoming


INTERVIEW

Where did you grow up?
I’m half Scottish and half Cypriot. We moved to Scotland when I was 14 years old. As a dude from Cyprus I found life in Scotland quiet hard from the start. I really didnt fit in. It took a while to settle into a new way of life.

Is this feeling somehow reflected in your music?
Yes, but its only a natural thing in a creative process, because you always tend to reflect your life into it somehow.

How did you start your own label Night School?
It was in 2011. I really didn't know how to run a label, but I had friends who helped me out with everything I needed. Actually, I started the label mainly because I had this urge to do something. I had a lot of personal issues at that time, so I wanted to keep myslef occupied. Secondly, of course, I love music and I wanted to release music that I like. At the beggining I didn't know anything about it. For instance I wanted to save twenty pounds on doing record labels, so I hand-painted them. But I had to make like six hundred copies and when you’re not a good painter it’s a fucking nightmare!

Is there some background meaning to the title of your label?
Couple of reasons. First of all this name is taken from a really bad 80s horror movie Night School, which I watched at a time when I had to come up with some name for the label. Secondly, it was a time when I did these different late-night classes like for example driving school or I had Greek lessons, and I had to do it after my work was done at the record store. So Night School really suited the stuff that was going on at that time.

What are the things that you hate about running such a small independent label like Night School?
My main problem is that I believe in a music that I release on my label so much that I got angry and demotivated all the time, because it doesn't get attention that I think it deserves. You begin to realise that a lot of well-known blogs and magazines have contacts and relationship with people from certain labels, so they prefer to write about their stuff rather than about some really cool stuff, which was unfortunately released on a label that don't have such contacts.



One of the most interesting releases of your label was a vinyl from Space Lady. Can you tell us more about how did you find about her?
There was this outsider music compilation called Songs in the Key of Z that came out in 2000. It contains a songs from people like Jandek or Wesley Willis and The Space Lady had a track on it as well. I really liked it! Then I heard her stuff on a mixtape made by John Maus and it really blew me away. I started to do some research on the internet and I found her old myspace. I contacted her via email and bought some old CD that she released in 1990, but I didnt get any response from her until two and a half years later later when her husband Eric emailed me that they would like to consider my offer. She had offers from three other labels, but after a while I persuaded her to release her stuff on my label. That release really exploded quickly. Everyone was on it. We organized US Tour which I tour-managed.

How did it went?
I acted like a liason between Susan (The Space Lady – pozn. OB) and DIY community. She never played a concert before. When I go to play a punk show, I know exactly what happens, but they had no idea what's going to happen. I think that they originally thought that they’ll play for like five hundred people in this theater-like venue. She also never played through PA before, so you can imagine how surreal that experience had to be for her.



How do you feel about big commercial labels?
I used to be antagonistic towards them. Now I feel like I don't have any dealing with them. Big labels put out probably more crap than small labels. It’s always like a cultural noise or something. For example when Arcade Fire put out a new album, it’ll be probably shit, but you can be sure that it’ll have a big press coverage. Other than that, big labels are just like any other corporate structure out there. They keep their profits up and they make more money than the artists. It’s something I cant relate to, which is probably why i never make money.

A lot of things on your label are somehow pop related. There are a lot of synth pop acts for example. What appeals to you about pop?
I love pop music. I think it’s really important form that gets marginalised nowadays. Everyone is looking for niche things like deconstructed grime or distorted techno and pop is regarded as a throw away, but sometimes a really good pop music track can mean a lot more than all that. For example Strawberry Switchblade had this track called Since Yesterday. Sure, you can listen to it and understand it as a song about break-up, but its also about Cold War and nuclear armageddon...


As Apostille your performance has this punk attitude in a way that you seek confontation with audience and you sudenly erupt with huge amount of energy. It sort of feels like you want to get your inner negativity out of your self esteem. Is this what punk is about?
In a way yeah, but I’m not really into a lot of negativity in music. I think that even hardcore punk should have an element of fun in it. I think that my own performance is trying to find this balance between enraged expression and fun performance.

What can you tell us about the mix? Is there something you’d like to stress out?
I was mixing this while on the motorway en route to Antwerp, which is a strange, cinematic experience. I am on tour with Happy Meals, playing my solo project as Apostille. As such it's been too fun so far. We very quickly disappeared into that odd tour-cocoon when you develop your own language, dreams sync, smells mingle. Sleep deprived, but not unhappy. Confusing and hopefully communicating with people along the way. Perhaps this state of mind comes across in the mix. Pop songs and Belgian acid buried in eroded mud plus a lot of forthcoming Night School jams that have been in my head for months. There's no peace to be found within this hour's sound but then who needs peace?

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