I set out to find another netlabel to interview following the alphabetic order of countries, sadly my attempts to contact a Brazilian netlabel didn’t go so well, so I skipped directly to the letter C and googled up Monofónicos from Colombia with half a dozen artists in their roster and double that amount of free releases available for download. Miguel Isaza, co-founder and artist of Monofónicos and also curator of other netlabels and CC projects (such as invisiblevalley.com and ins-out.com) was kind enough to answer a few questions about them.
Can you tell us a little about who runs the Monofónicos netlabel? Who are you? What’s your background?
The netlabel is run mainly by Miguel Isaza and Douglas Fugazi, but most of the time we like to work collectively, taking decisions between several artists of the netlabel. There are certain roles for each person, but we like to think as a family and work as a family, so at the end, there are around 8 people running the whole project.
Monofónicos started in 2008, please tell us how and why.
We started with the idea of using new technologies to not only create and talk about the music we make, but also to engage new people and create a local community of artists interested in sharing their creative ways, ideas and projects. We started the project as a collective running different projects dedicated to several tasks, including the netlabel, but also events, workshops and a recent activism project which wants to create consciousness for sound, listening and new ways of using noises locally. We think sound and music are keys for humanity and we try to dedicate time to spreading the word about that.
What can you tell us about the Columbian netaudio scene? Are there many netlabels? How do they relate to the local music scene?
Compared to other countries, there are not so many netlabels in Colombia, but in the last decade the scene has been growing with fresh music of many flavours. One thing I’ve noticed in the netlabel scene here is dedication. Not only the work of the artists, but also the graphic aspects, the mastering, the promotion, etc. It’s always present on the releases. Look at the work of a veteran netlabel like Series Media, who have been doing an incredible job with their releases. They’re a big inspiration not only for the local scene, but also for the entire netlabel scene, since their work is at the level of any other label. When you get free music created with that passion and shared with that intention, you feel rewarded. It’s something we share at Monofónicos, since we think a netlabel is not an easy label with free music. We like to work, to dedicate ourselves to the music, and to give it for free no matter how hard could be to take time and money. We just love sounds.
You seem to be focused on releasing only electronic music, is it a conscious decision?
More than electronic music itself, we think about the revolution of the “one-man band”. We’re not attached to any particular genre or style and you can notice that when you listen to releases that feature all kinds of instruments and techniques, but yes, we’re mainly working in the fields of electronic music, not necessarily electronic sounds. Just independent music being created with the help of analog and digital machines, acoustic instruments, recorders, etc. One can say that music this days is electronic, since it depend on machines/electronic devices, but talking about genres, yes, we have several dance releases and also some experimental ones combining all kinds of things, from field recordings to analog synths and programmed sequences. It’s all about diversity!
You released a physical CD at some point. Did the CD do well? Are you planning more? Do you feel it’s important to have both physical and non-physical releases? Can you tell us a little more about the advantages and disadvantages of this medium?
Yes, we sold all the copies of that one and there’s a second CD in the works right now. Should be released in the next month or so. Not killing the physical way is important, not only because material things have a different feeling and process, but also because we can reach different people in that way. We don’t put out CD’s for the money, so it’s not expensive and there’s no winning or losing anything. We just like to share our music and that’s a great way to do it. People like to have a unique piece of material in their hands and we just make that possible for them. It’s something refreshing also for the netlabel, and give us the opportunity to make some exclusive works for that line.
You also organize some events on occasion. Do you feel it’s important to have a more local presence? How are your relations with local event promoters?
That is a very important aspect in our work. We have two kinds of events: one is the party, when our DJs play, the artists do some live sets and the family comes to one place to have fun and feel the music with their entire body, a dancing event. The other kind of events are dedicated to workshops, lectures and sharing knowledge. We think is very important to not only share music and play, but also teach, share anything you know, invite new people to do the same thing we do, etc. Doing this is our way to contributing to a change of consciousness and cultivating the spirit of music creation we all have.
How do you measure the success of your label activities?
We don’t think too much about that, really. Success for us is when you listen to the music and feel it with your entire being. At the end, It doesn’t matter how many people download an album, what kind of genre we’re managing or how the attendance is at events. A successful activity for us, is one that is achieved. The response is not measured, just received as it wants to come.
Thanks for your time! Keep up the cool work! Any last words of advice for netaudio artists, labels or people looking to discover new music on the internet?
Thanks to you for the invitation and thanks to the netaudio scene for sharing music in such amazing way. To the artists, thanks for believing in freedom. To the netlabels, thanks for making it possible to believe in freedom. And to the listeners, let’s keep being free and let’s download any sound you like from Monofónicos and any other netlabel. We are all creating a paradise of revolution.