Next up on our list of interviews: the curators of Nostress Netlabel based in Palermo, Italy.
Who are the people behind Nostress? Where are you from? What do you do for a living?
Nostress is a Palermitan (Sicily) indie record label that I (Paolino Canzoneri) set up in 2011. We have several key collaborators; Francesco Calabria is the live events manager, while Lorenzo Lunardo and Gaetano D’alessandro, our web masters, enable the site to be compatible with diverse platforms. David Purpura, our main correspondent in London (UK), updates the label with news from the UK: the London scene and major events. I should also mention Luigi Cilento that I have known from the beginning and for the first two years of my musical journey. We all work in the IT world.
When did you first feel the need for creating a netlabel? Why a netlabel and not a regular music label?
Music has always been a passion for me. I started playing drums when I was a young kid. I also played in several groups. I am 47 and was privileged to witness the changes in music across the 70’s, 80’s etc. In particular the introduction of new electronic instruments in the music scene and the ‘birth’ of the digital era. In 2009 I joined a local [Palermo] indie experimental musical scene which was taking off but was restricted by their limited musical choices. After a while I resolved to create a different scene – a more personal one which would also follow local trends but which would mainly focus on global artists and would not be bound by geography. I decided to create an independent label which would not be dictated or affected by the multinational musical corporations. My aim is to produce and promote music, allowing the artists’ freedom of expression and total control of their product. Over the years I set up projects which were produced on several independent netlabels; this enabled me to understand the importance of promoting ‘independently’.
I believe that nowadays there are no major differences between ‘commercial labels’ and ‘netlabels’. The web is integrating these two terms. Nostress is defined as a ‘net-label’ on the web. But it is also a regular music label, as we will publish using vinyl, CD and tapes. We also have a “real” studio with multitracking and mastering.
Were there any other labels that influenced you early on or that you still use as references?
As stated above I was able to contact other netlabels and understood how the phenomenon was developing. Music is far beyond mere business – it is, in my view, pure expressive art. There are a huge number of artists out there who wish to promote their music without monetary reward. Sometimes artists create solely to serve the market. I feel that is far too humiliating, as it hampers creativity and freedom, and endorses a bias in music appreciation, which is far from the audience’s tastes. Netlabel music was established by young people who have little access to financial resources, who take a political stand in challenging the commercial view of music today. At its core the members of netlabels are distributing free music using a licence (Creative Commons) that enables them to download music free, Netlabels enables artists to use them as marketing device to promote their music to major labels who regularly scan netlabels in search of new talent. By doing so, netlabel is able to globally promote all artists, whether they are interested to play in indie style or promote their music in the mainstream market.
What kind of music do you focus on?
Since I was a kid I have been passionately interested in music. My father supported me in developing it further. He would buy me vinyl and would ask my eldest cousin what type of music I liked and which band was worth listening to. Just before one of my birthdays, my cousin told my father to buy me the LP with the picture of a cow on the front. I was nearly 14. Needless to say, this opened up the world of British Progressive Rock for me. I’ll leave you to guess what he bought me. Since then I developed a visceral taste in rock music and kept a close eye on its development over the last 30 years right through the development of electronic music. Nostress Netlabel promotes an experimental approach by musicians moving away from psychedelia; travelling through rock and progressive rock and reaching electronic or electro-acoustic music styles at the end of their journey.
What can you tell us about the netaudio scene in Italy? Are there many netlabels active?
Italy traditionally has imported its music, for example, we have always paid great attention to what is happening in Europe and America. We have never felt envious of non-Italian music, and we have never been overly patriotic toward just listening to ours. The netlabel phenomenon is constantly evolving. In my view it has become a global phenomenon as it not only represents a dimension of Indie music, but has ties with new-socio-political views that represent the thoughts of young people. The netlabel is a web-based forum where diverse musicians can touch base with people who have common views and want to share them. In Italy there are several netlabels which are popular with different artists who are searching for publications and promotion. Here is a map created by Ephedrina Netlaboratorio. (link)
Do you organize local events to promote your work?
To manage a netlabel means maximising the promotion of the artist by organising live concerts in pubs or community centres etc. Nostress Netlabel is capable of organizing such events ad hoc, with a quick turnaround. We can also act as ‘media-partners’ and link artists with other organizations and producers which are web-based. If you check the section events of the ‘site’, it displays all the events and ways to participate on the site. This is a kind of on-the-road section.
What’s your standard procedure for promoting a new release? How do you build up attention? What are your favorite platforms do you promote it on?
We tap into the social networks, in particular Facebook – we also have contacts on blog pages, music fanzines and webzines.
Can you tell us a little more about your latest release?
The latest release is from the Russian artist Andrey Kireyev, who has already published a couple of projects. We are currently participating in an expansion of the Russian musical Avant-garde in its experimental form; in particular bands like T.Bird, ASTMA, Coaxil, etc.
What are your plans for the future?
We are planning to to expand our musical releases by printing on CD glass masters and also vinyl and tapes. We already have a vinyl release out – we are very fond of vinyl! We also have a parallel project called NN LIVE where we attempt to involve as many bands as we can. We are planning to use this platform to run workshops on new musical technologies. Etterem from Milan attended the first meeting in March 2013 at the Garibaldi Theatre in Palermo. It was a beautiful experience.
Any particular release you are most proud of?
After publishing 43 LPs and 21 EPs and 2 compilations of unreleased material (the unreleased tracks are published each year on a netlabel), we are very proud. We are also very lucky in what we achieved so far. We have been focusing on the Palermitan scene and have captured the attention of Palermitan groups like Cinema Noir, Cum Moenia and Echonaif. We value these groups very highly.
We also have a spiritual and intimate side which is expressed by the duo Marco Manzella and Antonella Scalia. Aldo Ammirata and his work, Empirical Evidence, encapsulates experimental music. Aldo has had a timeless number of downloads. One of his live concerts in 2011 was published by Nostress. Moving North we have links with Plasmat, Hortus Conclusus and the experimental avant-garde scene, such as Efficient Refineries, Syrinx, Baumann.electronics, Triton, TÜNEL and Nick Z-gibarian and in Indonesia with Control-Z.
There are loads of others – too many to mention here. We are a great family and would like to sincerely thank everyone involved in Nostress.