Interview with Pause

We got in touch with Rich Vreeland, also known as Disasterpeace, for a few questions. Together with Eirik Suhrke (aka Phlogiston) he curates Pause netlabel, focusing their releases on the 8-bit / chiptune genre.

??? – Why

Thanks for agreeing to answer my questions. First off, can you tell us a little more about the guys who run Pause? I believe both of you are chip musicians, working freelance on videogame soundtracks when you started Pause, is this correct?
Yes. We were mostly writing music for fun, I think we had both started to work on a few small games by then, but it was nothing major at that point.

Why did you feel the need to create a netlabel?
We wanted to create a place where we could host our music, and the music of our friends as well. We had a friend who ran a netlabel before us, but it shut down, and there weren’t too many alternatives back in 2007.

Were there other netlabels that influenced you early on? Can you do some name dropping for us?
We were both involved with Megatwerp, and I think Eirik might have been involved with Inpuj as well. I was definitely inspired by 8bitpeoples in some ways, namely the way they handled themselves on the web. At the same time, we felt that we were interested in creating a different kind of catalogue, something more in tune with our personal taste in music.

Pause is known for releasing chip music but it also deviates to a few branching genres, can you summarize what the careless visitor will encounter when browsing your catalogue?
Mostly chipmusic, some game music of various kinds, and some electronic music too. There is a general focus on instrumental music, and more specifically, interesting forms/structures, melodies, harmonies and rhythms.

Any particular release you are most proud of?
Not counting my own albums, I think some of the compilations we put out were pretty good. Sea of Ice and Heartcode come to mind. I was also very into ??? – Wall You Need is Love, which I helped to master and assemble, as far as track order and transitions are concerned.

You recently announced Pause stopped their activity with their 100th release. Can you tell us a little more on the reason why? Lack of personal time?
Eirik and I may have slightly different reasons, but for me, I think we’ve reached a point where it has become clear that our priorities lie elsewhere and our interest in curating music is not nearly great as it once was. I’ve become very busy just writing music and living and stuff, and I saw this as a chapter that could be closed gracefully at 100. We hadn’t really given Pause its fair level of attention in about 2 years, so it seemed reasonable to let it go.

Your farewell message mentions you achieved the goals you set initially set out. How do you measure the success of a netlabel?
I think largely about the impact it had on its artists and the listeners. Pause was never about money, it was always about exposure and craft, and I think a lot of people found a lot of great music because of our site, and that was always the prime directive.

Do you believe digital platforms are replacing the role of labels? Not only bandcamp and soundcloud but also commercial ones like tunecore, beatport, etc?
Yes, to some extent. There are still successful netlabels like Ubiktune that show that there is still something to be said about the power of assembly. Ubiktune has a very distinctive sound that comes across in the albums they choose to release, and there’s a good kind of predictability in that, in the sense that you can always count on them to put out a certain kind of material. If you enjoy that style, then that is a great resource to have. Me, I’ve always enjoyed the frontier of the internet, searching out new artists and albums one by one, so I suppose I don’t miss being part of a netlabel too much. Though certainly, if I got a call from Ghostly or Warp, I wouldn’t walk away from that.

Did Pause have connections with local promoters to organize local events?
Nope. It was strictly an online affair. Eirik lives in Norway, and I live in the states, so coordination was difficult. I did organize one Pause show a couple of years ago, which was an instance of Pulsewave (http://pulsewavenyc.com) in Brooklyn that I helped put together.

Can you name a couple of releases from other netlabels that you wish they had come out through Pause?
Cheap Dinosaurs – Cheap Dinosaurs, would have been rad.

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