2020 has seen the release of lots of great music and the launch of several exciting labels. One of our favourites is Modern Conveniences, the brainchild of producer and graphic designer Akuratyde.
We sat down for a chat about the project, releases and its beautiful artwork.
What inspired you to set up your own label? Can’t be the easiest time to do it!
Yeah, I actually had this planned well before COVID struck but it took awhile to get all of the pieces in place so the first EP didn’t end up coming out until August.
It started early 2019 with a favor. I do graphic and website design for a living, I designed Kid Drama’s site and in return he remixed “Plume” from my first album. Around the same time Kharm reached out to me and offered to remix a song from my album, and then I ended up designing the website for Random Movement’s record label, Flight Pattern, and he also did a remix for me. I sent them to Chris BMT and he liked them but didn’t feel they were quite the right fit for Blu Mar Ten Music so he urged me to release them myself. He even got me set up with their distributor so that the release could be on Spotify, iTunes, etc.
Originally I was just going to release those 3 remixes but more people kept reaching out wanting to remix my tunes and I figured I should do a proper label instead of a one-off release.
We will come back to your graphic design a bit later on but I’m interested to hear more about that first EP. Was it a bitter pill to swallow when Chris said he didn’t want to put them out after having all these artists remix these tracks?
Not really. Chris is very straightforward and blunt with his feedback because he keeps the bar extremely high when it comes to quality and consistency. I know him well enough to know it’s not personal. Plus, I knew it was a bit of a risk getting those remixes done without consulting him first. He was very supportive and helped me a lot with getting my label setup. I’m really happy with how everything turned out because I’ve wanted to run my own label since 1999.
Seems like they really supported you as an artist, how come it took you 21 years to finally take the plunge and set up a label?
Honestly, I didn’t know where to start. When Chris offered to set me up with his distributor that really set things in motion. After that I began researching business licenses, etc.
Yeah, that side of setting up a label is enough to put anyone off. So, now you’re up and running, how are you finding it?
It’s a lot more work than I realized! I’m finding that it takes up a large part of my week, but that’s partially because I’m taking it very seriously and trying to offer a really high quality package; from the branding and artwork to the releases themselves. It’s stressful but also really rewarding. I love reaching out to artists and asking them to do an EP for the label and then getting it delivered a few months later. I just received two different ones in the past week and both EP’s are sick! I can’t wait to share them with everyone.
Are you prepared to give us an insight into who these artists might be?
Not yet, I’m still sorting out the release schedule for 2021 so I don’t want to announce them now and then keep people waiting.
I can tell you that I have an EP from RQ dropping on Dec. 18th. It’s called Solar Wind and it’s backed with a remix by Tellus. The EP is a bit different than RQ’s recent output, it’s a little darker and techier. I’m hoping people will think it’s an interesting direction for the label because it’s a sound I’d like to explore on further releases while still keeping the main focus on melodic music.
Ah, that’s interesting. You know I’m a big fan of RQ, I look forward to hearing that for sure. I love it when a label inspires producers to try something different, can we have a sneak peek at the artwork?
Your label, Modern Conveniences, has a very distinct look and style to it. Can you tell us a bit about its inspiration?
Thanks man, I really appreciate that. I’ve been surprised at how many people have commented on the artwork, it’s really fulfilling as a graphic designer to get feedback like that.
The direction of the art was inspired by a couple of different things: first was the name. I’ve had that name kicking around in my head for awhile as a potential song or album title. It’s a commentary on how we have all of these amazing technologies and completely take them for granted. Once I settled on that name for the label I knew the artwork should be a bit edgy as a counterpoint to the somewhat bland and vague name. I’d been looking at a lot of ’90s cyberpunk artwork online and though I’d try to incorporate some of those elements along with something a bit more current.
The second source of inspiration was the desire to do something completely different from my other artwork. I do a lot of artwork for different record labels: Flight Pattern, Locked Concept, and none60 to name a few. I wanted to create something completely unique to my label so I wouldn’t feel like I was repeating myself. It’s fun and challenging as a designer to try something new that I’ve never attempted before.
Do you think the art will inspire the music producers make for the label? Or vice versa?
I always wait until a release is finished before I start on the artwork so it’s definitely driven by the music. I do a 3D render for each cover but I try not to interpret the release title too literally. I usually listen to the release a few times while doing the artwork for extra inspiration. For me it’s more about finding a vibe that fits each release and also reflects the aesthetic I want for the label.
I suppose at some point the label’s aesthetic might inspire some of the music I’m receiving from producers and if that happens it would be really cool. Visuals often inspire the music I make so I could see it happening once the visual style of the label is more established.
With that in mind, how did the music on this new RQ EP influence the cover design?
Great question. The title track is called “Solar Wind”, and there’s also a song on the EP called “LV-426”, which is the famous planet from the Alien franchise, so I began thinking about terraforming planets and big wind turbines. I ended up making this geometric render which sort of reminded me of a fan or turbine. As I mentioned earlier the EP is rather dark and moody so I went with a color palette which I felt reflected the vibe of the music.
The music is also pretty stripped back and minimal so I wanted to reflect that in the design. I kept it a bit simpler than some of the other covers, just one big image as a focal point with some clean typography.
RQ is a really well-respected designer and it’s always a bit nerve-wracking sending my work to other designers for approval but he was really happy with it and didn’t suggest any changes.
You recently released Redesigned Vol. 2. How would describe this set of remixes and how did they come about? More web design favours?
The Random Movement remix was a web design favor. The rest were all producers that reached out to me and wanted to do a remix. I’m friends with Method One in real life, every time he comes to LA we hang out and the last time he was here we got brunch and talked about him doing a remix of “Lost Summer”.
I’d been pestering Kharm for years as I’m a huge fan of his stuff. Every year I’d message him and ask when he was going to write some new music. That eventually lead to our tune “Enamoured”, which we released on Microfunk earlier this year, and then he decided to take a crack at “Into The Sea”. I love the way he flipped it into an autonomic tune. I really like when producers change the tempo of a song for a remix, it gives it a completely different feel.
The Margari’s Kid remix came about from us chatting on Facebook. I love how stripped back his remix is, it’s also got such a different vibe from the original. I tried to be really thoughtful about the way I grouped the remixes on Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 because I waited until all of the remixes were complete before deciding on the tracklists. Vol. 2 is definitely a bit brighter and more joyous and that was by design. I wanted to have a nice contrast between the two and I’m really happy with how they both turned out.