We're so excited to feature MethLab on our Darknet Blog! Please tell us, what exactly is MethLab besides being one of the tastemaker record labels. What's the main idea and message behind it?
Thanks for featuring us, and this project particularly! It's cool to be stated as taste-makers too because, in the end, that's part of what we're setting out to do—inspire fans of the artists and label as to what's possible sonically and musically, so that they reach for more and hopefully even get creating themselves. Our main objective though can be stated really simply: we're a platform that brings the projects of the audio and visual creations of the artists we collaborate with to life, treating this work with respect and hopefully making it more timeless through what we do.
What exactly inspired you to start such an amazing record label? When did you launch MethLab and how did it all come together?
MethLab Recordings emerged about 3 years ago and has grown and evolved pretty quickly since it started. Prior to that, we were operating as a booking agency, but still, one that I think involved thinking outside of the box... we didn't just slot into the music industry and we doing our own thing and some experimental creative projects even before the label launched. In the end, we launched the label to give more space for those unusual experiments and give a platform to groundbreaking music we love. The work we do to elevate it further with the world-building we do around releases is our 'special ability' I think. Visual experimentation is really important to us.
Did you have any expectations that MethLab would come this far? How do you see MethLab at the highest point of its career? What would be your ultimate dream to accomplish with MethLab and when do you see that happening?
Hopes definitely, but not expectations, and I hope it will go further yet. It feels like we have the kind of strong creative minds that form the crew or sonic and visual artists to make it happen, and it's a good feeling to know the audience is growing, too. The real dream is to bring the full audio-visual vision of the label to the really large festivals. We've hit a few of the biggest, including Rampage in Europe—the US is very much next. More resources to enable more ambitious projects, and we have plenty of ideas for them, including some that are designed to elicit some really intense emotions while acting for a good cause.
How often do you collaborate with other artists or companies? Please tell us if there is any upcoming collaborative project and where to find it!
MethLab is definitively a platform of collaboration, everything we do involves doing so. Musicians collaborating with visual artists and film-makers, concept developers, and each other. We have also collaborated with other labels that have very different audiences to our own, to sort of demonstrate that these connections are possible and can result in some really interesting and inspiring projects. After all, everyone loves to see their 'heroes' come together to create something that they wouldn't have imagined. Fusing diverse and different tastes always results in unique things. Upcoming label collaboration projects include Current Value's SENEX / PUER sister LPs – with one being released on each of MethLab Recordings and Souped Up Records, and Broken Note's 'Exit the Void' LP which is being released collaboratively between Broken Note, MethLab, and another label called Slug Wife.
Tell us little about the process behind Flamingo Club creation, how did it all wrap up together?
Flamingo Club is a special track—it's part of a larger release, the SENTINEL LP, which essentially acts as a kind of audiovisual cyberpunk exploration. Every track on the LP is very unique and has been selected to pretty much represent a different aesthetic strand of cyberpunk /dystopian/futuristic concepts. Flamingo Club is on the more colorful end and immediately seemed to lend itself to a much more colorful, but still bleak cyberpunk world. The Synthwave flavor and retro feeling pushed me to search for pixel artists that would be able to bring that idea, and the purposefully cliched script that I wrote for it, to life. Dystopian worlds don't always have to be straight forward dark and dingy, there are other kinds of decadence to illustrate. In my searching I came across Oskar, who I could immediately see was the right, and extremely capable/visionary visual artist to make the concept real. Grey Code and SubMarine were into the idea, so we went for it!
Please tell us what do upcoming bass music artists need to have their music released on MethLab? And what advice would you give to them for their music and artistry?
Present unique sonic ideas that are really personal and theirs, and to have practiced their techniques enough to be able to really bring them to life to a high level. Then they should contact us personally and send a thoughtful and clearly not spam mail to our firstname.lastname@example.org email.
Amazing Drum And Bass track, video, designs, story, and the world behind it all. Please tell us the story about how this collaboration happened.
Oskar Alvarado: I think was a natural process. I was making a lot of artwork with the 80s atmosphere. Some vaporwave and synth influences. I think electronic music makes the perfect match for pixel art, and vice-versa. Once I listen to the track, I can't avoid the need to put my hands in, on an animated retro video clip that easily complements the music. Jef had a very solid idea for the plot, so it was easy to follow his vision. Some ideas had to be removed because of technical issues or different narrative solutions implemented, but I think the final result is unique and powerful.
When did you get into bass music production and what inspired you to dive into DAW for the first time?
Grey Code: I started producing in 2013/2014 after I'd gotten into Brostep, inspired by my brother who had also started production. I'd used logic to arrange apple stock loops in the past so I can't remember what particularly inspired me to start!
What goes behind the process of producing a track? What are your go-to tools?
Grey Code: I start by listening to tracks that inspire me which helps me imagine the overall picture of what I want to create. Then I write some chords/melodies/baselines using my midi keyboard. By then I should be inspired to take the track onwards.
Music video production is phenomenal! How long have you been working in this field? What tools did you use to blend pixel art, 3D and rest of the post-production? and tell us a little bit about the story in the video!
Oskar Alvarado: The story is kind of simple but strong as a classic. Bounty hunters behind the worst criminal in Metacity, and these bounty hunters keeping their boss alive. An exuberant techno city inspired by Bladerunner, but in a more Miami style, and all the cyberpunk artwork I had watched along life, is reflected here. For the realization, the idea was to emulate a video game from A to Z. Color, shooting, even timing. For the production, I used Gimp (free software to do stuff like Photoshop) that allows me to work fast in pixel art. Then all the material was used inside Blender to bring the 3D feel and a touch of modernity. The edition was funny cause everything to match perfectly with the beat and no many fixes needed to get the combination Jef was searching for.
What would you tell to up and coming artists who want to pursue their passion?
Oskar Alvarado: Follow your instincts and always try to work on passion projects. Learning all types of software helps a lot because you can choose the most convenient tool for each part of the process. The most important part for me is experimentation without the fear of failure. Pixel art is special, but it very intimidating cause the time it needs to be done. But this project is one of the most fun things I have ever done.
Grey Code: Spend a lot of time doing it lol. You have to get into the headset in order to produce your best tracks. By working on it sporadically you don't train your brain as effectively. Also, find a group of peers that inspire you and push you. Share your ideas as it forces you to not be so precious