Miami seems to have a lot of record labels these days.
The Discosoma singles series is red-hot, with seven-inch releases from Beings and ANR. Destroyio Records and Pendejo Productions hold down the butt-flap punk beat, with the latter issuing new material from black metal outfit Hellmass and snot punks Baker Acted. And of course, there's the almighty Drugged Conscience. This is only the tip of the iceberg.
As Miami's non-dance music scenes continue to grow and develop, corresponding labels are on a parallel rise. And one of Miami's most idiosyncratic producers is the highly regimented Augurari.
The operation defines itself by strikingly narrow parameters. Instead of bands and albums, they release "audio works" by visual artists. Instead of identifying as a label proper, Augurari describes itself as "appropriating the structure of a small record label."
Did we mention that their still growing five-piece discography consists entirely of tapes? And this is all even before we discuss the music, which ranges from recordings of fake bands making process-oriented noise, field recordings, remixes of errors from field recordings, and blistering free-rock from supergroup trio Holly Hunt, featuring artists Nick Klein, Beatriz Monteavaro, and Gavin Perry.
We shot chief curator Jay Hines a few questions to see just what the hell he's thinking.
Crossfade: An interest in tapes can still manage to confuse the uninitiated. Detractors argue that you can't rewind or fast-forward precisely, tapes degrade and unspool over time, shell cases crack almost immediately. So why tapes?
Jay Hines: I think (some) people want to own the object. Digital media may be what is played, but people want to participate in culture, and that can translate into owning the actual object with its weird cover art, inserts, zines, whatever. Personally, I think CDs are a waste of space, they're far less durable than many outmoded physical medias. So, a consumer doesn't have to be a record collecting junkie nerd to own vinyl and tapes, but simply someone who likes to follow the little music movements which consist of whatever bands they like. For Augurari, I put out tapes as a reference to DIY music culture's use of them, being inexpensive and accessible ways to make "stuff."
Your roster is not comprised of "bands" in a traditional (one might argue "conservative") sense. Holly Hunt may be the biggest exception, but these are not up-and-coming groups gigging around town and passing out flyers with their MySpace URL. What is your process of curation for Augurari?
Well, we work with visual artists not musicians, so that's the main difference. Last November, Augurari put out a split tape with Holly Hunt and Viking Funeral. We liked these two groups together because their motivations reference each other. Viking Funeral is an art collective whose work deals with DIY music subcultures as a conceptual starting place for making artwork. Then you have Holly Hunt, which is an actual band comprised of a group of visual artists that jam together. The two groups inform each other nicely, plus there is the same musical genre specificity with both groups.
Your website describes Augurari as "appropriating the structure of a small record label." How is what Augurari does different than simply straight-up being a small record label?
There have been visual artists incorporating sound and performance in their work for decades. Big names like Christian Marclay or Mike Kelley, for example. The narrow parameters I've set for Augurari derive from this breed of art. The objective is to publish audio recordings which are made by contemporary visual artists who in some way use sound. It's really more of a curated art project that puts out small editions, rather than a record label that releases music by musicians within a genre. A curator is asked to participate and then they choose artists to work with, then we release the recording on cassette or vinyl in editions of 150.
What was your intent in having Snakehole practice at your booth at the Miami International Art Fair?
In more ways than just one, it seemed like a very appropriate gesture. We are putting out a tape of their band practice sessions. Snakehole is a young Miami band of young Miami artists who kick ass in a decidedly non-avant garde way.
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In the next few months, we'll be releasing recordings by artists Jim Drain, Ann Liv Young, Paul Salveson, Nicholas Frank, and Snakehole.
For a more info on Augurari, including their complete catalog check out augurari.com.