For graphic designer Richard Vergez, that dedication has him moonlighting as a musician and owner of Noir Age Publishing, a niche record label pumping out fringe electronic sounds.
Founded in 2017, Noir Age's mission is to stand out from, as Vergez puts it, the "current wasteful landscape." In the beginning, the label focused on Miami artists and producers but has gone on to feature work from all corners around the globe. Initially, it released music exclusively on cassette (with an MP3 download link available for listeners who wanted to carry around their music digitally); it recently broke with that trend when Vergez, under the moniker Night Foundation, released his sixth studio album, Structures, on vinyl in October.
“I started the record label to release my own stuff, and then I extended it to friends and stuff," Vergez explains. "So it kind of started with local people and then grew around the world."
Like many of Noir Age's releases, Structures eschews pop and dance music's maximalism in favor of ambient and leftfield sounds. “Dystopian wonder” is a phrase that could be used to explain much of the music released by the DIY label. Acts from Paris (Hugo Lioret), Taiwan (Ariana Van Gelder), South Africa (Alex Hing), and even Boca Raton (Larry Montelerone) seem to find their way to Vergez, all crafting sonic atmospheres and digitized vignettes.
Ultimately, Vergez's focus is to give artists space to have “a freedom of spirit,” citing labels like Manchester-based Factory Records, home to acts like Joy Division and New Order, and the iconic British postpunk and dream-pop label 4AD as inspiration.
“There was just this idea of the packaging and the artwork that really spoke for the artists,” Vergez adds.
The postpunk influence can also be heard in the work of Confinement, Montelerone and Vergez's collaborative project, and its self-titled album released last summer.
“I hate to say, 'Oh, it's industrial or postindustrial whatever.' I think everything kind of starts with postpunk as kind of an umbrella,” Vergez says.
The label also features Miami artist Taupe Set XL and her project Mar. Kristen Soller, the shaman behind this sweeping three-track project, gives the listener the feeling of gliding over ridges and expansive bodies of water before dipping down into deep valleys and crevasses.
“I’m just trying to do something different in this kind of wasteful landscape that is South Florida,” Vergez quips.
Despite Noir Age's eclectic sound, Vergez admits it’s difficult to get niche music to the forefront.
“I try to be aware of my surroundings, but I don’t like to embrace reality. I just want to keep releasing stuff regardless of what is going on in the world,” he adds.
Using his talents as a graphic designer and mixed-media artist, Vergez puts a lot of thought and work into the presentation of each release. Focusing on a neutral palette, most releases feature clean and minimal cover art.
This year Noir Age has several releases already lined up, including Welsh artist Gafael's project Yng Nghysgod y Mynydd, which was inspired by his home country's expansive terrain; Norwegian artist Andreas Brandal will release his album Subterranean Nerve Endings, which boasts of “a dark palette of insectoid rhythms and partially submerged vocal studies.”