The following feature focuses on the phenomenon that is Plum Professional, who are preparing the release of their wondrous album Employee Handbook for the Peter & Louise’s illusious imprint Nicey Music on November 18. A not-for-profit music label that has remained devoted to the music that matters that has established a name for themselves through a belief in the power of music & the ethos of creating “actual joy & positive change;” Plum Professional could not have arrived at a better time or on a better label. A label that has challenged the negative patriarchies of grunge & phallocentric exclusionary components of the classical canon; Nicey Music has quickly established themselves as one of the world’s most important record labels by operating on an inclusive ethos that is poised to take over the global industry trends, markets & fashions.
Plum Professional unites the talents of fellow friends Luke Csehak (of The Lentils & formerly of Happy Jawbone Family Band), with Michael Chadwick (also known as the MIDI wizard) where rumor has it that the two recorded the album Employee Handbook in a bungalow located on the side of a mountain. The result is not only a bewitched-like sound that dove tails beautifully within the fabrics & aesthetics of Peter & Louise’s Nice Music universe; but Luke & Michael create from a canvas cloth that is not concerned with the contemporary crazes & fads where every played & sung notes are delivered as if Plum Professional was making a musical for some kind of time-warp-work-environment where relaxed yet productive psychotropic epiphanies happen with each & every passing moment. The Employee Handbook album has already been compared to the collaborative Brian Eno & John Cale album Wrong Way Up, as Csehak & Chadwick combine mind-in-a-blender tricks & techniques to turn a home made concoctions into a grand electro-trip into the vocational DIY pop valley that extends beyond the indie tag obsessions & vanities inundated with hubris.
Providing a glimpse into Plum Professional’s album code of conduct & ethics Employee Handbook; we are treated to the executive plush & lush lounge full of tranquil chords & bubbly keys with “Reverse Medusa”. A dreamlike state takes over as if you were brought to the luxurious penthouse pads of the alternate dimension where what could be the sound of the weirdest cocktail party plays out. Luke & Michael deliver their own zany yet regal & sophisticated “Monster Mash” where “Reverse Medusa” spins the sound of the strangest happening that summons what we imagine to be an iconoclastic collection of freaks. The mind-percolating “List of leaving” takes-off on a flight of fancy where Csehak & Chadwick’s composition is coupled by lyrical contributions from OSR Tapes’ own boss-man Zach Phillips as well as additional harmonic elements from Weyes Blood’s own wonder-woman Natalie Mering. The total result is something defies the conventions of description, where the ear detects the various movements heard on “List of leaving” where classical harpsichord settings spin into an elaborate psych-tinged groove that feels like something straight out of the Perth, Australia scenes. The appearances of Mering & Phillips, whose imprint OSR is closing up at the end of the year, along with the news of Mega Bog joining the Nicey family & the label’s own creative output of authentic & original strides in the advancement of DIY arts all point toward Nicey Music’s organic rise to rapidly become one of the world’s most important labels.
Plum Professional Luke & Michael took a moment to talk to us about their new album for Nicey in the following interview:
We would like to know the whole story behind the name Plum Professional.
Michael and I have long been disappointed by a lack of professionalism in the music world. I mean, doesn’t it sometimes feel like the whole thing is being run by 18 year old boys in their underwear? When we met last year, we connected on this issue. We both wanted to bring something different to the table. A more honest and more professional music. It’s a big deal for us that someone would turn to a music we’ve devised as a source of pleasure, and we wanted to get this sense of duty across in the name. Before you even hear a note, we want you to know that we’re not messing around here. We are going to prove your plum and we’re going to do it in a timely, methodical, and respectful way.
Also I sometimes can’t tell the difference between music and food.
Interested in hearing how you all went about brainstorming & creating the album Employee Handbook.
Michael and I became friends playing together in the american rock band, Laser Background. We connected first on quantum mechanics issues like spooky action at a distance vs. local realism. I had just moved to LA and was hungry for collaboration. Michael had a treasure trove of half finished songs on his laptop and when he played them for me the wheels were set spinning.
One of my greatest joys in this life is to be able to comprehend someone else’s vision for a song and to help them strip away any attachments or expectations they might have, to get at the most basic, direct vision. It’s a truly spooky experience. There really is another person in the room at this point. They’re hard to make out exactly but you can both feel the presence so clearly, and any disagreements are only ways to uncover a deeper layer of the song’s true nature.
We also wrote some songs together from scratch, in the same room.
What is it about work place fixations that informed the titles & topics of this record?
I guess I sort of think of Plum Professional as an actual company that exists somewhere, but maybe just not on this planet. Maybe it’s an astral company. Maybe it’s a company from a parallel universe. Maybe it’s a company from the future. I don’t know, but it all seems very real to me, and I can see them all bustling around in their purple suits doing really, very important work. I actually don’t exactly know what sort of business Plum Professional conducts, but I do know that it’s crucial that it is done, and that they are doing their best to be helpful to everybody. Somehow Michael and I got involved. The employment process was quick and painless, and we never looked back.
Interested in hearing about how Zach Phillips’ lyrical contributions came into the fold on “List of Leaving”.
Have you ever seen me and Zack Phillips together in the same room?
Other artists & groups that people need to hear & know about?
Right now I’m most excited about Zach phillips’ label OSR tapes that he runs with Christina Schneider. Christina’s new album, Violence Etcetera, is some sophisticated salmon, but stays deeply human and emotionally responsible in it’s scope and it makes me want to quit music. For some reason they made the horrible decision to release 25 projects all at once and then promise to close up shop forever by January. I guess they’re both in debt now and shivering in stolen snuggies, so pick up a tape. They’re all amazing but some of my favs are: Ruth Garbus, Death Savings Flag, Chris Weisman, Modern Chairs and Maher Shalal Hash Baz.
But of course our label Nicey Music, is doing great things. So proud to have somehow got into that crew. I mean Mega Bog? Banny Grove? Are you kidding me?
Also I love Lily Konigsberg and Horn Horse. Lily’s videos will do horrible, horrible things to your mind. Everybody knows her other band Palberta is the dopest turkey in the closet.
Also Laser Background, Midnight Sister, Alex Izenberg and Klaus.
Next moves for Plum Professional?
We’re working on a new album that will either be called Flavor Profile or Peach Confessional, though I haven’t entirely given up on Mouth-Feel. Trying to figure out a way to play live is tricky but we’re committed.
Plum Professional’s LP Employee Handbook will be available on vinyl November 18 from Nicey Music.