Jesselisa Moretti and I met in Tallahassee Florida, at the big state school there: FSU. I was doing a lot of college radio (mostly back-packey underground hip-hop until I started DJing on regular+heavy rotation programming), and she was in the BFA program for studio art for mixed media. We moved to Los Angeles after graduation simply for a change of scenery. Living in the Bible Belt for four-plus years can be exhausting. I mean, we still love the place in all its glory. (WVFS BEST RADIO STATION IN THE SOUTHEAST STAND UP!)
Our goal for LA was to find creative work while exploring the many scenes of the city. The approach to beginning the label was mellow; I'd met some musicians in Los Angeles who hadn't properly released, so there we were in our living room/front yard/side-of-house/garage wanting to make tapes for these artists. We drew inspiration from the DIY/punk tape-aesthetic, but most tape labels in the U.S. weren't really releasing this new kind of beat-driven/hip-hop music. I used this idea as fuel for our first release, and when we dropped dak's standthis, heads were turning from all corners of the world – from many walks of life. We began getting noticed in the DIY music blog-land, with huge help from Ian at Friendship Bracelet, who actually introduced us to the incredible Madlib-soaked collages of Dem Hunger, and the God-awful pop of Speculator (Nick I love you, c'mon now). We began to meet more folks digging the same direction, and so the story goes…
(A few of) the artists
It's always so easy to say that dak (or dakim) is my favorite producer. First time I heard of anyone using VHS/VCR equipment solely for audio in the mix-down process of finalizing tracks. Not sure on the accuracy of this process, but let me give it a shot. The preferred method is to run a final project's signal through the trusty tascam 4-track (and it's a weirder, more obscure model, not the blue portastudio that I have), clip the levels to that overdriven sweet spot on the preamp, then cut to VHS tape. Mind blown, but, that's certainly not the half of understanding this man's production. Something I feel that is important to note here – dak, Ras G, Oscar, and LA legend DJ Sacred are immensely influential in opening the Leaving world to a sort of soulful purity through jazz and hip-hop musics. It's something that will always proudly remain part of the Leaving repertoire.
Sumsun's Judson Rogers is a champion I've been rooting for since early demos from a Tallahassee Florida friend. The aura of this producer relates to that ideal southern day: humidity with perfect flashes of a cool breeze. Relaxation colors multiply inside of a geometrical Ibiza. It's as if you're breaking the best sweat while silver splashes of the most refreshing Zephyr Hills pour organically straight from the source, no bottle. Jud just recently added a musical member to Sumsun, and if heard correctly from the grapevine, their live shows battle the impeccable studio-produced tunes with originality and dance-fever. I smell a tour or two!
Oscar McClure lives in a trashcan with his wormy-friend. Somehow, entirely through a Roland SP-303, he translates his garbage language into decibels. In his everyday world of rumbling gutter and grit, Oscar pushes the sacred elements he lives within to a sonic foreground of improvised rhythm, ambience, and noise. I'd never thought someone so normal and common-placed as I, or my mother, or my next-door neighbor, could live in this same space, yet after meeting Oscar it's quite clear that indeed we all do. In current events, the Oscar McClure Contingent is a new idea somewhat based around jazz improv with collaboration between Leaving artists (myself included), and others in similar circles. Under the infinite initial direction of Oscar, ideas like these could turn into timelessness.
Speculator is Nick Ray from Highland Park, Los Angeles, by way of New York state. Nick never leaves his basement jam-lair… well, maybe that one time when I suggested a bottle of vino on his front porch bro-style, but it was cut short by his excessive enthusiasm for man's first extraterrestrial contact being influenced by Area 51 the arcade game, and Paul McCartney on purple syrup. For all I know the guy literally lives with his tapes, guitar, SP404, and phasor pedals (dammit shouldn't we all?). The Speculator steeze is a lifestyle of tape-driven pop that is demented and loud, equally cosmic as it is completely grounded. After meeting Nick, I fully realized that pop music spoke to my soul in a brand new way. It's super special to us that Nick digs working with Leaving, he's constantly introducing us to homies from his side of the pond we would have been detuned to (Luke Perry, Melted Toys, etc.)
Ras G is admired by experimentalists worldwide, not just Los Angeles beat-scene freaks. The man has his third eye bursting onto the new LA electronic sound in his own off-kilter collage of cosmic debris and multi-dimensional noise ecstasy. G even has his own language from the Afrikan Space Program we're transcribing and translating every day (just follow him on Twitter). Poobah records is Ras G's home away from home, I love just going into the record shop there in Pasadena and improvising on release ideas, trading production techniques, and critiquing the whirlwind of up-and-coming beat producers from Los Angeles with him. He is indeed traveling to outer-dimensions every night, but G invites all of us to take a ride with him… sort of like an old-school shaman that spends half of his time on earth, the other half at Space Base.
Oh Julia, the most epic woman our age. Co-founder of the heavy Human Ear Music group with Jason Grier and the like, we met through dublab's internet radio posse here in Los Angeles. After playing a show or two together locally, we realized that our musical worlds were not so distant. In practices of sublime piano composition blended with eastern experimentation from every angle, her collaboration with Leaving seemed already to be happening even before we spoke about working together. She had been telling us of her “Greek Tragedy” in the works for nearly two years, and now that it's finished, it is undoubtedly the most exciting project under our belts. Jesselisa, visual director for Leaving, and Julia have been hard at work dialing-in every visual component to Julia's tragedy this year. Epic is an understatement.
Leaving Records Sampler
01 Dem Hunger, “Mosque Vibrations” (Matthewdavid Raga Mix)
02 Ras G, “Discipline”
03 Dem Hunger, “Wanda Hena El Hawa”
04 Delofi, “Leaving”
05 Speculator, “Afraid of the Future”
06 MGR, “Hope”
07 Oscar McClure, “Sowbugs”
08 dak, “Needs”
09 Julia Holter, “Try To Make Yourselves A Work of Art”
10 sumsun, “Reflections”
11 Matthewdavid, “Disk 10”
TA-TA 4 NOW… HERE'S WHAT 2 LOOK OUT 4 THIS YEAR ON THAT YOUNG LR:
SSALIVA – THOUGHT HAS WINGS
RYAN YORK – ZIPPERLEGS
DAK – YOUSTANDIT EP
JULIA HOLTER – TRAGEDY
EMV – RESOLUTIONS
DELOFI / MGR SPLIT