Label Focus #21: Noble Records
On November 14th, Tokyo, Japan's Noble Records heads to our shores for two dates at Cafe Oto in London. To celebrate we catch up with the label, which lies at the epicentre of the crop of new Japanese artists that also includes oddball sixties-revitalist Shugo Tokumaru and post-orchestral shoe-gazers Matryoska. DiS meets the label owner Junji for an introduction into one of the most originative labels we've come across.
Please introduce yourself...
I'm Junji Kubo, the manager of Noble Records. With the slogan of "music for daily life", I started noble in 2001 as a division of a Japanese record company, MIDI INC.
(Since then) we have released the albums of (Mono collaborator) World's End Girlfriend, Cinq, Tenniscoats, Natsume, Gutevolk, Eisi, Kazumasa Hashimoto, Yasushi Yoshida, Midori Hirano, Piana and Kashiwa Daisuke. We've also released an art animation DVD by the artist Nakaban. In 2007, Noble had its label showcase in Sonar Festival in Barcelona. Now noble is expanding to not a music label but a synthetic art label.
What inspired you to create this label?
Around the end of 90's, I felt that most labels were generally focusing on only one genre, as in “this is a techno label”, (or) “that's a house label”. I wanted to make a label which would produce not one genre music but several genres of music with the same atmosphere. I want to produce purely beautiful and simply liberated music for our daily life.
A manifesto that is more than evident throughout the labels back catalogue. The twenty two full-length releases that compose the labels catalogue are all works of breathtaking originality. From Yasushi Yoshida's piano-driven minimalist post-rock opus Secret Figure to Worlds End Girlfriend's kinetic glitchy electronic symphony collection The Lie Lay Land, through to the most recent coupling of Kazumasa Hashimoto's TOKYO SONATA and Midori Hirano's klo:yuri each record is a definite statement; at place in the mantra of the label but completely unique.
What was the first release on the label, and why did you choose it as your first release?
Our first release was World's End Girlfriend's album Farewell Kingdom. World's End Girlfriend has a lot of talents, and his music has many musical elements, and of course, his music is beautiful, free, and alternative. So I thought this album suited to represent our music, vision, and atmosphere. and i think my choice was correct.
What do you look for in artists to sign to your label?
Whether they have their own colour (melodies, beats, harmonies, etc) in their music or not.
What do you think links the artists on your label? Is there a real community between the artists on your label?
An attitude of being honest to music, being alternative, being pop. Some artists have collaborated and made music together, but basically we keep being independent. Of course we respect our music each other.
How is internet downloading affecting your label? Do you think the use of these means can be both a blessing and a curse?
It helps us to introduce our music to many music lovers all around the world, but most of them are illegal sites. I don't care that the catalyst of having interest in our music is from illegal sites, but I hope they will come to our concerts or buy our real products. Whether they have strong interest or not depends on us.
Find out more at http://www.noble-label.net/
Previous Label Focus articles:
#20: Sub Pop
#16: Chemikal Underground
#15: Moshi Moshi
#14: FatCat Records
#13: Thee SPC
#12: One Little Indian
#11: Big Dada
#9: Holy Roar
#5: Gringo Records
#3: Bella Union
#2: Fierce Panda
#1: Drowned in Sound