With over eighty releases since its inception by Taylor Deupree in 1997, Pound-Ridge-based music label 12k has decisively defined and developed the concept of minimalism in the realms of electronic music for more than a decade. Fusing elements from Ambient and Electro-Acoustic Composition with carefully arranged digital glitches and associative micro-noises, the label's aesthetics revolve around a precisely-outlined, yet deeply emotional concoction of the technological and the organic. Eschewing the typical marketing mechanisms of the commercial music industry, Deupree has sculpted a platform whose influence today extends well beyond the confinements of the experimental community. 12k's integral approach, in which the label's instantly recognizable, elegantly spartan artwork enters into an inseparable symbiosis with the music, has created a timeless audiovisual language respected and appreciated all over the world.
Part of this highly personal approach can be traced back to the roots of 12k as an “anti-label” originally founded as a response to a bad record deal: no press and promo work was performed for the first two releases, with even distribution being handled exclusively through the company's fledgling website. After its rebellious beginnings, Deupree's brainchild developed into an adventurous space for discovering his true identity as a musician and then inviting others to join him in that pursuit. Although still heavily indebted to a past in Techno and Acid, his debut under his own name for 12k (Comma,) already bore the unmistakable marks of minimalism – a trait artists like Shuttle 358's Dan Abrams, Kim Cascone or Deupree himself would later hone to perfection. As the mainstream electronic scene was increasingly veering towards risk-free Chill-Out and wallpaper-like Downbeat, 12k's equally ambitious and strangely sensuous albums demanded to be appreciated with the same attention and care with which they were conceived.
In 2000, Deupree entered into a collaboration with rising experimental artist Richard Chartier. The result of their encounter was LINE, a programmatic platform with a strong inclination towards the visual arts and multimedia, born from the desire to take the tactile qualities of audio installations to listeners' living rooms. More than ever, packaging and content could no longer be separated, with each release featuring exclusive photography closely related to or complementing the compositions. While LINE dealt heavily with silence and the intersection between music and pure sound, 12k counter-intuitively expanded into more Pop-oriented structures, a feat emphasized by the founding of the Happy imprint, which would later be integrated into 12k's main catalogue. Steps were also taken into the direction of the netlabel scene (term.), vinyl (Weather and Worn) as well as art books (Sea Last).
Despite the startling diversity of these activities, the 12k philosophy has only become clearer over the years. Even though it has occasionally dabbled its feet in unknown waters, favored abstractions over easy references and refused to mark time, the label's protagonists always keep returning to the beauty of minimalism and the beguiling mystery of an infinite cosmos of micro-sounds. Both in its stripped-down design and music, 12k constitutes a conscious counterpoint to the information overload of the 21st century. With this much credit obviously comes great responsibility, which has meant opening the label up to new names. Accordingly, 12k has published the works of a plethora of fresh talents, thereby staying true to the original inquisitive spirit of the community. Starting as out an exploration of the computer as an instrument, it has also developed a growing fascination for the natural resonances of acoustic instruments. Gradually, then, Deupree is coming ever closer to realizing his ideal of a label beyond the restrictions of genres and styles. His intentions are still very simple, after all: “Trying to create something beautiful, however small, in this oversaturated, violent world that we live in. A small space – a place to breathe.”
TWELVE PRINCIPLES UPON WHICH 12K WAS FOUNDED:
1. Don't tell listeners what they want to hear, let them discover that for themselves.
2. Treat your audience as they are: intelligent, passionate lovers of art and sound.
3. Evolve constantly, but slowly.
4. Stay quiet, stay small.
5. Strive for timelessness.
6. Never try to be perfect. Beauty is imperfection.
7. Simplicity. Anti-Design.
8. Never try to innovate, be true to yourself, and innovation may happen.
9. Explore sound as art, as a physical phenomenon — with emotion.
10. Develop community.
11. Be spontaneous.
12. Everything will change.
12k is no longer accepting unsolicited demos at this time. While we have found many of our great artists through demos our roster is of a size right now where we cannot take on any new artists.