In-Store Interview

Q01. Hi, Taylor. I am so glad to have an interview with you. First of all, please let me say why we introduce you to our readers. One is my personal motivation that I have loved 12k music since when I had listened to Sogar's "basal". Second is that I am very interested in your label in point of view that you put much power on not only musical part but also graphical part. As multi-media shop mainly selling clothing, I think you are the best as our first featuring label. Each title on your label has very fine cover art. It seems like inter-installation between music and graphic. Recently you have changed your label logo from floppy disk style to round-edged like-a-leaf style. And also music seems to have shifted to more organic feel. How do you think relationship between your music and graphic?

first, thank you very much for your interest in the label. it's very important for me for 12k to cross over boundaries between music, art, and design, so i am very happy to have the label in your store. yes, after almost 8 years i have modified the 12k logo. to me the floppy disc was becoming too "cute", too "kitsch" and was too literal of a symbol. i felt it no longer best represented what 12k was about. it was, however, a very recognizable logo so changing it completely was out of the question. instead i decided to modify it, by simply rounding 2 of the corners. the result was a combination of the floppy disc and what, accidentally, turned out to look like an organic leaf design. it perfectly captured what 12k has become which is a symbol of both technology and organics. the new logo i think is much more abstract and can stand on its own as a unique symbol instead of being seen simply as a floppy disc. any time i am able to move something literal into a more abstract realm is good and to make sure nothing ever stays the same for too long.

Q02. It is not many music labels that release not only men's t-shirt but also ladies' t-shirt and tank-top. Once I think about that, it is not natural that music label has only men's size label logo t-shirt, because women are also listening to your music. It is nice idea to make ones for ladies'. Your label t-shirts are very popular in Japan. Last old logo t-shirts were sold out in many record shops. Would you broaden a clothing section from now on?

12k has many female listeners and i think it is only fair to provide them with a more feminine option for the shirt designs. and, yes, as a matter of fact, richard chartier (from the LINE label) and i are starting a new series of t-shirt designs. the first design is being produced now and is the first LINE t-shirt. this series of shirts are going to be more design based and not just be "label shirts." they will be small art projects on their own. the first design is an abstraction of the front of the LINE web page where we have replaced all of the PMS colors from the LINE cd catalog with simply the PMS numbers. we're using higher quality t-shirts now and hope to produce a steady series of unique designs. we're very excited about this project. unfortunately, this design is not available in ladies t-shirt because of the limited nature and our experimentation with the idea of a shirt series. future shirts, however, will be available in both men's and ladies styles.

Q03. Let me talk about my long-time question. Your recent releases are packaged in fine digi-pack, but early releases were packaged in CD "EP" cases. Why not in CD LP cases?

i have never been very interested in regular CD cases only because they are the standard and more common. i was always looking for 12k cds to be a little bit different. the first 4 12k cds are actually in standard cd jewelcases but this was very early on before the mission and aesthetic of label had been established. and these sort of cases are also the cheapest so it was easiest when i was starting the label. the CD-Ep case was very nice but they broke easily and many people do not have extra ones around like they do with regular cd cases. for some reason these cases are much more fragile. the digipack has always been my favorite type of package as it combines the stability of a plastic case and tray with the physical feel of paper. finally 12k was able to afford printing in digipacks and also to be able to use a nice uncoated paper stock. i'm quite happy with this package now and it will probably stay for a while. at the time of the digipack 12k also moved to a standard template design with the white bar on the left of the front cover and no typography on top of the image. i think it's important for label recognition to have such a standardized sleeve but the cover also allows for completely different images for each release so they are unique as well. the package gives a consistent look and they really look nice when they are all together, i think.

Q04. Your website have many free download materials. Also, you have digital distribution contents. Recently you started TERM. Many musicians and labels hate illegal free download without respect to music. How do you manage in such difficult times?

i operate downloads on 3 levels. the first is on the web page's "SOUND" page.. this simply has short, usually 1 minute, previews of songs from the new releases so people can hear a little bit before they decide to buy the cd. second, is term. which is an online series of free downloads. the artists involved all agree that the music will be for free and they enjoy getting some extra exposure. lastly, is my digital distribution network. this puts whichever 12k releases i want for sale on legit, commercial services such as iTunes or eMusic. this is actually working out very well because i am putting mostly the out-of-print titles for sale. It gives people a chance to hear the album and buy the MP3s because no more cds exist for most of these titles so it is the only way to get the album. i only offer titles to the digital distributor if the artist wants it distributed this way. sometimes an artist may not want their work sold on an individual track basis, or without a package. if this is the case, i won't sell the work online. however, i think it's been very beneficial to fans who have had trouble finding the out-of-print titles. it may not be as nice as the original cd package, but downloads are very convenient and many people probably end up putting their 12k cd library onto their computers and iPods anyway.

Q05. You seems to have very much interest in Japanese music scene, because you have released Keiichi Sugimoto (Fourcolor, Minamo) and own Happy label featuring Japanese artists. You also had held 12k tour in Japan. How do you think about Japanese music scene and fans?

japan is now the biggest market for 12k. i have many friends in japan and many business contacts so it is a very active place for me. i visit once per year to travel, perform, meet people and propose new projects. the audiences have been very receptive and the people so friendly. the highlight of the trips is often the large dinners we have every night with everyone. so fun and the food is always great. i also feel that japan's take on pop music is really intruiging and spend a lot of time listening to japanese pop and buying cds when i'm in japan. starting Happy was my way of trying to expose this music to audiences outside of Japan.

Q06. You have released from Nao Sugimoto's Spekk label. Congratulation on your work "January" won the prize for "BEST ARTWORK PACKAGING" in French 2004 QWARTZ Awards with cover art by uison. Many 12k artists have also released on other labels. Do you have any other labels in which you personally are interested in? Musically or in packaging, whichever okay.

right now, my favorite labels, musically, are Hapna, Morr Music, and Apestaartje. i think these are all doing really excellent music and very consistent, too. everything i've heard is just great. and congratulations to Cheason for her artwork on January and all of the art she does, it's really nice, and i'm so happy for her to have won this prize.

Q07. Thank you for your answers. This is the last question. As I mentioned first, our customers coming to shop33 are mainly interested in our clothing section, I would like our customers to know how fine 12k music and clothing is. Could you give some message to our customers and free paper readers?

i want to thank your readers for their interest in 12k, LINE, and happy... and to expect some very interesting things, both music and clothing, in the coming months. and, christopher willits and i will be in japan at the end of june, so please find us at a show or at dinner and say hello!
Taylor Deupree