What made you create this label? Why? What is the idea and inspiration behind it?
Well, there is a bit of a story there, but I’ll try to keep it succinct. I was acting as label manager for Drumlore, which is Ektoplazm’s techno sub-label, where Techgnosis Volume 1 was originally released. It was intended to be a platform for myself and my friends who were making techno music of different styles at the time, and the success of Volume 1 led to me lining up some more releases from artist friends. At the time however, there was another individual who was also curating releases for Drumlore (unbeknownst to me, due to the then-general inactivity of Drumlore), and there ended up being some creative conflict with the direction of the label. I wasn’t interested in putting my energy into a ‘purist’s techno’ label as there is plenty of that out there already, and wanted to focus on the progressive and psychedelic elements of the spectrum instead. With the blessing of Alexander Synaptic (owner of Ektoplazm/Drumlore) and after much frustration, I sought out on a journey to expand Techgnosis into a full-blown label, and the rest as they say, is history.
How long had the idea of a label been on your minds before its official launch? What were the challenges running up to its launch?
The time in between my finishing Techgnosis Volume 1 for Drumlore and me deciding to launch it as a label was about 4 months, and it took another 2 after that to get it up and running with our Bandcamp page, and didn’t get an official distribution contract until 2016.
What is the inspiration behind the log and artwork?
For artwork I try to have the vibe of the music be represented visually as best as possible. Whether it was photography-based or 3D renders, the inspiration is always derived from the music itself. The logo was designed by Amir Daana, who is one of the most talented (and in-demand) cover artists in the scene. Amir workshopped the logo over the course of a week until we both saw the final version, and we both knew we had something special there. We just wanted something that looks cool to be honest. We swear there isn’t any sort of hidden numerology or symbolism in the logo.
What genre of music the label hosts and what do you look for specifically in a track that gives you that sense of belonging in a track to release it on your platform?
The genre we host is progressive and psychedelic techno, which is actually more of a loose description. It’s more of a vibe than anything. Deeper, more introspective tracks, subtly psychedelic sounds, nuanced and moody melodic progressions are what I look for.
In terms of demos, how do you accept, review and reject from all the thousands you receive? What are the challenges in sifting through the boatload of demos you receive for releases and the communication you maintain with aspirants?
I generally sit down with my morning coffee after a toke and listen to demos that have come in from the night previous. If I hear something that catches my ear, I may or may not forward to another one of my label managers for a 2nd opinion, but more often than not it’s not the correct style for the label. You’d be surprised how many people send music from genres that we have never released, ever. It ultimately makes deciding easier because it stands out when a really solid one comes across our desk.
How many VA and compilations do you release in a year and what kind of tracks you choose? What kind of artists do you select for the VA? Basically what purpose does a VA serve to a label?
In previous years we have fluctuated between 1 and 2 releases per month, with 4 ‘tentpole’ VAs per year (Techgnosis, NOX (by Kinimal), Swamp Seance (by Foggyswoggle) and we just added Seb-G as an official compiler for our 4th annual slot. They are typically released during the changing of the seasons (Equinox and Solstice), and serve as a showcase for a particular musical aspect of the somewhat vast Techgnosis spectrum. For example NOX is geared towards the darker, minimal techno sounds for which Kinimal is known and Swamp Seance excels at the decidedly psychedelic and experimental that is Foggyswoggle’s modus operandi. Seb-G is a groovy psy-techno enthusiast and you’ll typically find the deeper and more progressive gear on the eponymous compilation series by yours truly.
Which one has been a highlight release and why?
For me personally, it would be Techngosis Volume 6. It was the biggest release in label history both in terms of number of artists involved and in sheer scope. The artwork was commissioned years ago as a black and white illustration, which was subsequently digitally colored by a 2nd artist, and we were eventually able to bring that to life with some killer animation for the Youtube and promotional videos by a 3rd artist. And of course Amir Daana did all of the layout work for said promotional videos so…4th. Like I said, many moving parts, but it turned out amazingly well.
What do you expect from new talent when you sign them? What makes you reject them from releasing on your label?
Being able to communicate well is important, but as someone with introverted tendencies I tend to give quite a bit of leeway there. Most important is the ability to deliver on time. We have a mapped out schedule for a minimum of 6 months, so it’s important that everything gets done in that given timeframe.
From your country, which other label is pushing the same music as you are and how do you think everyone is helping push the local producers?
When Techgnosis Records was doing label parties in Montreal, they were hosted by Alpaka Productions. They have since turned into a full label and many of our artists (graphical and musical) have also worked with them. The producers and DJs that play the Techgnosis style are frequently being supported by promoters across the country, so there is actually quite a bit of support on that level from the crews who throw those types of events.
What kind of support do you look for from artists and other parties in promoting your music worldwide? What are the challenges in promoting music to corners of the world where you may not be as popular as in your home country.
We are constantly expanding. A few years ago Luke Kinimal (our featured DJ) joined the ranks as official Australian label manager, and his work has been instrumental in spreading the gospel down under. Same with Seb-G in Portugal, who is helping to expand Techgnosis across that region in Europe. What these guys have in spades is an undying love of the scene and desire to bring the Techgnosis sound to the festivals and clubs. We are actually way more popular in other countries than we are in Canada, although we do have an amazing home fan base. It’s likely that it’s much more challenging to get people who are dubstep and house devotees to accept psychedelic techno, than it is for fans of ‘straight’ techno and psytrance in general, I suppose.