Weareallghosets is a net label based in Scotland that specialises in ambient electronic soundscapes. We caught up with Thomas Mathie, the man behind weareallghosts, to find out more about the label and its roster of artists…
Cat On The Wall: When and why did you decide to set up weareallghosts?
Thomas Mathie: weareallghosts was born on 2nd March, 2012; with our first release – an album entitled “The Path Between The Trees (waag_rel001)” by Cousin Silas – dropping on the 5th April, 2012. We are now on our 29th release in just over 1 year and have filled the release schedule for at least the next 3 months.
Cousin Silas is one of my favourite musicians. I was his go-to graphics man … still am … and wanted to do more. I was frustrated that his music was being released left, right and centre and wanted to give him a steady home. Don’t get me wrong … I’m not decrying the work the other netlabels were doing in releasing his music … I was being more like a selfish fan and, to be honest, I wanted to get more of his music ‘out there’.
Believe it or not I didn’t have a plan after the first release but, thank God, waag snowballed with the addition of folks like Wolfgang Merx and the awesome Apta. Before I knew it I was 6 months in and had a number of really special releases under my belt.
I am still to this day astounded by the music I’ve released under waag. To think of the artists who have entrusted me with their work kind of blows me away. I’m not a musician, far from it, I am more of a supporter of new things and saw waag as my way of giving back to the ambient music community.
I always looked up to the work Shaun Blezzard did with the now sadly retired ‘Earth Monkey Productions’. He introduced me to Cousin Silas and netlabel culture in particular. I will be forever in his debt.
I also look to labels like Free Floating, Twice Remove, Relaxed Machinery, and Invisible Agent; they have been a tremendous encouragement and am proud to stand with them in the promotion of awesome ambient and electronic music.
One other more selfish reason was to learn more about graphic design and about label logistics – the art of getting the music out there. This may sound silly but, as I said above, I’m not a musician and I’m not a techie … I work as a Business Analyst for a big corporation and needed an outlet … a side project to stop me going stale. I see the design work as an extension of my photography and I really, really enjoy it. I don’t think I’ll win any prizes for innovation in what I do but I also don’t think I’ll appear in some ‘bad artwork’ tumblr … or at least I hope to goodness I won’t.
Whereas with the logistics … it’s my way of giving back to folks who have made my life richer with their music. Let them worry about the music and let me worry about getting it out there. I’m still learning but I’m getting there … trying to push myself and develop.
COTW: Am I right in thinking all your releases are digital? Is physical something you’ve ever considered?
TM: All 29 releases have been digital. We intentionally give away an MP3 version of the music on Archive.org and are proud to be considered a netlabel by them. We also distribute through Bandcamp on a ‘pay what you want’ basis. We don’t make much money but I have been able to give something back to the artists and invest in bits and pieces to help promote the label … like the essential Soundcloud account … which I am woeful at keeping up-to-date.
I would love to release the music physically … ideally on vinyl or at least on CD. I am seriously considering a side project to enable a more commercial approach but need the cash up front. I have designed for a CD release before and loved it. All I need is that seed funding and I’d happily put something physical out there.
I would consider it a dream-come-true to have my music in great record stores like Monorail in Glasgow or Jumbo Records in Leeds. It is possible … I mean, I never thought I’d get where I am now … so anything goes.
Another idea I’d consider is to follow the Oxide Tones model and create an ambient music ‘shop’ online that sells physical releases … not just my own but the releases of other labels like Twice Removed. Oxide Tones is a fantastic label … a real inspiration … their niche is Post-Rock, whereas my thing would be more ambient … I guess that’s one thing to consider.
We’ll see. If it’s meant to be for me, it won’t go by me … as my mother says. Just need that seed.
COTW: As a small independent label what are your views and experiences of the current music industry?
TM: I have no real experience of the music industry, if I am honest. Bandcamp is a real enabler for folks like me to make things happen pretty much risk free. I think it’s great for the fans too … to be able to try before they buy in a low risk environment is great. I mean some saddo could try and record the streams but who has the patience for that these days?
I do think there are some really exciting things happening in independent music. Apart from Bandcamp, another key advance is crowd-funding sites like Kickstarter. I think this is a vitally important development … with the fans rather than some ‘cultural commissar’ deciding whether something is made or not. I particularly like the idea that the band is kept accountable by the fans. I love that.
Don’t get me wrong … I really love some of the indies out there … but for me the biggest ideas have come from bands like Radiohead (pay what you want) and Marillion (crowd funding) as well as people-movements like creative commons or technological ideas such as Bandcamp.
COTW: Tell us about some of your artists and how you came to work with them?
TM: I am so proud of the folks on my roster … Cousin Silas, Apta, Wolfgang Merx, Earlyguard, Gurdonark, Ketsa, Mystified, Jack Hertz, Scott Lawlor, Kevin Lyons, Brother Saturn, and the spoken word of Rebekkah Hilgraves. They are at different places in their respective careers but they all create some really vibrant, progressive music. I am very blessed. As Brad from Free Floating says ‘my only talent is to have talented friends’ and when I consider waag’s roster … I get what he says.
Cousin Silas is possibly the most humble man I know. He has a real talent for creating ambient music … shaping wonderfully upbeat instrumentals or longform (60 min +) drones. I love everything he’s done … especially our second release which featured the spoken word poetry of Rebekkah Hilgraves.
Apta is a real rising star and someone I want with all my heart to succeed. He’s a young guy with a really unique approach to post-rock inspired electronic sounds. I’m proud of what he’s entrusted me with and I pray he gets wider recognition … if anyone deserves it, he does.
Wolfgang Merx is my progressive electronic chum. He has released music before waag but I believe it is in the music he’s released (and rereleased) on the label … an interesting and vibrantly progressive neo-Krautrock … that’s really out there in a good way. He’s a real treasure.
But then so are folks like long form genius Earlyguard, musical polymath Mystified or ambient Don – Jack Hertz … who are established in their own right and have really blessed my label with their kind contributions.
Ketsa is another awesome contributor … his form of world fusion-inspired electronica is truly amazing. Getting his album was a sheer delight. One that was and is well received.
Other delights were releasing Gurdonark’s set of improvised ambient lullabies which, believe it or not, have been used by friends to soothe their kids to sleep … or being the first to put out the music of Scott Lawlor, Kevin Lyons, and Brother Saturn.
I could wax lyrical forever on this roster … and its remarkable to consider most of those I have discussed above came to me. I have yet to put out a call for submissions … people have been so generous to come to me.
COTW: What releases do you have planned in the coming months?
TM: We are currently 5 installments into a whopping 13 part long form drone series by Cousin Silas. By the end of December there will be more than 13 hours worth of drones from him … which is remarkable … and also very popular.
Other releases include a double album of lighter, more accessible ambient sounds from Cousin Silas … longform drones from Scott Lawlor and Earlyguard … some experimental sounds from William Spivey and also from Stephen Briggs … and a truly delightful piece from emptywhale.
I’m also planning another free compilation to finish the end of the year. Last year we managed to get some seriously talented folks like Neue, Swartz_et, Pinklogik, Sima-Kim, Fontaine, Apkallu of Enmerkar, Ambienteer, Jeff Scott Townsend, and the Earth Monkey chief himself, Clutter aka Shaun Blezard … to join folks from waag to make a fab compilation. My hope is we can, at the very least, match this comp in terms of number of tracks and sheer unadulterated ambient awesomeness.
COTW: Finally, where would you like to see the label in 5 years time?
TM: My hope is to be able to maintain the pace I’ve set. It will be hard considering we released 13 pieces between April and December, 2012; and have already exceeded that number with 16 from January to April, 2013. We are currently putting out 3 pieces per month and I hope I can keep that going.
I’d love to release some music physically. I do believe folks like Cousin Silas and Apta could easily sustain a short physical run.
I’d also love to see if we could do something live with the artists. This is the biggest challenge … due mainly to the physical locations of the artists. Cousin Silas lives nearest to me and he’s in Yorkshire (I live near Glasgow in Scotland). The roster comprises of Americans, Brits, Germans and even a New Zealander. This shows the power of both music and the internet because location is simply not an issue. It only becomes one if we decide to do something live.