BYTHEINCH: Secret Station Records started back in 2009 as an outlet for you to release your own music rather than relying on the musical direction of other labels; what kick started that idea, other artists or your own production?
LUNAR TESTING LAB: It was my own productions, specifically SS-01 Seashore Blvd. I didn’t think the label I was with at the time (I, absentee.) would be able to fit it into their schedule, and it was so different from the other LTL music I had done before, so I decided to put it out on my own label.
In the first year running SSR you had fifteen releases, not including a DVD release by Gabriel. It appeared to be quite the busy schedule for a new label, how did you find the first year?
It was, and continues to be a learning experience. At the beginning I contacted a lot of artsists asking if they’d be interested in working with Secret Station and I expected most of them to say no. Surprisingly, just about everyone said yes, so it was fairly quick and easy to fill up the release schedule for the first year and beyond.
The SSR active roster of artists has reduced since 2009, are you still in contact with artists including Paneye, Drexon Field & Mental Health Consumer? Are most of them still producing music?
There are some occasional e-mails with a few of the artists I’ve worked with over the years, but for the most part, no, I’m not really in contact with anyone. As far as I know just about all of the former SS roster are still producing music.
Take us through Lunar Test Lab; what is the name in reference to & do you do all the design work for the album covers?
Back in the mid 90’s I lived in the city and everyday the bus would take me past a place called Solar Testing Laboratories. I always thought that was an interesting name, so when I started producing music I used it (the business was long gone by then). Then I changed the Solar to Lunar because I’ve always been very interested in the moon, and I ultmately shortened it to Lunar Testing Lab because it just sounds better (plus some people were having a hard time spelling l-a-b-o-r-a-t-o-r-y!). I did the cover designs on all but 1 of my early releases (Seashore Blvd, done by Devin Hogan), but the last 3 were done by Raz O’Connor at a design company in Australia called Made By Ronoco.
The Winter Void & Nightmusik were very much driven by delicate soundscapes & incredibly atmospheric samples; Promixa Station for example, has a feel to it that I can only relate to an abandoned, damp underground concrete parking lot.
However in your latest album Into the Dark Distance, released in June this year, delved into more instrumental territory. Can you go into some detail about the difference in concepts behind your last three albums?
For Nightmusik and Winter Void, I was just bored with coming up with drum tracks and was wanting to try my hand at ambient music. I had always done little ambient bits and interludes, but never a whole release. For Dark Distance, it was the first time I did anthing without any concept or idea in mind. I just wanted a collection of tracks I thought people would like and hopefully want to buy since it was a charity release. So I did it like I used to, with lots of samples and drums and all that, which people seemed to like the best.
You’re a native of Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, I noticed all the proceeds from Into the Dark Distance go to the Keystone Trails Association, how much has your hometown influenced your music & why donate to this particular charity?
I think it has influenced me quite a bit, but it would be a very long explanation of how. I will say this- I am very fortunate to live in an area where finding good records, for very cheap, can be pretty easy. Those records influence the music I make more than anything.
I chose to donate to the KTA because I am an avid and active hiker. The KTA helps bulid, maintain, and promote trils in my state, and that is something that I want to support as much as I can.
You’ve been playing bass guitar for 25 years, what else influences your production? Are there any artists currently that you think are creating something special?
My influences are mainly others people music and whatever I might be into at a certain time. As far as current artists that are creating something “special”, Tobacco of Black Moth Super Rainbow is the first that comes to mind. I think his sound is pretty unique and he can do really pretty music and really dirty music equally well.
What’s 2014 hold for the record label & Lunar Testing Lab?
I don’t have any plans for any other Lunar Testing Lab, but I am working on a few other ideas with new names and concepts. One is more sample oriented & one is more live instruments. Not sure what will become of them, but I’m sure at least one will be out in 2014.
Finally, what were your influences & ideas behind this mix for us?
The main idea was to have the mix go through different dynamics and feels, but still have it all go together as one cohesive piece. Not sure if I actually did it, but it was fun to try!
Thank you very much for your time!
Thank you for including me!