Interview: Scissor & Thread

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After talking with Lawrence earlier this month we noticed that while the similarities between Dial Records & Brooklyn based label Scissor & Thread  are almost non existent, when examining the core ethos of both labels you notice two common themes; They’re conceptually organic & have an artist roster based on friends & family. Since Scissor & Threads’ inception in 2011, Francis Harris & Anthony Collins have gone on to create a tidy family of sub labels, each with their own specific purpose & aesthetic whilst coalescing as an overall brand.

Parent label Scissor & Thread, along with the limited press sub label S&T Limited veer away from the club mentality to focus on the development of an artist, giving them full creative control on every release. Dutch vocalist Gry Bagøen’s Phantom Power EP features four downtempo electronica tracks for the latest S&Tltd release. Bagøen’s fragile, yet fervent vocals also feature on both of Harris’ albums. Meanwhile Collins’ directs attention back to the 4×4 environment with his Natural History sub label for fast house cuts where Bluelightmover, Distant Phase & Collins himself release two track EPs. Finally, Frank & Tony Presents was created in similar vein to Natural History, however they are purely for Collins & Harris productions.

Harris went on to mention during his recent interview with Inverted Audio:
“We’re not seeking out artists or new material and keep wondering what’s going to come next – we have so much material from the small circle of friends that we have, that it’s easy to have records for the next year and a half.”

It’s almost an understatement, six releases already in 2014 including Harris’ remarkable sophomore album which ranked number three in Fact Mags ‘Best albums of 2014 so far’. Ten seconds into hearing ‘Minutes of Sleep’ & you’re ears are engulfed by the warm, dusty ambience of opening track ‘Hems‘. Along with Gry Bagøien, trumpeter Greg Paulus (No Regular Play) and cellist Emil Abramyan all return after Harris debut ‘Leland’ to contribute to create a delicately capricious hour of music.

Francis mentioned that around the time of Scissor & Thread’s creation he met you Anthony & that you were about to start your own label, what was the initial premise of starting your own label?
I suppose like anything in my life, the ability to do it my way without the constraints of record labels that want something out of you that you are not willing to give.

What is the philosophy behind not only the S&T logo but your labels aesthetic?
Definitely a nod to a DIY attitude. The idea that how you act is not a reaction to presupposed notions or mores. Action becomes a direct reflection of desire rather than assimilation.

How would you describe the differences between your releases via Scissor & Thread, Scissor & Thread LTD & the Frank & Tony Presents?
We would like to think that there is a common thread between all. A commitment to the music, but from a practical point, we have a lot of music to put out , so the different labels allow us to continue a constant output of music. Frank&Tony Presents is also quite obviously reserved for just frank&tony cuts.

Tell us a bit more about Léah Lazonick’s 18 minute classical piece called ‘Into the Forest’.
This is a piece that we hope to put out in the coming year. Leah is a remarkable composer and the piece really moved us when we first heard it. We hope to release it with a series of remixes sometime in 2015.

We recently chatted with Peter Kersten who mentioned Dial Records only releases with friends and family. In your Inverted Audio interview Francis, you made similar comments, is that something both of you would like to continue with in the foreseeable future?
Of course nothing ever really works out exactly as planned, but we’ d like to think that any relationship we build with an artist is one that feels natural and organic. We feel the strength of most labels we admire is the feeling that they are not seeking out new artists but rather exploring within their own communities. Most great musical traditions are, in our minds, a reflection of the material relations within a community.

You run a monthly residency at the Panther Room at Output in Brooklyn, what is the concept behind the night & how is it being received?
It’s a place where we are able express ourselves musically in the most comprehensive way we see fit. We play all night, often for 10 hours. In the end, it becomes a real conversation between us an our audience. There is nothing more intimate than sharing a room with a group of people for that long. We also view it as a celebration of our place in the community and how lucky we are to be a part of it. This is the idea behind the special punch we make (a different one each month) for the residency. Its a shared celebration.

As much as this is an ironic medium to ask this question, however Is there such a thing as connecting too much with an artist? I’m referring to the anonymous end of the spectrum; artists such as Boards of Canada, Rrose & SHXCXCHCXSH. Is there sometimes too greater emphasis on finding out the whole story behind an artist, rather than focusing on the music itself?
The idea of the private life of an artist and the fascination it inspires in the media or social media is a funny thing, as from our perspective, its often invited by the artist. We find it difficult to connect with our colleagues who find it so important to let their fans know what a glamorous lifestyle they lead. Its a sign of vanity that has nothing to do with music that is, in our mind, meant to be a reflection of public solidarity. On the flip side of this, there seems to be a real attraction to the “anonymous”, which, in a lot of ways is a reflection of the problematics of the former, as straight out of the gate, a level of exclusion rather than inclusion is necessary to its market success. Thus, the connection to the general public is one that is presupposed by a level of inside knowledge that can only be attained through hierarchical modes of social engineering. This may or may not be intentional by the artist, but the market for the secret artist is indicative of a culture that transforms the push and pull of the public and private into a commodity fetish.

There was a talk recently on the inability of the american school system to grade, teach & measure a child’s creativity. The talk did discuss other problematic areas of the American education system, grading creativity is just one aspect. The feedback from projects such as Youthville in Detroit has been extremely encouraging & I would like to hear your thoughts on this area.
The failure of the education system goes way beyond just an inability to grade teach or measure a child’s creativity. This comes once the basics are in place, and by basics we mean, access to food, clean water, housing etc. That being said, the complexities of education in a nation of 317 million people, is one that can seem daunting at best. However, on a macro level, nothing will change in the United States until a paradigm of thinking does. Education is a basic human right and should be
treated as such. This seems like a simple idea, but in a country that thrives on a discourse of private gain rather than a shared vision of the future, the idea of success rests upon the shoulders of individual will, which is just myth and addresses none of the vastly disparate material conditions in which children live today.

What can you tell us about upcoming S&T or solo projects?
The next Black Light Smoke ep, “Firefly” comes out next month, along with a new frank&tony ep, “what you believe”. Then, in fall, we are debuting an ep by a new artist soon to be announced as well as the release of the frank&tony long player.

Are there an artists or tracks that haven’t left your record bag recently?
Probably anything DJ Sprinkles.

Francis Harris & Anthony Collins return to Fabric Saturday July 5

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