All hail the “All Night Brotherhood” — the debut release from a new label called “Palp.” The imprint founded by Ludovic Llorca is leading off with several EPs by Llorca’s acclaimed Art of Tones project, focusing on disco, house, and deep house.
“Quality is the key word here,” he says, promising to drop no more than one release per month, with a special emphasis on the finer points of sound quality and design. 5 Mag’s Terry Matthew spoke to Llorca on why now and what next.
Why a new label and why now?
Mostly because I’m a bit of a control freak, and I want to oversee how and when my music is released. That means promo campaigns, release dates, artwork, mastering. And if I want to plan an album recording, or a special EP with studio musicians, I don’t have to depend on a label’s good will to do it.
Why now? Because it’s easier to do it today than 20 years ago. Artists now have a direct connection to the audience, through social networks, streaming platforms and websites like Bandcamp. I’m making a lot of music, now I want to be more involved in the process of the release.
What labels do you admire and — I don’t know if the answer will be the same, but which labels do you feel are or could be a model for Palp?
Labels like Freerange/Delusions Of Grandeur, Aus, Ninja Tunes, Classic… They’ve been here for awhile and rarely compromised on the quality of the music. They chose to focus on authenticity and sincerity, and that clearly paid off. I love Guidance Recordings, that became a legendary label, mostly thanks to its musical high standards, and because it was a pioneering label in its own genre.
Now I’m aware I’m very far from these labels, mainly for one reason: right off the bat they released several artists’ music, while I’m starting the label focusing on my own tunes.
I think a record is a beautiful object and I understand why people care about it, especially in this all-computer, virtual world. Unfortunately vinyl pressing is a mess now.
What kind of sound can we expect from Palp? “All Night Brotherhood” you say is influenced by “Theo Parrish or Moodymann’s work.” Is that the general vibe or just the first offering?
Palp will mainly focus on house music — but I would say in a general way, Black-influenced music, be it disco, techno, or even Caribbean and African music.
Is this going to be mostly Art of Tones records after the first few or a wide array?
I’ll be behind the next three or four EPs, because I’ve got a lot of music ready to be released. But I’ve already received some great demos from friends, and I think the label shouldn’t focus on my solo productions. Let’s see what happens next, but I would love it to become something bigger than a one-man thing.
Vinyl or digital?
Both. Digital is the way most of people listen to music now, and I’m afraid we’re moving towards an everything-is-streamed world, which in itself is not so bad, if the streaming platforms were even paying what they should.
I think a record is a beautiful object and I understand why people care about it, especially in this all-computer, virtual world. Unfortunately vinyl pressing is a mess now, with a lot of delays. Some pressing plants announce six to eight months for an EP, but I should receive the first copies in the near future. I’ll start with 300 copies of every release and see how it looks.
But I’m not a vinyl obsessive, and I think content is more important than the container.
How important is the visual aspect of a record label to you?
This is your first contact with the music, even before pressing the “play” button or putting the needle on the record! Artwork is important, because music is something virtual, this is moving air reaching your eardrums — something you can’t even see. I think we need to connect artwork to the music, it helps us remember a track or an album. When I think of one of my favorite tracks or albums, I can picture it thanks to the artwork.
I’m very happy collaborating with graphic designer Michal Rafaj, he’s got this unique style that helps people clearly identify records.
You mention in the release notes for “All Night Brotherhood” that “after hundreds of records you don’t feel you’re doing something special anymore.” That’s an interesting thing to say because I’m sure a lot of people will identify with it, if only in secret. Can you explain what you mean by this?
I released my first record when I was 19 or 20. What I felt was beyond excitement, like a milestone in my life I knew I would remember. I guess every musician releasing a record, every writer releasing a book feels this way. The same goes when my first album was launched, it was a very special, sacred moment.
Now, after three albums and dozens of records and remixes, you need something different to feel excited, something more.
So you started your 2018 album Unbalanced with “Prolégomènes” which samples a tongue-in-cheek warning about sampling with a speech from a guy talking about stealing a musician’s livelihood… via sampling. And now you’ve started a label called “Palp” which you say is a French word for both “to feel or explore by touch” and also “to earn money or make a quick buck.” Somehow I imagine this is about as serious as warning people about sampling and piracy was?
Ahahaha you’re right! I’ve been looking for this label’s name for a long time. I wanted something short and easy to remember — a different, rarely-used word. And something that looks like me, because I like stupid, smutty jokes. I like [Palp’s] many meanings in French: its got a sensual connotation, but when used in a medical context it’s almost unpleasant. And in the French slang, it means “earning money,” which is kinda funny when you think of the first meaning.
What will success look like for you? I’ll commit to a follow-up interview a few years from now where we’ll talk about it. If Palp is successful, what will that look like?
Aim high, but be thankful for what you’ve got, whatever it is. I would like Palp to be one of the labels house music lovers turn to when looking for good tunes. It’s not a big deal, but that’s enough to require work, time and dedication! # # # # #
Palp’s debut release is Art of Tones’ All Night Brotherhood EP (with Scruscru remix) on digital & vinyl. Design by Michal Rafaj.