InterviewsLabel Interviews

InfeKted Sound: an interview with Matt Smith

InfeKted Sound is a young industrial/noise record label founded by Matt Smith a DJ and promoter from the UK. It was born of its founder’s experience and involvement in the underground hard electronics clubbing scenes, especially as DJ and organizer of club [implant] in Manchester. Founded in 2005, InfeKted Sound underwent a brief hiatus but is now back with new releases from its roster of UK-bred noise talent looming on the horizon.

Matt Smith1 – How and why did you come about starting Infekted Sound?

I have been into electronic music for years and, as my DJing evolved, people kept sending me demos of bedroom projects and various official releases etc, and as there was no real rhythm noise distributor in the UK I decided to start distributing CD’s. I came up with the name and logo about 4 years ago and decided to put some of my contacts to good use. The idea was shelved for a short while as I lacked the funds at the time, then I teamed up with Paul (Eva|3) and we began to talk about distribution in the UK. I mentioned my idea, coupled with the fact I had some really good home grown demos and we started to talk about running a label. Infekted Sound was born.

2 – When you started Infekted Sound, were there any labels that you could say were a reference or inspiration for your efforts?

Absolutely. I really admire and respect the Audiotrauma crew. For me this is the real underground and I have been involved to a small extent with the initial festivals. They are a great bunch and this really gave me inspiration for a UK collective, as well some of the more DIY labels in the US such as Slave industries and Mechanizms; some great art and ideologies and thought -provoking stuff – these guys helped me indirectly to nurture the Iinfekted Sound idea. I do track a lot of other labels to see what they’re up too and have good working relations with all those that I have contact with

3 – Almost mandatory question how did the name “Infekted Sound” come about?

Names are always tough to choose, from song titles to company names, for me, noise is infectious and spreads rapidly in both the ideology and the sound. I tried to associate images I created in my head with a name. I think a label should be identified with a strong visual ethic, this is something that we are cultivating at the moment as the name can be taken in several directions with art from dirty wars to clinical injections so we have the flexibility to explore different avenues of art and the name still holds meaning and we can keep things fresh and interesting.

4 – Since the inception of Infekted Sound, are there any events in the history of the label that you’d consider as particularly relevant, from difficulties and setbacks to successes?

For me, Paul leaving was tough going for a while in the organisational aspect of things but he is currently busy with college so I respect his decision. Just getting the whole thing off the ground and into the public eye was a huge challenge and a huge test of my organisational skills. Also every event I run takes some degree of organisation and tests me every time. There is always something that happens when you least expect it, also getting our resident graphics ninja (www.superevildesign.com) onboard was particularly rewarding. At first I was put off by some of Dene’s work but as we talked I realised the guy was extraordinary in his turnaround time and ability. I have an idea and bounce it off Dene, he realises the concept and adds his own twist. It’s great that we both share a vision of where the label is and where it is going graphically, we both feel this is a very important aspect of the label. Recently I had to have some time out over the Christmas period to put my life back on track and that took a good month out of Iinfekted Sound and put us a little bit behind schedule. We’re on catch up now and where I feel better within myself… Was quite a knock for the label.

5 – So far what would you consider as special highlights (or successful) releases and artists in the history of Infekted Sound?

Personally I would consider all the releases and events we do as highlights. I’m really proud and excited by the fact that these UK artists have chosen to go through Infekted Sound and that there are people out there who really dig what we do and believe in the future of the label (probably more than I do!). This constantly encourages me and reinforces that what I’m doing is relevant and at the right time, the biggest highlight is yet to come…

6 – Are there any releases in particular that you would recommend as good ‘introductory material’ to the Infekted Sounds label?

For sure the compilation “Rhythms for Decay”, however the roster has changed a little since the beginning. All our artists have sample material on their MySpace accounts.

7 – Looking back, do you have any regrets with Infekted Sound? If you could go back and change something, what would it be?

Probably start with a bigger budget! Seriously though, regrets are just situations you either learn from or you don’t. I have made mistakes with the label which has helped me to improve. I have never run a label before its fun and challenging and I’m always learning.

8 – An obvious question, but what is Infekted Sound’s ‘relationship’ with the Internet? From promotion tool and digital sales to file sharing and piracy, how has it affected you?

Immensely, I don’t think any label can survive without the internet these days, the success of a release or event depends a lot on publicity and promotion. I have played around with different forms of advertising for my club night (www.clubimplant.co.uk) both with flyers only, online only etc, the net wins hands down every time so, particularly for small labels, a net presence is essential.

As for digital sales, I’m mixed on the whole thing. I’m a DJ first and foremost so for me to burn up a CD or download off the net is no problem as I’m doing the artist a favour by playing their works in a club and helping to promote, advising people of what’s good music to find etc. 9 times out of 10 I will go and buy a release on the strength of a CDR someone gives me. However, the problem lies in p2p and file sharing that just rip all day, these are the real pirates and are sucking the life out of the underground music biz. Larger corporations who exploit artists to make money – fine go rip from them they deserve it, but leave the smaller independent labels alone as they don’t have as much money – simple really! I do not have a problem with people burning CDs for 2/3 mates, if they play to say 5 mates and those 5 and so on as long as I see a healthy return from that, at the end of the day it’s the artists that are losing out.

9 – Slightly related to the previous question, how do you see the concept of ‘netlabels’ and, as a labelhead, what is your perspective as to the future and evolution of physical media (CDs, vinyl, etc)?

Netlabels – what’s the point? It’s all about having a physical chunk of moulded art in your hands from the smell of the printing to the quality of the art and finesse of the tracks. It’s an all in one package – a physical piece of art – and that is what you pay for, why would I want to download bad quality MP3s and print my own cover – unless its an offshoot of say an online ‘zine as a special and I’m a fan?

As for mediums I love all forms and there are advantages to all forms of musical media. I’m excited about what the future holds, although can sound clarity and quality get any better? Even though media continues to evolve, there is still a market for all forms of media, and we as a label intend to exploit all forms. There are some mediums that have been washed up like reel tapes, Cassettes, Digital tapes due to the degradation of quality mainly, I think the way forward would be an extremely hard wearing CD that’s doesn’t scratch – ever!

10 – Perspectives for the future, what lies in the horizon for Infekted Sound? Can you share some long-term goals and where would you like to see the label heading to?

Who knows?! I never had a goal when I started I just want to release good UK artists, after a while my outlook changed slightly and now I’m discussing the possibility of running a festival in the UK maybe in 2008 covering the whole Dance Noise genre. This is now my top thing to do before I die – I have enough experience in organising live events so far and enough people willing to help out so watch this space! Also a new compilation, some vinyl, festival sponsorship, more quality UK noise acts on the way of course and also collaborating with some the biggest Breakcore and Hardcore nights in the UK, getting my artists to some of the big European festivals and generally just building a name that is reputable for quality releases and great live events, I’m just going to keep going and see where we end up. I’m open to any ideas and suggestions no matter how crazy they may be! The future is what you make it…

11 – What other labels/artists would you recommend at the moment and why?

Currently I’m a fan of the Topeth Prophet compilations – really good marshal industrial, the Enzyme guys in Holland for some brutal industrial hardcore. Bahntier rock too – they’re a Skinny Puppy style project -, LowTek in Ireland, Remain Silent is great, Ministry – there’s always time for some Ministry! Fear Factory and Prong (I’m on a retro trip at the moment), Orbital (I love Orbital and always have). I listen to a massive selection of music and sometimes none at all. Right now I’m enjoying the hum of my laptop fan… As my friend Pete (DJ Squeaky Pete) said “you know you’re into noise when you take your earphones out and start listening to the sounds of the train going over the tracks…” I laughed then but now I realise how true that statement is!

12 – Thank you for your time, do you have any final comments?

Thanks for the opportunity; I really enjoyed answering these questions and it’s great that zines like Connexion Bizarre are taking an interest in the smaller labels and giving us an opportunity to present ourselves instead of focussing on the big guns all the time. Infekted Sound continues to go from strength to strength and is a nice collective of like minded people, anyone interested in being involved with the live events or collaborative work can contact me (info@infektedsound.com / dj.mattnoise@gmail.com) as we’re always up for meeting people and stuff.

I’m currently in the process of hosting 30 – 45 min DJ mixes to serve as a spotlight for some of the UK DJs through the Infekted Sound website, which should be up soon. These will be quality mixes from a lot of my friends and affiliates of the label, keep an eye out as there will be some awesome sounds soon for free download!

I’ll see some of you at Maschinenfest if not before…

All the best and remember: the badgers are watching.

Relevant links

InfeKted Sound
InfeKted Sound @ MySpace

— interview by Kate Turgoose & Miguel de Sousa (February 2007)

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