ASHE recently launched his own label, Ocean Dark, and the first release on it are his own tracks, ‘Nocturne‘ and ‘Wintermute‘. The artist has become a prominent figure on mau5trap through his unique sound. With this launch, he provides an outlet for himself and others to share a common space.
It’s an exciting venture for the artist who has consistently built up an individual style for himself. Beyond that point, there are many peers within his community that truly deserve to be highlighted and given a platform to represent themselves and their work. With Ocean Dark, ASHE provides an outlet for himself and such artists.
Given the current musical space, the value of artist labels and collectives is ever-blooming. With that being said, we shed a spotlight on Ocean Dark with ASHE taking the time to talk to us about his endeavor which you can read below.
Happy Days! My debut release on @oceandarkco is OUT NOW! https://t.co/lEzQoQd98G Years and years of planning and developing went into creating this record label. It's a long running dream that has finally come true. Hope you enjoy Nocturne / Wintermute! pic.twitter.com/ryFfG6wm27— ASHE (@asheoffline) November 13, 2020
Hey ASHE. Congratulations on launching Ocean Dark, your own label / art collective! What gave you the incentive to go on this endeavor, and what do you hope to achieve with it?
Thanks so much for chatting with me! Well there’s been a growing rift in the industry that I along with many others have been noticing for some time. Over-saturation mixed with big money started to create a disconnect between artists, art and record labels. We live in a digital age where it’s so easy now for people to release music but so hard to reach an audience. We’re trying to find a way to make it more appealing to artist with better contracts, assets and guidance. Nine times out of ten you’ve signed your release and now you’ve got to create art, videos, branding etc. It’s so much to contend with for some artists that it gets overwhelming. With each release we’re trying to set up our artists for success in every way. Short term, I’d just like to put out some music. Long term we’re hoping to create a place that artists can co-habitate and not worry about selling tickets.
How did the name Ocean Dark come about?
I had actually written a song about 2-3 years ago that I used a ton of waves foley in that I had called Ocean Dark. I usually come up with names for songs by focusing really hard for the afternoon and pacing around until something interesting comes to mind. It was cool cause its bit of a mood vs anything physical almost like poetry. I knew that I couldn’t use it for the song I had written, so while we were spitballing the concepts it came into conversation naturally. I’d been holding onto Ocean Dark for so long waiting for something special. Turns out it was a label.
How would you define the aesthetic of the label and the music you want it to represent?
It’s a hard to define. The goal of Ocean Dark was to give a place for the weird and unique to have a home. We’re trying to be a bit of an oddball boutique label. There’s not a lot of electronic labels that are looking for weird and the ones that do are so exclusive they miss out on a lot of great artists. In the end i’m just hoping we get to put out some fresh and cool records from friends who don’t fit the mold.
Following the release of your own tracks, ‘Nocturne’ and ‘Wintermute’, what can we expect moving forward?
Moving forward we’ve got a really cool release lined up right after mine in December. A guy i’ve been a huge fan of for ages and was one of the first I had in mind for Ocean Dark. Beyond that we’ll be taking the holidays to ourselves and then having a clean slate for 2021 which i’m sure we’ll be filling quickly.
If you can pick any 2 artists and release their music on Ocean Dark, who would you choose?
Chrome Sparks and Lusine as a highball. To be fair i’m more than happy releasing some of my friends and colleagues stuff. It’s astounding the music that doesn’t get picked up because it doesn’t “fit the mold”.
Will Ocean Dark be your main channel of output, or are you planning to continue diversifying your releases?
Ocean Dark I hope will become my main outlet. The freedom of having full creative control over a project gives you the ability to really try wild stuff. I recently became a part of Dom Kanes label 5302 Recordings which I’m very excited about and I’ll obviously always sent the appropriate tracks to mau5trap and others. There’s still tons of songs I write that don’t fit the Ocean Dark vibe!
What do you think is the value of artists, such as yourself in this case, launching their own labels and collectives.
I think it goes without saying that more artists need to jump to this conclusion. We don’t want to crowd it but big labels take a big cut and we’re in a digital era now where I can write a song and show the world in the same session. We’re not pressing records anymore were pushing MP3s and apart from the benefits a major label can offer you you’re sometimes waiting 12 months between releases and at that pace you’ll never take off. Beyond that you’re going to be hard pressed to develop as an artist if you have a labels interest in mind more than your own.
I understand you want to kickstart things from an organic “boutique” position which is why your demo box is closed. Any particular reason for taking this approach?
There’s a lot of work in putting together assets for a release start to finish and I didn’t want to promise a bunch of people something I wasn’t able to deliver. We’re “testing the waters” right now. First we want to gage interest. Then we want to put out the records from friends, that have quite frankly blown me away and get a good pace going. Open demos before the first release feels like you’re opening up the door to a lot of empty promises. When we’re ready we’ll let people know but we want people to know who we are first! Something that bugs me about labels is how inattentive they are at responding, listening or even checking emails. When the demo box is open I’ll need a system in place to make sure we acknowledge that glaring problem. I don’t want to become the thing I hate on day one haha.
Nocturne / Wintermute
‘Nocturne’ kicks off on a mysterious and lush note, with the kicks and bass coming through front-and-center. Following, the fluid synth pad emanates a comforting tone while the track progresses. The track simultaneously feels close and personal, yet distant and isolated, as emphasized by the mix. On the other hand, ‘Wintermute’ swells into Burial-esque drums and percussion, while the ghostly vocals reside in the background as essentially, a melodic component of the track. From there, the build brings in gleaming synths as a counterpart to the overall atmosphere. Moreover, ASHE later brings in a fresh sweltering pluck that grabs a hold of the track. Throughout, both releases distinctly hold the artist’s signature and come from a promising place. We’re eagerly anticipating what more the artist has in store for us through his own music or Ocean Dark label.
Listen to ASHE debut the first release on his Ocean Dark label through ‘Nocturne’ and ‘Wintermute’!
Cover Photo by: Yasmine Najib