figureight Records :: IMX Label Focus :: Hildur Maral Interview
July 26th, 2017 | News
There is a new label, we want to say, in town, but this label exists in the ether… wherever it wants. Welcome to the world figureight.
It’s Icelandic Label Manager is a woman who roams the world, so in may ways the label is mostly Icelandic, due to the material they release, yet utterly rootless at the same time. There is definitely something quite magical about this mysterious combination.
figureight is a brand new record label led by mastermind musician Shahzad Ismaily, a multi-instrumental and multi-disciplinary performer often seen onstage among the greats, including Bonnie Prince Billy, Ben Frost, Lou Reed, Tom Waits and John Zorn, to name a few.
The label is Ismaily’s vision of a home for “interior, shy, and hidden works”, a label that celebrates musicians “rare, weird, and unique.” Like Ismaily himself, many of figureight’s artists are sidemen to better known performers, releasing their debut albums proper through the label. Envisioning the label as a space where “even the most nocturnal creature would come out to see what’s available for fun and adventure,” the focus is on a nurturing and respecting environment.
Fuelled by a holistic and artist friendly approach, figureight values sincerity, curiosity and artistic vision. This translates into a diverse (and highly selective) roster, set apart by musical and geographical distances but bound together in creative and expressive spirit. Like a close-knit community, the label’s artists frequently write, play and record together, in studio and onstage. Connected with Ismaily’s own Figure 8 studio (Brooklyn, NYC) – where most of the figureight releases pass through in some way – the label’s releases often feature a circle of musicians of massive regard, from downtown NYC and beyond.
Their latest releases are:
Indriði – “Makril” (August 2016)
We spoke to Hildur Maral the label manager to get the low-down on the new label and what they are working towards:
IMX: Tell us about the label, how it came to life
Hildur: Shahzad Ismaily is one of those rare musicians who seemingly finds the most intriguing musicians over and over again. Or maybe they find him, I’m not sure. Or its a divine intervention. In any case, he has a way of bringing interesting artists into a room or a studio and bringing something very special out of them. A while ago he started feeling that he wanted to do something with these gems, and the idea for the label was born.
IMX: What is the ethos behind the label
Hildur: To shine a light on the most special artists and release their debuts proper, as they might have mostly been playing as sidemen in other projects. We value sincerity and growth and try to offer a holistic and artist friendly approach in our work.
IMX: Why are you releasing so much Icelandic music? Whats the appeal?
Hildur: Shahzad has been a regular of the Icelandic music scene for years which has resulted in a trusting relationship and a connection to the art of these musicians. I am Icelandic and absolutely love working with Icelandic musicians, because they are usually in it for the right reasons which I think influences the output. It’s just about creating and expressing oneself through music, no industry bullshit or trying to generate chart-toppers. Which, you know, I have nothing against – but for this label its more about the strange and unique.
IMX: Would you say this label floats in the ether, neither tied to any particular location? Or deep rooted within Iceland itself?
Hildur: We are nowhere and we are everywhere. We are connected to the Figure 8 studio in Brooklyn, NY which has seen a lot of Icelandic musicians visit and a lot of the label releases pass through in some way. But the artists are based in different places. We probably have the closest ties to Iceland and USA as that’s where the artists are from.
IMX: What can we expect re future plans?
Hildur: We have a lot of exciting music ready to be released to the world. Other than that we are really excited about new opportunities and adventures in this ever-changing industry. We want to explore, experiment and be at the forefront of what’s to come, instead of fighting to stay within the outdated and boxed view of what it is that a label should do.
IMX: Favourite thing about being a label manager?
Hildur: It’s all about the music. I really respect the artists I work with and love their art so it’s a very easy job for me, focusing my efforts at bringing their music into the world and helping them grow as musicians in any way that I can.