The background story and future of the new record label “TYP!CAL” releasing pop music of the new era

In 2020, very new vinyl label “TYP!CAL” has been launched in Tokyo. The label releases 7 ”singles of various nationalities artists such as Hash Moss(Israel), Parisian, Lewis OfMan (Paris), SSW Brigt (Oslo). Nowadays, enjoying music through digital distribution has become the mainstream. We asked Gikyo Nakamura, the label’s presidency, about the significance of releasing in vinyl.

――First of all, may I ask about your resume of works?

Gikyo Nakamura:There was an import record shop called ZEST in Udagawacho a long ago, which I first started working as a part-time job when I was 21. It was in the early 2000s, so it was 20 years ago. Since ZEST closed in 2005, I started working at the record shop JET SET’s Shimokitazawa store the following year and stayed there until last spring. So I’ve been working at a record store so long.

――What kind of work did you handle at the record shop?

Gikyo:In ZEST record shop, that was the job of a certain record shop that everyone can imagine, such as serving customers at stores and writing comments on records.And in JET SET record shop, I had been a store manager a few years,I was in charge of planning in-store events. At the last few years, I was unit head of the production that plans and distributes analog discs, so I have many opportunities to work with label people and artists, and I have been involved in a wide range of work in the music industry.

――I remember ZEST covered new release line,I wonder if you were willing to work at a second-hand record shop?

Gikyo:Regarding the record shop which cover new release, the premise is very different now and then.

It was an era when we couldn’t listen to various music on the Internet and the information was not covered, so the walls of record shops and CD shops were the role of media. And the buyers of popular record stores assumed a part in the trend as curators.In the culture, the record shop had the power. I may have been attracted to such a place.

――When I was a customer, ZEST was very special shop which sell unique selection and Mr.Naka (Big Love Records) and Gakuji Matsuda of LEARNERS were the charismatic store staffs. And it was a shop that formed a cultural zone different from CISCO and DMR.

Gikyo:It may be hard to imagine now, but at that time it’s lucky to sneak into a record shop as a staff member! It’s such a popular job that I wasn’t in a position to choose like “let’s work at this shop” at all.So I was very lucky to be able to work at ZEST.In my case, there was still a Rough Trade branch in Japan at that time, and I was introduced to the owner of ZEST via former Rough Trade shopman.

――Did you have a desire to send something at that time?

Gikyo:Well,It may not have been so conscious. After all, I’ve always been motivated by the simple and optimistic motivation that I love records, buy a tremendous amount of records every month, and I’m happy and relax to be surrounded by them. Maybe it was my vocation.

――What made you decide on that vocation and start the label?

Gikyo:The direct opportunity is part of your current job. When I joined Lader Production, which I belong to last summer, I had a mission to start new master production and label business. Lader Production is an advertising music production company with its own studio and engineers, so the environment is certainly in place.But first of all, there was an artist in the production of the master, so now I’m looking for a talent to make something together.

It will take time, so I thought I would run a license release label in parallel and prepare detailed infrastructure and know-how.That label is TYP!CAL.

However, I had the idea of a label that mainly released analog records for a long time.Most of the overseas artists I like and chase after are self-released or belong to minor labels, and most of them aren’t physically released even though I’ve been waiting for them.Especially singles do not come out desperately. As a record collector, I had a lot of ideas, “I wish this song was released 7″ single!”, So I think I had the opportunity to realize that idea.

――Has the record in recent years become popular, and the increase in production and consumption has also triggered the launch of the label?

Gikyo:It may not have much to do with it.Statistically, the number of production is increasing, but there is also an aspect that the demand for goods like big artists is pushing up, and it is not clear whether the situation in Japan can be called a record trend.

Around 2012-14, there was a moment when I thought that analog was really exciting again, but in the last few years when major record companies have begun to print things that are not in demand, it’s a bit suspicious. When it comes to Western music in general and dance music, I get the impression that the domestic analog record market is getting tougher than it was about 10 years ago.

――Under such circumstances, what is the significance of launching a vinyl record label?

Gikyo:I feel the significance or joy of leaving the work of your favorite artist in the form of a record, so if you ask the meaning again, it will be an afterthought.I think I wanted to share what I liked with someone.

The music handled by TYP!CAL has a certain number of views on Spotify and YouTube, and I wasn’t  trying to find only unknown newcomers.

However, since I am not an artist who appears in the Japanese media, it is unlikely that I will know by chance unless I am actively digging overseas indie music or getting caught up in the algorithms of subscription music services.

Even if there are people listening to each point, there is no place to visualize the Japanese fan base, so it feels like no one else knows.However, when a Japanese label was physically released, I was able to make a little contact with them, such as being interviewed in this way, being treated a little in the news section of music media, and being posted on SNS by the person who purchased the record.

When I actually released them, I felt that there were reactions from people I liked, follow-ups from people who knew it, and connections were made. When I actually released it, after all there was a reaction from people I liked, and there was a follow-up from those who knew it. There is a feeling that a connections are being created.

――Recently, it has become mainstream for artists themselves to sell directly through bandcamp. In order for users to get there, they need to follow the artist’s SNS and actively reach them.

Gikyo:I’ve become accustomed to following artist information, and I don’t feel that inconvenience, but the hurdles are certainly high.But now, with media curated based on information from existing labels and distributors, we can’t find the information what we want.I feel that The Fountains DC and Shame, which are in the mainstream of British Indie rock, which would have been published in the magazine like SNOOZER 20 years ago, still barely have a media.But we can’t get information about French, German, or Scandinavian artists who are out of that lineage, or artists who haven’t signed a British or American label.The French unit Videoclub that you taught me before has just released an album from major label, but no information comes here at all.

Vinyls are the best format for collecting music

――How often do you listen to music on vinyl?

Gikyo:When it comes to how to interact with music in real life, 90% of subscriptions and 10% are records. But after all, I spend most of my pocket money buying vinyls.I had been aware of it before the subscription era, but in my case, the motives for listening to music and owning records are not equal.Even though the chances of actually playing records and listening to music are diminishing, records are still the best form of music collection, and there’s nothing better than that.

――What is the origin of the label name “TYP!CAL”?

Gikyo:A few years ago, I held a record-bound event called “TYPICAL FRIDAY” with the theme of ambient, lounge, and listening music.The event name is inspired by the song “TYPICAL!” From a band called Frazier Chorus on the 4AD label.I really like this song title. “TYPICAL” means something typical or addicted to the mold. The meaning is reversed by changing the “I” in the middle to “!”.

What I will release as “TYP!CAL”is melodious, universal pop music. It’s not kind of music that cutting-edge, and pointed.

So it’s typical depending on how you look at it, but when you consider how it affects young people today and the backbone of the artist, it’s actually atypical.

――Phil Spector also created originality in the pursuit of universal pop music. I feel that there are things that lead to that.There are words like “new classic” that conflict with the reccomend comments on the record.

Gikyo:Even if you play the same style of music as before, how it sounds will always change with the times.

For example,Lewis Ofman of France, which was the second release of the label.I think he was a generation who grew up listening to French electro-hip hop after Daft Punk.He has a deep knowledge of Italian lounge music and chanson, and creates music of unknown age that mixes both elements.I got to know him through an album called “Dear Annie” by an Irish rapper Rejjie Snow.It’s a hip-hop album, but it was quite unique, with lounge music and a French chorus.

The album artwork is also a girl standing in a flower field, with an atmosphere that leaves B-BOYs behind.So when I was reading LP credits with caution, Lewis was credited for the songs I liked in the lounge and in the French atmosphere.I thought “Oh It was him!”. And I look for his own works, that were also wonderful. This “Dear Annie” and Tyler, The Creator “Flower Boy”, these two are my ideal view of music right now.

――Personally, your taste for music is far from typical.

Gikyo:I hope it’s a compliment. I’m basically listening to new music from time to time.When dubstep is popular, I listen to dubstep, when I’m in Nu-disco, I hear four-on-the-floor, and in the last few years, it’s emo rap or bedroom pop.It’s not chasing the genre, it’s closer to the belief of stay hips.It’s kind of like “Ogiri”.It feels like the subject is changing all the time.This time, it’s fun to find what you like from these rules.

In such new genres and movements, the energy of young people with initial impulses gathers, and I am attracted to that energy.And I like the process of this early impulse and traditional pop music techniques intermingling.

That was the same case with Neo Acoustic in the past.Perhaps a moment in the process is still distorted for pop music.The beat is dubstep, and there are songs like pop music at first it didn’t exist.If you get the impression that it’s not typical, I think it’s right.

――The interview goes back and forth, but where did Hush Moss, the label’s first release, come from?

Gikyo:Hush Moss listened to today for the first time on a playlist published on Spotify by LA singer-songwriter Michael Sayer.

The song “Clear” recorded on this 7-inch was included in the playlist, and it really caught my heart.I searched for his bandcamp and it wasn’t physically released, so I contacted him when I came up with the idea for the TYP!CAL label.

It doesn’t make much sense for Hush Moss to be the label’s first release. The first three releases were being negotiated in parallel, and Hash Moss was the first to conclude the deal.

――I’m looking forward to listening to the upcoming works.

Gikyo:What I would like you to pay particular attention to in future releases is Thalassa, a Thai female singer-songwriter who will be released in April.She’s really lively and high quality indie music in Bangkok, but she belongs to a label called RATS, which has the globally successful Phum Viphurit. The video of “Hey Girl” taken during my trip to Japan is charming, so please take a look.You can feel her charm.

To make a label with a diverse and multicultural background

――Please tell us “TYP!CAL” your future prospects

Gikyo:“TYP!CAL” will release pop music.Rather than being serious, it’s more of a laid-back, positive mood of music.Also, when looking at the catalog as a whole, I want to make it a label that gives a sense of diversity and multicultural background.We are currently preparing up to Catalog No. 8, all nationalities are different and races are different.

Many of the artists I’m interested in right now are in scenes that are bound by curated playlists such as Spotify’s “Lorem,” “Pollen,” and “Anti-Pop.”

There is no distinction between indie and major in these three playlists, and there are times when Ariana Grande comes in next to an unknown newcomer.There is a re-suggestion of a classical artist mixed with the new work at that time. In fact, there are many artists who have gained popularity because of that, so I think this is part of the merit of subscription service.The curation sensation of this playlist isn’t new, it’s actually the old ZEST, and there’s a part that is similar to what DJ culture people have done, like the Free Soul movement.

Although it crosses genres, regional characteristics, and ages, I wonder if I can do it myself with an editing sense that labels things like mood and abundant knowledge.

Creating playlists has no influence on me, but releasing vinyls makes sense for the artist.I’m sure it’s a strange and special offer to get my own record from a label in Tokyo, and I think it’s not a little motivating for my activities.Right now, I’m planning to go a little further and make a release that connects Japanese artists and overseas artists.Please check our label’s website and Instagram for release information.

Gikyo Nakamura
While involved in the production of various artists, also as a writer  few miscellaneous texts and reviews about pop music.Belongs to Lader Production from 2020. Organing the indie label TYP!CAL, which specializes in vinyls.Personal hobby is watching F1 games.

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Sumire Taya

Born in 1985. With a focus on female musicians, artists, and actresses, she has been translating, editing and writing, and working on the "Girlside" project at dischunion, drawing on her experience running the record and clothing store "Violet And Claire".She has supervised the translation of Alexa Chan's “It” and “Rookie Yearbook” series. She is the author of "Female Complex", "Indy Pop Lessons" and "New Kyoto".