“On the internet, there is no real underground anymore,” writes graphic novelist and author Warren Ellis. Music today doesn’t rely on charts to remain relevant; some songs that have never experienced radio play have millions of plays on Spotify or YouTube. The internet has created an equalizing space for any artist to put their song out there, and hopefully make their mark in the world.
Conversely, people can get easily overwhelmed with all these music releases, which is why there are still channels people follow for new releases, little pockets of music people can live in. But today the question you should ask isn’t which music is the “best,” but rather which music you can relate to this very moment.
We take a look at local musical collectives that, one way or another, formed their own pillars in the music scene. There are artists that continually push sonic boundaries and there are artists that drive towards building a familiar brand. These are all voices worthy of being heard.
Formed by ΩMEGA, YUNG $IMON, TAN TREES, Knife, and skinxbones, NOFACE RECORD$ is a label born out of the corners of the internet you always knew were there, but never fully noticed. The same online spaces that have created manifold genres like witch house and vaporwave have also created a tradition for artists to twist and bend these genres as they please. The tags NOFACE RECORD$ assigns to its songs indicate a non-commitment to traditional labels, but they’re nonetheless descriptive; “hip-hop/rap” is coupled with other tags like “therapy” and “depressionwave.”
Although NOFACE RECORD$ has been only been alive for a year, its members have been consistently—almost restlessly—releasing new projects. To date, there are 19 projects up on its Bandcamp page, two of which are crew tapes ($OUTH$IDE$WA666 and DEAD INSIDE VIBE, both released in 2016.)
Whether it’s abrasive cloud rap, disconcerting beats, lulling vocals, or a combination of any of the three, the one thing that binds this group’s sound together is that it’s music that is best probably listened to by oneself. Some kinds of music build a barrier between you and the rest of the world, and in the hyper-everything of today, a soundtrack to being alone (and more importantly, being yourself) is therapeutic.
It’s hard to ignore movements from the likes of NOFACE RECORD$, whose songs probably won’t be heard at the top of the music charts, but find an audience nonetheless in the increasingly visible fringes of the underground. This record label might fade away back into the void where it came from, and the members may return under a different name. Who knows, and more importantly, who cares? The music will hopefully stay.
Video by Ivan Cocjin
This story originally appeared in Scout Magazine’s May-June 2017 issue.
Photography by John Dee