Interview // Thomas Chan, founder of Mecha Yuri
back in 2011, i used to frequent an online forum mainly used for discussing nintendo games and cartoon network shows and junk like that. looking back, every member there was probably a bored pre-teen. we had factions, and me and a few other members who all shared the same interest in music decided to form a group called "HarmoniCanadianReckords" or HCR for short. our first release was an album simply named "Skype Sessions", where me and another member attempted to record a live album inside a skype call, occasionally adding another person to the call as a 'guest musician'.
later on, we began to collaborate more seriously, and the idea of an 'online band' took off in our heads. we would chat almost 24/7 over skype and exchange raw recordings through dropbox. the HCR bandcamp soon became a place for all of us to host different mini-projects, albums and eps under different artist names.
How did things evolve from HCR into Mecha Yuri?
somewhere in the middle of 2013, we decided that a rehaul was needed if we wanted to ever be taken seriously. we picked the name "mecha yuri" because it was a deconstruction of /mu/, the music board on 4chan: "/m/" being the 4chan board for mecha, and "/u/" being the board for yuri. "mecha yuri"
at first, "mecha yuri" wasn't all too different from HCR. it was only still the same three core members - Radical McKickflip, the OMNIPRESENCE, and myself - releasing on the label. over time, i decided to invite other musicians i knew either from real life (RLg) or various spots on the internet like tumblr, soundcloud and twitter (i know who you are and you are nothing, tekkaman, etc.) to release material on the label. after a few releases, like minded musicians noticed what we were doing and started to submit projects for us to release.
Do you have any specific criteria for the releases you put out on ur label? What sort of sound or overall aesthetic do you strive for with ur label?
i used to jokingly say to artists who wanted to release on the label that their music just had to be "anime". at first, we were aiming for an aesthetic that was inspired heavily by anime, japanese pop culture, and the "tumblr-esque" image edits you see on the internet.
anime is definitely still a huge influence on the artists on the label and the music we put out. for example, a few of our artists come from the "lolicore" scene; a genre which at it's roots is essentially anime-samples overtop of fast paced breakcore.
HIGH IMPACT SEXUAL VIOLENCE and Cute Fills, two indie rock bands who've released on our label also fill this "anime"-vibe: a lot of their songs are inspired by anime or manga. genre-wise, we're completely open to anything pop or experimental.
How do you come across the projects that you've put out music for? Do you actively seek out new stuff or do they come to you?
it's a bit of both actually! most of the artists we've released for are people i've met previously through twitter or past-compilations or whatever. a few artists, such as cute fills and mock off, i found through soundcloud or bandcamp and contacted personally to ask to release something of theirs. and on super rare occasions, i'll get a message from an artist who wants to offer something for us to release. this happened when Renjā, who i was already a fan of, messaged me out of the blue asking if we'd release their new album. i didn't even know that he'd heard of my label.
Speaking of Mecha Yuri's internet presence, I've seen a few online live shows that the label has hosted. How do you go about organizing one of those?
all of our online live shows were hosted through "tinychat", a video chatroom service. a little disclaimer though, the idea of an online show using tinychat came from SPF420, and the amazing shows they host. basically, all a musician has to do to perform is broadcast themselves through their webcam and microphone. planning is pretty simple: you just have to make a schedule and find people willing to play during a timeslot. all the artist - and the viewer - has to do is visit our tinychat URL. we've hosted a few shows this way, my favorite one being the launch party for the chao garden compilation we hosted with ecchiparty. sadly, i missed most of it, but the whole thing lasted over eight hours. apparently Bo-en and Clover and Sealife (formerly Space Boyfriend), two of my favorite musicians, showed up in tinychat to watch. and my friend goliad dunked some hoops during their set. bummed i missed that, haha.
Have you gotten the chance to see any shows irl?
totally! the last show i went to was teen suicide opening for Alex G right here at the Smiling Buddah in Toronto. it was a bit crazy because my friend rodrigo, who makes music under the name "RLg", played the same venue's basement after being invited by our friend MJ, who makes music as "Five Star Hotel" , who was on a mini-tour coming from Detroit. this summer i'm already planning to see death grips, yung lean and ryan hemsworth.
Hemsworth is so good!
i know right
Tell us a little about your own music!
heck yea! i've recently decided to change my artist name to "for airports". a reference to brian eno's "Ambient 1: Music for Airports" and the crazy nostalgic and sentimental feelings i have about airports and travel in general. i've only released two songs under that name; two tracks for compilation albums from The Worst Label and après-MIDI. i'm still working out a style for what i want my new music to sound like, but if i had to describe it i'd say something dumb like: "layered and atmospheric-feeling lo-fi pop built mainly around altered samples of my own guitar and vocals".
my main musical influences off the top of my head are Baths, who taught me that electronic music production can be meticulous, melodic, emotional and beautiful and MEISHI SMILE, one of the co-runners of ZOOM LENS label, and one of their earlier projects "nono.". a dream of mine is to release a project on ZOOM LENS one day.
What sort of labels should fans of Mecha Yuri's aesthetic look out for?
definitely The Worst Label!! They're our closest net-label friends; a lot of artists who have released with us have also done releases with them and they're just super amazing overall. Canata Records is a great net-label based in Tokyo that I admire a lot. And we have a lot of close ties and similarities with labels like Pure Aesthete, AMBLIS RECORDS, Magic Yume Label, Hope Sick Cola and Senzu Collective.