Interview: Ricardo Stacey of Memory Number 36 Recordings

Ricardo Stacey - Founder of Memory No. 36

Your Bandcamp-based label, Memory No. 36 Recordings, has been brimming with new material as of late. What has inspired this resurgence of activity? Give us the scoop on some of the recent output! Is anything planned for the near future?

Yeah there’s been lots of new material coming out and much more is on the way for 2016. Due to various ideological and financial factors activity on Mem36 had simmered down quite a bit, but because of artists and labels that I’ve been exposed to lately I was hit by a wave of inspiration which got me to talking with wonderful people and putting out their work. A big part of this was the process of curating our second compilation album Traditions, Vol. II so while navigating Bandcamp and SoundCloud in order to assemble a team of artists I stumbled upon so many gems and began reaching out to them and inviting them to be a part of the label. Recently we’ve put out fantastic albums by Tominaga, sé luné, Airport and Lamusa just to name a few and on the way we’ve got new stuff from Maxwell Sterling, .ESC., Pregnant, Five Star Hotel, RAW SILVER and dozens more which I won’t disclose just yet haha. 

How would you define the label’s overall aesthetic? Has it evolved since its genesis in 2013? How has the sort of music you regularly consume changed since then?

From the beginning I didn’t have a clear vision for a specific aesthetic or genre which I wanted to work within so I’d say the label has been evolving over the years. The overarching theme has aimed at a shimmering, dreamy, hypnagogic type of atmosphere. The music itself has explored different territories but the main consistent characteristic has been synths and catchy beats working together in a pop-oriented fashion. See, the labels with which I was associating myself before starting Memory No. 36 such as Sunup Recordings, Ailanthus Recordings, Holy Page, and Lava Church didn’t seem to have a particular aim, they were just putting out what felt right to them in the moment and that’s the method I chose to adopt for my own label. Lately I’ve been consuming a lot more experimental electronic music and want that to be the main focus in the foreseeable future of the label. So I definitely plan on narrowing down the intentions of what Mem36 stands for. There will still be hints of catchy beats and dreamy synths here and there which I’m sure will please those who have been following us since 2013. I’d just like to expand the horizon and showcase some forward thinking innovators.

I first encountered Memory No. 36 through your bedroom-pop project Cassida Pax - have you worked on any music under other aliases? Which artists have influenced your sound the most?

I think that was the main audience for Mem36 in the early stages. People who were familiar with and appreciated my work as Cassida Pax who then decided to check out the label when I first announced it. During and after CP I’ve had several of my own projects most of which have been released on the label including .bleech, Brother & Noise, Fe Mora, Atlas Moan and Reality TV. I’ve set aside my own creative output for a while to focus on other things but I’m currently in the plotting stages of a new project called Pneda which I’m very excited about. I want it to be dancy/clubby but also highly experimental with a lot of samples strewn about. I’ve always had a wide range of influences. Everything from Throbbing Gristle to The Strokes, from Juan Atkins to Geneva Jacuzzi, from Blank Banshee to Lou Reed. I’d say right now what’s influencing me a lot is Yearning Kru, Fatima Al Qadiri, Arca, and in general artists that come from labels like Planet Mu, Software Recording Co., Fade to Mind, NAAFI and Houndstooth.

Your visual art is rad too, very post-human. What sort of ideas and motifs are blended into your work?

Post-Human is a very good way of labeling it. The concept behind my work has for the most part been to illustrate a future where humans are fully entrenched in virtual reality living and the joys and horrors which come with the ability of creating personalized synthetic environments, situations and sensations for our still terrestrial-based animalistic brain. And a big part of my work has also simply been to show people the marvelous imagery that can be created with 3D rendering software. In other words, allowing the artwork to exist for the sake of representing the technology which enabled the possibility of its creation in the first place without there being a higher concept behind it. And I’m happy to say that I’ve been able to inspire many to begin their own ventures in 3D art and they’ve gone on to surpass my own abilities and create really mesmerizing, breathtaking worlds. What I plan to focus on this year is showing an idealistic utopian sort of future where we’ve gone “clean and green” so there will be many abstract bio-mechanical life forms interacting with grass and trees and flowers. I’m also considering getting into video game design.

Could you name some other netlabels worth checking out?

Oh my god there are so many. Off the top of my head I’d say right now some of the ones to look out for are Visual Disturbances, Dream Disc Records, #weirdkids and Squiggle Dot. Those have really got my attention. VD and DDR put out some dark, challenging, conceptual works while #wk and SD are bright, energetic and effervescent. There’s just so much out there though. New labels pop up almost on a daily basis and most of them are incredible. 

Outside of your art and your label, how do you occupy your time? What are you into?

I’m trying to be healthier so I’m exercising a lot and while I exercise I watch videos on YouTube about philosophy and science. Also getting really into comic book mythology so I’m doing some research on that and buying a few comics which seem very interesting like Saga, The Wicked and The Divine and Sex Criminals. I’m also reading a book called Cyberspace: First Steps which came out in like 1993 and it’s a reflection on the capabilities of virtual reality for communication but also an examination of its logistics and architectural structure and how that affects the human psyche. Even though it’s over 20 years old it’s very informative and obviously very relevant to our world now.

Do you have a favorite emoji?

This is the hardest question by far haha. At this moment I’m obsessed with the eggplant lol.