Interview: Chris Gelpi // Nemuri Winter Label Founder

Compelled by the otherworldly chilliness of Nemuri Winter's debut label compilation, I hit collective founder Chris Gelpi up with a few questions concerning the record and his past artistic ventures. Read my thoughts on Nemuri Winter Vol. 1 here and peep the interview below:

Could you provide us with some quick background info on Nemuri Winter? What compelled you to bring the collective together, and how did you go about doing so?

I think it was a month or so after I joined the Tsundere Fan Club collective. I started thinking a lot about running a sister group on the side whenever i got a little bit more of a following.  I jumped on the idea sooner when i did a physical release for See You in May 2016.

As far as the name goes, it's pulled from a wood carving by Hidari JingorĊ called Nemuri-neko ("sleeping cat"), that looked a lot like my own cat.  I knew the sound I was looking for early on so I decided on Nemuri Winter as it sounded pretty spot on to that.

The group actually started in a Skype chat with Yen, just kind of kicking around the idea. Yen and I had some thoughts on who we wanted.  Enter Baku and ¿。. We added VALKYRIE, Acounta, and Ocha after that, but none of us were very active for the first few months.

I guess it was September that I noticed that the Soundcloud page was getting a bit of attention and was motivated again to make shit happen, so the rest of the members joined up pretty quickly and Vol. 1 started.

How would you describe the vibe of the Vol. 1 compilation? Who did the artwork? It's a very visually compelling release.

Thanks! When we started working on it I was expecting the compilation to be pretty moody or close to ambient honestly. We were all tossing around ideas on what we wanted to make for our tracks and a lot of us ended up going in different directions.  I didn't want to put restrictions on anyone because I knew that the people I let in already fit the sound I wanted without trying.  What i got from that was a pleasantly surprising mix of genres and energies that still captured the mood I had in mind without getting stale.  All that to say, I wanted sleepy winter vibes.  I wanted the thought of curling up with a book or a hot bath on a cold day.  I got all of that, without really saying it out loud to them.

That said, when i hit up Sarlis (sarlisart.tumblr.com) for the comp art, I actually straight up told her about the winter girl reading a book in her room without hearing any comp tracks first.  I gave her a loose mental picture and she delivered it perfectly.  We spent months looking for an artist we could vibe with and Sarlis nailed it all within a day. I wanted everyone to work freely and deliver their ideas of the collective aesthetic, so getting it all back in a way that came together perfectly is satisfying.

I respect that you all have input into the overall vibe of the music the collective put out! Do you have a group chat for the label that you use to communicate?

Yeah! we were using Twitter for a while but it was difficult to make important announcements for everyone to see since we all have different schedules.  We're on Discord now though and that makes it a lot easier to organize topics.  I wasn't sure what to expect from a group chat mostly, but the amount of enthusiasm from the others about the progress of the group is amazing.  we shoot the shit a lot but we're also crazy efficient because everyone is really excited to work on this

Your personal project, Daki, has had a pretty eventful year of its own. How often do you work on making beats? What tools and sounds do you use to do so?

This year has been crazy for me for sure. I've been on multiple hiatuses for spending so much time on this and being unable to pace myself. I started Dakihttps://soundcloud.com/dxki/tracks back in February as my first project making beats and in a recent total I think I counted 60 tracks this year. There was a while where I think I was posting material almost every other week. The original 5 tracks of Astral Drain were made over 2 or 3 days.  When things are clicking, I tend to stretch myself way too thin to get something out of it because I spend all of my down time feeling bummed about being in a creative rut. I think another huge contributor is that I don't feel that I know what I really want to work on. I get influenced by so many artists that I hear and I end up spending a lot of time trying to learn about composition in different genres. That's a lot of time spent analyzing and not really creating, so it doesn't help my moods. I'm hoping to find myself in 2017.. that feels corny as fuck to say.

 I actually have both FL11 and 12, 12 mostly for when people send me collabs (i'm the worst person to collab with btw). I'm so used to doing things in 11 and it does everything I need so I haven't wanted to go through with learning the 12 interface yet. I don't have many vsts that aren't stock other than a tape stop and a wow n flutter plugin for warped cassette FX.  In the few cases where I composed, I used Massive, Sylenth, Nexus and FL Keys (rhodes for a little lo-fi thing).  Other than that I collect kits.  I narrowed down my current collection to about 37 of my most used kits, so i'll be digging for more soon. I try to have as many options as possible and I'm going to be recording a lot of my own sounds for a future release.

Do you want to slow things down for 2017, or do you have even more material planned for the upcoming year?

My current goal is to do my best to make quality work: 1. I want to be more discrete about my plans and flesh concepts out more. A huge trend for me in 2016 was just saying "fuck it" and posting stuff, jumping accounts, deleting things. Just being indecisive in general. I also want to make sure I'm not shutting out my personal life. I'm getting closer to my late 20s and I have a fairly established life outside of the internet so I think it's important for me to keep in mind that this is an outlet, this is for fun, and getting caught up in the internet side of things, the numbers and all that, can take the fun out of it for me.

But I'll definitely still be working hard behind the scenes. I do have ideas for stuff I really want to work on as well as plans for Nemuri Winter and the other groups I'm in. It'll be busy for sure.

Could you give readers a history of your musical output? I first came into contact with your music thru the now-defunct Haunt Yrself Tapes. What have you worked on since then?

I used to front metal bands from 2007-2010. After that I spent a little time on some bedroom pop projects with GarageBand, Reason 4, and a little casio keyboard, tried playing guitar for a bit, and tried to start some small projects with friends that never really worked out.

Haunt Yrself was my first cassette label started in 2013. After that I worked on Ritual Tapes, doing close to 20 releases in 2014 and hosting a showcase in Los Angeles. From 2014 to December of 2016 I recorded and performed shows as a harsh noise/power electronics act.

I remember being pretty into the whole witchhouse sound back in 2011, and I got really into Balam Acab and Holy Other, etc in 2012. I guess that's kind of where my interest in production started. In the years following I got pretty into internet trap beats, though at the time I didn't know where to start or anything about the SoundCloud scene. I used to find stuff on Bandcamp and in 2014 I got pretty inspired by CHRSBRRY and FRCLN (who I'm in Tsundere Fan Club with now, oddly enough).

Finally in 2015 I started trying to learn beatmaking. I was watching a bunch of anime and stumbling on artists that sampled OSTs and it really drew me in to the whole SoundCloud scene.

Your output has spanned nearly every era of internet-DIY music since you started putting out material. How have your influences and listening habits changed over the years? How have they stayed the same, if at all?

I think overall my influences have stayed the same. qI find new influences all the time in whatever genre I'm learning about but I don't think I've ever fully dropped things that have really impacted me.  My listening habits are kind of obsessive in that I usually latch on to a style and listen to only that for weeks/months and then move on.  However, especially lately, my long-time love for the work of Phil Elverum has been leaking into my production.

I've always been into lots of variety though. Bedroom pop like stuff from Orchid Tapes, DSBM, J-idol music, noise-power violence fusion shit like Water Torture and Kuroi Jukai, new wave, xiu xiu whatever you feel like labeling them, dynmk-type stuff, vaportrap, lo-fi hiphop. I dunno, a lot of things have stuck with me over the years and even though it may not all come out in my music, it's played a HUGE role in how I listen to people I find online and the type of musicians I surround myself with, I think.

Do you plan on putting out any physical releases of your music? I know you've had experience putting out tapes in the past.

I think if I do, I won't be the one releasing it. I was pumped about releasing See You on tape, but I realized how terrible I am with mailorder now. The next EP I do will have a physical release through my friend Zack's tape label Shinonome Labs, and we're kind of discussing the idea of putting Winter vol 1 on tape to see what kind of response we get.

I used to love making crazy cassette packages, but now it's hard for me to make everything by hand and manage stock like I used to, while also working on music and working in general.

I really love the stuff that Shinonome has been putting out recently!

Yeah! Zack's been active in a handful of bands, Junpei Iori being his current main, I think, so he's got a ton of connects in DIY scenes all over the place. Almost a direct line to really solid but lowkey acts. I ordered the tape he did for his chiptunes project, and it's great to see him putting a good amount of effort and care into his physical releases.

What other labels have you been following closely?

This was more last year, but I was super into Aught \ Void and Sol y Nieve both catering to more noise, doom, black metal stuff but doing really great work on packaging.  inner ocean has a lot of cool lo-fi tapes. This has mostly been the year of collectives for me though though. Magic Yume was my go to on Bandcamp for a while. Yume Collective and Computer Ghost are also really cool.  Consul is insane for heavy trap stuff. Got to shout out Rareticuno and Akuma season. Ichigo and Divine Rights also have comps coming in the near future. Future Society just released a new comp. And obviously s/o to Tsundere Fan Club... Haremboys bout to do some stuff tho.

What are you into outside of the musical sphere?

Outside of music, I play video games a lot but I'm trash LOL.  I don't focus much on competitive gaming, so I don't spend a lot of time developing any skill.  I guess I just like to play for story or whatever.  I also really dig horror movies and slice of life/romance anime and manga!