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Label Mix Interview - Modern Obscure Music

Nina Label Mix

Open-hearted experimental music without boundaries.

By editorial


To give you an idea of the scope of the Barcelona-based label Modern Obscure Music, they have released records from both the Japanese noise legend Merzbow and the British bass experimenter Shackelton. They have worked with the German artist Wolfgang Tillmans and the late Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto. But the label was actually started as an outlet for its founder, Pedro Vian, to put out his own diverse brand of electronic music.

Since then, Modern Obscure Music has grown into an open-hearted experimental music label that operates without boundaries—both sonically and geographically. The label’s mix for Nina follows this logic. “Experimental sounds predominantly define the label, but I'm not committed to a specific style,” Vian says in our interview. “I release what I enjoy, and when I discover something interesting, I feel the need to share it.” Listen to the mix and check out our interview with Vian below.

Where are you based?

Pedro Vian: I'm currently based in my hometown, Barcelona, Spain, facing the Mediterranean Sea. I lived in Amsterdam for two years, where I did a residency at Het HEM in Zandaam. It was there that I recorded my third solo album, Ibillorca, released in 2020. I'm excited to announce that in April, I'll be releasing my fourth solo album Earth Our Planet?, also under Modern Obscure Music. I've invested a lot of time and energy into it, and it features collaborations with artists I deeply admire, including Pierre Bastien, Daniele Mana, and Raul Refree. The opening track, "Uróboros," is particularly special to me, a dreamlike collaboration with the exceptional violinist Asia. We worked together at my home studio in the mountains of Vallvidrera, Barcelona. I truly enjoy living in this sunny city. Also next month from the 2nd to the 12th of April, we are planning a pop-up and listening room in the renovated BD Design studio in the heart of PobleNou (Barcelona), we will host a series of free events focused on topics around experimental music. 

Can you describe your label mix?

Certainly—the mix includes some of my favorite tracks released on the label in the last two years. It features music by Sam Shackleton as The Purge of Tomorrow, a composition by Ryuichi Sakamoto conceptualized for our project PRSNT, and as a closing track, Laurie Spiegel's piece made for the same project. In between these masterpieces, you'll find music by legendary producer Susumu Yokota, Chicago-based artist Hieroglyphic Being, performing as Our Souls Are in the Hand of the Translator, and tracks by friends like Ana Quiroga, Daniele Mana, Pavel Milyakov, and Büsra. These are musicians I truly admire, who also have been part of one of our last compilations, called The Sound of Space, where the musicians translated imaginary and real spaces to music. The mix also includes an amazing track by Suemori, also known as Hoshina Anniversary, and an improvisation by the innovative trio I-I—Uchihashi Kazuhisa, Yamamoto Tatsuhisa, Sakaguchi Mitsuhisa. This is the latest release on Modern Obscure Music.

What inspired you to start a label?

The main idea behind creating the label was to release my own music. After working with different record labels on various projects, I decided to take control of my own path. A decade ago, it was challenging to find a home for my sound, so I self-released my first EP as Pedro Vian. This turned into a passion, leading me to release music from friends, acquaintances, and even artists I never thought would be part of my life. Over the past ten years, I've had the pleasure of collaborating with many artists I deeply admire. Running a label is a significant responsibility. I started as a DIY venture, but with time, I've worked with various collaborators, including mastering engineers, designers, promoters, journalists, and creative directors who have supported my project. As we celebrate our tenth anniversary this year, I'm grateful for all of them and strive to keep the spirit of the label alive every day.

Does your label have a sound or a mission?

Experimental sounds predominantly define the label, but I'm not committed to a specific style. I release what I enjoy, and when I discover something interesting, I feel the need to share it. It's a difficult feeling to describe, but the mission aligns with the concept of "Ikigai"—something that brings happiness.

Tell us about your scene(s).

I reside in Barcelona and started DJing at 18, playing at clubs like MOOG. I've had the opportunity to perform at Sónar five times, Primavera Sound once, and various other venues like Razzmatazz and Nitsa or Laut. Barcelona may be a smaller city, but it offers numerous opportunities and hotspots for all kinds of music. The electronic music scene is strong, and being in Europe provides easy access to some of the world's most robust scenes. However, we advocate for more flexibility in politics, calling for more freedom and less limitation on sound in certain music spaces. The digital era has eliminated distance barriers, allowing our music to reach every corner of the world through strong distributors. Collectives like Irradia, FOC, Golpe de Amistad, or the people behind Ombra Festival, Polyglot, Casa Montjuic, to mention a few, are doing a really beautiful job keeping the alternative scene alive.

What's your A&R process?

My A&R process is a mix of intuition and taste. While it's easy in the sense that I follow my instincts, it becomes complex due to the sheer volume of demos I receive. Unfortunately, I don't have the time to listen to all of them.

What labels do you look up to?

I admire a wide range of labels, both big and small, old and new. Some of the labels I look up to include Warp, Important Records, Shelter-Press, PAN, Hyperdub, NYEGE-NYEGE, Light in the Attic, Blue Note, ECM, Kranky, Merge, RVNG, Planet Mu, NOTON, Spacio Disponible, Black Truffle, and others. I appreciate the character and work of these labels and am constantly exploring new music while collecting records.

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