If there’s one thing that music can do probably better than any other form of expression it’s evoke emotions. Yes, the purpose of music is not musicianship, it’s about making a sound that resonate with how you feel, what you think and how to externalise your inner world in the most immediate way. So if your song isn’t evoking emotion, you’re most probably not doing it right, or at least not playing in a punk band!
Saying this, there’s no doubt that since its inception in mid 70’s punk has always been this totally imperfect, three-chord syringed angry music made by young people who convey a lot of energy and emotion. And by the mid 80’s punk had already been through a lot of phases while blending personal politics with social awarness and impassioned anger.
The Birth of Emocore
In 1984-1985 Washington, DC, and namely Dischord Records was a hotbed for a new generation of punk bands making desperate, yearning, emotional, and deeply self-questioning music—Rites of Spring, Ignition, Marginal Man, Rain, Gray Matter, and many more.
In the beginning this phenomenna was simply called “the D.C. sound”, however, punk music has its own form of media—the fanzine—and the band Embrace gave an interview for acclaimed Flipside fanzine where a new term was designed. “Emo” was a shorthand for “emotional”, and shortly thereafter the term “emocore” got kicked around as the new buzz-word.
The problem is that there were always those people who like their punk straight up, and referring to the raw and angry music that so many people call “hardcore” as emotional created even more contradictions within the scene. Embrace singer, Ian Mackaye, who was responsible for coining the “emocore” tag also regreted such labeling, and in 1986 Mackaye said whilst on stage that “Emocore must be the stupidest fucking thing I’ve ever heard in my entire life.”
Same as straight edge, another term coined by Ian Mackaye during his adolescent years, emocore didn’t disappear and emo bands not only did not fade away but, on the contrary, developed into something much bigger than originally intended. Emo was associated with a wide range of artists within the hardcore punk underground—from Ian Mackaye’s most audacious band Fugazi to Moss Icon, Native Nod, Nation of Ulysses, Still Life, Indian Summer, Julia, Heroin, Swing Kids, Christie Front Drive, Mineral, Sunny Day Real Estate, The Promise Ring, etc.; not to mention the so called “screamo” that came out in the 90’s with Honeywell, Saetia, Orchid, Neil Perry, Jeromes Dream, Yaphet Kotto, etc.
Surely DIY record labels like Dischord, Vermiform, Ebullition, Gravity, or Jade Tree Records were releasing great stuff. All of these bands are unique and they all came up with song structures, ideas and lyricism that pushed our scene forward. Although, emo was not a phenomenon limited to North America, amazing new emocore/indie/post-hardcore/post-rock influenced bands came out from all over the world, especially in European places like Germany, France, Italy, Sweden, or the UK.
But what about DIY emo record labels in 2016?
Time as a Color – Label feature
To put it bluntly, my intention for this post was not to go into details about the history of the so called “emo” or “emocore” music. To be honest, I was just too lazy to write reviews to some amazing emo records that a German guy named Daniel have sent me through the post. So I’ve decided to write just another label feature, presenting his awesome label Time as a color.
So what’s going on here? Time as a Color is a strictly DIY label based in small town south of Munich, Germany. The label has started by Daniel Becker in 2007 with the idea to do something meaningful and be part of the emo scene, while also give something back in return to what the DIY scene has already been giving to him and his own band.
At that time Daniel has been fascinated with the DIY vinyl releases of all these bands that formed his musical background: Jimmy Eat World, The Get Up Kids, Julia, Mineral, or Christie Front Drive, to name a few. Starting a DIY label is not motivated by some pretentiousness or a drive to make money, it’s something coming from the bottom of your heart, and Daniel is the last person who likes to show off. That’s why I’m so excited to write an article about him and his label.
Musically, Time as a Color is focusing on the more obscure releases, which makes it tougher to feed certain distribution channels, so to speak. So far the label is focusing on the rough genres of emo, hardcore, post-rock, some singer/songwritter stuff, and some heavier stuff (like the Danish blackened hardcore Hexis’ flexi). Basically, releasing anything that Daniel personally likes or got impressed by in some way—due to artists’ strong DIY ethos, or their kindness and humbleness as ordinary people.
“I like bands who take their music seriously but who don’t take themselves too seriously.”, he says when I ask him about the process of releasing his label’s records. The next thing I asked him was about the DIY, addressing the real do-it-yourself part: stenciling, folding, stapling, etc.
“I like handmade, DIY artworks, although the time I have left after work, family, band, general life and daily label stuff, sending orders and things like that is limited, so I decided to limit the releases that involve lots of elaborate packaging, etc. to releases of my own band—Duct Hearts. Our last year’s split with Laube and the “Divided by water” double 7″ (picture above) were the only handmade DIY artwork I made, and the double 7″ was way enough DIY work for a year. Three screenprints, cutting, folding, stamping the labels, assembly. Most other records were coreleased with other labels or the bands took care of artwork themselves, and things like that. I would love every release to be handmade like that, I just don’t have the time for that anymore.”, Daniel elaborates on my question.
Leave Nothing But Footprints,
Take Nothing But Photographs
The naturalist motto “Leave Nothing But Footprints, Take Nothing But Photographs” is also the name of a triple 7″ box set featuring songs by bands like Her Breath On Glass, Bail, The Rabbit Theory, Eucalypt, and more. Besides that Time as a Color is responsible for more than 50 other releases in its compelling discography.
Among them we can find Wishes On a Plane 10″ (Daniel’s own band prior to Duct Hearts) and, of course, a whole bunch of Duct Hearts records.
A definite highlight in its discography, and a band that I’ve already interviewed in DIY Conspiracy, is Human Hands from the UK. All of their releases are amazing, and both their “Morning Sun” LP and the split LP with The Blue Period are proudly taking space in my 2016’s year list.
Emo-violence quartet Coma Regalia is another “popular” band in Time as a Color’s agenda. They’ve been releasing countless of split 7″ records, one of which was also reviewed at DIY Conspiracy, although their latest release is a split 12″ with What of Us.
Both Coma Regalia and Human Hands are appearing—together with Duct Hearts, Trembling Hands, and Careless—in the beautifully crafted 2×7″ compilation “Divided by Water”. I love this!
The latest release so far is Vienna’s breathtaking emotive hardcore trio Pettersson, while other recomendations from me include The Blue Period 10″ and Grand Detour’s LP.
I wholeheartedly hope this article doesn’t seem pretentious, I just want to present the music and message behind a small and awesome record label from a small European town. And besides the ones specified, there are so many other bands and releases worth mentioning, but you can do the homework and find out for yourself. Especially if you own a record player and order the physical copies from the label.