This is one of the early netlabels, starting in 1998, and one that still exists because it has a steady drive. It’s therefore only natural that it should be one of the first of series of feature articles on netlabels. I had an e-mail chat with Aimé Dontigny, the current director at No Type.
I have monitored the releases of No Type right from the beginning. When I first started thinking about a goal for my own internet activities (I had been a webmaster for a corporate for a couple of years) the obvious thing was to do something with music. Somehow I ran into No Type.com and was immediately captured by the cool metropolitan feel of the site. What was most interesting, apart from the look and feel and the slight of hand texts combined with professional design was that you could actually download music from the site. And not just a few short samples but complete ‘albums’. That was something that I wanted as well. I contacted webhost David Turgeon who generously allowed me to upload files on the server that he was using as well. We have not been in touch for quite a few years, but I initiated new contact because of this article.
David Turgeon is described as follows on No Type (it’s quite inaptly called a biography): “Obfuscationist composer, strategist of sonic vagueness, and sometimes even performer (Camp, Ensemble Camp, Asyncdrone, Period Three, L’Île de béton…), David Turgeon, founder of the No Type label, is also known as a graphic designer, DJ (as part of the 10,000 Teenage Girl Posse) inventor of arcane programming languages and the author of a graphic novel, La muse récursive, to be published in 2006.” That really doesn’t tell very much about his activities. For one, I know that he also works for the renowned Canadian label empreintes DIGITALes.
What defines the No Type label? I really don’t know. Improvisational noise, rhythmical technoid, drones, punkish, (classically structured) electronic music, jazz, phonography; it’s all there. What combines it, is probably the edginess. It’s never easy, there is always excitement. Every release is something special. Where other labels sort of extrude a continuous stream of ambient techno dub produced with the same software again and again (Ableton Live… again…) 99% of the No Type releases hold a surprise. And if there is no music available that meets the standards, then there will be no release. Simple as that. Aimé Dontigny, current director: “The common denominator is: off the mark. We support: artists who are not at ease within their genres; musics that will never find a public with the exception of the adventurous and/or the snotty; ideas that are so revolutionary they must be encrypted in light-hearted idm or lo-fi folk; free improv that believes in freedom, not in idiom; noise that encompass the inaudible, the dramatic, the refined, the subtle; etc. etc. etc. And we also strongly support Beauty, Craftsmanship, Dedication, and Audacity.”
The No Type label started producing hardcopy releases as well, in 2002. To me, that was a very strange decision. Actually a jump back in time. But fortunately the online releases kept coming, as well. Dontigny explains: “We started releasing physical releases in order to better help our artists. Most of the time, mp3 albums don’t get you invited to festivals, don’t get you royalties, don’t get you print reviews, don’t get you a another record.”
I have seen the explosion of David’s energy wander off in 2004 and 2005. What about the future? Now that Aimé is director, what are his plans?
“First, restart a steady flow of mp3 releases, We’ll still see new names and some of our regular artists, but I will also try to give musicians from diverse experimental scenes outside of No Type an opportunity to release more personnal or perplexing works. So expect some surprises in the near future.”
“Also, we’ll re-focus our physical production. CD releases will be rarer, more unique, project-specific adventures (For exemple, like our 2003 Montréal Free 4-CD boxset of Montréal-based acoustic improv).”
“We’ll also be gradually leaving the CD format behind; expect some DVD-ROMs, multichannel DVD-Audio’s, and others. We will move beyond the ‘one medium collection’ and, in the short-term, even the mp3 releases will no longer be distinct from the other formats on our website. Of course, we’ll still release CDs when deamed appropriate by the artist and us, but, for the last 4 years, I think we lost too much energy in the ‘all-CD’ mentality.”
“Many artists have left No Type over the years (some temporarily, some others for good), and it’s a normal thing. Because we often support artists at the start of their careers, some have stopped making music after a while, and others have moved on to more successful careers on other labels.”
No doubt No Type will find new gems!