Last year we came across a radically minimal and experimental label which goes by the odd name of FLUF.
Seeing the rapid flow and quality of releases they provided, a feature was a must.
And how else can you get a good overview of a label other than by directly asking the person who runs it?
Who’s behind FLUF, where are you based and why that name?
Hey! My name is Stephen McEvoy, I make music under the name tuuun, as well as running FLUF. I have been moving around a lot over the last few years, but right now I am based in Malmö, Sweden. It's a great small city. The name of the label is because of a few reasons - I wanted it to be something short, something fun to say, that didn't take itself super seriously. FLUF ticked all the boxes.
Stephen McEvoy a.k.a. tuuun
All releases on FLUF have the same sort of barebones minimalism. Is that from a radical concept or just from music tastes?
I think it's simply a musical taste thing. Minimalism is something I've come to embrace more and more in my own music, so it's natural that I would gravitate towards artists who make music in that vein for FLUF. What I really like is music that is decisive and has confidence in itself, and I think that's something that all the releases on FLUF have in common. My own decision to really start stripping my own music back was kick-started by listening to the music on the label SM-LL and falling in love with their approach to sound.
Yes, also one thing that all the releases have in common is the fact that they seem to be recorded in one take, live. Without post-editing.
Leaving the track as it is, without any alternated timeline. Is that a definitive approach?
It's not a definitive approach, but it's definitely one that I use a lot when making my own music. Working in this way forces you to make decisions and not put anything off until later, and usually works out to be a quicker way of doing things. Knowing that you can't go back and change anything just makes you accept whatever it is you have recorded for what they are, and often, times the recordings I like the most are the ones where I mess something up or something unexpected happens. Also, it's quite natural that not every idea or piece of music you make will be amazing, and by doing things this way I feel like I can get through the not-so-good bits faster and get to the good stuff more quickly. There's nothing worse than sitting at a computer working on a mediocre piece of music for three days, trying to convince yourself that it's good when it definitely is not!
You’ve been extremely prolific this year. How do you get in touch with so many artists who have the same kind of approach to music?
We have been very prolific even in the last few months of 2017 - six releases since the end of September! This is partly because I decided to not only do cassettes, which is where my head was at before, but to also really embrace digital, which allows for music to be put together and released quickly, which I really like. All of the artists who have released on FLUF are people I have been aware of before, and been talking to, and have probably bought their music. I find that artists are usually very good at supporting other artists, and that is a really natural way to open up the door to conversation and eventually working together. That said, I'm always open to receiving emails out of the blue.
First FLUF release, available on digital + cassette.
Although I hate putting labels and genres on things, I’m still wondering how to categorise FLUF. Would you label it?
Some of the releases remind me of Mark Fell’s work. Is he of any influence to you?
Mark is one of many influences, both musical and non-musical. I come from the Irish countryside, so my journey into this kind of music was long and winding, beginning with listening to the first Oni Ayhun releases because I was a big fan of The Knife. From there I just kept exploring! Hearing Metri by Mika Vainio for the first time was a total trip. That changed a lot for me.
From the seminal Mark Fell album "Multistability"
I see that you you've had an early liking for Scandinavian music!
Does Mälmo influence your artistic point of view? As Scandinavia is known for their long legacy of minimalism. And what's the music scene like over there?
I don't know what it is, but I feel like there's always a lot of good music coming out of Scandinavia. If I were to make a guess as to why, it would be that there is more support for the arts and artists in general than in other countries. In my case I am comparing mostly to Ireland, where there is some funding available for music works from the Arts Council, but it always seems to go to either opera or traditional Irish music. There's not so much room for anything else. Here in Malmö, I have received support from the Inter Arts Center (http://www.iac.lu.se/) to help create a sound installation based on a recreating the sounds of people's tinnitus, and before this when I lived in Stockholm for a while I was lucky enough to be able to work in the EMS studios (http://elektronmusikstudion.se/) there and use their equipment. Opportunities like these are the kind that really helps an artist develop and forge their own identity, and there seem to be more of these opportunities here than elsewhere.
Oh lucky you! EMS! :)) But besides that, you've a background in Multimedia Arts / Sound Installation? I imagine this had some influence on the development of FLUF as well...
I have a varied enough background in that I originally trained for a job in healthcare, which I did full-time for a few years before getting very tired of it, as I completely overworked myself. I then got onto a Masters course in Music and Technology in Cork School of Music in Ireland, which was a really fun and rewarding way to spend a year, and I learned a lot of things, like how to put on an installation, or record an orchestra! A formal course like this definitely isn't necessary to develop as an artist or to do good work, but the structure of it really worked for me. I made great friends there and had a great time.
Also, to conclude this interview, I'd like to ask you this standard question: would you please recommend us releases, artists or labels we might have never heard of?
Also watch out for a label called Disformation which has a lot of cool music in store for 2018!
By the time this interview went online, FLUF had 2 more releases out! Check them here: https://flufrecs.bandcamp.com