Label Feature: Brain Dead
Listen to the Braindead Radio show selected by Kyle NG, here.
Taking visual cues from the worlds of post-punk, comic books and skateboarding, Los Angeles-based collective Brain Dead has been creating esoteric, graphic-led clothing collections since 2014, while also running a host of intriguing side projects, from a quasi-record label to releasing rugs designed by artists they are friends with. Characterized by their DIY aesthetic, the brand has also been hosting its own monthly NTS Radio show since the tail end of 2016, helmed by one of the brand’s co-founder Kyle Ng. The idiosyncratic show smoothly blends punk, wave, old and new electronica, with psychedelic, experimental noise and many other outernational genres.
To accompany the Carhartt WIP x Brian Dead collection, Kyle has prepared a Carhartt WIP Radio show which showcases his love for Warp Records, with an all Warp music vinyl DJ mix, that includes such artists as Aphex Twin, Mount Kimbie and Kelela. As usual we asked the man behind the show some questions on his mix, his label, his love for Warp Records, the monthly Brain Dead NTS show and more. Check the spell below.
Hey Kyle, you did an all vinyl mix of music that has been published by the storied UK label Warp? What connects you with label?
Kyle Ng: Man… Warp was the label that got me deeper into music. Before I was just listening to punk, indie rock and hip hop. Then when I heard warp artists like Aphex, Autechre it changed my outlook on what electronic music could be. Before that I just thought of shitty drug induced techno. But Warp really spearheaded a more sophisticated (IDM) sound that inspired my life. Last year we were fortunate to have worked with Danny Brown on his Warp Records release Atrocity Exhibition.
How do you think your mix differs from a mix someone from Warp would have put together?
Kyle Ng: Honesty, I don’t’ know... I guess anyone who curates a mix will have a little different concepts of what to put together. I guess the music are tracks that I feel resembles the sounds that I am into.
Is there a record on Warp you would have loved to put out via Brain Dead Records?
Speaking of catalogues, what do you think is the reason for the short life of most labels today? Do you think it’s because of the market’s saturation, the consumer’s short attention span or simply because it is so easy to start, quit and start another label in the 21st century?
Kyle Ng: Damn heavy question.. I think it’s a lot easier to release media nowadays via the internet. So people don’t put their full effort into their own work. I feel like back in the day you needed to really try hard to create exposure. So to just start a new thing or give up would feel like a gigantic waste of effort.
What are the most mysterious record labels you came across?
Kyle Ng: Damn.. most mysterious? I wouldn’t say they are the most mysterious, but I think TOXIC STATE from NYC always releases the craziest punk tracks. Their record art and packaging feels so handmade and DIY. I need to buy everything they make.
Can you tell us a bit about Brain Dead Records? From the outside it looks like you run a DIY label with a punk attitude, releasing tapes, 12s and 7s. Where did you find your artists like Michael K, DJ Biscuit, Rolling Mass, SUBDOM and what makes them special?
Kyle Ng: Brain Dead records is just our output for all the music we love. Most of the artists are friends of ours who are making amazing music. I am so grateful that the followers of Brain Dead are open to supporting our music taste.
You run a monthly NTS radio show since late 2016. Is there a concept behind the shows? Also, you invite quests like Tetsunori, Eypher Hachidan & Johnny Mons, as well as Brain Dead artists like SUBDOM and 2Up. How do you choose your guests and why do you choose them?
Kyle Ng: Again, we just curate music that we love. The guests that we have on the show are friends or musicians that we really admire. These are people with tastes in all types of genres that we love.
Any musical guilty pleasures?
Kyle Ng: Pop punk.
You released a mix-series of soundtracks for fictional movies. As someone who has studied and worked in film, do you like the idea of having the music and soundscape before the video material, and then turning the soundtrack into a motion picture?
Kyle Ng: We love soundtracks. We had this idea of making graphics and have musicians get inspired by the work. It’s the same thing as making music for a movie. The idea of telling stories with audio and visual is amazing.
In a way, isn’t that how you built the whole Brain Dead universe, turning ideas into reality with a DIY spirit, disregarding conventional approaches?
Kyle Ng: Yeah man, that’s pretty much what we try to do. I think as we get bigger or expand our business… We always try to push ourselves to challenge our approach and ourselves to make new things, or enter new avenues creatively.
How did you guys choose the format for releases on Brain Dead?
Kyle Ng: Honestly, we don’t have a method to the madness.
Is the medium of music important to you in relation to how you perceive it?
Kyle Ng: I think tapes are an amazing format because they’re so affordable. Also, the tactile quality is amazing. Vinyl is expensive but I love to dig, so usually we would want to release records that we would want to play out.
What was the most misleading cover you have ever seen?
Kyle Ng: TO MANY!!! I have been fooled to many times.
What are three albums that you'll absolutely never get tired of listening to?
Please recommend three new artists to our readers, which you feel deserve their attention.
Do you have anything in the pipeline for Brain Dead records?
Yes…. but it’s a surprise.
How important is Los Angeles as a city for all you do?
Kyle Ng: IT’S EVERYTHING!