Five questions for Enpeg

“The music label has become synonymous with technology, every year the old model becomes extinct, so continual reinvention of ourselves, as humble as our methods may be, is a necessity for our survival. To understand this lessens the possibility of failure.” Dustin Craig (of Enpeg) gives igloomag.com readers the ins & outs of running an independent digital label.

Igloo Magazine :: When did Enpeg start up and what was your inspiration?

Enpeg (Dustin Craig) :: Enpeg began back in 2004 on a dark lonely night when everything in the world began to go wrong. Empty wine bottles littered the counters & tables, cigarettes smoked until their filters marshmellowed and everything about the air that night tasted of disappointment. With tired eyes, a twinkle sparkled and the idea of Enpeg was birthed. Ok, not really {well, 2004 is true}, but how cool would it be if we could really start our story this way. In my mind though, I imagine it like this or maybe even more grand and epic.

Of course, there’s a boring answer to all this. The main facts being that Enpeg started in 2004, grew out of n5MD as a means to explore another form of creativity through purely digital means and are an artist run label that understand what’s needed within an artist/label relationship.

Too many labels have off-balanced artist to label percentages. As an artist myself, almost every label that I’ve ever dealt with has screwed me in one form or another. I’ve dealt with everything from unfulfilled contracts to label bankruptcy to blatant lies & theft. This business can be cruel and a lot of the people in it are only looking for profit. Never caring about the actual artists that create the art that they profit off of. Thus being taken advantage of becomes a part of this game (if you’re naive and honest the damage increases exponentially). With Enpeg, we try to reverse this thinking. Profit is the least of our goals (if even one). I’m pretty sure, we knew we were going to fail in those regards from day one, so why even bother with it in the equation. A business plan was formed where everything could be built from nothing thus creating an environment that benefits the artist more than any label could before. With this thinking combined with an overall shift to a digital standard within the general music industry, our inspirations for creating Enpeg were birthed.

Igloo :: Who were some of your initial artist relations and did your location help or hinder progress?

Enpeg :: Our initial artists were the family & friends of n5MD, but have since opened up a demo process and are like any other label in regards to artist selection. Though most of the times we actually have to find our artists on our own due to demos being completely off in feeling or tone. I expect this to be true for every label though, especially for those dealing with computer music; but that needle in the haystack way of thinking about demos makes them fun. Every time we get one, before I press play, I cross my fingers and hope (wish) for the next genius sounds to come through the speakers and touch my soul. It’s very rare for this to happen but when it does, it’s like finally taking your first breath after drowning for so long and reminds you why you’re doing this all in the first place. A very beautiful thing.

We live in the wires and bit rates. Our only main concern is the music. We can live anywhere and would still be doing the same thing. I sometimes dream of packing just my laptop, hoping trains and running Enpeg from various internet cafes around the world.

About location, we’re purely digital, so it’s never been a factor. We live in the wires and bit rates. Our only main concern is the music. We can live anywhere and would still be doing the same thing. I sometimes dream of packing just my laptop, hoping trains and running Enpeg from various internet cafes around the world. Would be super cool. Could go on drug-addled adventures, get into dark alley knife fights and maybe even find unknown heavy-hearted genius knob-twiddlers in the small no-name towns that I would stumble into night after night. Now that’s how a label should be conducted and a life lived.

Igloo :: What were some of the challenges (if any) starting up a label? …and how did you envision the label to stand apart?

Enpeg :: Our biggest challenge would be in not letting all the obstacles that come with running any music label (actually any business) bother us and hinder our progress. With the specifics of a music label though, getting listeners, financial troubles, creative droughts and the Godzilla-like monster that’s crumbling all our cities known as ‘piracy’ are all present in our day to day operations; but if we let any one of these obstacles trouble us, we would have quit long, long ago. Fortunately, we view these as just part of the terrain. If we didn’t have those, we would have no struggle and zero self-respect and drive for what we do. So we go day by day taking all these as they come and trying to always look forward.

In regards to standing apart, at the start being a digital label that offered quality music at a bargain price was enough. With a business model of full length, forward-thinking electronic albums for a mere $2 price tag, it was a deal too good to pass up. As the years progressed though, we began to see that we needed to do more. Sites like Bandcamp & Soundcloud began over-saturating the digital landscape (with even some having the audacity to use these sites as their “label” and the only means to acquire their releases). So we began to focus on centering our aesthetic as well as bettering the overall quality of our product and making the purchasing methods available to our listeners much easier. To this day, we are still trying to figure things out, but that’s part of the fun of running a label. The unknowing and learning. We’re a child but as we climb and stumble, we are slowly becoming ourselves. While most labels have only a few years run, Enpeg will continue to grow and become itself. We’ve built it to never expire.

Igloo :: What is your motivation in keeping the label moving forward?

Enpeg :: Every label is going to answer this question similarly saying that it’s all about the music. It’s a bland easy answer but should really be the only answer. Anything else would present other motives that are either completely wrong reasons for creating art (ie. seeking fame & fortune) or come off as some extremely pretentious & elitist bullshit only created for self-ego. Nothing worse than a music label with a whole mission statement about how they’re going to change the world. Idealistic and optimistic maybe, but so unrealistic & egotistic. Plain and simple, we’ve only ever wanted to release music that we enjoy. Anything else would be a con and totally disingenuous.

Igloo :: Tell us more about how you (and your staff?) take the label’s “sound” to the listeners and fans. Distribution, campaigns, live shows, word of mouth etc.

Enpeg :: We have always had a very small internal structure with never more than two people running basic operations. So as you can imagine, we are stretched very thin, which compounds the difficulty of running a label by the multiples. Compacted by the fact that we have a global-over-local demographic, we consistently have to invent new methods of promotion within our small numbers. We have always existed within the internet bit rates, so our main focus has always and will always be binary formed; but as the years progress, we have begun to branch out into the physical world. With the realization of our sound being based in a common root of the human experience, it was only a matter of time until we shed our matrix exteriors and began to show our faces (so to speak). Understanding that we are the same as our audience, a transition was needed in this direction and as difficult as this transition has been, we are trying our hardest to overcome every obstacle that presents itself.

We’re a child but as we climb and stumble, we are slowly becoming ourselves. While most labels have only a few years run, Enpeg will continue to grow and become itself. We’ve built it to never expire.

Some of our evolutions in regards to this have been to create visual components for each of our releases (a way to visualize our sonic cinema), focusing our promotion to help our digital appeal more to the tangible and begin to build a network with other music labels that hold artistic & sonic parallels similar to our own. As much as we’re all artists with any idea of success as remote as a Godless existence to any religious fundamentalist, our isolationist nature has only hindered our progress and creativity and in order to evolve past this stagnation, we needed to grow past this thought pattern. By consistently thinking of new inventive ways to deliver our sound, our promotional methods have become just as creative as our music and because we don’t do any of this for anyone but ourselves, we are fortunate to have the luxury to experiment with our methods and find what works for us. In the future we will continue to explore various ideas of what a music label is and can be, but to put any exact science to this would be premature and pretentious to define since we don’t know ourselves what our next steps will be. We’ve never been able to look at other labels for example; never able to function in that “standard music label” structure. We’ve been swimming alone in this digital ocean for years now and we’ve found it’s best to adapt with the times, finding what works best with us and being creative with it. The music label has become synonymous with technology, every year the old model becomes extinct, so continual reinvention of ourselves, as humble as our methods may be, is a necessity for our survival. To understand this lessens the possibility of failure. We’d rather be an abstract Sony as opposed to the common NeoGeo.

For more information about Enpeg, visit their website at enpeg.com.

TAGS: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

No Comments

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.