I was in the middle of writing a blog post on the motivations we have for POLAAR when I found this sublime essay by DVS1 on the battle between art and entertainment. I’m not sure there is a battle between art and entertainment but if you still haven’t read this article, please do. Entertainment and escapism has always been in the core values of the Electronic Dance Music (yes, I’m taking it back) scene but I guess there was back in the day also an underground component that has since been diluted. When we created POLAAR, we asked ourselves what values we wanted to inject into the project. That was truly a hard question to answer. As Louis C.K. funnily states: “I have a lot of believes but I live by none of them” and as harsh as it may sounds, at the end of the day, you’re only judged by what you do.
First and foremost, we think that diversity is key. Be it in our club nights or in the music we want to release on the long-run, we don’t want to lock ourselves in the same sub-genre. As much as we respect niche-label and their dedication to one sound, we dream about becoming the next Black Acre or XL recordings. We truly believe that the aesthetic we have in mind can be expressed in different styles. Secondly, we also have a little something for independence and autonomy. Otherwise we wouldn’t have started this endeavour. We’re self-funded, self-produced and our vinyl releases will be self-distributed. We’ve taken this hardcore route fully understanding that it will be time-consuming and hard. Unlike previous experiences we had, we will be fully responsible for our successes and our failures. That leads us to take another level of responsibility towards our work and towards the artists we will sign.
We also believe that our work should be available on physical medias. It’s not about a misplaced fetishism for vinyl. It’s about human experience. We believe that as much as digital media is helping distributing music to a large body of people and that it helps communicating ideas, it also, due to its immaterial nature, impoverishes the experience of a musical recording. In his RBMA lecture, Moodymann says: “I have got records that smell like 1967. You cannot place that in an iPod” Digital only talks to your ear. You cannot touch, smell or even visually inspect the cover of a digital release. We would also argue that it’s highly unlikely that in 50 years from now you will be able to play mp3s because the cost of digital files conservation is highly underrated. How many of you have lost pictures in hard-drive crashes? How many of you are serious about backups? Having our productions released on physical media acknowledges our concrete presence in the world.
By releasing vinyl records, we also make a statement about preserving a craft. We think that working with highly-skilled artisans like Shane The Cutter not only brings value to our release, but to everybody involved in the production or in the listening. We’re currently working on the cover picture of our first EP. It will be screen-printed by hand in a workshop in Lyon. How cool is that we can have a direct contact with the people in charge of our work?
All these values are behind our work. But will they survive the shock of the real world? Will we change? How will we adapt when we will start getting feedback? Only time will tell. We aren’t afraid because we want this label to be a place where experimentation is possible. We are thinkers and experimenters and we want to share our thoughts and results. POLAAR is about charting unknown territories. We don’t know where we’re heading, but the destination isn’t always the most important thing when you take a trip.