Wazoo : I guess the first question I'd like to ask is simply : how did Discrepant started?
Gonçalo : Discrepant was started by myself Gonçalo F Cardoso, back in 2009 in London. First it as a blog type thing where I posted collages and mixtapes, very quickly I started releasing work on a physical format. Since then it has followed me whenever I go, defining the no borders/itinerant attitude of the label - currently between Canarias and Lisboa.
First release was Kink Gong's Xinjiang, a surreal collage of recordings made in the northern Chinese province, Xinjiang. From then on I've been releasing unclassifiable music from all over the world, the focus always being on the merging of sounds, cultures styles, I've expanded the original label to three sister labels, Sucata Tapes (dystopian narratives on tape), Souk Records (global beats) and Farsa Discos (made up side projects on 7"). The aim being to represent all kinds of music from all corners of the world, all under the Discrepant umbrella.
See definition: Discrepant: inconsistent; conflicting; at variance [from Latin discrepāns, from discrepāre to differ in sound, from dis-1 + crepāre to be noisy]
W : What are the hardest challenges to overcome when you start a label ? How do you get the necessary connections, how do you find/recruit artists?
G : You really need to work hard and incessant for little or no money. The first years I didn't even break even on most releases. Eventually you'll get there if you believe in it. I guess the biggest challenge was to get proper distribution, getting your records distributed is essential to get the all this wonderfully weird music to people around the world. Boring things like some accounting skills you'll pick up along the way. The internet is the biggest tool for connections, finding new music and promoting releases. Although before the pandemic I would travel regularly trying to meet as many people as possible in the real world the internet is replacing that urge now.
W : Oh yeah, an obvious question was how do you live through the pandemic, both as an artist and as a label head. And well, also as a Canary inhabitant ; did it spread there?
G : Well, I'm lucky enough to have a nice place to stay, when the virus first hit us hard in Europe I was in Lisbon sorting shit out. I then got stranded there for most of the confinement period. I was back home in a way, where all my stuff is, surrounded by books, records and instruments so I can't really complain. I actually started this series called coronaloops.com where I would make 1 minute mini compositions and add video to it, also invited artists from the discrepant family to contribute and it became this nice exchange. If things turned sour again I will probably pick it up again...keeps you busy. I also decided to keep releasing records, my thought being that people stuck at home will want to listen to music. The only downside for me really was the lack of movement. No touring, no roads, less ideas but we have to adapt to whatever happens...my previous life was a bit of a luxury really and at least I realize how lucky I was. I'm now back in the canary islands where things seem quiet on the surface. Islands have a geographical advantage to contain things like this (except for the UK who seems to do an absolute mess of everything they touch really). Because there's no tourism, and everything here is dependent on tourism there's this sense of quietness and desperation too. Only time will tell how the next few months develop.
W : I guess publishing « new stuff » by « new artists » isn't the same work as publishing reissues, could you talk about that?
G : I don't really publish re-issues. All the work I release is new or the artists still active so not really an expert on reissues, I tend to stay away from that, enough people doing it.
W : What is Sucata Tapes? How does it differentiate from Discrepant?
G : Sucata tapes was created as I had the urge to expand the label's catalogue but with projects that wouldn't necessarly fit the main label, or are more risky to press on vinyl. Sucata tapes is a tape only label, a format I still love. The focus is on dystopian/sci fi narratives, althogh that is a wide wide concept and something on Sucata could very much be on discrepant as well. I've also started Souk records and Farsa Discos which focus on global beats and 7" only mini projects respectively.
W : Your « various artists » home-made compilations are amazing, in fact I discovered Discrepant because some guy on the internet recommended « Antologia de Música Atípica Portuguesa Vol.1 ». Since then, the second volume was also published and it's just as good as the first one. Could you talk about such projects? Do you have future upcoming compiling projects you could talk about ? – supposing it's not top secret.
G : Thanks. Yes there are a few, vol.3 of Antologia Atipica is in the works. Also been wanting to expand these compilations to other regions. Like the Canary Islands where I've been living for the past 3 years and connecting with the experimental scene here. I'm also working with Francisco López on a compilation he mastered called Gritty, Odd and Good, showcasing weird music from unlikely places like San Marino, Lichtenstein, Faroe Islands, French Guyana, Oman etc. This will be release still this year, 2020, a weird year to release records but we just carry on as we can.
W : One thing, among others, that makes me try most of Discrepant's outputs is the way you (or someone else?) write passionate descriptions on the bandcamp pages. It might set expectations that are impossible to reach sometimes. It's not really a question I guess, but thanks for your dedication, it makes me – and others I hope – wanting to always try new weird stuff.
Working with so many leftfield artists, I'm sure you have fun and unique anecdotes with some of them. If it's not invading on your (or their) privacy, would mind sharing some of them?
G : Wouldn't know where to start. Ask me about a particualr artist and I might have a funny one.
W : Two guys I'm fascinated by are Laurent Jeanneau and Mike Cooper, both of which have crazy discographies, maybe those two then!
G : They're both been on the fringes of experimental music, doing their thing for so long now. Not necessarily part of any scene nor crowd, self releasing, self producing often on the road, unrelenting really, both have huge discographies on their own CDr labels as well as discrepant and other labels. Completely independent and DIY free spirits that put the emphasis on going out there and doing their thing no matter what. An anarchic discipline you rarely see these days, for me they have the perfect attitude and commitment to their music and it obviously attracted me to work with.
W : Besides your job as a label president, you also operate as a solo artist. When did you start as a musician/collage artist/field recorder?
G : I've always been an avid music listener, I dabbled in punk and experimental bands in my youth but after a break from music (with film) I decided to come back at it from a completed different angle, an experiential one. I found myself recording day to day sounds, both at home and wherever I travel to – which over the last 6 years and until the pandemic hit us it was a lot. Once back home I decided to arrange these field recs into some sort of audio diary and/or mixtapes which I shared online on a blog, the original discrepant website (see first question) ! It was only after building some sort of catalogue that I felt the courage to start releasing my music physically.
W : Your discography is sometimes hard to follow, as you have multiple aliases. Could you talk about your different projects and how you envision each of them?
G : Its just a question of concentrating on one given sound and concept at a time. I usually start with a general idea, a concept where I can start sculpting my recordings from. For example, I'm currently working under Prophetas, a sort of dystopic take on our (current) future and civilization's potential collapse based on all this technology overload. I borrow aesthetic concepts from the 60's all the way to the 90's to express this kind of conceptual evolution, how we got here, and how all fucked up everything could get. Obviously, like all my other projects its very tongue in cheek, I keep it playfull and interesting to the ear, hopefully. So each project like Papillon (tropical nightmares), Gonzo (cheeky field recs), Visions Congo (african inspired vistas)has its own theme that helps frame that music within a concept.
W : I'd be interested to know more about your creative process. Between field recordings, radio collages, « played » parts, and else. The simple way to ask that question be to say « how do you come up with that stuff? », but of course the answer wouldn't be a simple one.
G : The main inspiration usually is a location or a place, or wherever I am at that point that serves as the trigger, the impetus, hence all the frantic traveling and relocation to less familiar areas to capture sounds that are not necessarily familiar to me. I could also be reading a book or just watched a film that inspires me to dive in that universe and make it my own. I usually just start putting random recs together, various pieces and fragments of recordings, deep from within my hardrive. I call the process 'partial recall' like reassembling hazy memories into some sort of sonic postcard that makes sense to me and evokes my memoeries through a distorted lense. It always varies of course, an album could be done in a couple of weeks or take 5 years to complete. I'm always working on several projects at the same time so I don't get too bored or anxious about where I'm going.