Utech Records is a label out of Milwaukee that puts out some of the most cutting edge releases in avant-garde music today. Great care is taken to mate the visual effects of the album art with the music itself. Working primarily with artists that experiment in noise, acousmatic, and other genres of a darker shade, each Utech release offers a unique listening experience.
Utech Records started officially in 2004. For me personally, the label started in 1978. I was 9 years old and had just seen the double gatefold for KISS Alive II. I didn’t know it at the time, but that was when I first realized the impact that visual media and music could have together. That idea has been the root of all of my creative efforts over the years. Of course growing up in the 70s was pretty incredible visually. There was Star Wars, Big Daddy Roth, slasher flicks, painted vans and Evel Knievel. For some reason all of the imagery lodged in my brain somewhere and has continually informed my visual sense. Even in middle school a friend (love ya Paz) and I would make cassette covers for all of our tapes. If you had just taped the new Judas Priest or W.A.S.P. album from someone the j-card wasn’t enough. You needed a badass cover to do the music justice. That’s just one example, but it represents where I’m coming from today with Utech Records. My ultimate goal for the label is to release things that are interesting, musically and visually.
I think what makes the label distinct is that I work from my heart. No matter what I’m working on I need to feel 100% about it. Otherwise, it doesn’t ring true. I think that people can sense that I am sincere about it and that resonates. I’m not a big label and not a small label. I operate somewhere in between and am honest about what the label is and can realistically accomplish.
Thank you. I truly appreciate when people recognize the hard work that goes into doing what I do. And I think anyone in a similar position knows it has to be a labor of love otherwise you’d quit after a week. If people see value in my releases then I am flattered beyond words. I work extremely hard at this and want for people to feel like they get something for their money.
The origin of those projects lies in my being a graphic designer. The realization that I had an opportunity via the label to create a project for myself that would never come to my doorstep as a designer in the real world. That may sound selfish but it’s all about the need to create and bring your ideas to life. To my knowledge no one had produced a series of music releases before that used a visual idea as the binding element. That’s where the Arc series (Max Aguilera-Hellweg) came from. I wanted to get different music artists under the same visual umbrella and make something cohesive out of it. The same thing for the URSK (Stephen Kasner) series except instead of using photography that already existed; the media was painting and interpretation of the music. The third series, Shokyo Ontei, centers on the written word and how that plays out intellectually and visually in relation to music composed or improvised around a textual idea. Each series revolves around the same basic idea but uses a different vehicle to get there. I’m not trying to overcomplicate what I do. It’s just me bringing ideas to life. That’s the rewarding part of this all.
Each series has grown along the way and taken on a life of its own, shifting and changing into something I never saw coming yet ultimately becoming something greater than I had imagined at the outset. I couldn’t be happier. The Arc series is complete, The URSK series is nearing completion with a box set due out in April and the Shokyo Ontei series is just getting started. Still lots of work ahead. Ultimately I see these series as a triptych. Three facets of one idea.
Before I finish this, I need to thank Max Aguilera-Hellweg, Stephen Kasner and Alan Cummings for being outstanding creative partners. The series would have not gone anywhere without them. I also want to thank each of the artists who participated. The music is what made the heart of each of the projects.
The Skull Defekts will reappear on Utech Records in January with a release with The Sons of God. That is something to watch for. As far as Nadja and Blood Fountains, they are both great artists and I would be happy to work with them again. It’s just a matter of time and how much I can release. I’m a one-man operation and can only get to so many projects. I would wager to say, however, that you haven’t seen the last of the label’s involvement with Kasner. I feel he will be a collaborative partner for many years to come.
Without giving too much away at this point, some things to watch for in 2010 on Utech Records will be the release of the new full length from The Human Quena Orchestra, Locrian’s next full length and the return of Daniel Menche, RST and Heavensore. There are many other great things that are in the planning stages as well as the continuation of the Shokyo Ontei series and the URSK box set.
Khanate. Those guys were hands down one of the most important bands to emerge in the last decade. I would have loved to have done something with them.
The music. That is what truly inspires me.
Olivier Dumont said to me once it comes down to deciding whether to push on creatively or just go out and tend the vegetables in your garden. The challenge is whether to struggle each day or just let it go. Although, a creative person will tell you they don’t have a choice in the matter. And that’s completely true.
My demo policy is pretty open. If you email and want to send something I will make an effort to listen to it and respond. From there I am upfront about whether I am interested or if I have time for the project.
Anaal Nathrakh “In the Constellation of the Black Widow”
Khanate “Clean Hands Go Foul”
Culted “Beyond the Thunders of the Upper Deep”
I don't do anything musical but have recently opened my own design company. Surprisingly, it is called Utech Design Company
. Figured I'd play off the name. I offer design services for any CD, LP, cassette, t-shirt, poster and logo projects as well as almost anything else print related. I encourage anyone to drop me a line if they like what they see at Utech Records. I do all of the design for the label as well.
I want to say thank you. Not everyone gets to work creatively at something they love and I do not take it for granted for a minute. It is never lost on me. Anytime someone writes me or buys a CD or takes time to listen to the music it means a lot.
-- Dave Miller (3 February, 2010)