We are proud to be named as one of the best labels of 2009 by Textura ! Click here for the full list and label interviews.
Year founded and location: Founded in 2008, Singapore
Managed by: Ricks Ang & April Lee
Identity: Kitchen. was first formed in 2005 as a paper and web design studio. The label side of Kitchen., later established in 2008 as an imprint for music and artbook releases, offers a collection of acoustic/electronic music and subtle soundfields for indoor thoughts. Dwelling in an urban Asian city, our label concept focuses on the still form of travel—a suspension of time, and an invocation of someplace else, to seek and discover pastoralia within an endlessly moving environment.
Distinguishing characteristics: All our releases are packaged in customized art-book formats because artwork and music to us are equally important. We would like our listeners to feel like they are holding a piece of art in their hands. We hope to introduce music made by an emerging generation of new Asian creators and musicians who quietly articulate the microcosm of the familiar in the everyday through their works to the rest of the world.
Proudest accomplishments: aspidistrafly’s tour of seven cities around Japan and Asia in 2009. We are also one of the first independent labels from Singapore to be exported worldwide.
Currently promoting: FJORDNE’s new album The Setting Sun and aspidistrafly’s i hold a wish for you
Future: Haruka Nakamura’s new album to be released in 2010. We are also preparing upcoming releases by aspidistrafly, FJORDNE and scheduling some new artists (to be announced soon).
Favourite labels: Rondade, Starnet Muzik, Schole, Ryoondo Tea, 12k, SPEKK, Trumn
April’s moleskine (along with 12 other Asian-based artists) will be exhibited in “My Moleskine Exhibition” in the Philippines. It runs from now untill Jan 22 2010.
At HMV Shibuya, I chanced upon an interesting one shelf section called “音楽で安らぎの時間を…” (loosely translated as Music for peaceful times) that has our album in the selection.
Kinoshita-san of THE YOUNG GROUP
A flower shop owned and curated by Japanese music & art label RONDADE. The wreaths and floral art are all made by Kinoshita-san, shopkeeper of trèfle and also vocalist of The Young Group from the label. Such beautiful and elegant pieces of art, RONDADE has some of the best music found only in Japan, highly recommended. We are already working on collaborations between artists from Kitchen. and RONDADE, look out for it !
A lovely review from The SCYA Project (Singapore)
“April Lee offers a quietly enchanting installation where loneliness and union conflate. A lovingly set-up photo exhibition, her film photography is a visual narrative of a music piece from Japanese electronica musician FJORDNE’s new album The Setting Sun, his fourth under Kitchen., which happens to be the label in which Lee serves as curator. In turn, his is a parallel universe inspired by a novel (of the same name) by Osamu Dazai, Japan’s Virgina Woolf equivalent.
This triadic relationship is expressed in her visual pieces, which conjures multiple layers of image and sound, memory and imagination. Mounted on blunt wooden frames, each picture is a window to what at first seems little more than the ordinary and familiar. Shooting in muted colours and soft focus, Lee’s strength comes in using light and shadow. The obvious is slightly obscured, but this allows further revelation beyond the literal object. In this way, the viewer’s definitions fade and expectations mellow. A plank of wood, then a clock then a tree, each photo becomes a guided meditation, partnered by poetic musings typed on song sheets. The threaded journey ends on the other side of the exhibition space. The artist ventures into the social world now, asking questions of paths and people. The series of photos is punctuated by a solo dark spot of a bird, in flight above an expanse of ocean. By now, the images have ventured into eternal musings on time and aloneness.
The atmosphere never sinks though. This is partly aided by the ongoing strains of music, which keeps a sense of movement, and the artist’s notes, which gives gentle direction. These turn ‘looking’ into an art, where the full truth is only revealed through attentive care. More importantly, Lee sees ‘looking’ as ‘being’, where it takes sensitivity to hear what another is saying, whether an open book, or the still poise of a sleeping friend. Thus, it is apt that almost half the pictures seem to find solace in a feature of nature. What else is so complex and unburdened at the same time? It makes it alright to question without a ready answer. Musing becomes a sign of life.
Lee cleverly keeps her work simple, for she realizes the many strains colluding within her set-up. Pulling inspiration from nostalgia, her themes are almost ethereally done, but takes rooted expression. The space seems quaint but is ample enough for the artist’s expression and its implications; the pictures clad in natural wood but boldly set on the walls. Even FJORDNE’s music, while simple in its melody, fills the room confidently, even jarringly at times. Within it, innocuously displayed are enchanting objects-relics. An old Singer sewing machine, a bound book, wildflowers, embossed frames recall another time; hand and heart are what matter in her production, not machines. For an exhibition built on sight and sound, the result is surprisingly textural. The air seems thick with thoughts. Yet, the exhibition never feels antiquated or ponderous. Indeed, neither does one feel trapped by unresolved pathos. Lee hopes “for you to see, touch, smell and feel”. And that is perhaps the answer, for one leaves the room more alive than stale, and set on the path to harmony, even if a little more aware of aloneness. Nothing assaults, but the visitor remembers, by feeling, and by being allowed to be.”