You’d better watch out. Some of the world’s best chapters concerning the future of music starts unfolding in Bucharest
The Romanian electronic scene has been responsible for quite a few surprises in the past years, whether you’re thinking of the minimalist journey of the [a:rpia:r] crew, Rhadoo, Pedro and Raresh, the inovative experimentations of Cosmin TRG in sketchy techno or the lesser known interpretations of the hip-hop sounds courtesy of Minus. Of course, others started following their footsteps towards the electronic hall of fame as of recently unveiled by DJ Mag, but none of them have the force of these guys I’m going to talk about here.
Origami Sound is this Romanian bubble covering three new labels of electronic music – Origami Sound, Farver and Dark Clover – so heavenly that it is soon to conquer the world. Driven by highly emotional, deep sounds that have been carefully-towards-obsessively curated by a mysterious guy who likes to call himself Herne throughout the Internet, the Origami hub sets itself apart from the music industry through a personal, intimate approach and a high respect for top-notch music quality in music. Think of it as the sound of Bucharest, 2250.
On one hand, Herne is not your usual entrepreneur. Far from it, actually. Although this 25-year-old has had the whole thing planned in detail for years, his experience in dealing with such things is none (if you don’t take a payed job he had as a professional gamer on a huge gaming hub a while ago into account). However, what he’s always had is this out-of-the-ordinary drive for pushing things, and mostly ideas, forward – when others just seem to leave theirs idle. His deep passion for music made him do almost anything to get in contact with those artists whose music he respected. “If we have the same tastes in sound, there must be something more to it”, he thought. And that thought has proven him right.
At first he used his Origami Sound blog as an excuse to meet the people he thought he had so much in common with. Later on, he managed to befriend them and get to the core of things, which lead to discovering quite a handful of new international names we haven’t even heard of, but who are going to be BIG. Scratch that, they’re going to be HUGE.
Originally, Origami wasn’t even a blog, but a series of mixes curated by a Polish friend of Herne’s. It had a lot of followers, though. So when Herne was invited to contribute with such a mix to it, he saw the potential. Along with the Polish guy and another Romanian friend, who goes by the name of Huzur when it comes to music, Herne decided to set up a label and push things forward. It was back in November 2010 and by February 2011 nothing had happened. So Herne put together selections of everything he had gathered and turned them into three chaptered compilations, which are still ongoing to this day. Then things started unfolding.
By the autumn of 2010 he’d already met 22 year-old Montgomery Clunk, a Romanian revelation whose outtakes on hip-hop, dubstep, ambient and classic electronica merged into some sort of musical progressiveness with a pop edge. Then came Monty’s friend, Contorsionist, whose united efforts turned into a new project called Fjord. And then there were Huzur and his brother, Arapaima, who have been dwelling with production for years, just not quite actively. Liar and Res Es were met later on through mutual friend circles in Bucharest, and he was lucky enough to meet them like that — exquisite new Romanian music producers don’t fall out of every tree.
The cherry topping the cake is a side-project of a very special produce, more widely known as Jesse Somfay. His Borealis persona was something so special that was just meant to be perpetuated by people with a real, deep and personal involvment with music. So when Herne finally approached and befriended him, everything made sense. Without being too warm of a person, Herne now calls Somfay his personal god. They must be very close, in a very special and weird way things can make sense at a distance such as that between Canada and Romania. But things work, and the release of Borealis album Voidness (plus a few genre defying EPs) will soon break out into world-wide awe and cheer.
On a more local side of things, however, in 2010 Arapaima was doing negatives for radio, of the commercial kind. He was working for this Red Clover label. Together with his colleague, Bogdan Bratu (who now handles part of the international promotion of the parent label), he had built a small side project, of the more underground kind – Dark Clover, so as to promote whatever he was really into. But that had no clear direction. Or not in the eyes of Herne, it didn’t. Luckily, there were hints to future perspectives with that as well.
And then there was Farver — a project of Aebeloe, a Danish guy who’s responsible of some of the most incredible productions that are going to shapeshift the face of music in the future. With Herne’s clear ideas in mind and his friends’ genuine respect, things fell into their own place at their own pace: Origami is now a good place for the release of new emotional sounds shaped into albums, remixes and conceptual compilations. Dark Clover fits well perspectives of dark, more techy EPs. Farver covers EPs as well, but coming from other areas and in a different format. There’s a clear symmetry to everything that perhaps only Herne knows about. To him, Farver releases for example, are split EPs divided religiously into three original tracks and four remixes. Always.
And there are more (sub-labels) to come. Basically, if Herne decides he likes something he has a reason good enough to make a new division, Herne’s Caprice – or so be it. Even if he’s no producer (and he doesn’t even aspire to become one), he’s the guy that looks over it all from above. Funny enough that people have recently started to request him as a DJ to play a party or two. But that only comes as a pleasure for a music digger of his kind. Some day, perhaps people like him will have a better defined role in the world of music. However the real deal now is the label – it’s the thing that takes his level of love and understanding for music to a mass level: the maximum of love he can share. The hierarchy in his team flows naturally, just as it would in any group of friends. And he manages to slide through things like that, while also keeping everything highly professional.
“The website? I did that in two nights”, he laughs. “Can’t believe people keep on telling me how professional that looks. I think it’s shit, but it’s still rewarding to hear people like it”. Yet, no matter how much more personal things get behind the scenes, giving in everything in the favor of quality sounds, he has it all covered on paper, at a high business level as well: presentations, drawing boards, you name it. That’s something you need to get by, but not something to care about too much.
Origami was, is and will be meant to be a highly personal, subjective project that will outplay anything else the music business has known so far. With well chosen means of international promotion at high standards, this label will soon become a exhaustive place to dig through.
With at least three new releases per month, Herne is yet still unhappy. They’re all brilliant new sounds, and there’s so much more from where that comes from. So he’s dreaming of a near future when new releases won’t take as much as a month and a half until they hit the market. In the digital age that’s just too long. Or Origami Sounds has bigger plans. The big five companies thing now belongs to the past. We’re now living in a time where labels with really strong identities, like Planet Mu, Ghostly International, Warp, Ninja Tune and Hyperdub lay down the history. And Origami’s mission is to get there. Soon, dear Watson(s), soon.