aka ramon Norwood
Ramon Norwood has been running local electronic label ETC records for years along with producing his own art and supporting the local and international scene. We were lucky to have the mind behind Radius Etc and ETC records answer a few of our questions before the release party of his new record Embrace The Circle at Elastic Arts Center this Friday at 10PM. It’s FREE before 11PM and $10 after. Make sure to check out all the ETC artists and give support to independent electronic music.
RN: Radius Etc aka Ramon Norwood
CCS: Kyle Land
YOU RUN ETC RECORDS, AN ELECTRONIC MUSIC LABEL BASED OUT OF CHICAGO. HOW DID THIS PROJECT START, AND HOW HAVE YOU BEEN ABLE TO KEEP IT GOING FOR OVER A DECADE?
RN: Yes, indeed. Well, it actually started this month of May in 2013. Was definitely in deep within my being for a long time to do this, yet it actually started as a way to consolidate and release my own music. I organized most of my previous releases through other labels first onto the site, then I dropped the EP; "Infinite Chops and Loops in DUB" digitally, and a 7" "Infinite Roots Vol.1 " via Crosstalk International (my respects to the late Phil and his family). This grew into projects I was affiliated with; groups I was part of or produced, and then to releasing very close friends’ music, like my brother Freezrock bka Rondell Adams, who I've known since college. I just got tired of waiting for others to do certain things, and I was starting to just start taking some nomadic time trips early on and figured branding something bigger/outside of just Radius, made the most sense. My good friend Cykey, aka Nick Becker, has helped me tremendously with the visuals, outside of my photography, to reach places, with his consistent designs of logos, flyers, T-shirts, etc.
I have a very strong community both here at home and worldwide. Many people within my circle and on the label are and have grown into major friends of mine. This is a close-knit relationship- grassroots, essentially. I feel that building this way- from within a family foundation, has been key for its growth and development. I'm learning a lot and exchanging this knowledge with my peers. Realizing I'm not alone within the journey in all ways is it, really.
ETC HAS PUT OUT AN ECLECTIC MIX OF MUSICIANS. HOW DO YOU DISCOVER ARTISTS TO SIGN, AND ARE YOU LOOKING FOR SOMETHING PARTICULAR IN AN ETC ARTIST?
RN: Yep! Grateful to be recognized for it, as mentioned- these are my friends, my peers. It is diverse because I myself am really heavy into variety, especially within music and art. I've either already performed shows with these artists in the past, created with them in the studio, or share other common interests regularly with them. I'm really into community and foundation. I'm building with others that equally inspire me, as I do them. I wanted to Embrace The Circle and Establish The Community before Expanding The Collective. I also really dig it when artists are versatile within the arts. Though it can be seen as wearing many hats, I see it all as one. When others don't separate their ways of expression and just see the overall big picture, with no box to contain it, we have a much stronger bond in the long run.
THE LATEST RECORD YOU ARE PUTTING OUT IS "EMBRACE THE CIRCLE," WHICH HAS A RELEASE SHOW THIS FRIDAY AT ELASTIC ARTS CENTER. CAN YOU TELL US A BIT ABOUT THE RECORD AND THE PROCESS OF GETTING IT OUT TO THE WORLD?
RN: Well i just released my autobiographical soundtrack; Beyond The Skies, around my birthday in March. That project was "supposed" to be out a year ago. I was holding onto it, because I really wanted to sync it up within various avenues of licensing: film, video games, commercials etc. I was hoping to get it pressed up and marketed through someone, but it "didn't work out," so just as I was about to go on a big excursion, (but) I decided to get it off my chest. This was the same time i was finishing up Embrace The Circle. I was about 75% done and heading to Ethiopia was a major goal. I really felt this album has to come out another way, I can't keep only doing digital, I know I don't have the funds consistently to release in the way I want to for myself or other artists on the label, yet I also knew that I would get there soon enough. I decided to keep this one within community, within my foundation. You can call it a fan base, but more importantly, fellow music/art peers, etc. I plan to release it later and in other formats, especially vinyl, (though since it is just shy of an hour, would be double vinyl, which is way out of my budget this moment.) Presenting it differently than other releases is important to me. The album is really special to me and showcases exactly where I'm at currently in my life and where I aim to go.
Embrace The Circle is exactly that: half the songs are a collaboration within groups i've cofounded; LAGOS (w/Leo123), Beyond Luck (w/Moppy), SAM000 x Radius Etc (w/Sam Trump), Dia.L (w/ Lailah Reich); or were there with from the beginning and really close with; Cutz on Cuts (Moppy, RTST, Shazam Bangles is part, but isn't on it), or that I really respect and am inspired by; Thaione Davis and Rene Cruz. The rest of the songs are solo productions.
THERE ARE SO MANY SMALL AND OUT OF THE WAY ELECTRONIC VENUES IN CHICAGO. WHERE DO YOU GO FOR A CHILL NIGHT GETTING DOWN TO SOME GROOVES?
RN: Just like my music, food, travels, etc., I need a wide variety to satisfy my palate. My favorite venues, aren't always within the standard electronic realms. I also haven't been home consistently as much as of late, so I'm learning of and seeking new venues, especially outside of the norm, and more DIY spaces. Plus, soooo many places I've loved have unfortunately closed down. I hit up Danny's Tavern in Wicker Park, The California Clipper in Ukrainian Village/Humboldt Park, Cafe Mustache in Logan Square, The Whistler in Logan Square, The Stoney Island Arts Bank in South Shore/Jackson Park, and The Green Mill in Uptown.
CHICAGO HAS A HUGE MUSIC SCENE, ESPECIALLY IN THE ELECTRONIC GENRE. ARE THERE ANY ARTISTS IN THE CITY THAT YOU DON'T THINK ARE GETTING THEIR DUE?
RN: Yes, indeed, we have one of the strongest, most diverse, consistent and regularly "copied" music scenes. So many styles come from throughout our lovely, yet still highly segregated city. I am going to give this up to my labelmates and affiliated circle without a doubt. Some have moved, yet are still highly connected and respected; Leo 123, Minusone, MianYu, A. Billi Free. Kenny Keys, Uncle El, Fess Grandiose, Blackdaylight, FreezRock bka Rondell Adams, Cos, Lokua, Sev Seveer, Rashid Hadee, Dj Alo, Justin Raymund bka Itch 13, AQ aka Aquil, Ashina Hamilton, Sonny Daze, Tewz, Krush Love, Billy The Kid, Slot A, Cuzzin Vinny, Remski, Megiapa, _Stepchild aka Riki Starr and The $hoots, Charles Mantis, The Chandeliers, Jack Hill aka Doc Ill, Kollage, Moppy and Kenny Keys - way too many, so I'll stop there- hahaha!
IF THERE IS ANYTHING YOU WOULD LIKE TO ADD, PLEASE LET ME KNOW.
RN: I just want to say- let's work together- figure more ways to resolve our problems, make more solutions and look out for one another more. There are already so many pressures out here that stress us and distract us from our means to really enjoy our lives. I'm grateful for any platform that is willing to spread awareness of what others are doing. It's all about the big picture: us coming together for a highest good.
Also, the next release is from my group Dia.L (aka, Lailah Reich and I.) Injera will be out the end of June!
Much gratitude for your time and opportunity.