Andrew Khedoori runs the long running Australian label Preservation, and recently launched Longform Editions. Longform differs from Preservation’s releases in that they are digital-only, single-track releases – but, as the name suggests, long explorations of an idea sometimes running to as much as 60 minutes. Like Preservation releases, each features sleeve design by Mark Gowing, a Sydney-based designer known internationally for his experimental typography [Mark also did the cover for Cyclic Defrost Issue 8 – May 2004]. Preservation was slow to move to digital, initially because of local distribution, but now both Longform and Preservation are well established on Bandcamp – and Andrew has even launched an annual subscription option for Longform.
Seb Chan – How did Longform come about? Is this an unofficial sublabel of Preservation?
Andrew Khedoori – We’re not thinking about Longform Editions so much as a label but more as a series. We’ve thought of it as a kind of online art gallery – an exhibition of artists riffing on a theme: deep listening. I’d been thinking for a while on how our listening habits have changed in the era of digital and streaming services. Ideas around choice have changed and been reframed and attention spans are getting shorter. The possibility of endless choice hasn’t really enriched our listening and streaming service algorithims usually only offer a scope of sounds within the kind you already know. I’m not against streaming services per se, but they don’t really allow for new revelations or the chance for an immersive listening experience in how they are modelled.
Tuning in to an extended piece of music can be an absorbing experience that can change your day, night, surroundings, focus and sense of being. I wanted to create an ongoing collection of such pieces and a dedicated hub for this kind of listening – a place you could go and discover something or someone new relatively easily. Mark [Gowing] and I often bounce ideas off each other and it seemed right to have a templated style artwork so as to be singular towards the overall nature of the project. He agreed and wanted to be involved further so he created the Longform Editions website with accompanying digital media and we’ll keep changing the artwork and media with each year LE is active.
SC – I liked reading Damon Krukowski’s digging into the problem of algorithmic curation with respect to his Galaxie 500 back catalogue. I think most of us have realised that Spotify etc are becoming more like replacements for radio than for private music collections. And that has revealed that a lot of people are happy not to have private music collections now as a result too. As both someone who runs labels and has been so instrumental in public radio, I’m interested in what you think is being gained and lost in this large scale shift?
AK – Damon’s writing and Ways of Hearing podcast have been incredibly encouraging and inspiring in how it aligns with what were our original germs of thought toward this idea. Both are so definitive and detailed it just crystallised a lot for us. I think that sense of curation and the quirk of personability has been lost with this shift you mention. Radio created moments through the passion, dedication and knowledge of people involved. You gravitated to a radio station for these moments and how they become a soundtrack for your daily life. Streaming services can only approximate this experience – a playlist derived from an algorithm will never be more than the sum of its parts. Any label you follow will offer the same.
With Longform Editions we’re striving for a well-rounded listening experience, not just offer a set of long pieces every now and then. People take in or use music in many different ways, and many of those ways may well be anathema to listeners like you and I. Of course, that’s totally fine!
Streaming services may have amplified and accentuated more casual listening styles and to that end, people may be listening to more music as such. At the same time though, we need to have room, and make more room for various types of listening and the activities surrounding those so as not to narrow the culture. Being able to discover it is getting harder, and more crucial.
SC – You’ve had some great artists (and some fantastic slow music) released already on Longform, what is the selection process?
AK – We basically asked artists that I’ve enjoyed for a long time or just recently discovered. Some are keen to take part straight away, some commit to a time they’ll be able to afford for it, some can’t at all either through lack of time or interest. Because we’re releasing pieces every two months, we’re really flexible and have set no real deadlines. We’ve been keen to get a good spread in diversity of artists and sounds and look to pair more familiar names with newer ones. I’m hoping for the pieces in each set to work together in a complementary fashion so every two months a listener has some different approaches to the same idea to absorb. No set would have, say, four ambient pieces housed together, as much as ambient can be a real feature of this kind of music making.
SC – Long single track releases feel like a quiet protest at the accelerated consumption and traditional pricing models of digital music these days, and a pox on streaming services. Digital only Bandcamp releases – whats the economics of this? Bandcamp gets 1/3, artist gets 1/3, label gets 1/3? And having lived through a lot of change in the music industry, are you feeling more positive these days?
AK – We wanted the pieces to be accessible and inexpensive. Vinyl is becoming difficult to afford for many and if you want people to absorb a range of music in pursuit of an idea you need to be more constant and nimble than production through physical formats. Digital is perfect for this, and also artists to stretch out. Matthewdavid’s Mindflight’s piece is nearly an hour for example, and is really emblematic of both the concept and the medium.
Artists who have come on board like the idea and what it allows them to explore with their work and it’s not going to take up the time or commitment of an album and the kind of cycle that generally involves. It doesn’t distract from their major work but what’s really made this project sing is how the artists have engaged with it and produced something of great substance.
Bandcamp take their share of any download purchases and we split the rest. We’re not really trying to rub up against streaming services – Longform Editions in part acknowledges the way people listen to music through these services and is offering another avenue in that spectrum. I personally feel we need more music like this on an ongoing basis to turn to and easily so. As regards the industry, I’m always positive about music and how it can evolve and change. I do worry though about how the way things are moving will wind up shaping creativity and culture – if streaming services are going to dominate with their model of listening, more artists and labels will look to temper their work to be accommodated more.
SC – What artists have you got coming up?
AK – We have such a great pool of artists taking part – I’m really excited for the curveball Nozumu Matsumoto has offered to this concept and series. We also have Ekin Fil, Nicola Ratti, Matchesse, Felicity Mangan and Ahnnu coming up, just to name a few.
Longform Editions first year of releases are available on Bandcamp. And if you’d like to directly support the series then subscriptions are available for the second year (which includes full access to the first year!).