The conjoined worlds of industrial experimental and techno music have, throughout the years, brought forth some of nightlife’s most enjoyable, most spoken-of artists, inspiring hundreds — if not thousands — to begin creating their own music, and, while this often leads to great creativity and fantastic music, it cannot be ignored that there is a lot of music — and a lot of labels — which fail to take the concepts behind these genres any further.
House Of Reptile, a recently-started record label, has its sights set on breaking free of any constraints. ‘Sublime Creatures‘ is their latest LP, a 10-track compilation released on pink and grey vinyl, and is a release that demonstrates the label’s outlook and approach in fine style.
From dodging the 4/4 time signature to skirting around tired tropes of industrial music, the album follows an exploratory road, showing true creativity from artist and label alike, with the likes of Rommek taking us into stomping club madness, and Tullia Benedicta creating morphing dark worlds of her own design.
There’s an additional certain something to House Of Reptile’s work, particularly on ‘Sublime Creatures‘, which goes beyond the appearance alone. In fact, it feels cheap to draw the music therein inside the boundaries drawn by others, to make ‘Sublime Creatures‘ parallel with the terms ‘Industrial’ and ‘Techno’.
We caught up with Rapha Campos aka Angel Attack and Andrzej Sobolewski aka Polanski to understand some of the reasons why this might be: about the ongoing cooperation with their artistic director, the concepts behind the House of Reptile project and what the idea of a label means to them.
Interview by Freddie Hudson
"There’s an idea behind everything we do. Instead of simply creating records, we like to call our output tools to perfect your instinct"
Hi there, thank you for agreeing to answer our questions. Can you start off by introducing House Of Reptile (HofR) — What is your area of focus within music, for example?
Rapha: House of Reptile is a London-based record label founded by myself, Rapha Campos aka Angel Attack, in 2020. In a crowded scene where music has become a commodity with an expiry date for instant gratification, where hype comes before art, where Instagram ‘likes’ come before community, our purpose is clear – “To provide an open forum for the healthy exchange of ideas, and a platform for upcoming artists to express themselves, and reach out to a global community of fans and friends without compromise.”
While we are extremely rigorous about our output, it’s the process of getting there that brings the biggest rewards. There’s an idea behind everything we do. Instead of simply creating records, we like to call our output “tools to perfect your instinct”. The concept of House Of Reptile starts with our name, and with our vision manifesto:
“Tools to perfect your instinct.
Setting fire to the rage of acceptance.
Plotting the destruction of borders.
The name “House of Reptile” is about being united in our individual and collective quests for self-growth. It’s about exploring every corner of our minds, learning and evolving.
“Reptile” is about being human, and our relationship with the reptilian brain. Our efforts to understand what it truly means to be human. “House of” is a direct allusion to the ‘house and ball culture’ movements in NYC in the early 80’s. The sense of a real family of strangers coming together around a shared purpose.
This is the reason why the label exists. What drives us forward and our guide for releasing new music. It’s hard work, but we exist with a long-term vision in mind: we want to be here 15 or 20 years from now, still having passionate discussions with like-minded people. It’s a journey that will only end with our last breath.
Our focus within music is directly related to the manifesto above: The unexplored corners. The intensity of discovery. The cathartic epiphanies. I try to avoid genres as much as possible; they are both useful and harmful.
Our catalogue so far has a definitive taste for the intense shades of electronic music: Industrial, EBM, Metal, Proto-Techno, Electro, Noise, etc are terms you could use. But it doesn’t define us or our future. Every release so far is made of a careful selection of tracks that shows the depth of the human behind the creation. Not a single release has just the same type of tracks. And that’s how it will continue to be.
Andrzej: The musical style of the label is the common language that we both share. We have our own unique influences that brought us eventually to this place, but the choice of the darker, industrial and often broken rhythms is the thread, which seems to be following us up until now. The vinyl release deserves a good dance floor track, or a few, and we wanted our vinyls to have exactly that. Mixing different sub-styles and tempos is very much intentional, and it reflects a good progression of an interesting DJ set — or a whole club night — where you’d set off downbeat and move on to a groovier side of things.
What have you achieved with House Of Reptile to date?
Rapha: I’m extremely proud of our first year. We have quickly achieved a sonic and visual narrative that is both unique and recognisable. We have a growing community of artists and supporters.
It’s great to acknowledge where we were a year ago (nowhere!) and where we are now. We have respected names playing our music. The feedback is extremely motivating. We have a solid catalogue that is growing fast. Yet this is only the beginning. We’ve been through a pandemic, so our opportunities for new connections have been restricted to the internet. Yet, we are grateful for the positives.
Andrzej: With four EPs, and now the upcoming VA, we are only a baby in terms of our legacy, but we are chuffed to bits with how well we have been received so far; the response we get from fellow artists and DJs has been great, and that is all without a normally-operating music scene. We both have had a chance to release our own music, and I can tell you that the first time I had an opportunity to “play myself” on vinyl was a great feeling altogether. Introducing Bastian Horro, with his solo EP, was my personal favourite moment as he offered something very fresh and powerful, all at the tender age of 20.
This compilation, ‘Sublime Creatures‘, shows a definite stance on harder electronic music, but with a certain twist away from the generic 4/4 or industrial templates. What is the objective of the compilation?
Rapha: ‘Sublime Creatures‘ is a snapshot of our DNA. Its objective is to introduce us and the depth of our thinking to new audiences, while remaining consistent to our vision as a label. I really think we have achieved this, and the feedback so far confirms it.
Can you briefly introduce us to the artists you’ve selected, especially some of the perhaps lesser-known musicians?
Andrzej: I think that most, if not all, of the artists we’ve featured thus far have the same level of maturity, which they express in musical terms. We might all be at a different level of technical know-how, but the emotional charge within each release brings us all to a very similar place. The lesser-known artists here you mention are people who I personally know or admire their craft; Kursk for instance is someone who I had never personally met, but it has been a great pleasure to work with.
A few of my close friends such as Fairground of Tears, Burden, or Rommek, are London-based artists who I feel don’t require much introduction, as they already have a great thing going for themselves. Tullia Benedicta is someone I know through Jerome (of Years of Denial), and she’d played an incredibly intense opening set at one of my events, despite the fact that not all of the instruments she’d brought from Italy worked on the night. Lastly, there’s Halv Drøm, who I admire hugely for his unique sonic sensibility, and rocked up to Tresor when I’d played their New Faces event a few years back.
There’s a clear effort on the design of the release. Do you have a label designer, or do you plan to work with different artists to reflect each release?
Rapha: This is where another founding partner comes into play: Malte Gruhl is our Artistic Director, and has been with us before we even had the first EP ready. His drive kept me going when launching the label felt like a distant dream. He has carte blanche; we simply provide him with the concept (an EP, the VA, or the label itself at the beginning) and he will come back with ideas that embody that concept.
For our first EP, he used 13,000 beads to manually create the reptile eye on the cover. For ‘Sublime Creatures‘ he asked each artist to send him around 20 photos from our phones — no selfies, just random stuff — and out of 100’s of images he created the artwork that you see.
From handmade logos, a bespoke typeface to each one of artworks, Malte’s multiverse elevates our vision to new heights.
"Each release is a story: the music, the artwork and the record itself. We always think about the entire experience"
Vinyl is not a cheap medium to release with, and shows a certain preference or value system when it comes to releasing music. What importance does the medium of the release have for you?
Rapha: We feel the medium alone is irrelevant, but the attention to the detail for every element of a release gets us excited. Each release is a story: the music, the artwork and the record itself. We always think about the entire experience, therefore launching ‘The Instinct Series‘ on coloured vinyl was one of the ways of us saying “we are serious about this and every detail matters”. It will take quite some time to recover this investment, but, as mentioned above, we are here for the years/decades to come.
We are about to launch our digital and cassette series with the same rigour and attention to detail, but without the overhead costs, meaning we can release music more often, expand from our core styles into a broader palette of sounds, get to know more artists, and have endless discussions about our art.
What is next on the agenda, after the release of ‘Sublime Creatures’?
Andrzej: We have signed off our next vinyl release, which will follow the split EP format, which seems to be working well for us. It features SAMOT and Noform, with remixes from Tomohiko Sagae and Angel Attack to complement the package.
However, as we are aware of some manufacturing difficulties, where there is currently a shortage of vinyl within the EU, we are shifting the attention to launch our new digital and cassette series mentioned above. This new idea will come to life in October as a digital release with a limited edition of cassettes. But hopefully the vinyl releases, and with it ‘The Instinct Series‘, will return to its full life cycle in 2022.
Rapha: Meet people! We are planning to take House of Reptile on a tour once we are allowed to travel more freely. Start our digital series. Expand our sonic palette.
‘Sublime Creatures’ is scheduled for release July 20 via House Of Reptile. Order a copy from Bandcamp.
1. Rommek – Cloak and Dagger
2. Polanski – Chthonic Deity
3. Samot – Proactive Society
4. Burden – Circuit Bender
5. Kursk – Ghosts and Shadows
6. Angel Attack – Créature Irréelle
7. Tullia Benedicta – Oval
8. Restive Plaggona – Zra Mra
9. Fairground Of Tears – Fall
10. Halv Drøm – Currency