"When I first started Lomidhigh, I took out a loan. I thought, 'what the heck, this is what I want to do.'"
"So, you told the loan officer..."
"I want to lose some money!"
Those are (mostly) the words of Daniel Lyons, the brains behind Lomidhigh. It was his interest in electronic music—and disinterest in becoming a DJ—that led to the creation of Lomidhigh Lmtd. in late 2006. Lyons had been running a night in the city with the same name since 2005, but found out quickly that he wasn't all that great at promotion—and didn't want to spin records himself either.
"I had to think of something else and, at the time, I was in this art group with some of my friends and we used to listen to a lot of house and techno together, so I made it up, a friend made the stencils for LoMidHigh Lmtd. and I sprayed them and that's how it all began."
The stencils and spray that Lyons refers to are seen on the artwork to a number of the initial releases for LoMidHigh Lmtd., as non-musical art forms have played a large part in making the label what it is today. Before he devoted himself to house and techno, Lyons was heavily into the local graffiti scene and exhibited photography as well. He was like any kid who didn't go to high school—one trying to figure out what he wanted to do with his life.
Belying his slacker image, however, Lyons has always been intensely focused on making whatever he does the best that it can be. "When I'm into something, I really dig into it….so to make a label in a scene which is so big, I had to think of another way to get people to notice it."
That other way was to limit each release to only 200 copies, and to put each one out on 10-inches—instead of the normal 12. With the aforementioned unique stencil-and-spray-paint covers ready to go and the existing connections from running the LoMidHigh night for a number of years, it didn't make much to convince producers like Jay Haze and Agnès to sign on to the project.
Jay Haze - Mofo
The first release on LoMidHigh Lmtd. is worthy of the honor. Jay Haze's bleepy main theme matches wits with knife-sharpening percussion before dropping a ponderous and propulsive chord sequence for the breakdown.
Martinez - Organic Theme
As smooth as butter, this easygoing tune is built expressly for those who like to float over the dance floor, rather than touching the ground. Its Rhodes organ ain't doing much, but they never have to.
Ray Okpara - Perc Us Too
Ray Okpara's massive 2008 continued apace with his EP for the Lmtd. imprint, which featured this mind-altering tune with a whirlpool in its back pocket. If only more modern deep house sounded this good.
Monotax – Poxilana
This is pop music in name, but it's unlike much you've heard. Monotax has more in common with Dntel or The Notwist than anything—baking electronic music, IDM and indie into a neat confection.
Boola - Wopetra
Forget wonky's love affair with video game sounds and come enjoy the weedy MIDI horns of Boola. This Romanian sometimes falls in love with his drum loops, but he has every right to do so.
That openness to new sounds and, more importantly, producers from different countries has become an essential part of the label's success. As Martinez, one of Lyons' good friends and a producer for the label, puts it:
I really think that Daniel has created a very Copenhagen-independent label... if you can say it like that. The label's strong point is the wide global network that Daniel has built up. I think it would definitely have been the same no matter where it would be placed in the world. It's a…label...built on Daniel's personal taste, research, connection and more within music.
Function usually wins out over form. And, over the past few years, Lyons has made some concessions: Nowadays, LoMidHigh Lmtd.'s releases are put out on 12-inches. "So that the producers can go longer, if they want to." The stencils are long gone. "It took a lot of time. And if it was a windy day, the covers would all stick together—and the picture would look messed up." And now they're released in editions of 300.
That last one seems strange until you realize that LoMidHigh Lmtd., in its original incarnation, was operating at a loss. Each release of 200 copies—the norm until Boola's No Spam Here in early 2008—had no chance of making any money, even if they sold out completely.
It's either dedication or stupidity. And it's probably a little bit of both, but as I talked to Lyons about the label, it becomes clear that it's something a bit more complex than that. Like Adultnapper's Ransom Note label or Womb Club's Contakt-inspired M_nus manga, the music is only half of a very important story—and that's OK. It's as much about the idea behind the music as the music itself—although neither, it should be stressed, take a backseat to the other. There's one online interview with Lyons that puts it this way, "LoMidHigh is the practical result of Daniel's imagination."
Imaginations are boundless things, so it seems only natural, then, that LoMidHigh Lmtd. has spawned two sublabels. The first, and more straightforward imprint, is LoMidHigh Organic which is an outlet for housier productions. Martinez and Lyons worked hard together to craft the label's third 12-inch, a double pack that stretches its four songs over four sides of vinyl. "I'm not sure if all vinyl buyers were super happy with [that]," says Martinez. But it seemed that DJs were more than happy to play the quartet of tracks out, as each uncovered a slightly different side of the producer that hadn't been revealed before—most notably the laidback Rhodes-laden "Organic Theme," which serves as an anthem of sorts for the imprint.
The second sublabel, Lomidhigh Unlmtd, not only refers to its open-ended runs in terms of vinyl, but also in its outlook. The imprint was set up by Lyons as an outlet for more pop-oriented projects. With only one release under its belt, it's hard to say exactly what form it will take in the future, but its initial bow is instructive: Monotax, an indie rock/folk/IDM hybrid has two songs on the release, with Jay Haze and Ernesto Ferreyra turning up for remixing duties. (Elephant Pixel (of Monotax) will head up the next effort with Bruno Pronsato due to be the remixer of choice.)
Ever the optimist, Lyons even has plans for further imprints. Laughing, he tells me that the idea for one of them is to have a first EP which contains an original track on the A-side, backed by a remix of that original. Then, the second EP's A-side would be a remix of the first release's B-side, backed once again by a remix of the A-side. And so on into infinity in a musical version of the exquisite corpse concept.
It's at this point in our conversation that my conception of Lyons crystallizes. He's a dreamer—someone who appreciates art for art's sake. A guy who can't help but start another label when he realizes that he's not quite putting out all of the sounds that he wants to hear into the world. (Even if he hasn't made a dime on the first one.) That Lyons isn't the DJ or the producer behind them is a twist on the usual narrative, but he's still every bit the artist that Martinez or Boola is. He just goes by a different name: curator.