Andy Webb meets the founders of a label specialising in uniquely Australian electronic music.
The inspiration for the 16 releases on Analogue Attic, the label they've run together since 2014, comes from all kinds of places. An aquarium, a suburban street, a weekend in a national park, the sand and the ocean—they've all found their way into a catalogue that captures environments and experiences that are uniquely Australian. Since La'Brooy and Albrecht started Analogue Attic the vision has been clear. Together as Albrecht La'Brooy they have been dedicated to making and fostering music directly influenced by their surroundings, marrying the worlds of ambient and deep house.
The pair first met back in 2013 when Albrecht was an eager DJ and bedroom producer and La'Brooy was studying at Monash University under the respected jazz pianist Steve Sedergreen. Albrecht, keen to embark on a jazz piano education himself, called up Sedergreen who referred him to La'Brooy for tutoring. Before long the lessons were flowing both ways—Albrecht was honing his craft on the keys, while La'Brooy was learning about electronic music for the first time. "I'd started to develop an interest in the world of electronic music," La'Brooy says. "When I found out Albrecht was [interested], I was like, 'Fuck, we should be teaching each other.' We'd hang out for like four hours on a weekend and just talk about piano and electronic music. We did that for a few months and just very naturally started playing together without a clear point that it moved from being lessons to just jamming. And we've been jamming ever since."
The duo's different backgrounds and approaches proved harmonious as one fell deeper into the other's musical world. They began experimenting with field recordings as a way to inspire their sessions, something that would become a foundational pillar of their music and of Analogue Attic. "Originally we were toying with the idea of manipulating field recordings in order to bring a sense of place, and then using that as the inspiration and improvising around that. The whole idea was that if we could go out to a place like this [Heide Park], or to an airport or to a rainforest or a train station, and record the sounds of that place and put them on while we were playing, it would help us make music that was reflective of that place. And then we found that by leaving the field recordings in there, it actually sounded great and filled a space."
Before the label was established, the duo started hosting nights at The Wild in the Melbourne suburb Fitzroy, pairing live performance and art together in a collaborative environment. Artists presented things like photography, sculpture and video that would then influence the musicians' direction on the night. The first event held at the small upstairs room that became known as the Analogue Attic served as the duo's first public performance as Albrecht La'Brooy. They played alongside Rings Around Saturn and Tuc, two local names who became key members of the label.
After a couple of events they decided they wanted to put out a record, but didn't know where to start. "Where do you even start in trying to get a record released?" says La'Brooy. "Who was there in Australia that would do it? People overseas, why would they listen to us?" By the time they completed their first release they still weren't closer to finding the answers, so the search for a label never began—"we just decided to put it out ourselves."
Each step brought them closer towards the creation of Analogue Attic Records. "I remember looking at Juno and thinking, 'Why would they stock our record if it's not associated with a label? Every single record has a catalogue number.' I was like, 'Fuck, can we just make up our own catalogue number? Oh no, that means we need to make a label. Shit, then what do we need to do to make a label?' And it kept escalating and we realised we just had to do it all."
What began as a haphazard process quickly became a thoroughly considered one. The pair decided that if they were going to start a label they would need it to be grounded in a set of core values. As it stands in 2019, the label's core values document, which is sent out to each new Analogue Attic artist, includes a desire to incorporate a "story, concept or deeper meaning behind each release," such as a location or landscape; the use of field recordings where possible "to impart a sense of place"; never releasing a record just for the sake of it; and not releasing music that is "a response to anything else happening in the musical sphere." While the document clearly states that the artist's vision comes first and that the points outlined should not dictate the direction of the record, the underlying spirit of these values needs to be embedded in each release.