STS 016 - Janushoved

Secret Thirteen Spotlight Janushoved Record Label Interview and Podcast

Janushoved Label's Logo

In this exclusive interview and 2-hour mix Mikkel of Internazionale sheds some light on Janushoved, the mysterious Copenhagen-based tape record label.

Copenhagen’s Janushoved is one of the most secretive labels to exist in the deep experimental music underground. Tapes can be ordered only by directly contacting the label’s founder Mikkel Valentin Dunkerley (also behind Internazionale, Rosen and Spyddet and numerous other projects) and comes in small editions usually packed in monochrome covers with romantic landscapes, strange items or surreal images of people. It seems that all the releases of the label belong to the same universe or could be treated as puzzle pieces of the same landscape, with subtle references in the form of visuals or subtle poetic hints guiding the listener. However, of prime importance here is the music - romantic synth sounds of warm ambience, sharper lo-fi coldwave edges or neurotic tropical twists.

It’s no wonder that information is scarce on the people behind it. Hopefully, this interview with Mikkel will shed some light on the label without dispelling the mysterious aura surrounding it. The interview is accompanied by Mikkel’s mammoth 2 hour mix containing jewels from all over Janushoved’s catalogue. It will definitely give you a taste of what the label is about and illustrate the range of moods and atmospheres it generates.

Your label has a very coherent aesthetic. How did the label start and develop? What were the main influences behind it?

Back when I was first introduced to the more experimental side of music I would spend hours digging around online for obscure tape labels, and this way of finding music as well as often being able to have conversations with the people who actually made it really stuck with me. So before starting Janushoved I had a very clear idea of what I wanted it to be and what it should represent, and I’ve since tried to operate it following the same ideas that I’ve personally found joy in. I’d been toying around with the idea of starting a label 2-3 years before actually doing it. In 2014 I was sitting on so much material I wanted to release, and the idea finally felt ripe enough to commit to. I love making music and apparently I also love cutting and folding paper, so the two combined became the perfect basis for starting a label.

You keep releasing records on tape in very limited editions. Have you ever thought about expanding them and including vinyl releases? Why/why not?

I’m not particularly fond of the idea of ‘limited for the sake of limited’, so I actually try not to make the releases too limited, but instead make editions I feel suit a particular release. Most of the releases now come out in editions of everything between 100 and 200, which I feel is pretty fitting for a tape release. I think the workload of doing more copies would be in danger of tipping over to being not so enjoyable, so I’d rather not.

Admittedly the least fun part about running a label is without a doubt packing and shipping orders, so a big reason behind keeping editions relatively low is also that I won’t have to keep going back and forth from the postal office with orders on the back catalogue dripping in from time to time, but instead I can move on and focus on new things.

As much as I love vinyl, I don’t think doing vinyl releases on Janushoved would make as much sense as releasing tapes, one of the reasons being that a lot of the work would be done by someone else, which I don’t think would interest me the same way as working with the tape format.

Janushoved always was a very anonymous label with almost no info about most of the artists and not too much web presence. As far as I know the label also circles around a small group of friends. Where does this depersonalization of music come from? Is it difficult to maintain it?

The depersonalization of the music was one the key principles when starting out and still is in a large extend, although some projects has been ‘found out’ along the way. One of the obvious reasons behind this is that I simply want people to spend their energy on the music instead of the person, but I also think I just want to do add a bit more mystery to the world. All music released on the label is done by the same handful of people either solo or in various constellations, so in that sense it’s not so much a label as it is a platform for presenting different masks and languages.

It seems to me that Janushoved sound is very resonant with Copenhagen and its surroundings. Are you influenced by the city’s atmosphere and in what way?

Copenhagen is a very odd sized capital, in a way maybe more like a large village, so I think the size of it may have had an impact on the many collaborations and internal influences taking place, which I guess ultimately leads to it having a certain sound.

I imagine creative collaboration is essential in order to maintain coherence. For me, Janushoved seems like a some sort of creative cluster. Is there a lot of collaboration between label artists? How the label influences the creative processes if it does?

Being a contributor as well as curator of the label, coherence within the releases is very important to me. I’ve always thought of it as a sort of continuation of a developing narrative, and all releases therefore always come through this certain scope of purpose and progress. I’m very lucky though to have a group of people around me who both understand what Janushoved is about but who are also capable of developing and building upon the narrative.

There are usual small pieces of texts and poems accompanying the releases. Together with artwork they usually serve as the only guideline to the sonic world. How much importance all the extra-musical info does have to you including visual artworks? Can we see them as essential signposts in apprehending the music, understanding it?

I like to think of the fragments of text as a guide vaguely pointing you in a direction or like building the stage and scenography for the listening experience. I really enjoy this part of running the label, it’s sort of an extra magical tool to tie everything together. Especially with this kind of music I think it’s important to also build textual worlds around it and not be limited to only communicating in a sonic language. I also like the idea that people will probably interpret the texts differently most of the time, and in that way they will scatter any notion of a singular interpretation of the work.

Why are your releases not available digitally?

I like for the music to initially be connected to a physical object, but I do recognize the fact that most people will listen to music digitally, which unfortunately may exclude a lot of people from accessing it. However I still haven’t found a way of merging the two that would make sense to me.

Do you actively communicate with your audience and how is community important to you?

In order to purchase a Janushoved release you have to write an email with your order, and even though it’s admittedly a pretty archaic process I’m glad to see a lot of people have no difficulties with this. This is perhaps the most satisfying aspect for me, being able to have an interaction with the people who buy and appreciate the music, and it’s one of the things that really makes me want to keep going.


Reveal Playlist
01. Raquin - I See Your Desires As If They Were Mine (2019)
02. Manon Lescaut - Libelles Were Spread On The Stones Of Paris (2015)
03. Ryong - Looking For The Abyss (2019)
04. Shell Fantasy - Haste (2018)
05. Angeles - Angeles (2016)
06. P.E. - Veritá (2016)
07. Tevere - Origins (2017)
08. Shell Fantasy - Wingspan (2018)
09. Internazionale - East Coast Angels (2019)
10. Hercegovina - Untitled (2016)
11. Telluric Current - Halcyon Weights (2016)
12. Raquin - Dance Of The Peacock (2019)
13. Ryong - Chest Pillars (2019)
14. Yuri - Weep (2018)
15. Gersemi - Gül Dikiyorum Ellerimin Değdiği Yere (2016)
16. Rosen & Spyddet - Favntag (2018)
17. Lucia - Kvinden Fra Pamplona Med Den Tatoverede Ryg (2016)
18. Internazionale - No Soldiers (2019)
19. Olympisk Løft - I Dette Skær (Stykke For En Nat I Juli) (2016)
20. Brahim Yilmaz - The Vatard Sisters (2015)
21. Ziyek - Untitled (2018)
22. O. Vaupel - Untitled (2017)
23. Internazionale - Blue Envies The Colour Green (2019)
24. Genoasejlet - Ved Linjerne Om Hans Skuldre Navigerede Vi Gennem Mørket (2016)
25. Xrara - Vena Amoris (2016)
26. Tevere - Gather And Disperse pt. 1(2017)
27. Hercegovina - Untitled (2016)
28. Soho Rezanejad - Uplifter (Internazionale Red Lights Remix) (2017)
29. Internazionale - Fleece (2019)
30. Yuri - Vessels In White (2018)
31. Olympisk Løft - Tvillingeseglet (2017)

About Author

Paulius Ilevicius is a Secret Thirteen journalist, editor and occasional DJ focusing on more dreamy and melancholic soundscapes. Born in post-industrial town of Pavevezys, currently he lives and works in Vilnius, Lithuania.

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