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by Andrew Duke
Brooklyn's Taylor Deupree has an extensive music-related history. Prototype 909, SETI, Human Mesh Dance, and Futique are just some of the projects in which Deupree has had a hand; labels including but not limited to Plastic City, Rancho Relaxo, Disko B, and Dum have all released Deupree-related material. Not only a musician, he is also a graphic and type designer for Caipirinha and Instinct. While he has recorded with many other artists in the past, the last two years have seen him focus his energy more on solo work and his 12k imprint. As the year 2000 rears its ugly head, many labels are intent on wringing out more sales, covering more territories, and fighting to reach the top of the heap in today's electronic music market. Deupree, however, has taken a different, refreshing approach. 12k is concerned more with pushing musical boundaries than racking up big sales numbers; using technology to make communication and the music itself more individual and unique, rather than exploiting it for greater monetary return. Where some labels start up offices in new countries in order to capitalize on untapped wallets, Deupree sells 12k releases--from an international roster of artists based in Japan, Germany, Greece, and the United States--mostly through mail order. Deupree is well aware of the possibilities technology and its resultant new distribution options offer, but he is more interested in dealing with like-minded people-both musicians and consumers-when it comes to 12k. For him, it's about building better relationships, not increasing distribution and aiming to reach the masses.
You've worked with many labels in the past. What prompted you to start 12k?
"12k started in January 1997 and basically it came out of a bad deal from another label. They pissed me off quite a bit and I said, 'I'm just going to do it myself and start my own label.' I find a huge lack of support in America for the kind of stuff I'm trying to do with the label for more experimental listening music-'post techno' as some people call it. There's so many labels and they do techno or they do jungle, the bigger labels who are just bandwagon-jumpers, but the exact sound that I was doing, I had to do it myself."
You made a conscious decision to release all CDs on 12k strictly in small quantities. Why?
"Every CD is limited to 500 copies and I think that makes it a little more special for people who buy it and actually get their hands on a copy because it is limited edition. For the first two releases, I didn't do any press at all, I refused to send copies to people for free because the whole idea behind the label was kind of to be an 'anti-label'-I didn't sell through distributors, if you wanted to find the music, you had to find it. It was more a label for true music lovers to stumble upon rather than one where I would throw it in their faces. I didn't have to make money with it, so I wasn't concerned about selling really quickly or selling a lot of them. Because the money behind the label wasn't important to me, it allowed me to be able to take that kind of attitude with it."
Because of the limited number of copies of each release, do you find you have a more personal relationship with the people buying 12k material?
"Exactly. I'm doing press now and I'm doing interviews and things like that because you have to do something or it's just going to stop dead, but I still know practically by name everyone who bought the first two CDs because almost all of them were sold to people who contacted me by email. It's extremely personal. When someone emails me about a new release who has bought something [on 12k] before, I recognize the name and I talk to almost everyone; it's really cool for me as well as for them, and everyone seems to enjoy it a lot."