Label Interview: Asura Revolver
Asura Revolver is a label run by Norwegian artist R0x4ry. The label caters to “vapor/vapour” music, which is best described as a cyberpunk derivative of vaporwave that utilizes ambient sounds, urban/city themes, and a preponderance of original material – though, as with vaporwave, those three tropes are by no means universal. Asura Revolver has been around since October 2016, making this interview just slightly before their one-year anniversary. Sunbleach got in contact a couple weeks ago with R0x4ry to discuss the label and its history; we also discussed up the R0x4ry project itself and the next steps for “vapor/vapour” and vaporwave at large.
S: What is an “Asura Revolver”? What inspired you to create it?
R: An ‘Asura Revolver’ is basically me having already decided on “Asura” and having Asura Records being already chosen. I decided to pick a re-name, that being “Revolver”. Also it sounds kinda cool? And it makes you wanna learn about it I guess, that’s how I justify it.
Asura was started because I saw that more and more original-based vapour weren’t getting their share in the game, usually being stuck to a release on a vaporwave-majority label, and I kinda wanted a label just focused on, of which at the time there weren’t a lot. But now we got Aurawire and such, and now it feels stupid but hey: the idea still will stick.
S: What do you see in Asura Revolver’s immediate or far future? Do you plan on continuing physical releases?
R: After this season? (I group all of the planned releases into a season) Not much. I just usually plan step by step. But for the immediate [future], I have four releases, including an Asura Revolver compilation and a reissue of Intl Debris’ album Ambifauna, now rechristened Ambisphere.
Yeah of course, that’s the only money in the scene. I can’t sustain just on digital. It’s like, the problem is people either want Subaeris or something like that which I can’t guarantee.
S: For how much longer does this season of Asura Revolver last?
R: Whenever i finish up the batch of releases, after that Asura will go on a break and we will do a shake up.
S: Does the Asura logo of the concentric circles around the dot have a particular meaning?
R: It means whatever you want it mean. While I don’t want to reveal the inspiration for it, it’s always been like a ball of energy, which is one of the main things of Asura. I wanna release something that has been made with pure energy, if that makes sense.
S: What went on behind the scenes in the creation/featuring of Transformations by Sour Gout?
R: Uh, I might be wrong on this. I have to ask Sour Gout on it, but I think it was made when he was done with school and made bunch of albums out of joy. That’s where most of his current discography stems from, if I recall correctly. Transformations was just a happy accident that happened to fit with Asura.
S: What about Astral Portal from Castel?
R: Astral Portal was originally titled Astral Ascension, and it was originally his debut album. Then he changed some of the tracks and we added some, and then we put some new sick album art on it – funny how that works. It’s like a half compilation of Castel’s early ambient work and half an actual album.
S: Do you have any comments concerning the album artwork of Asura Revolver releases?
R: Not a lot. I got Kingo on the redesign of pretty much everything. We gotta re-do logo since its a PNG and maybe make the Bandcamp better since its kinda boring. Other than that, I just usually try to get the best people on the job, even when it seems stupid. Like with Triangle by Catlights, I basically had a real-life friend change the album art on its head, and Astral Portal was just changed from a Google image photo to something really awesome. So in short, yep, its usually just me commissioning guys I know who can do good shit.
S: Can you elaborate on what you meant earlier by “people either want Subaeris or something like that” with regards to Asura Revolver?
R: Oh boy, did you know that I fucked up the Subaeris reissue? Well anyways, people have been basically asking me to reissue Shinjuku Underground or other Subaeris albums, but I don’t really have that much money. 😛 But the Shinjuku Underground reissue is happening.
S: What’s the plan for the Shinjuku Underground reissue? Any particular timetable?
R: Not really. I’m focusing on the four releases I got planned, which I hope to get through the year. Then when that’s over (a.k.a. the season finale), I’m focusing on maybe getting some reissues such as Shinjuku Underground done.
S: How do you see Asura Revolver’s relationship to other artists or labels in the scene?
R: Frankly, I don’t know? As I said, I wanted to be a hub for vapour music over vaporwave. But as with vapour people, it’s more effective to work with already established vaporwave labels. By that I mean, to vaporwave people I have a damn near unmarketable premise that this is gonna be sample-free or minimal samples and we are not vaporwave, and there’s not really anything I can do about that.
S: Do you consider R0x4ry as a “project” or as “you” when you produce music? In other words, is R0x4ry a means of pseudonymous artistic exploration, or do you consider your works through R0x4ry as also an invocation of your personality?
R: Whoa, we getting into the personal stuff, I mean alright. Honestly to your last part it is both: it’s usually just everything I make musically is under “R0x4ry”; I don’t know if its attachment or if its like laziness. Yeah, I would say its like me but in a sense I don’t wanna become R0x4ry. R0x4ry is just a mask or a new coat of clothes, if that makes sense.
S: What does the name “R0x4ry” mean, or how did you come up with it?
R: It was just a username that basically evolved over the years, and when it came to picking a music name, I just picked what I had.
S: With whom would you like to work but haven’t yet?
R: Uh that’s kinda hard but in no order: Reef Frequent, STΛQQ ƟVERFLƟ, Crimson Kaishaku, Sangam, AIR Japan (does it count when I already did one of his aliases?), Finlii, and Lukepi. Half of these artists were meant to be on the label already, but our schedules didn’t match.
S: What artists or labels do you consider the greatest influences on you? Vaporwave or otherwise.
R: I look up to HKE and his work with Dream Catalogue. He has done a great job creating something out of nothing, and he’s a nice friend to have. I kinda also look up the people around me that are making vapour and trying to make this thing come through. Empire wouldn’t never happened if vapour never happened to say. Otherwise? Warp, XL, Subpop, you know, indie labels that basically stuck around and became big, either through being in a scene that was blowing up or by pure grit and trial. Also, Doomtrip is a big influence on me (I’m putting them here because they only have released one vapour related thing).
S: Do you have any continuing interest in vaporwave, or have you moved on (as a producer or listener) from that scene as you continue to explore vapor?
R: Kinda? I still enjoy vaporwave, because my introduction was in samplism like Portishead and DJ Shadow, but I don’t think a lot is done on that front. I more enjoy dreampunk, hardvapour etc. I feel like there’s not a lot of people trying actively evolve vapour, but I don’t think I’m the right person to do it. 😛 Maybe I am. I’m not really one person to be confident to myself about thing, but shit man, Asura Revolver is about vapour, and nothing is gonna change that.
S: To where do you think vapor could evolve next? Who do you think is evolving it now and what are they doing to facilitate that?
R: Wherever it wants to go, honestly. Vapour to me is just post-vaporwave. It’s kinda interesting to see people who started or got big via slowing down music tackling and making their own stuff. I use a lot of stuff that I did with my vaporwave via a lot of effects and such on my ambient, and I think it sounds different from normal ambient. I’m not the best person to predict where vapour or vaporwave go next, but most likely into exploring more and more of electronica and bedroom producing.
S: What kind of effects you’re using from your vaporwave that you’re now applying to vapor? I’m curious what all you’ve transferred over, so to speak.
R: There was this one time I showed off Empire to an ambient guy and he asked me why it was so slow.
I’ll just say something as last words: evolving is a trope of music. Everyone evolves from their initial music state. Asura Revolver exists just to help people who wants to evolve into original music or try to make original music. We might not be BLCR Laboratories or Dream Catalogue or whomever you are thinking of, but hey, we are damn good in my opinion.
S: Got a favorite Norwegian black metal band?
R: Darkthrone by far.
Check out more music from Asura Revolver here, and listen to the in-progress label sampler below:
I like the stuff that comes out on this label but I’ve heard some pretty terrible things about the label owner… Hard to know how to feel