Nostilevo is still one of my favorite labels from America. In the beginning, when they came around, industrial once again got revitalized. I asked the label-owner a few questions back then, and reviewed the whole she-bang of releases. At first, I thought it resembled Nestlé, but then I slapped myself and got myself together. Khristopher Reinshagen have had this label since 2011, and now he’s got a lot of releases out, that haven’t been payed much attention to from my side. More than the branching out from Nurse Etiquette, which was his earlier label. Which is why I decided to ask him a bunch of new questions and review the whole May batch of tapes. This includes Pure Ground, Mammal, Ritual Howls, The Glass Path and Church Shuttle. Not in that direct order, though. Hope you enjoy reading this and return afterwards. But first up is the interview I conducted with Khristopher himself, in Part II you’ll get the reviews.
It’s gone more than half a year since I asked you a bunch of questions about Nostilevo. Since then, you’ve made it from a couple of releases, to a much bigger amount. What’s the difference between Nostilevo then and Nostilevo now?
– Nostilevo began during sort of a rough time. Nurse was over and I was attempting to try this sub-label thing as a way to kind of help flesh out where I wanted to go next. Annex Scum and Gifts of Vacant Mortuary were these sub-labels and I had plans for them but I couldn’t stay focused. I was a bit lost because I shut down this project with Nurse that I’d been operating for 6 years with intention to move on and develop more ideas and grind down on my art, but when this all happened there was a lot of crazy shit going on in my personal life and I wasn’t able or willing to devote the proper time and energy to it. For good reason, I had some really dark and weird shit going on, so my brain was distracted. Whenever I wasn’t dealing with those things, the first thing I would do was go and party it all out so to speak.
All of my priorities got super fucked and I was failing at my personal goals as an artist. It was somewhere around the Roach Clip 7” where my head started getting straight again and my life started getting back on track. with everything clearing up I knew I needed to take the label a lot more seriously. So the Roach Clip record, and then the Burial Hex record got things more stabilized. Going into the fall catalogue I was insanely motivated and felt awesome about everything and I could tell I was clicked back into gear. Today I’m more proud of my label ethic than ever before and have no plans to slow down. I’m putting more time and effort into every aspect of the label than I had bothered before and each and every day I’m more stoked. I have a great sense of pride, more than I ever experienced with any of my prior efforts, and growing on a daily basis with the amazing artists I get the chance to meet/work with and create some awesome projects together.
You’ve also, since then, released some vinyl. Are you going to continually release cassettes or are you “branching out”?
– Well, the first Nostilevo title was a record for this guy named Steve Kenney. This really desolate synth record that was originally going to come out on my old label but alas I felt it was a good starting point for the new one. To date there are 4 records on Nostilevo, with many more on the horizon. I had always wanted to focus on more vinyl with the older label, but I was only able to manage getting out one record. I was a kid, and wasn’t really keeping track of my label funds in the way one should in order to release a record properly. I just released a 7” for LA’s Pure Ground, which may be the last record I press before I relocate out to LA myself over the next couple of months. Early on there were some visual and textile works I wanted to release that got slacked on due to the slump of everything back then. Those types of things are still going to happen, but most likely not while I’m still in Detroit.
What kind of things are you going to release next?
– I have a slew of things happening for artists I’ve already worked with; vinyl for Craow, Siobhan, Tollund Men, Mammal, et cetera. Have a lot of other things lined up as well, but I can’t spoil what those will be just yet.
What do you think about the current state of Industrial as of today? There seem to be a lot of people doing their thing, which kind of seems to be what industrial was all about originally. Have you noticed this or do you have other thoughts about it?
– It’s awesome. It’s extremely motivating. The strong crossover lately of traditional industrial and goth into electronic and techno is really interesting but makes a lot of sense. I think it’s creating something very powerful. It’s happening worldwide, but particularly I think in the states we are experiencing the beginning of a very important wave in the history of American industrial and electronic music. It’s all just starting to blossom. I’m very excited and optimistic for what the next few years will hold.
I remember when you started out and people knew you from Nurse Etiquette, or at least those that slavishly followed your deeds. What kind of attention have you been getting since then?
– Unfortunately, not very many have followed over from Nurse. I miss some of those people, and not just because they bought from me or anything, but because there were some cool people I got to meet and talk with on a regular basis thanks to that environment. It allowed us to have some kind of a relationship, even if for the most part it was just a Gmail chat every once in awhile Some of those people, that I used to speak with on a near-daily basis when I ran NE, I haven’t heard from or seen in years. I don’t know what they’re doing anymore. I understand the disconnect since for the most part these were relationships based on the internet and the internet can be very fickle, and that when you have a variety of relationships based on a single element, you can’t expect those to last forever.
Now that I’m not operating a strict-noise/experimental thing, I get that people moved on to other things that were maybe more appealing. I don’t take it personally or anything like that, it’s just interesting. On the other hand, and to actually answer your question, my efforts so far with Nostilevo are actually bringing in far more interest than anything I ever did with Nurse. I think the Tearist cassette was the first to kind of bring a new audience to what I was doing and help to begin defining the logic that I didn’t want my label to be subject of just one kind of thing. That tape came with a remarkably different approach than anything I’d done before… then following with the Schizophasia tape, Roach Clip, and then the fall 2012 releases that had Dream Affair, and York Factory Complaint and Craow, all of those things kind of creating a slightly mixed bag and so on brought in an entirely new support structure. It helped me follow through and feel more confident that I definitely didn’t want to operate any sort of strict mindset with what I did here. I just wanted to develop and release artwork that was important to me, no matter what it looked or smelled like.
There seem to be a lot of labels that have been emerging in Detroit lately and also those that have been there forever. What’s it like in Detroit from this perspective, but also generally?
– Detroit is interesting, but I’ve found detroit increasingly boring over the past few years. There’s not really a whole lot left that actually appeals to me anymore. This city is very challenging if you view certain things the way I do. Don’t get me wrong, because I don’t want to sound like I’m immediately just bad mouthing the city. There is some really cool outstanding art and some really rad people doing some really rad things, like the All Gone and Ritual Howls dudes, Something Cold and some others. Thing is though, honestly, I think I’m burnt out here and I find very little here that’s actually exciting, and I don’t know if there’s any coming back from that while I’m still here. It’s funny and perplexing to me. It’s intimidating sometimes to discuss this around here, since with some, it sparks this attitude from those who are extremely defensive of anyone saying anything remotely negative about Detroit. I get it because Detroit does get an overwhelmingly bad rap, and most of the time it’s blown way out of proportion.
The media makes it out to be a really insane environment. There are some really amazing things about the city that make it uniquely exciting compared to anywhere else, and over the next decade this place is bound to go through a massive change for the better. in the meantime however, it can be absolutely, unforgivingly miserable. A lot of people just now moving here live in this bubble that Detroit is a utopia. It could be one day, but it’s certainly not right now. This mindset forces people to put in denial the ridiculously horrible negatives that are contained here. I’ve lived here on and off for upwards of 20 years, maybe even 25 years, and for the most part this attitude is propagated by people on their first 5 years here. Albeit, the people moving here are the people that are going to change the city for the better and give the city the boost it’s needed since it’s been in shambles since the fucking riots happened in the late 60’s. Detroit is definitely for some people, but I’m just tired of it, and while it could be amazing in 10-15 years, I can’t imagine spending three decades here and feeling healthy.
I’m moving to Los Angeles before the end of the year for a multitude of reasons. I lived there when I was young and have visited a handful of times over the past few years and it feels right to me. I have best friends out there, and I want to make art surrounded by palm trees. If it weren’t for California though, I wouldn’t really feel right living anywhere else except for Detroit. It’s an insane double-edged sword.
What kind of groups, artists and/or bands do you really want to join your roster for a release? Do you have an ace up your sleeve when it comes to this?
– I would really like to work with as many third-wave nu metal bands as possible. Anyone who is capable of pulling off a strong Static X/Powerman 5000 sound for 2014 should get in touch with me ASAP, and mail me as many demos and promo pictures as humanly possible.
By the way, when it comes to the artwork of the releases, who is involved with every single release? Is it always you who create it, or is it sometimes someone else?
– When I receive the final master from someone, I like for them to also provide whatever they can that motivated them thru the work. Either some words or a theory on the piece, or just some images that coincide with the theme. It usually ends up being the latter which then becomes the cover artwork. I’ll take those things, then lay out the cassette and it’s typefaces in front of a xerox and some little help from my laptop and go from there. I’ve done a few things that weren’t collaborations like that and they don’t always feel proper.
Whenever I’m left alone recently to design the artwork for someone else’s works entirely I tend to feel a bit selfish, and its much more challenging than if there is a strong concept involved one way or another. Not only because I have a clean slate to work with, but that I want to have the person who created the sounds be able to propagate an image that is important to them with the themes of the work. The Pure Ground 7″ was a heavily collaborative work, where we went back and forth often on making sure it exuded the proper elements for what the record was all about. The Church Shuttle cassette had some ideas brought to me from Chris, and from there I was left to execute them and find the imagery to match the concept. The Glass Path cover is an old collage from the artist. So on and so forth the different mediums and strengths of the importance of collaboration for me. I’m never opposed to work on something entirely from scratch however, but I do prefer direction from the artist and the final design being a collaboration as a whole.
What do you believe that you can offer that other labels might not be able to?
– I will watch hours of Japanese pro-wrestling, death match or not, with any artist I work with. Who else can offer you that?
Here we are again, in the end. What will Nostilevo do in the future and what is going on when you’re not on Invisible Guy?
– There will be a slight lull in the next few months as I prepare to move, but once I’m settled in California there will be much more activity. I have a lot of big plans that simply cannot be accomplished until I leave here. Until then, I’m spending my extra time working on an LP for my project Liable, which is due out on Chondritic Sound sometime around the end of the year probably maybe, and then otherwise hoping to play some goddamned tennis at least once if the spotty seasons will allow. Please don’t rain for at least one sunday afternoon, Detroit.