In the Zone with Jungle Gym Records

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In the midst of Pioneer Square, nestled between brick buildings, is the Waterfall Garden Park.

 

Draves describes Intimacy’s “Transmissions from Biolab X” as a “big-hitter” to be released November 7.

 

Last week, I sat down with Caleb Draves, founder of Jungle Gym Records – a DIY electronic record label based in Seattle, WA. The ambient house and techno label is characterized by “easy-going, off-the-cuff, high energy” lo-fi recordings inspired by natural environments, Draves said.

The label consists of Draves and friends’ music, which is generally recorded without typical studio set-ups. In fact, some Jungle Gym releases are iPhone recordings mastered to tapes.

“We try to package the tapes as professionally as well as we can, but it’s more about the vibe and the concept,” Draves said.

 

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Draves releases music primarily under the alias Dravier, featuring “loopy, improvised recordings” with 10-20$ Casio keyboards from Goodwill distorted through guitar pedals. He also produces dark ambient under the alias Scurge, also released on the Jungle Gym label.

 

 

Surprisingly, “a big chunk of artists [on the label] don’t come from electronic backgrounds,” Draves remarked. “I used to think electronic music sucked.”

“Many of our artists have never put out anything before, or approach production from the headspace of being in punk bands,” unlike “kids who have listened to house and techno their whole lives,” Draves said.

 

“There is a punk mentality evident in Jungle Gym releases; we use the same recording techniques and equipment that punk bands use.”

 

“People who come from band backgrounds don’t approach production in the same way as people who come from electronic backgrounds,” Draves said. “It’s a little off, but in a good way.”

Before moving to Seattle and starting Jungle Gym Records, Draves was in a Minnesotan surf-rock band Holographic Sands with Jared Carrigan, who now masters and dubs the tapes for the record label.

 

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While Jungle Gym is based in Seattle, they by no means consider themselves a “local music record label,” Draves said. The artists on the label represent an international array of artists, who are often Draves’ friends – or friends of friends.

In fact, next summer, Draves – and Jungle Gym – are moving to New York. “The Seattle scene is not necessarily inspiring or diverse in terms of style,” Draves said. “It’s talked up a lot, but not the best scene for what I’m looking for.”

In February, Draves and Carrigan are touring in Europe with some of their European friends.

Jungle Gym takes a prolific approach to the label industry. The aim of our label is “quantity over quality,” Draves said, because it keeps people interested.

“It’s more like a factory than anything right now. It used to take a lot longer to put music out because we were still figuring out all the logistics,” Draves said.

 

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“We do a lot of our office work at a shared community space in Pioneer Square,” Draves said. This community space is the Impact Hub Seattle, “a unique and powerful ecosystem of resources, inspiration, and collaborative opportunities that are designed to support innovation and positive social impact in our communities,” according to their website.

Written by Val Bauer