Five years ago, a few friends who used to play together in a post-rock band in southern France decided to launch informal and distant collaborations. With time, that became Alterlabel, an amazingly creative and open association of musicians abolishing limits between electro, rock and hip-hop.
As psychedelic rockers listening to hip-hop and techno in the mid-90s, the members of math-rock outfit Ars Nova, based in Nîmes, were inclined to keep an open musical mind. When life scattered them around Europe, they didn't stop making music together but instead started challenging each other, exchanging ideas and buying recording gear. “After a while, we found we had accumulated a lot of cool tracks, so we uploaded them on our own website and came up with the name Alterlabel", explains Kid Charlemagne, a.k.a. Barock Abama, the president of Alterlabel.
A free-form collective with no real geographical anchorage (with members in Brussels, Barcelona, Paris, Toulouse...), Alterlabel involves about 15 people and is centered around a core of eight musicians: Abelcoast, Kid Charlemagne, Feat The Vibe, Mister Frites, Drixa, Damnator, Sunruhe and Dr Deft. Each one is involved in multiple projects. Kid Charlemagne, for example, plays ambient music under the name Sensible with Drixa; he also has a hip-hop project with Abelcoast and plays bass in Damnator Orchestra and Alterchaos, bands that regroup all the above musicians. “Musically, we are the opposite of sectarian. The diversity of musical creation these last 50 years is so fascinating, you can dig up great records from around the world with totally different approaches to music.”
A good part of what Alterlabel has produced is available on jamendo, including the latest release, a collaboration between the rappers of Minuit Cinq and the electro outfit MacroAbstract (who were onstage 10 hours a day for three days at a Romanian festival last summer), Crève dans ta bave. The album is worth a listen: “It's the fruit of several years of digital exchanges between Nîmes, Paris and the island of La Réunion: a mix of rap, electro, dub and hardtek, with really hardcore lyrics.”