July 28 2016

EUG: When Unknowns Converge

New York-Le Bain
We chat with San Francisco's dance music agitator, EUG, a.k.a. Eugene Whang, about his label, Public Release, before he plays on Saturday, August 20th in Le Bain's skyline.
LE BAIN: You said your label, Public Release, is about “the whole package”: the music, design, video, and creative process. In that sense, which of your releases is the most accomplished? 
EUG: It’s hard to say, they’ve all been unique and satisfying in their own way. The Woolfy release ended up creating our first music video (which New Yorker Shadi Perez directed), so that one will always be very special to me. For the more recent releases, I’ve been sitting in on all the mastering sessions cutting the lacquers with George Horn and pressing the vinyl here in California. All of this happening locally where I can keep a close watch on every step has been really important for me. It’s something I’ve always wanted to accomplish with the label.
Woolfy's "Junior’s Throwin Craze" (Public Release, 2013)

Describe your creative process with the label. 
My day job requires that I control the situation—every process and micron—so that there are as few surprises as possible. [Eugene is an industrial designer at Apple.] It’s required for a mass production situation of that scale. However, at the label, I really welcome the element of surprise. I work with the artists to finalize their tracks and selection. We’ll try different arrangements, changing this and that a little, but I try to keep it loose and ultimately give them the final call. 

What's the best part: the process itself or the final product?
I love getting remixes or artwork back and being completely surprised and amazed. That element of surprise and then gathering everyone's contribution into one cohesive package is a really great process. Although the end product is equally as satisfying and important, that activity of gathering and creating something new is probably the most exciting part for me, partly because it’s the moment where a lot of unknowns converge, and for the first time ever, you start getting a sense of what the release is going to become.
Mark E's "Sky Horn" (Public Release, 2016)
For your two latest records, you've worked with the artist Takeshi Murata and the designer Sk8thing (who, among other things, is the main designer at Cav Empt). What do those collaborations tell us about your aesthetic?
I’m not sure if we have a particular aesthetic, especially with the more recent releases like the ones you mentioned. At the start, Rishi (the creative director at Public Release) and I designed somewhat of a system to the graphic identity of the releases. You can definitely see that in the earlier records. Lately, we’ve been just switching it up and going with what we’re feeling at the moment. Instead of being so calculated and methodical like we were earlier, we’re much more organic and open to wherever conversations and friends take us. That’s exactly how Takeshi happened, how Sk8thing happened, and in this new upcoming release, how Barry McGee happened. Everyone in the Public Release family of contributors (both musically and visually), are directly connected to one another, and that’s super important to me.

Could you share with us one recent and striking source of inspiration not connected with music?
Working with Barry has been really inspiring. On the latest stuff he painted for the record, there was a whole world of detail I had never noticed before. Every brush stroke is so precisely controlled for every millimeter of its path. Keep in mind these characters are only 2-3 inches tall. His balance between a perceived relaxedness and detailed accuracy is great. Also, I recently attended a Japanese tea ceremony which was quite an amazing experience. It was extremely meditative, therapeutic, and beautiful to watch, and I highly recommend it. Osaki ni!
Art by Barry McGee for Public Release

Art by Barry McGee for Public Release

You said your next release will be an ode to San Francisco.
It’s not really an ode, but it’s the first in a series of EP’s of Bay Area artists that are contributing to our local and global scene. Of course there are many others I’d like to get roped in, and that will happen, but for now I just started with these four artists. Shortly after this EP launches, we’ll release a remix 12” that includes an absolutely beautiful remix from Tim Goldsworthy (Thee Loving Hand) and one from Chida.

You’ve been running your FACE parties in SF. What would you say is the most rewarding thing about throwing parties?
Simply having a bunch of your friends in one place and having a great time together. Music makes that happen.

On Saturday, August 20th, Le Bain presents The No Comprendo
featuring EUG (Public Release, SF) and Prince Language
The Standard, High Line at 10pm