Location: Toronto, Canada

Est: 2013

Potted History: “I was always brainstorming ideas for label names and putting together imaginary releases,” explains label chief, Ali Safi. “I had an idea of who I would approach for music and what the artwork would conceptually look like… I wanted to shed light on the music I was discovering in a way that reflected the music artistically – to bridge the gap between the sounds and the visuals associated with them. The equivalent of expressionism in art through sound.”

Although fascinated by music from a young age, Safi freely admits to not being an artist or musician and not having a scrap of experience in the music industry. Thankfully, he was pretty resourceful when it came to getting Marionette off the ground in 2013… 

“When I was studying, I got a couple of grants and took out a student loan,” he says. “It was the most money I’d seen, and that’s what I used to fund the first release!” 

That release, Deer’s ‘String Theory’ EP, set the tone musically and visually – its off-kilter sampledelia is matched by the intricate cover. A dozen or so releases for discerning ears down the line, the offerings wouldn’t be out of place in art gallery. 

Mission Statement: “To continue to connect with like-minded individuals over music and art,” says Safi. “To get you through the night after long day of work. It’s all about therapy and appreciation. Is it going to plan? Some days, yes, most days, no. It’s tough to think about promoting music that is somehow intended for outsiders, which alienates people or has some sort of introspective feel to it. It’s ironic somehow to try to ‘sell’ that.”

Key Artists & Releases: “Working with Kilchhofer was turning point for label,” muses Safi. “‘The Book Room’, his first album in 2018, felt like a successful record that reached farther and wider than previous ones. Last year was rather productive too. It started with collaboration record between Kilchhofer and Anklin, a couple of months later we had the whimsical music of Pierre Bastien. Then the drumming collaboration record of Valentina Magaletti and Julian Sartorius. The year ended with experimental trio Giraffe and their Tuareg-inspired experimental psychedelia.

Future Plans: “To continue to spend time obsessing about and discovering music with all the rage and bliss that come with it,” says Safi. This year is already shaping up to be a productive one. First out of the traps is visual and multimedia artist Bastian Epple working as MinaeMinae (reviewed on page 91). There’s an upcoming album by twinkle3 , “a trio who do modular noodling with DIY instruments and virtuoso shakuhachi solos” and a collaboration between David Fenech and Klimperei (“Think circus sounds and something out of a Soviet stop motion animation film”). That’ll do you for starters.

Advice For Those Thinking About Setting Up A Label? “Don’t do it,” laughs Safi. “It’s all about what you’re expecting to achieve. I think we are at a time where we have to be conscious of adding to the noise. My advice would be to think and believe in your reasons behind the music you choose to publish while having an open ear to what others are doing and knowing how what you’re doing is actually different.”

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